I bet you make at least one of these mistakes. Furthermore, more likely than not, you’re making the very first one.

But let’s back up first.

Yes, your product should be quality, but KPMG International found that 30 percent of consumers would rather buy from a website they’ve previously bought from. So how do you build trust with users by giving them the best experience possible — and making them feel secure enough to complete a purchase?

Let’s explore seven common user experience (UX) mistakes ecommerce sites make that could end up costing you business.

Mistake 1: Designing for desktop

You have a beautiful site that looks great on a desktop or laptop computer. That’s all good and fair. But, uh, have you checked it out on your smartphone recently? Mobile-first thinking is an absolute must for any website, especially ecommerce.

In 2018, 52.2 percent of all website traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones, up from 50.3 percent in the previous year. Mobile traffic currently accounts for half of all global web pages. And that number is only going to grow. If your site isn’t optimized for mobile or, better yet, responsive design, you’re losing a lot of potential customers and revenue.

Consider these when looking at your website on your phone:

  • Scale. Do you have to pinch and zoom in on anything? Is your font or icons tiny? Can you easily select a CTA button with your thumb without touching anything else?
  • Function. Are any components of your website or certain webpages broken in mobile view, like tables or embeds?

Mistake 2: Bad navigation

The heart of many websites is the menu/navigation. Users should easily be able to find relevant buckets or categories at a glance. And then, even from within a product, the choices they have there (i.e., color, size, quantity) should be easy to find and intuitive to interact with.

Good user experience sites will have products listed out in their main navigation. You can see BestBuy.com doesn’t — they have a main bucket just listed as “Products” instead of the actual product categories themselves. Displaying deeper buckets up front helps someone find what they’re looking for much faster.

A study also found that hiding the first level of product categories in the navigation (like Best Buy does) makes it difficult for users to determine what site they’ve landed on.


However, it’s ok to have the same products under multiple categories. People search for things differently, and oftentimes, a product can fit under more than one category. For example, BestBuy.com displays the same subcategory under multiple categories. “Home Theater Systems” can be found under both “Audio” and “TV and Home Theater.”


You don’t want a customer to have to click three or more times just to get to a product they want. Less clicking is more buying. If BestBuy.com had listed out its products from the main navigation, buyers searching for “home theater systems” would’ve had to click one less time to get to the product.

Of course, if a product does require five clicks on your site, many people might resort to just searching your site via the search bar for a particular item. Which brings us to the next common UX mistake.

Mistake 3: Bad site search

If a user knows exactly what product they’re looking for on your site or they’re frustrated because they can’t find it using the menu options given, they will most likely head straight to the site search bar. Make sure you have a functional search bar!

It’s also important to include any necessary filters and make sure fuzzy, misspelled, and exact searches for product names or model numbers give relevant results. Here are more design tips for a site search your customers will actually like and use.

Mistake 4: No SSL and secure checkout

Do yourself and your customers a huge favor and get an SSL certificate for your site. By having a digital certificate, you can safeguard personal data through an encrypted connection. Your customers will be reassured that the website is safe, their information is protected, and they shouldn’t have any worries about spending their paycheck on your site.

Furthermore: without SSL your visitors will convert less often (reduced trust) and you will have fewer visitors anyway (SSL is now one of Google’s ranking factors).

Mistake 5: Bad checkout experience

If you do have a secure checkout, you also want to ensure you have the following on your site for a smooth checkout process:

  • Guest checkout. Because who wants to spend time making an account and risk getting spammed? Buyers just want to buy! Allow them to do their thing — you’re more likely to have a repeat customer this way.
  • Related products to boost sales. Related products are like the “impulse-buy” candy shelves at the grocery store checkout stand. Something catches your eye and, hey, you’re already checking out, and, hey, maybe it’s on sale so in the cart it goes!
  • Visible shipping rates. Be upfront about shipping options and costs. There’s nothing worse than going to check out and wondering why the cost of everything jumped up significantly. If shipping rates are visible, I’m more likely to add more items to my cart for free shipping or adjust my cart, so my cost with shipping fits my budget.
  • Multiple payment options. There are more options today than just Visa and Mastercard. Including other payment options like PayPal, Apple Pay or AmEx expands your customer market.
  • Simple forms. Don’t use complicated forms, don’t require more fields than you need, and please make sure phone keyboards adjust to the requirements of the field.

Mistake 6: Mishandling out-of-stock items

A user finds the perfect item, exactly what they were looking for and it’s even on sale. Great! Potential customer then goes to add said item to their cart only to be told: “We’re sorry, the item is currently out of stock.”

Would’ve been nice to know upfront the item wasn’t available, right? As a business, you want to instill confidence in your customers. Not appropriately marking items as out of stock is a surefire way to kill that confidence and get your customer to leave your site without buying anything. Make sure you find a way to mark out-of-stock items and maybe even incentivize the shopper to return by apologizing or giving them a promo code.

Mistake 7: Hidden/invisible customer service details

Customer service is essential to consumer retention. Companies that excel at the customer experience drive revenues between 4 and 8 percent higher than those of their market. And friendly employees or customer service representatives are what makes a memorable experience that causes 73 percent of consumers to stick with a brand.

All this to say, you want to make sure that you not only have excellent customer service but promote that excellent customer service visibly on your site. If people have to hunt around for a number to call or a chat icon doesn’t exist anywhere or you don’t post anything at all regarding customer service, it’s an immediate turn-off.

What if a customer has a product question? What if they want to return an item? What if they’re having a website or checkout issue? If these things can’t be resolved because you failed to promote customer service contact information, you’ve lost a customer. Presumably forever.


UX is of the utmost importance for ecommerce sites. Taking special care to make sure your customers can easily find and buy what they want from your site will make a huge difference in your retention and sales.

And if I had to sum everything up in just two words? It would be trust and mobile.

The 7 deadly sins of ecommerce UX

PS. Having a website that looks good on mobile is not a mobile-first approach if you didn’t start with a blank slate and worked on the mobile version first, before moving on to desktop. This makes a big difference in approach, the process, and ultimately – the conversions.