SaleCycle Developer Farheen Syed lists 7 things developers can’t stand about your e-commerce site, and how to fix them!

As a developer, it’s my job to figure out how to best maximize the impact of our solutions for each unique visitor experience on our client’s e-commerce sites. But often times, we find our efforts are limited based on the architecture of the website itself.

So, on behalf of developers everywhere, I’d like to share a few scenarios you should under no circumstances emulate. Feel free to take notes 🙂


1 The Site that Innovates too Much

A web browser is a fairly straightforward interface: there’s an address bar, a few buttons and a large window where content is displayed and users interact with the mouse and keyboard. Space bar means scroll down. Pressing a tab on a form means move the cursor to the next input field.

All websites boil down to the same core elements, so do not, ever (ever, ever!) interfere with these most basic features of the browser window and disrupt the user experience.


The Fix:

Plain and simple, don’t do it. It’s super annoying and will send web visitors running for the hills.


2 The Site that Doesn’t Play Well With Others

With 44% of global online consumers on mobile, and Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer accounting for 90% of web traffic, ease of access across all devices and browsers is key.

When design and essential functional elements of your site don’t render consistently across all browsers and platforms, you’re not only cutting out a significant portion of your traffic; you’re also losing out on sales and valuable information like consumer trends.
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Things like a lack of a mobile domain, or a fixed CSS header element that obstructs form fields, can leave customers unable to interact with your site properly. And you guessed it… they’ll leave because of it.


The Fix

Intelligent website design means the development of a site (that is reactive or has a mobile domain) that’s beautiful and functional across any device or browser. Luckily, there are a ton of great tools out there to help you do just that; a few of my personal favorites include:

  • Screenfly, a responsive screen testing tool on monitors, tablets, and smart phones – Price: Free
  • CrossBrowserTesting will test site functionality and send automated screenshots on over 130 browsers and 25 operating systems – Price: after free trial, plans start at $29.95/month
  • Dynatrace provides a free website evaluation with insights into traffic, impact of design, speed compared to the industry, and suggested fixes – Price: Free

3 The Infomercial Site

While in all practicality, every web visitor is a potential customer and should be treated as such, the trick is to not make them feel like you just want their money. You’re aiming to earn their business but more importantly, earn their trust and loyalty.

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Website visitors become customers when they feel welcome and are wooed, not when they’re inundated with an avalanche of marketing and sales collateral and have to navigate a minefield of ads on your site. That’s a recipe to make them abandon their purchase before they even start.


The Fix

Less is more. Tailor your messaging to fit the individual visitor experience with intelligent marketing that will not only ease up your load time, make for a more pleasant end-user experience, but more importantly, sell your message instead of selling a subscription to Adblock.


4 The IOS 6.0 Maps Site

Don’t get me wrong – I love adventure. But when I land on your homepage and feel like I need a GPS to navigate to the cart page or can’t figure out how to delete an item in my cart, that’s a bad sign. Your site should have a clear route from Point A (any page into the site) to Point B (the completion page) with clear and easy-to-follow navigation.


The Fix

Make use of header navigations, use icons, clean up your layout and be mindful of white space to make the checkout process as fluid as possible.

Don’t make your website visitors kayak across the Pacific to figure out where your Return and Exchange policy is located, or provide unicorn tears to make a change to their cart.

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5 The Repetitive Site

We’ve all experienced that brief moment of panic when the “Confirm Form Resubmission” prompt pops up while shopping online.

Forms are a common feature of e-commerce sites, to sign-up, register, order, and the like, but can be quite complex as they need to be able to handle data input, validation and formatting. Under no circumstances should your site allow form resubmissions.

It’s especially dangerous on forms where payment or other sensitive information is being entered, and duplicate submissions are never an ideal experience for either the user or the poor bloke who’s managing the data.


The Fix

On refresh, your non-secure form fields should be cookied, and you should separate the script that submits form data and the script that receives and processes the data. This will ensure that that the submit script is only sent once to the server – easily achievable with PHP.


6 The Scotch Tape Site

So you launched your site in ‘99 and have since gone through several “rebranding phases”. And while your site no longer looks like it remembers when it took two hours to download a song on Napster (ahh the good ol’ days), it’s certainly built that way.

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We get it – rather than expending the resources to completely rehaul the site you put in patches… and then patches for the patches, and then more patches for the patch that stopped working… until the entire site is a mess. It’s comparable to opening the hood of shiny new Mercedes and finding that the radiator is held in place with paper clips and nail polish. But making simple updates to your site, like changing a form submission, shouldn’t be like playing Jenga.


The Fix

Don’t be a cheapskate. Now, I’m not suggesting that you have to completely overhaul your site each time you need to make a few updates. But, there comes a point in time when a full redesign is inevitable and the opportunity cost of rebuilding your site is well worth the expense.

From load time, to data consolidation and integration with affiliates, your twenty-first-century website visitors (and dev and design team) will thank you for it!


7 The Forgetful Site

With 76% of global consumers abandoning online, you want to make it as easy as humanly possible for your visitors to pick up right where they left off. The last thing you want is a customer who is returning to complete their purchase , to leave again because their basket wasn’t saved and they’d have to go through the trouble of rebuilding their cart.


The Fix

Considering that the best recovery time for an abandoned purchase is within a few hours, the minimum lifespan of a cart should be twenty-four hours. Make use of cookies and local storage to create a persistent cart of your visitor’s selections, or be able to repopulate them in some fashion.

Ideally for hotel and flight bookings, which are time and location specific, the metadata should be able to rebuild the URL (/booking?airline=southwest&dest=chicago) to take them back exactly where they left off.


Ultimately, developers like myself are being paid to visit your site and poke around. Your web visitors are not. If we are mildly inconvenienced, rest assured, your customers are already gone.


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