Podcast 53: Ecommerce Usability

Paul Boag

Product information can make or break an ecommerce site. In this week’s show we look at the usability of ecommerce sites and in particular how you display your products.

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Recently I have been reading Jakob Nielsen’s book “Prioritizing Web Usability”. Although I don’t always agree with everything Jakob says this is an invaluable resource and I strongly recommend that you consider buying it.

I have just finished the chapter on product information for ecommerce sites. What he had to say on the subject was so good that I thought I would share some of it with you.

We cover:

  • Pricing – What to display and how to display it
  • Common Questions – Ensuring you address FAQs on subjects like delivery, returns and security
  • Product descriptions
  • Layering product information so as not to overwhelm users
  • Product imagery
  • After sales support
  • Supporting articles on your products and the benefits these provide you as a website owner

Later in the show we also discuss some of the comments about ecommerce usability made, in the boagworld.com forum.  Unfortunately we couldn’t cover all of the issues discussed so if you would like more detail visit the ecommerce thread on our message board.

In the news

There are some very interesting stories in the news this week. Probably the biggest story is the possibility that Google intend to by YouTube. For more information on this acquisition check out TechCrunch’s report. However, more interest to me are two stories found on the BBC website. The first is a report stating that people are more concerned about net crime than being burgled. This remarkable report emphasises the need to reassure users continually about the privacy and security of their personal information. The second article exposes the fact that despite people being more tech-savvy than ever before, they are still left confused by the mass of technical jargon online.


Finally, we review an easy to implement ecommerce system called Shopify. Although not quite as straightforward as RightCart it does have considerably more features and is definitely worth checking out if you are considering a small scale ecommerce website. For a more complete rundown of the different ecommerce packages available read the ecommerce software thread on our forum.