First, though, let’s discuss how long your checkout even needs to be.
1-Step or Multi-Step Checkout?
There is a lot of discussion over how many steps to include in the checkout process. One camp argues that a single page checkout is quicker and more efficient, whereas others reason that multiple-steps make the process more intuitive. This is obviously a key decision that influences all other design factors in the checkout layout. So which side is right?
I personally would never recommend anyone using a 1-step checkout. The only exception would be for shopping carts that were able to store credit card and shipping info. Even if you’re buying something you wouldn’t normally think twice about paying good money for, the 1-Step checkout will make you think twice! Staring at all those fields to fill out suddenly feels like a lot of work, which can be a major contributor to cart abandonment. Store owners have to do everything possible to cause their customers to never, ever think twice. That’s why having a review area is so important: When a customer reviews their cart and essentially states, “Yes, I really do want this,” they’re more likely to commit to the entire process.
The multiple-step checkout naturally guides you through a linear progression. The most popular checkout style we design is the 3-step checkout. One of the key areas we focus on is the graphic area at the top of the page displaying where you currently are in the process. It’s important to make it clear to customers exactly how far along they are, distilling the entire experience into a few manageable steps.
We’ve also recently experienced success with creating an even simpler 2-step checkout for one of our top clients, RacingUSA.com. We made intentional steps to reduce as much clutter as possible in the process by having one review page, followed by the shipping / billing page. This process has increased the cart-to-checkout metric by over 17%!
I should point out that what works for one business is not best for everybody. The key point is to know your customer's needs, and how you can best design your store around them. Racing USA, for example, has a very particular way they service their customers that may differ from someone selling a different type of product. So while the principles I'm about to share are universal to every store, how they are carried out should be made specific to your own brand.
Hot Checkout Design Tips
There are way too many e-commerce stores that put a lot of effort into their core site design, but treat the checkout design as an afterthought. If you put minimal effort into your checkout, you can expect minimal results. It is crucial to make sure whatever experience you establish on the main site is carried through consistently to the checkout. Ignoring this aspect will create a disjointed experience that is guaranteed to increase cart abandonment rates.
Keep it Simple
Avoid large, expository paragraphs. Customers didn’t come here to read a story; they came to check out of your store. Avoid garish colors that can distract from the emotional aspect of checking out. Remember, this is the make-or-break stage, and it is absolutely an emotional experience. Clutter and wrong color choices can negatively impact your customer’s emotions at a critical time.
When a customer sees your store for the first time, trust has to be established for them to purchase from you. Trust then has to be maintained up until and throughout the checkout process, so it’s important to take that seriously. Adding trust symbols like credit card icons, security seals, BBB logos, etc. can certainly help.
However, remember that placing a security seal like McAfee on your checkout is not going to magically save you from cart abandonment. Trust has to be built up in more ways than just a single graphic, no matter the brand trust associated with it. In fact, through conversion testing with our partners Exclusive Concepts, we’ve determined that a generic trust symbol can oftentimes out-perform the branded version.
Trust can also be established through your messaging. One recent addition that we’ve started adding to some of our checkouts is the “Trust Column,” located on the right side of the page. This column displays key messages that address common customer questions and concerns. Aesthetically speaking, it breaks up the layout in a pleasing manner, making the page easier to absorb. I highly recommend adding this feature to your checkout.
One way to increase trust is to make customers feel that you’re there if they need you. They may not actually call or e-mail or use live chat, but it may be reassuring to them knowing those options are there if needed. Some store owners want to avoid too many customer calls, whereas some openly welcome them. The main thing I recommend is that you at least have a clear path to your contact information being available.
Make Your Buttons feel Button-Like
Compelling button design can substantially impact the user experience on your checkout. If your “Submit” or “Proceed to Checkout” buttons are flat, too small, or don’t pop against the rest of the layout, that can affect the user experience. Make sure your buttons are crying out for them to be clicked on!
These are some core ideas for creating a compelling checkout process that our designers keep in mind at EYStudios. I hope you’ve found them helpful. If we can assist you in sharpening your checkout process, call us at 888.429.4803 or e-mail us today!