UX for Ecommerce: What’s Next

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Since its emergence in the 1990s, ecommerce has continued to grow by leaps and bounds, increasing by more than 20 percent each year. In 2016, 53 percent of internet users around the world made an online purchase. By 2021, global retail ecommerce sales are expected to reach $4.5 trillion. Considering that 67 percent of millennials (people born between 1980 and 1995) prefer to shop online rather than in store, these figures are bound to increase even more in the coming years.

And yet, despite this shift, 46 percent of American small businesses don’t even have a website. As these businesses begin turning to ecommerce and others update their antiquated virtual storefronts, UX designers will play a key role in helping them to position themselves competitively in this fast-moving marketplace.

Here are 5 UX Trends to Watch in Ecommerce in 2019

1: Simplified Navigation

Perhaps the biggest UX trend among ecommerce sites over the last year or two has been the shift toward cleaner, more simplified designs. Many sites have done away with cluttered menus and options to focus on product images, which are more attractive and compelling. Most of the old navigational options are being pushed into drop-down menus, although for many online retailers, most product selection is being handled by search functionality anyway. While Amazon has been one of the industry leaders in this trend, more and more companies are moving toward more simplified designs. Even Wal-Mart, which has always been more known for its physical stores rather than its online presence, recently rolled out a completely redesigned website that’s clearly hoping to compete with Amazon for a share of the online market.

67 percent of millennials prefer to shop online rather than in store

2: Faster Payments

From the earliest days of ecommerce, fast, simple, and secure checkout have been some of the primary pain points for customers. The obstacles here are significant. Aside from regulations surrounding the use of customer financial information, there has long been a range of inconvenient issues surrounding payment processing and checkout options. Customers want their data to be secure, but they also want to be able to buy things with a single click without having to re-enter their information every time on every site. By partnering with credit card companies, banks, and mobile providers, companies are making it easier than ever before for customers to use their pre-entered data across multiple ecommerce sites. This has been a particularly important development for people shopping and making purchases on their mobile device, where digital wallet options like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay allow them to complete secure transactions with a simple fingerprint scan.

3: Bigger Images

With screens getting bigger and resolutions improving dramatically, the days of cluttered ecommerce sites covered with low resolution images are long gone. Large images may grab the visitor’s attention, but that’s only part of the story. High definition, multi-angle images now allow customers to zoom in and get a good look at products before making purchase decisions. For products that may not include every detail in the item description, being able to look at them from a variety of perspectives can help them be sure they’re getting exactly what they want. Larger, more vivid images also complement the ethos of simplified layout and navigation, presenting strong, commanding site elements to draw the visitor’s attention.

4: Video and Animation

Whatever type of business you’re in, data indicates that you need to be incorporating video into your ecommerce site. Using video on your site improves conversions by up to 85 percent and boosts email click-through rates by a stunning 96 percent. Over 70 percent of consumers report being more likely to make a purchase if they can watch a video about it beforehand. And with Google’s algorithms shifting to mobile-first indexing, video is only going to become more important. An AOL study in 2017 found that 89 percent of consumers reported watching video on their smartphones and mobile devices compared to “only” 70 percent on desktops. Product description videos in particular are a key tool for boosting customer engagement on mobile devices. Even if they’re not using videos, many companies are incorporating cinemagraphs to create the illusion of movement in order to highlight products and their features.

5: More White Space

There was a time when designers feared the presence of white space on a page, believing “empty” space was “wasted” space. This led to all manner of designs that tried to cram as many elements as possible onto the screen, leading to cluttered and difficult to navigate websites that left customers confused and frustrated. Fortunately, trends change, and most UX designers now understand that white space isn’t empty at all, but rather a crucial element of site design. White space not only conveys a sense of sparse elegance, it also helps highlight the elements of the page you want to draw attention to; research shows that it might even improve reading comprehension.

UX trends shift quickly, so both companies and designers need to keep a close eye on the latest practices that resonate with customers. Today’s innovative features can very quickly turn to yesterday’s annoyances as technology shifts and consumer expectations adjust accordingly. But for now, incorporating these trends into your UX ecommerce strategy could mean the difference between delivering a superior customer experience and driving people away from your site in frustration.

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