Business

The Key UX Features of a WordPress eCommerce Theme

We explore some vital user experience features you’ll want to look out for when choosing a WordPress eCommerce theme.

In recent years, WordPress has gained a large market share of eCommerce websites. WooCommerce, the popular shopping cart plugin, is itself running 9% of all online stores. Beyond that, there are a number of other shopping cart plugins that will turn your WordPress site into an eCommerce powerhouse.

There are many reasons why shop owners choose WordPress over other platforms, such as its ease in managing multiple types of content, a friendly (and helpful) community and the relatively low cost of getting a store up and running. There a number of free WordPress eCommerce themes and premium themes available – empowering you to create a store that looks and functions exactly the way you want.

But, what should you look for? Let’s explore some vital user experience features you’ll want to look out for in a WordPress eCommerce theme. We’ll review the ins and outs of these elements and trends and help you find the best fit for your store and your customers.

Enhance Customer Convenience

The first goal of an eCommerce site should be to make things as easy as possible for your customers. You’ll want to focus on features that will enable them to quickly find what they’re looking for. Ideally, a specific product or product category shouldn’t be more than one or two clicks away at any given time.

Conveniences like live search and quick views of product details will lead to more sales and improve customer loyalty.

Here are a few items you can add to your shop that will help customers find what they’re looking for.

Live Search

Using an Ajax-powered live search, customers can find what they’re looking for as they type. The Milano WordPress theme includes live search capability that adds class and convenience to your shop. Start searching and you’ll find that relevant products are displayed as you enter in keywords or phrases.

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As with all the themes in our roundup, Milano is compatible with WooCommerce and can work with a variety of different product types. It includes multiple homepage layouts, advanced product filtering and the ability zoom in on photos. Visual Composer is included to allow for creating advanced page layouts without using code.

Well-Organized Navigation

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If your store has a lot of categories you’ll need navigation that makes finding a particular choice simple. Much like the method used by Amazon, TheBox uses built-in mega menus to arrange large amounts of links into an easy-to-read format. Customers will have no problem finding the specific category they’re looking for.

TheBox has 7 homepage layouts to help you achieve your desired look. Also included are Visual Composer, Revolution Slider, multiple header/footer styles and 8 product page layouts.

Quickly View Product Details

With Quick View, your visitors can easily see relevant product details in a modal window without having to navigate to another page. KuteShop has this functionality baked right in. Simply hover your mouse over a product and click the Quick View icon to activate.

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A highly-customized WooCommerce theme, KuteShop features more than 15 home page layouts and the ability to create unlimited header/footer layouts. There is also a handy tabbed content area that will display your best-selling, new and on sale products.

Advanced Product Filtering

Advanced Product Filtering will help your customers find what they are looking for – down to the finest details. The filtering featured within the Ekora theme can break products down by price range, colors, sizes and more.

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Also included are multiple page layouts, Visual Composer, “sticky” headers and Product Quick View.

Encourage Community

If you’re looking to build customer loyalty, make your website more than just another shop. Create a community where they can interact with you (and maybe even other customers).

Provide your customers with a way to interact through features like product ratings and even a blog. The more invested people are in your community, the more likely they are to become repeat customers and recommend you to friends.

Let’s take a look at some ways to make your site more interactive.

Customer Reviews

If you’re using WooCommerce, a reviews system is already built in. But using the Need theme will make it even more attractive. The layout is both easy on the eyes and quite functional, too.

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Need features a 1-click installation of any one of their four demo layouts. This will allow you to easily see exactly how to replicate a specific look. It also includes Visual Composer, Slider Revolution, mega menus and parallax scrolling effects.

Social Sharing

The ability to share products on social media seems like a given. But it’s amazing how many stores don’t take advantage of this simple functionality. VG Optician prominently displays sharing on its product page template. Just think of all the potential sales that could be generated by this small step.

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VG Optician also comes bundled with some awesome plugins like Visual Composer, Mega Main Menu, VG WooCarousel, VG PostCarousel and Revolution Slider.

Promotional Blogging

WordPress started out as a blogging platform – something that’s still in its core DNA. So it’s only natural that your shop takes advantage. Outlet is a theme that takes blogging seriously and boasts an attractive layout for communicating with your customers.

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Other useful features include 18+ unique demo layouts, 100+ included shortcodes, Lookbooks, parallax scrolling and lots of options to customize the theme.

Testimonials

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Testimonials, like the one shown above in the Umbra theme, can be quite powerful and help to influence purchasing decisions. But they also can help to build community. Customers who see their testimonial posted to your site will feel like their opinion matters to you. Knowing that they are heard and respected goes a long way to encourage customers to build a bond with your business.

Umbra also features 7 homepage layouts, mega menus, Product Quick View, Visual Composer and Revolution Slider.

Extras That Keep Customers Coming Back

While there are certain basics that just about every eCommerce site has, what is it that makes the best stand out?

Standing out from your competitors doesn’t mean being radically different or re-inventing the wheel. It’s all about adding those little touches that will make your customers enjoy using your site.

Here are a few features that will make for happy customers.

Wish Lists

In a world where consumers often conduct product research before they buy, wish lists are a terrific way to keep them coming back to you. Imagine, for example, a customer coming to your store and adding a few cell phones to their list. Now they can do their research and easily return to buy the phone they’ve chosen. Using the Kanta theme, your customers will be able to do just that.

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Kanta also includes Ajax live search, advanced product filtering, 4 home page layouts and copies of both Visual Composer and Revolution Slider.

Make Sales an Event

Bargain hunters will surely enjoy the fun Sale Countdown feature of the Goetze theme. Think of it as having your own flash sales, much like Amazon’s Lightning Deals. Prominently displayed limited time offers are a great way to drive sales.

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Other features include 6 homepage layouts, Product Quick View, Wish Lists and a products tab carousel.

Detailed Image Zoom

Product details aren’t just limited to a text description. Apparel features Image Zoom to allow shoppers to truly see the fine details of your products. Simply hover your mouse over the product image and a zoomed-in version will appear to the right. This is an especially important feature if you sell clothing or home decor.

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Also included are advanced product filtering, a nifty sidebar menu for navigating your shop, category images and multiple product layouts.

Related Products

Displaying a selected group of related products is highly recommended. As seen above in the Bronx theme, related products will guide your customers towards other items that complement the product they’re currently viewing.

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Also featured are Lookbooks – which are special collections of products put together through Visual Composer, along with multiple layout styles. Bronx is compatible with WooCommerce and other popular WordPress eCommerce plugins.

The Tools to Make it Your Own

Now that we’ve seen some elements that make for a great WordPress eCommerce theme, it’s time to think about how to make them work for your brand. While your website doesn’t need to have every single feature mentioned here, you’ll certainly want to consider the concepts behind them.

Making products easier to find, building community and the addition of other conveniences are ultimately about creating a pleasing experience for your customers.

If you don’t currently have an online store, think about what will matter most to customers. For those of you who already sell online, review your current site to see what you could be doing better. And, in the spirit of community, you may even want to ask for suggestions from current customers.

Running an online store is a challenge. Thankfully, there are a wide array of themes and features available that can provide you with the tools for success.

Related article: The latest WordPress eCommerce design trends

Featured Image Source: greatsimple.


About the Author Eric Karkovack

Eric Karkovack is a web designer with well over a decade of experience. You can visit his business site here. In July 2013, Eric released his first eBook: Your Guide to Becoming a Freelance Web Designer. You can follow his rants on Twitter @karks88.