A user may not remember what she bought from you last. She may not even remember how much she paid for whatever it was. But one thing that’s hard to forget is the experience she had while shopping with you. This user experience colors her future purchase decisions and directly controls whether she recommends your business to family and friends or not.

First time visitors are not very different. How good you make a first-time visitor feel, how simple your messaging is, and how easy the purchase process is, are all factors that contribute towards whether or not the visitor converts into a buyer.

In other words, the user experience of your store – online or offline – dictates the success of your business to a surprisingly large degree. If we consider online user experience alone, some of the key elements would include

  • Visual appeal: Expressive images, the perfect colors, readable typefaces and interesting copy all come together to create a first impression that pleases and draws the visitor in.
  • Easy to navigate: Clear user flows from one section of the site to the next, quick loading pages, enough white space, and logical site hierarchies help users find what they’re looking for easily.
  • Engages visitors: Smart and timely microcopy, interactive steps, and the ability to share content on social networks, are all ways to keep visitors interested and gainfully occupied while they’re on your site.
  • Mobile optimized: Responsive design, large buttons, ample white space and minimalistic design elements help users navigate around sites on small mobile screens.
  • Consistent branding: The logo, typography, colors, and look and feel of the site contribute to your brand image. You want these to be as consistent as possible across the site and with all your other marketing collaterals for a unified user experience.
  • Clear communication: No ambiguities in conveying your core message tells users exactly what they can expect on your site. Simple and clear copy also makes conversions a lot easier and quicker.
  • Proactive customer service: The final piece of the user experience puzzle lies after a purchase is complete. The speed of customer service, the way a customer is greeted and treated, and the efficiency with which problems are resolved go a long way into crafting the site’s user experience.

As with everything else, the spectrum of websites that we find online ranges from ones with ridiculously excellent user experiences to those that are appallingly bad in the UX department. While it’s easy to go on and on about what should or should not be done vis-à-vis building a great user experience, I personally believe, nothing beats real life examples. Let’s take a look at sites that have gotten this UX thing spot on, ones that are effective and then ones that are shining examples of what not to do. Ever.

The Awesome

Vertty is a single-minded e-commerce site that sells high-end beach towels. With just one product to showcase, the site goes all out to impress their visitors with a striking site design and smooth-sailing user interface.

v1 - Copy

Even though the homepage is colorful, it does not overpower the senses. The triangular design of the product is carried forward in the site design, maintaining consistent brand imagery. The copy is playful to match the product and the calls to action are aplenty and unmissable. I love the live Instagram feed of user-generated pictures towards the end of the page – it adds solid street cred to the brand.

v2 - Copy

The product page conveys all the essential information a buyer would need in an unconventional yet extremely easy to digest manner. The luscious product shots and the social sharing options shown upfront further raise the shareworthiness of the page.

The Efficient

Shopify’s shopping cart plugin has the ability to transform any pre-existing website into an e-commerce site in minutes. The plugin works perfectly with sites built on any CMS or framework, including WordPress, Wix, Joomla, and more. Their landing page for the individual site plugins is a masterclass on how to build a page that converts.

s1 - Copy

The page begins by offering a simple headline and sub headline combination to convey the gist of the service in just two lines. From great product shots to a bare bones form to set up a trial to a loud and clear call to action placed upfront, all gears are turned up to attract and convert every visitor. There are testimonials from celebrity endorsers like Daymond John that puts Shopify in big boy territory for ecommerce platforms.

There may be no fancy frills, but this page leaves nothing to doubt. The product price is clarified upfront, the length of the free trial period is crystal clear and to banish any more doubts, it also has customer care data prominently displayed to create a smooth user experience.

The Flawed

I hate this section. Dissing someone else’s labor of love is something that I hate doing. However, unless we know what NOT to do from a UI/UX perspective, there’s always the danger of going down this extremely slippery slope.

Blue Bell Ice Cream is a market leader in frozen desserts in the United States. However, despite its successful products, the website for Blue Bell is like getting into a time machine and revisiting 1994 again.

b1 - Copy

The first and most glaring problem I see with this site is the lack of branding across the board. There’s no logo, no caption, no punchline or no sign whom this website belongs to.

The entire site is this little village grocery store that has shelves that double up as navigation tools. While the images are attractive by themselves and the concept is clever, the visitor is at a total loss as to what do except for move the mouse around while their smile fades. The absence of copy makes it tough to SEO. The worst offence is however yet to come.

I saved the best (worst?) for the last.

b2 - Copy

On clicking on the “Our History” link to learn more about how the brand came into being, one is led up to a blank page with no contents about Blue Bell’s past, present, future or any other data.


In Conclusion

Your website is your identity online for old visitors and new. Use it wisely to attract, engage and convert these visitors. No one wants another Blue Bell competitor after all.

Featured Image: RockyRoark on DeviantArt