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Friday, Jun. 29, 2007 at 5:44 am

Perception is Reality… At Least That’s What it Seems Like

By Peter Lee
June 29th, 2007

http://library.thinkquest.org/C005704/media/perception_vase.gif

Let’s play a simple game. Tell me what this picture is.

Most of you probably thought of a candlestick or two faces, right? Well, which one is correct? Both are and that’s because we believe what our eyes tell us.

You’d think if you’ve seen one checkout process, you’ve seen them all. How different can putting your name, address, and payment info be? We all like variety in our lives, but shouldn’t this be one of the simplest things? Still, every time I’m ready to checkout, I get thrown a curve-ball and yet another reason to leave the site.

As I scroll down the page, there are forms and fields I’ve never seen before. How long is this process? Why are you asking me this question?

The perception of time and length of the checkout process plays a major role with how visitors view usability. Ask anyone who’s purchased online, and they’ll tell you, just keep it simple, stupid! Yet e-tailers never fail to make it an experience you WANT to forget.

If e-commerce sites want their visitors to turn into satisfied paying customers, listen up:

Be transparent from the beginning.
Even before your visitors get into the checkout process they should have some simple questions answered. These questions include when the item will ship, what are the shipping and handling fees and what are your return, privacy and security policies. This will prevent shopping cart abandonment and resentment when they have to fill out several forms just to get all these simple questions answered.

Get right to the point.
Keep it as simple and intuitive as possible. Name, address, and payment info. What else do you really need to know? Don’t distract visitors with colorful flash or crazy questions that make them wonder what any of this has to do with them purchasing right now.

Don’t make me scroll.
If you can limit the amount of scrolling on a checkout page, do it. The more you make a visitor scroll, the longer they perceive the process to be. If the scroll bar looks like it will go on forever it makes them feel filling out the form will too. Shorter forms that are stacked all onto one page seem more time-consuming than slightly longer forms over multiple pages. Remind customers with a “breadcrumb” page indicator of which step they’re at in the checkout process and how many more steps until they can go back to watching TV. Why does it need to be more than 3? Keep them focused on the task at hand.

So where do I pay?
Get them in, get them out. Customers who enter the checkout process WANT to give you their money. So, Get the Cash! Clearly show them what they need to do and how to do it. Make each step intuitive, provide assurances at each step, and offer more than one payment option upfront. This is the last place you want them to take a second guess.

If visitors perceive something to be a negative, it probably is. You work hard to get visitors to close. Don’t make it any harder when they want to give you their money. Play nice and you’ll have the most popular checkout on the block.

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Comments (5)

  1. Lexi…

    One notable blogging tool that does not support trackback yet is Blogger.It has since been implemented in most other blogging tools….

  2. “Don’t make me scroll” rule is really right. I remember when my friend who tell me excatly the sam thing. After he improved that the income was much better.

  3. I would say “get right to the point” is also matter.

  4. Don’t make me scroll, just give me the stuff I want in full view.

  5. just be honest, seriously

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