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Inter-Usability and Cross-Platform UX for eCommerce

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International eCommerce presents a true opportunity for usability testing, which involves genuinely understanding the end user, their expectations, and essential customer requirements for establishing trust. Building credibility with the international eCommerce site enables the end user to have an amazing experience that generates repeat visits and purchases. Therefore, the aspect of optimal usability is a vital ingredient for achieving customer loyalty.

One of the core components of usability testing for international eCommerce is comprised of investigating different devices and bandwidths. This practice allows for a simulation of the actual experience that various types of users are going to have on your website. Of course, a key element to consider with regards to international eCommerce is mobile functionality, because a lot of the available mobile devices may have diverse capabilities from a user experience and usability perspective.

Simply put, a large portion of the navigation and presentation of the site needs to typically be designed first for mobile, if not primarily. In the event that mobile friendliness isn’t taken into account, then the mobile components won't look appealing or won't lay out properly, which will negatively affect the user experience. Mobile first is a pretty common theme for design and usability, not just for international eCommerce but for general applications as well. To further validate usability, you may choose to actually get the application in front of real users by making it available to them. This is something that we can both replicate and validate with the aid of tools like BrowserStack that allow for audits and simulation on actual virtualized versions of different browsers and devices.

To elaborate, let’s think of an iPad, an iPhone, and other similar devices, where they all are different models with various OS versions and browsers. International devices might include other bands, like Samsung, and tablets or mobile devices from international phone companies where the browsers might be quite unique to a particular region.

For this wide array of available end user devices, you can utilize BrowserStack analytics and literally look at the international regions or countries that you're targeting to determine what the most common browsers are. It would then be possible to do a feedback loop based on actual production analytics for your international eCommerce site and discover what your users are consistently using in terms of browsers and devices. The final step is to feed that information into ongoing simulated testing and validation, so that as users ramp up their usability (i.e. using the application in different regions and countries), we can actually test and simulate what their experiences are.

Making Data-Driven Decisions to Improve Your Application

Leveraging Behavior Analytics for your International eCommerce Application

In addition to various simulations, we can also capture the actual user experience directly by enabling session recordings. There are some caveats for GDPR and other privacy measures, but the right tools are available to overcome them (for example, instead of personally identifiable information in forms, the recording might show asterisks). Generally speaking, recording sessions and looking at anonymized sets of data, like heat maps, can be extremely valuable for proper execution of a robust usability testing. The usability testing itself should be an ongoing procedure and represent part of the organization’s culture for any international eCommerce platform.

The core concept is that data is king, and the team should ideally be focused on data when making decisions. That being said, we absolutely don't want to be agnostic to logic and street smarts. We instead begin with logic, business experience, and what's working in the industry, and then iterate based on data-driven validation. Hence, there has to be a reasonable combination of learnings, creativity, research & development, decision making and evaluation by trying things out. That's practically the name of the game and everything should be centered around a very solid feedback loop.

Undoubtedly, this information must be also validated with real users, who can swiftly provide feedback based on their conversion rate optimization. Along these lines, usability may be viewed as a kind of mantra: a method of operating internally that is absolutely paramount for a successful international eCommerce platform. Another aspect to consider is how each of the different regions, countries, and possibly even jurisdictions, may need their own catered settings and configuration in order to flawlessly optimize for that particular area.

Incorporating Industry Best Practices

Searchability and Navigation are the Building Blocks of Usability

There ultimately is a significant number of factors that drive the concept of usability for the end users. Navigation and search are primary components for the creation of a website that can be used with ease. Most of the time, users who visit a site want to be able to find the item(s) they're looking for very quickly. This is something quite commoditized today, while best practices are in place for things like setting up a mega menu with an intuitive category and subcategory tree.

Keep in mind that each country or region most likely has their own standards of how they present this data based on what their respective audience is used to. An important requirement for international eCommerce revolves around properly translating all website content, as inaccuracies can negatively impact usability. If the words are not clear and they're not accurately representing the content, then you have a usability issue which will unfavorably impact the application’s effectiveness.

After navigation is correctly implemented, the other aspect to consider is search. The search function needs to be intelligent, work well with fuzzy logic and just generally have a concept of a feedback loop. For example, search could return, and order results based on what people are buying in specific regions, or at least showing intent to buy. Maybe when users are staying on a product detail page for a long time and reviewing, this is a clue towards their intention to buy. Since we want to know what works best from all the alternative search results, it makes sense to have a robust search capability paired with a logically standardized navigation.

A general rule dictates how the overall user experience needs to follow the industry best practices for minimal information. In other words, not showing too much information whenever the end user is displaying any of the following:

  • The listing views
  • The grid views
  • Any product view with filters
  • The product details
  • The cart
  • Checkout

You may have callouts or anchor tags to jump elsewhere on the page, such as additional details further down, or use expand and collapse to show more details. But you definitely want to maintain simplicity in the process for the end users. There should be a streamlined flow from navigation and search, to finding the items, being able to quickly filter, and then adding those items to the cart and checking out.

In addition, there are a lot of detailed studies that deal with user experience and can help guide improvement in this area. One of the studies which is commonly referenced is the Nielsen Norman Group (NNG) study for user experience. The NNG conducts specific studies about eCommerce, and a highlighted core concept in some of their recent studies concerns content and language for international eCommerce. The NNG findings support the idea of generally keeping things simple and clean, while both characteristics are viewed as standard industry best practices.

How can Clarity Help

Clarity International eCommerce Experts

We certainly recommend keeping things simple and being able to show credibility on the site. Also find out what devices your users employ to access your website and focus on replicating their experience. It would tremendously help to record user sessions and examine the actual heat map of what users view and click on each page. These actions will collectively assist in driving detailed feedback and data into your decision making, so that you can continue to operate with a constantly improving international eCommerce site usability.

As always, our team will be very happy to provide assistance and answer any questions you may have. We definitely welcome you to reach out to our friendly and knowledgeable staff. Our experts will be glad to point you to relevant resources or additional information, should you require more than what this article provides. Once again, we encourage you to feel free to contact us about any inquiries or needs analysis. In the meantime, you may wish to review some of the supplementary articles below about international and global eCommerce at your discretion.

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