Best Practice Report: What Works Best Right Now 2017

Conversion-Focused UX Guidelines for Ecommerce Websites

What works best right now: guidelines to improve your ecommerce desktop site conversions

Best practices are where you start optimization. This report gives you the minimum standard for high-converting ecommerce sites. You should be at least this good.

  • 247 conversion-focused guidelines on what's typically the best way to build your home page, product and category pages, cart and checkout.
  • Quantitative metrics to better understand user perceptions of websites quality.
  • All guidelines derived from user testing and custom research.

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Improve your ecommerce sales with our conversion-focused UX guidelines

This report provides conversion-focused UX insights for people responsible for the website’s bottom line results: digital marketers, UX strategists, web designers, optimizers, entrepreneurs, product managers, and the like.

  • Know what elements affect the conversion heuristics of clarity, friction, motivation, and distraction/focus
  • See how the websites studied implement guidelines to affect user perceptions of their site’s appearance, clarity, credibility, loyalty, and usability
  • Learn how different sites compare to one another within and among 6 major ecommerce industries
  • Check your site against our research-backed and conversion-focused list of ecommerce guidelines
  • Get our top 21 A/B testing ideas to start with on your own site
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How to use this report

Best practices & guidelines are starting points. They're not what you should end up with, but it’s where you should start your optimization. You can save months of testing, trial and error by implementing them.

If you're under 1000 purchases a month and can't run your own A/B testing program yet, you can use this report as a list of action items.

If you want to be competitive in 2017 and beyond, you should be at least as good as these guidelines.

These are the current best practices. What used to work 2 years ago might not work anymore. Tactic fatigue is real. People, web technologies and marketing trends are always changing, wins are always perishable.

We recommend considering these guidelines, but also considering how your specific website fits into (or differentiates from) this benchmarking study.

What’s in the report

This report has 2 primary components:

1. ACTIONABLE GUIDELINES based on user testing and custom research.  Guidelines are organized into four main UX dimensions of a website: appearance, message clarity, credibility, and usability.

This is an example of a guideline:

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And we'll give you examples of websites that adhere to a particular guideline. Examples of websites adhering to and/or violating the guidelines are provided so you can actually visualize our suggestions. This makes the guidelines actionable, making it easier to understand how each can be implemented correctly and incorrectly.
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2. UX COMPETITIVE BENCHMARKING from the results of a user perception survey.

The benchmarking provides quantitative data to rank websites’ UX generally and within the UX subcomponents (appearance, message clarity, credibility, loyalty, and usability). It serves to illustrate guideline adherence and provide examples throughout the report.

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Competitive UX Benchmarking Data

We did competitive UX benchmarking for 36 sites among 6 e-commerce industries to better understand what is working and what isn't within and among these industries.

Benefits:

  • Contextualize the 247 guideline suggestions by understanding how the websites are perceived relative to each other (overall and for each UX dimension). Comparison against multiple websites provides you with context for what’s working (and not working) to make inspired, hypothesis-driven design decisions on your own site.
  • The combination of qualitative, open-ended responses to questions (i.e. the user testing results; 10 sessions per site) and quantitative survey results provides you with actionable direction for design improvements for your site.

Process:

  • For each site, we surveyed 100+ potential users to calculate a validated and standardized survey metric, customized by our research team to include dimensions of value proposition clarity.
  • The psychometrically-qualified metric quantifies five subcomponents of user perceptions of a website, which include website: clarity (value prop), usability, credibility (trust), appearance, and loyalty (NPS score).
  • We provide the website survey results as a percentile rank score (compared to scores of other websites) for each CUX dimension of website quality (appearance, clarity, credibility, loyalty, usability).

We benchmarked sites from 6 major ecommerce industries and present a percentile ranking for each website on all UX dimensions and for a global metric.

We also calculated metrics for each industry (clothing & apparel, consumer electronics, home & garden, nutrition, pets, and recreation). The figures below are example visualizations of the data.

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Example standalone benchmark page for www.swansonvitamin.com

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Example Competitive Benchmark page for the CUX dimension of ‘Loyalty’ for the Nutrition subvertical

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You can apply these guidelines on your homepage right away, although we recommend testing them. The guidelines won’t apply in every case and there are likely unlimited ways to execute many of them, correctly or incorrectly.

The report is intended to be a benchmark list of usability recommendations to consider as a foundation for a testing program. The real process of conversion optimization and user experience improvement comes after these low-hanging fruits.

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Companies we benchmarked in this report:

Clothing and Apparel   |   Pets   |   Nutrition   |   Outdoor Recreation   |   Home Electronics   |   Home & Garden

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Table of Contents

What does this 450+ page report include?

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We guide you through the key UX dimensions, show good and bad examples (along with specific UX benchmark scores), and tell you what you should specifically do to improve your site.

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
    • Study Background
    • Our Goal with this Report
    • Research Summary
    • How to Use this Report
  • Guideline Checklist
  • What to A/B Test First - 8 Top Test Ideas
  • UX Dimension Guideline Chapters (247 Guidelines Total)
      • Homepage & Sitewide (102 Guidelines)
      • Category Landing Page (14 Guidelines)
      • Product List & Search Results Page (43 Guidelines)
      • Product Page (38 Guidelines)
      • Product Comparison (14 Guidelines)
      • Cart & Checkout (36 Guidelines)
  • Competitive Benchmarking Results
    • Clothing & Apparel
    • Consumer Electronics
    • Home & Garden
    • Pets
    • Recreation
    • Nutrition
  • Methods Appendix
  • About
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The report will be available for instant download (PDF) after the purchase. It can be shared inside teams.

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Note: you get this report free with your CXL Institute annual subscription (post-trial).