Doing Checkouts Right

On Facebook, Smashing Magazine linked to an interesting article by Christian Holst called, “One Page Checkouts – the Holy Grail of Checkout Usability?” The punch-line was no, that a well-designed multi-page checkout probably was just as good as a single-page one. (Evidence to the contrary could be connected with the fact that usually comparisons are done between optimized one-page approaches and “bad” multi-page ones.)

Holst does suggest a couple benefits to single-page checkout approaches (“it’s easy to talk about” and “it makes tough decisions easier”), but the most valuable feature of the article was pointing to a very informative piece on Smashing Magazine’s web site called, “Fundamental Guidelines Of E-Commerce Checkout Design.” It is a fairly long post, but well worth the read—I found myself mentally nodding to points it made as I reflected on my web experiences (including a rather frustrating one applying for a job with Comcast yesterday).

My recommendation is that you take the time to review the 11 principles shared by Smashing Magazine and compare it to the software you place before your customers. My guess is that you’ll quickly find items that discourage them from completing the transaction/process/etcetera. If your company provides software, you can then queue up some beneficial improvements. If you are a consumer of someone else’s product, you can ask them to make changes because they are affecting your bottom line (both in abandoned sales and the potential that a frustrated buyer will not ever return because it’s not worth the pain, they didn’t feel safe giving you their credit card, you seem a bit too nosey about their personal information, and so on).

Wrapping up with a good portion of their summary, here’s something to think about:

In a study that he conducted 10 years ago, usability guru Jakob Nielsen concluded that large e-commerce websites violated many basic checkout usability guidelines. It seems little has changed when you look at websites like AllPosters and Walmart.

While a lot of the big websites boast impressive features such as geo-targeting, address validation and state look-up, they don’t manage to get basic usability principles right, and they suffer greatly as a consequence.

With the latest improvements in Web technology and browsers, the potential to create an amazing user experience has increased dramatically. Yet, advanced features shouldn’t be the focus until basic usability guidelines are met. If we add the latest technology just because it’s new and exciting, then today’s abandonment rate of 59.8% is unlikely to decrease.

Things like meaningful flow (see guideline 1), good copywriting (2, 3), simple form design (4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9), and privacy considerations (10 and 11) go a long way to creating a great checkout experience.

Why are your customers walking away?

There is a solution…

Want to chat about this?

(This article is cross-posted at

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