One of my biggest pet peeves when I'm in a store or restaurant is going to the bathroom and learning that they have shut off the hot water. Apparently, I am not important enough to have a pleasant experience when washing my hands. They are saving pennies and I'm freezing my hands off. What's the deal with that? It really makes me mad.
Online retailers can also splash me with cold water. Let's say I find a beautiful website, with gorgeous products, inspirational pictures, and wonderful narrative. It really makes me want to buy. So I do. Insert gorgeous product in shopping cart. Then I go to check out.
That's where the dream ends.
So many sites get it wrong at this point. The moment I click to pay, I move from a beautiful front end to a cobbled-together and/or complicated checkout. Sometimes, I'm sent to a completely different site with different, bad, or no branding (I can't really decide which is worse). Then I'm sent back like I'm some sort of ping-pong ball. Cue the cold water. All of those warm fuzzies the site had been giving me are now chilled.
Most of the time, this splash in the face is a result of a site that has morphed over time, the team adding requested or required functionality without really thinking about how to properly integrate it. Or, the site was built with old requirements and has not been updated with the times. With so many requests coming in, it’s just easier to patch something together rather than take the time to really think about how it will feel from the customer perspective. That’s where User Experience Design comes in. Here are my personal thoughts on some of the the worst checkout offenders.
10 Ways to Avoid a Checkout Deep Freeze
DON’T create a disjointed experience. The customer should feel as though checkout is a thoughtful extension of their shopping trip. It is the payoff, after all. Keep the branding, imagery, voice, and all other elements consistent throughout the journey.
DO limit your pages. Generally speaking, the less pages in a checkout, the better.
DON’T ask for the same information more than once. That’s really annoying. I know you have the info, I already gave it to you. Use your CRM or marketing automation tool to autofill items that you know.
DO provide a progress indicator. Show a nice looking progress indicator at the top of the page during the whole process so the customer knows where they have been and where they are going. If at all possible, allow them to click to move backward along the path if they want to. It’s scary to push the back button in checkout.
DON’T ask for information you don’t really need. Whatever info fields your stakeholders ask for, try to cut it in half. You’ll have grateful customers, and you can gather more info on a later visit through progressive profiling.
DO show other items viewed and suggested add-on items. It’s just nice, and should increase your sales.
DON’T require super-specific formatting. It’s dumb to require customers to enter things like ( ) or MM-DD-YYYY. Whenever possible, make it dead-simple to input info, and accept as many variations as you can.
DO provide inline form validation. Let the customer know they are doing ok with happy colored check marks or other indicators. When they go wrong, tell them exactly how to fix it in a different color.
DON’T hide costs. Provide an opportunity to input promo codes or gift cards and show all expected costs as early as possible. This will make the customer more comfortable to proceed. Then go one step further: show the savings they have achieved in a clear and celebratory way.
DO optimize for mobile. ‘nuff said.
Creating a great checkout is an art, and it's absolutely key to repeat sales. Take the time to make it the best it can be!