E-commerce UX/UI best practices

Although so many online retailers achieved success, there are numerous others, that continue to fail. Chances are, there was something essential missing in the design schemes of the latter.


At the beginning, e-commerce was an unknown land without conventions. It was a gamble at every turn. With the leap of innovation in technology and its growing role in our everyday life, also e-commerce started booming. It turns out, people love shopping online. And even though physical stores have the advantage of giving the possibility of touching and feeling products before buying them, online stores are catching up to provide people with superb shopping experiences. It’s a great time to be a customer.

Although so many online retailers achieved success, there are numerous others, that continue to fail. Chances are, there is something essential missing in the design schemes of the latter. Let's cover some of the practices, that now are considered industry conventions, that you don't want to miss.

First impression

Aloha by DBNY

With so many options around, first impression can quickly become last one. Virtual world is pretty unforgiving, since it’s so easy for people to slip away. While creating, it’s hard to figure out what makes a positive impression, thus it’s tempting to add too much and overdo it. It all starts with the design being in sync with the nature of the brand and its core values. Secondly, clear value proposition makes products or services attractive to people. These aspects combined play a primary role at turning a first impression into a relationship that lasts.

Clear and easy navigation

Fred Perry by Nuno Lezon Mendes 

No matter how amazing the visual design is, its success will be measured by the number of complete purchases. If people don’t buy, there’s no business. That’s where intuitive navigation steps in. Designing one requires understanding the power of habit and ingrained patterns. Every step of interaction needs to be justified by a clear reason to continue. Also, it’s exactly the right context to apply Hick’s law - a design principle that limits choice by giving clear but restricted options. People get overwhelmed and lose confidence with too many options to choose from. Ultimately, effective website navigation feels simple. At every step of the interaction, users understand where they are and what they can do.

Product presentation

Product card page by Vita Spenser for The Faces

People can’t touch or hold the product in an online store. It’s much like having a product behind a glass wall. The aim is to get that glass wall out of the way. There are number of methods to do it and it all ultimately comes down to the type of product. High quality images are a must, but they should also answer questions about the product. For example, jewellery pieces don’t necessarily require enlarged detailed images, because in real life we don’t look at them so closely. Instead, seeing jewellery on a model gives an idea about proportion and context. Stepping into the potential buyer’s shoes is crucial, but there are more ingredients that contribute in powerful product presentation, such as effective use of copy, mobile optimization, demos, size guides, reviews, delivery and return information. The analysis of the target audience and user testing can give clues in finding the right balance of information to present.

Minimizing the effort

Apple store accessories concept by Gregoire Vella

Good user experience is the one that users don't notice. It feels simple and clear, no matter how many hours and decisions it took to craft. People don’t want to think about the interface, they want to accomplish their goal on the website. Giving them a straight path is the way to save their time and effort. It’s a gesture of respect. There are many practices that online stores can apply in order to make the user experience better: avoiding unnecessary actions and visual clutter, simplifying sign-in and checkout processes, adding comprehensive micro-copy, showing related content and recommendations.

Final note

Design shapes the way your platform is used on every step - from initial impressions to the complete purchase. And as such, UI / UX design should be taken seriously while developing e-commerce business. Last, but not least - remembering that users are not abstract metrics , but real people makes a difference. Thoughtful interface respects time, effort and brings positive experiences for both sides.