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11 Usability Tips for Your Online Shop to Prepare for the Christmas Rush

For most online shops, the Christmas season presents huge potential for big sales and revenue, as everyone rushes to get their Christmas shopping done before December 25th. To make Christmas shopping a pleasure rather than a frustration for your customers, you should guarantee a perfect user experience. In this article, we’ll show you which adjustments you should make to get your website ready for the Christmas rush.

1. Create the perfect first impression: above the fold:

The first impression can determine how we perceive something for a long time to come, and we only need a few tenths of a second to gain this impression. This first impression is particularly important in e-commerce. It’s decisive for whether a new visitor stays in your online shop or leaves it immediately.

The first thing a user sees when they arrive on your site is the visible area above the fold. Make sure that you place content and elements there that encourage your visitors to stay. Of course, your chances of conversion increase the longer your visitors stay.

The most important elements above the fold are:

  • A USP for a product, your shop, your offer or a category: the USP should immediately provide a convincing argument for the user to stay on your site.

  • Your company logo, or the product brand presented in the URL: The logo strengthens the recognition value and trust in your site.

  • A simple navigation: if your customer doesn’t immediately find what they are looking for, they will quickly go to another website.

  • A call-to-action: Requests for action are useful for encouraging clicks.

  • A search function: customers today are used to quickly searching for what they want. A central search bar above the fold can significantly improve usability and increase the time on page.

2. Speed matters – make your shop faster for more conversions

Have you ever been to a restaurant and had to wait several minutes before being served? Didn't you feel like leaving and going somewhere else? Visitors to online shops on the internet are even more impatient. According to Google data, the bounce rate on mobile websites increases by 32 percent if the loading time increases from one to three seconds. With about five seconds longer to load, users are 90 percent more likely to bounce.

If you want to know how your sales can develop with longer loading times, you can use the free Google Impact Calculator. These are only estimates, of course, but once you've looked at this data, you'll soon realize that "time is money" in e-commerce is not just a saying.

To get a first overview of the performance of your shop, you can start the Google PageSpeed Insights. Ryte also offers you a clear view of your slow and very slow pages with the loading time report in Website Success.


Figure 1: Check loading times with Ryte

PageSpeed optimization depends on many factors. Find out more about how you can improve your page speed in this article.

3. Think of the Joy of Use: Shopping should be a pleasure

Online shopping should be more than just moving products into the shopping basket, and then clicking to order. An important aspect here is the "Joy of Use". The thought behind it: a person who enjoys spending time in your online shop and for example enjoys special functions is more likely to buy something than a person who doesn't enjoy your shop.

There are no fixed rules for Joy of Use, but these points could provide you with some inspiration:

  • Create an individual mouse pointer for your shop.

  • Animate your slideshows. You can also animate complete backgrounds, for example like https://answerthepublic.com/.

  • Work on small, gamification details

However, it’s important that Joy of Use elements remain in the foreground, and that they do not affect the performance of your site. For example, large graphics can cause the page speed to slow down. In this case, the performance of your site is more important.

4. Showcase your products with high-quality image material

As an online shop owner, you should always remember that your customers cannot experience the products haptically. The only way to present your products to your customers is optically. Product images therefore play a particularly important role (in combination with a detailed and appealing product description). These ensure that your customers get a perfect impression of your product.

Try to present your products as attractively as possible.

  • Get the manufacturer's product images in the highest resolution possible. Then compress the image material so you don’t generate an unnecessary amount of data, which will make your page load slowly.

  • Make sure that your products are professionally photographed - taking pictures of a few products quickly with a smartphone is not a sensible solution. If your pictures are high quality, unique and show your products in the best light, you have a good chance of convincing your buyers.

  • Make sure that your pictures can be seen on every possible end device. Avoid Flash.

  • Add product videos to your product images. When professionally made, animated or moving pictures can positively influence the purchase decision.

5. Optimize the product description and create texts with added value

Don’t under evaluate the effect of product descriptions. When well made, good product descriptions can completely replace sales advice. Make sure your product descriptions contain the following points:

  • Information: The product description tells your customers everything they need to know about the item on offer. This can help reduce return rates, for example.

  • USP: All advantages of the product as well as the unique selling propositions are presented briefly and concisely.

  • Problem solving: A good product description is not only descriptive, but also solution-oriented and shows your users which problems the product can help with. Try to answer all questions a user might have about this product.

  • User orientation: You always create product descriptions for your target group. The product descriptions should therefore contain all necessary keywords and correspond to the tonality of the customers. Depending on your branch (for example fashion or toys), you should try and appeal directly to your users' feelings. This is even more the case during the Christmas period as people are buying Christmas gifts for their friends and family.

As well as the content, the structure also plays a role in product descriptions. It enables your users to grasp the content as quickly as possible.

  • Use sentences that are easy to understand and as short as possible.

  • Add bullet point lists to the description. They make it easier for users to quickly capture the content.

  • Insert headings. Use the main keyword in the h1 heading.

  • Structure the description into meaningful, short paragraphs.

Ultimately, you also want your product description to be found by Google, so it's best to optimize the texts with a TF*IDF tool. It allows you to find and use all relevant terms for your product.


Figure 2: TF*IDF Analysis with Ryte

6. Challenge your customers to act with a clear Call-to-Action (CTA)

Even if your customers come to your online shop with an intention to purchase, you should always encourage them to buy. Call-to-Action plays an important role here. Whether as a button on the product page or in the content, your customers need a little push. Studies have not only proved the value of a call to action, but also that a larger call-to-action button can increase conversions.

What you should keep in mind when using call-to-action buttons:

  • Give it a clearly defined shape: Whether square or round, with your own graphics you will get the attention you need. Maintain this design throughout the entire website to remain consistent.

  • Give it eye-catching colors: Whether you work with complementary colors or signal colors here, you can make dependent on the general shop design. It is important that the CTA catches the eye.

  • Make it big enough: With a CTA, the size is a decisive factor. Try to make the button as big as possible without affecting the layout.

  • Test different versions: Before the Christmas season really takes off, you can test different CTA versions for example with AB Testing and then choose the button with the better performance.

  • Give it the right words: What should the customer do with the click on the button? Buy? Call? Order? Usually just two words are enough to animate your customers to act.

7. Design clarity is more important than consistency

Consistency is an important aspect of web design alongside usability. This ensures that your users can use similar functions on every subpage of your shop and that the structure is always the same.

However, a stringent and uniform structure are of little use if your design is not clear. You can already set the decisive course for the effect of your offer with the choice of colours in the web shop.

Colour psychology plays a central role in web design. While blue, for example, stands for calm and reliability, orange is mainly used as a contrasting colour to highlight certain areas.

You should pay attention to these factors:

  • Is your shop in the corporate design? Is there a corporate design?

  • Do you use too many colors, which makes everything somewhat "unclear"?

  • Do the colours match your products or your target group?

  • Are CTA buttons clearly recognizable?

You should also bear in mind that, in many areas, more than half of internet users are on mobile devices. When it comes to mobile usage, your customers look at a smaller screen. Then a clear, unambiguous design is even more important so that potential buyers don't lose track.

8. Ensure a secure and transparent ordering process

A very sensitive area in every online shop is the shopping cart and payment process. This is where customers have to enter their personal details and select a payment method. If you don't manage to create the necessary trust in the check-out process, many customers can jump out. This would have a particularly negative effect on the pre-Christmas business. What you can do to make the payment process secure and trusting:

  • Use SSL encryption for all payment processes.

  • Offer your customers multiple trusted payment methods.

  • Make possible shipping costs transparent.

  • Create a conversion funnel without distractions if possible, for example by hiding the shop menu.

  • Highlight the most important security aspects of your payment process for the user, such as right of return, secure payment process, data protection or SSL encryption.

  • Add trust elements such as certificates to increase trust.

9. Create trust with Social Proof - for a "yes" to purchase

In online shopping, of course, price plays a very central role. But, there is a factor that it is even above saving money: social proof. When other people make a recommendation, an opinion or a rating about a product, it has a significant impact on our purchasing decision. Studies have shown that recommendations as trust signals can be even more important than the price of a product.

You should also use this advantage. Therefore, make sure you include customer opinions, recommendations, or testimonials in your shop.

There are many providers such as eKomi, Google customer reviews or Trusted Shops to help you collect transparent and honest customer opinions.

Lots of content management systems also offer their own possibilities for customers to rate products in your shop.

10. Be available for queries - by chat, mail or phone

Online shops have the big advantage for customers that the product range is available 24 hours a day. However, with online shops, it is of course more difficult to get in touch with the customer service team compared to stores. When it comes to UX and search engine optimization, many online shops neglect the fact that their customers are communicative beings and may want to ask questions about products or shipping.

You should therefore offer your customers an opportunity to make direct contact. A telephone hotline is the classic way of doing this, but a service chat is also very practical. You should implement the chat possibility page-wide, so that your customers can contact you with just one click.

Illustration: Chat solution from soliver.de with additional selection of the request.

Additional tip: Check regularly if your site is reachable.

As expected, there will be more traffic on your site during the Christmas business. Therefore it is all the more important that your server is continuously accessible. With Ryte, server monitoring is possible with one click. You can find the report in the Website Success module.


Figure 4: Server monitoring with Ryte.


Have you now found enough inspiration to make your shop fit for the Christmas business? You should start immediately with the implementation, so that Christmas doesn’t creep up on you too suddenly..
Happy Optimizing!

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Published on Sep 28, 2018 by Olivia Willson