UX Design has been one of the most searched jobs on Google and LinkedIn since 2020 and one of the trendiest jobs in our world during the pandemic and post-pandemic, according to different data disclosed by LinkedIn. But why? How? Where does this job come from? What does it correspond to? 

To understand the interest in UX, we must begin to understand the changes in the vision of companies. This comes mainly from an awareness that customers are no longer customers. They have become users. The emergence of greater competition, new tools (smartphones, tablets, etc.), and a world of subscriptions and multiple purchases. Companies are now talking more about LTV (lifetime value) and not just margin on the sale of a product. 

UX is therefore an integral part of this new business model. E-commerce has been widely used to study user behavior both online and offline. The goal is to increase the value of the baskets, offer a clearer “value proposition”, more in line with the wishes of users, and remove the friction that causes users to leave the store (online or physical) too quickly and without buying. 


The history of UX design, before eCommerce

We must break down the word UX design. They are two terms that have been aggregated together. 

UX = is the acronym for “User Experience”

Design = refers firstly to an artistic vision, and secondly, and most importantly, to the design process. 

The origin of UX design is not recent, a first example can be seen during the industrial revolution in the 19th century: department stores in Paris, where the customer journey had been completely redesigned for a better shopping experience. Or among manufacturers who have optimized their industries to allow workers an easier, frictionless and productivity-oriented life. 

Around 1940, the TOYOTA company began to carry out the first user tests to improve the quality of its products and optimize costs. 

The big turning point came at the end of the ’80s when Don Norman (Pope of Design) published the book “The Design of Everyday Things” and this is when the term “User-centered design” was popularized. The second book that will later sanctify the term UX design and direct it towards a more web-based use is Jesse James Garrett’s book, “The Elements of User Experience: User-centered Design for the Web” in 2002.

However, the real revolution that made UX a part of our daily lives was Apple’s iPod and iPhone between 2001 and 2007. The iPhone was the the first mass consumption object, where UX was used intentionally, optimized and explained to customers. 


Why is eCommerce UX design important?

UX design has become a popular tool for entrepreneurs, as our uses of the Web evolve. The biggest example is Amazon, the first site on a global scale that a priori has woven UX design with other more marketing-oriented techniques. It’s so important to Amazon’s strategy that they single-handedly revolutionized payment methods and added the one-click shopping cart model as a standard feature. They also use micro-interactions to make the site appear more alive rather than like a cold sales window. 

Amazon one click checkout

Many others followed and put this vision of the world into practice, including Heinz with his bottle of Ketchup. It is undoubtedly one of the best-known examples of UX design in the Offline world. 

Following the many comments from Heinz management about the difficulty of selling more ketchup, Heinz’s UX design team launched:

  • User tests
  • Focus groups
  • Field analyses

Their efforts resulted in no progress for 3 months. The aha! moment came during a casual encounter. One of the designers on the team came across the following insights:

  • The users were not the parents, but the children!
  • The glass bottle which was a sign of quality, reliability was the trap of an increase in growth 

The result was the creation of a simpler plastic bottle used by children: it was easier to open, easier to squeeze and it gave children independence. Sales figures increased by 23% during the first month of marketing. 


The old and new design of Heinz ketchup bottle packaging

Probably the most relatable example of UI vs UX are the differences between the classic and modern Heinz bottles. The classic is easy to recognize and beautifully designed, but the modern version does a lot better getting you ketchup.

The case of Heinz shows how important user testing is, but above all, the act of properly identifying the target end-user beforehand. Companies often waste a lot of time and resources aiming at the wrong target.  


Is UX design made for eCommerce?

The UX methodology, is extremely efficient and powerful for e-commerce businesses. The most successful e-commerce stores regularly use UX design techniques to improve their performance. 

Above all, UX design for E-commerce consists of in-depth user research. The goal is to keep up to date with market developments, create more intuitive interactions between the site and your users, and reduce friction within the online experience as much as possible.

You can have 2 levels of UX design for your e-commerce website, depending on your capabilities: 

A simplified level: 

  • Occasional user research, like a ritual where you will look at your DATA on your marketing dashboards, identify problems such as cart abandonment, loss of traffic during navigation
  • Create a Benchmark point for your direct and indirect competitors. 
  • Then, conduct interviews with your typical customer target (persona) and see how they interact with your site to identify frictions.
  • Take stock of the changes to be made urgently. 
  • Prioritize then for the following week, month and year 

A high level:

  • Hire an in-house UX designer or call on an agency/freelancer who will continuously make improvements to optimize your interface. 
  • It’s a solution, it’s true, but it remains an expensive investment. Nonetheless, it is the most effective way to always stay at the forefront and see your style impact the market… generally, this investment allows you to make a strong return. 


Final thoughts about UX in e-commerce

E-commerce is the perfect playground to offer UX design to your customers if you haven’t already. 

If I had to summarize UX design for you in a few lines, it would be to regularly review the customers’ needs, and their problems and offer a unique solution that will simplify their lives. Be very specific about your User research. It dictates a cascade of ensuing decisions, you do not want to get wrong. And remember, UX design is a business-oriented scientific technique, so there is no room for personal feelings. You have to be very empathetic and not put your feelings ahead of those of your users.