5 Shopping Cart Usability Errors to Avoid

If you’ve got an e-commerce website, it goes without saying that it should be hyper-usable (as in, everyone from your 10-year-old niece to your 95-year-old grandfather should be able to figure it out). Nowhere is this more important than in your shopping cart.

After all, if a customer either can’t check out, or becomes too frustrated to continue checking out, you’ve lost a sale. (Even worse, they may share their bad experience on your site with friends.)

The importance of the shopping cart user experience, and how to improve it, was illustrated this week in “How To Make Your Shopping Cart Suck Less,” a funny, insightful–and blatantly Not Safe For Work–blog post by web designer and cartoonist Matthew Inman of The Oatmeal.

Profane humor aside, the cartoon reminds us of several key points of shopping cart usability.

5 Shopping Cart Usability Errors To Avoid

Making the on-page error messages too hard to see

The customer has submitted one step of the checkout process, but left out a required piece of information. If you display an error message telling them what they’ve missed, but put it nowhere near the empty field or in small text, the user is likely to miss it and resubmit again–only to make the same error twice. At CDG, one of our best practices is to place the error message right next to the field and in red text.

Not putting commonly chosen drop-down menu items at the top of the list

If you have a drop-down menu with a large number of choices (especially common in the Country field), don’t bury the most commonly selected ones in alphabetical order. Look at your stats to see which ones are chosen most often and put them at the top.

Requiring customers to re-enter information

Have they already entered an address for Shipping? Let them choose a “same as” option for Billing address. Did they already sign in using their email address? Don’t make them enter it again.

Wiping out information if the cart is updated

If you provide the ability for a customer to go back to any step in the process to make changes, don’t erase all of the work they’ve done on other steps of the process. Increasing an item quantity from “1” to “2” shouldn’t require re-entering shipping information, for example.

Requiring customers to enter unnecessary information

Your customers are at their most captive during the checkout process, making it a good time to ask them additional marketing information. Just don’t make it required; it adds an unexpected and unwelcome road block to a process they may think they’d already completed.

If you’re using a purchased shopping cart solution, some of these usability issues may require additional coding to remedy so be sure to plan for this, whether you’re building a new site or improving an existing one.

Your Turn:

  • What are your biggest shopping cart pet peeves?
Scroll To Top