On average, around 60% of your potential customers are departing from the checkout line. Why is this? A big part of the reason is that users are confused and frustrated when trying to checkout on your site. Here are 8 tips (in no particular order of importance) for you to reduce the frustration and improve your shopping cart abandonment rate.

  1. Use Labels Combined with Placeholder Text

    HTML5 allows us to use placeholder text for all of our form fields without the need for javascript. As the spec says:

    The placeholder attribute represents a short hint (a word or short phrase) intended to aid the user with data entry. A hint could be a sample value or a brief description of the expected format.

    A solid label combined with a good example makes for happy customers.

  2. Use Explanatory Text When Necessary

    So when exactly is explanatory text “necessary”? It is necessary when you are requesting any seemingly unimportant, ambiguous, or intrusive information from your customers during the checkout process. Depending on your industry, a phone number may be considered unimportant. Users may question why you need it.

  3. Use Descriptive Link & Button Text

    In other words, do not use “back” and “continue” for users to navigate through your checkout. Do you mean “back” to the previous page? Or maybe “continue” shopping? Tell users what you mean. Use descriptive phrases like “Next Step” or “Previous Step”. And hey, maybe you could even throw in some arrows on the buttons for visual aid!

  4. Reinforce Security on Sensitive Fields

    Even though your entire checkout page may be completely secured, a user may not know that. You need to reinforce the security throughout the checkout process, particularly in sections/steps where the user is entering sensitive data like credit card information, account numbers, etc. Badges, SSL cert verification and a clever use of icons and colors will all help to make users feel more secure.

  5. Format Expiration Date Fields Correctly

    Studies show the highest success rates occur when the expiration fields appear exactly as they appear on the customer’s credit card. This is because there is less visual parsing required for the user to figure out how to properly enter their expiration date. Perhaps you could even place a slash between the Month and Year dropdown fields.

  6. Don’t Make Customers Repeat Themselves

    If a the customers billing and shipping addresses are the same, don’t make them type it in twice. It only makes for more frustration, more more errors, and more abandonment. I always assume that the customers billing and shipping addresses are the same, but give them the option to change them if necessarily. This seems far more logical as it is the case most of the time.

  7. Use Validation Properly

    Nobody likes to be told only when things are wrong. You should also be telling customers when they are right. Either way, you need to keep validation messages inline, or at least in close proximity to the field they are applicable to. Nothing is more confusing then when something goes haywire and a customer cannot figure out what it is. Lastly, write your validation messages in plain, easy to understand English.

  8. Do Not Require Customers to Register, Period

    You don’t need to fill out a registration form when you buy something in a brick and mortar store. You shouldn’t need to Online either.

Posted by: John Dugan