As business owners, photographers need
to worry about every detail of their business, and making quality images
is the easy part. The difficulty comes when they venture into areas
outside of their expertise – website design and construction, and
e-commerce processes usually fall well beyond a photographer’s comfort
We recently did a ground-up rebuild of the PhotoShelter shopping
cart, and a tremendous amount of user research went into it. So, what
are the most important user interface elements found within an effective
shopping cart when it comes to photographer websites?
The 7 Most Important Online Shopping Cart Features for Photographer Websites
1) Make it easy and obvious to start the buying process.
Not only should there be a “buy” button that’s easy to find, but there should be buttons in various places throughout the website. For example, putting buttons next to the image is a logical place, but you should also make it possible for people to add images to their cart at the thumbnail view too.
2) Require as little as possible from the user.
Don’t require a user to supply a ton of information just to buy something from you. They shouldn’t have to register for an account before they can buy something. Embrace “gradual engagement” as much as possible, don’t ask them anything unless you absolutely have to, and only when it’s necessary (and natural) in the process.
3) Provide constant feedback and status updates.
People like to know where they are in the checkout process, and how much time they have left until their order has been placed. They also like getting confirmation that they just completed an action, like “You just added 2 items to your shopping cart.”
4) Show the total as you go.
One big mistake is to hide the order total until the very end, when the user has decided to check out. This is the wrong time to spring a big price-tag on them because they might decide that it’s easier to just bail out rather than try to figure out how to get rid of some of the items.
Buyers like to know their total as early-on in the process as possible. This includes estimated shipping charges as well. By letting them know what they’ve spent early on, you’ll avoid giving them sticker shock at the end, and they’re more likely to finish the checkout process.
5) Cart contents should be obvious.
Your users shouldn’t have to wait until the “checkout” process before they can see what they’ve added to the cart. The shopping cart contents should be easy to view no matter where you are in the website. The user shouldn’t have to leave your images just to see what they’ve already selected.
People like “active carts” – meaning that the information displayed on the page that you’re on changes dynamically based on other shopping activity (i.e. having a smart navigation link that knows exactly how much is in their cart.)
6) Don’t require information to be entered twice.
Did you ever call the cable or phone company and have to enter your account number before they’ll connect you — and then when you are finally connected with a real person, they ask you the account number again? You hate that, right? So why would you require your customers to do this? Be mindful of these instances, and avoid them. (One simple place to start: shipping & billing information.)
7) Keep the checkout process as short as possible.
The shorter the process, the more people will complete the checkout process. This is a fact. Remove steps, and simplify everything wherever possible. One great way to shorten the process is to have a “Batch add to cart” feature, so your users can add many images to the cart at the same time.
The new PhotoShelter shopping cart addresses all 7 of these points head-on, creating a smoother, more effective, easier-to-use process for a customers. So, shopping cart user interfaces are one less detail you have to worry about.