The 7 Most Important Online Shopping Cart Features for Photographer Websites

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.

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This article was written by

PhotoShelter co-founder and GM

There are 4 comments for this article
  1. Harry, ExposedPlanet at 11:26 pm

    Good points, I assume they were either the blueprint for or the analysis of the new PS cart? For foreign buyers, I would like to add that shipping rates should be calculated (at least approximately), just based on country. I have left many shopping carts because I first had to leave all personal data almost up till my mother’s maiden name before fining shipping costs, while my country alone would do the trick, as for most countries it does not matter where you live inside that country.. One specific PS question: if I remember correct, there was an issue when checking out at PS when you have images of different artists in your cart. Is this fixed in the new version, so that buyers can collect art from various sources and payment will be distributed between them? Cheers, Harry

  2. Michael Lantz at 11:25 pm

    Just like in real life.You need to provide good online customer service as well.I work in retail and you want the customer to keep returning to you website for future need to make it easily for you customer to order.

  3. Glen, NetiDnow at 7:05 pm

    I’d have to agree with making sure customers shouldn’t be re-entering their information again and again when they’ve already done it in the beginning of the transaction. Also, I’d have to add that adding multiple product photos (in different angles) and enabling photos to be zoomed in and out is important as well. As customers, we need to make sure we really want the product we’re getting.

  4. Andrew at 6:33 am

    Very good points. Better usability = better conversion. I would also add “loading time”. On some websites you have to wait a few seconds until the page fully loads which is very annoying. Especially on ecommerce sites where you have to wait each time you add an item to your cart. So performance also affects conversion.

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