Increase online sales using 5 UX principles applied by the inventor of eCommerce


Schuh increased smartphone conversions by removing obstacles to buyer research that’s ...


The customers order their goods through special order forms. Product codes are attached to each ordered item (usually by the customer) and these are typed into the microcomputer by an assistant… Trolley loads of goods are then assembled at a dispatch-point where they are resorted into individual baskets and the contents checked against copies of the orders.
— “How the system works” from a media report on the Videotex online shopping system


“How easy is it to make mistakes while using your website? How easy is it to correct these mistakes?”



To err is human… to leave users hanging when they make a mistake is a straight-up a**hole move. Think that language is uncalled for? Try listening to the words that come out of a frustrated user’s face-hole.

Michael Aldrich was aware of the danger of errors, so fail-safes were put in place to prevent them. Of course, the kinds of errors today’s eCommerce websites have to prevent are way more complex.

When you think of errors, images of form fields and search bars probably pop into your mind. You’ll likely think of areas where users are expected to make mistakes.

But we’re more concerned about the parts of your site that appear to be working well but are actually so full of glitches, it’s like Neo vs. Agent Smith up in there.

These are the most dangerous because you can’t fix errors you don’t know about.


What can only users tell you about being “smooth-sailin’”?

If you want to weed out errors that you don’t know about – and there are errors that you don’t know about – you need to ask your users to point them out.

Why? Because there’s no replicating the variables at work when different people, using different devices, on different internet connections, from different parts of the planet, at different times of the day use your website.

It just can’t be done. There are aspects of your site that will appear to work fine to everyone in your company (you’re all on the same network, probably using identical devices), which are actually a nightmare for a significant number of your users.

And unless you regularly test with random groups of people, your site is where errors and glitches will hide out from the UX police.  


Case study:

Schuh case study: sometimes, your greatest strength is hiding a fatal weakness

Have you ever been on an eCommerce site that offered an amazing feature... which didn’t work when you tried to use it?

It makes us even more disappointed than if the feature weren’t offered at all! Because now the site has over-promised and under-delivered.

Customer reviews are amazing – they can be your website’s greatest strength, if properly done. They can increase sales by 18%. Site visitors who interact with both reviews, and customer questions and answers, are 105% more likely to purchase while visiting.

But for Schuh, customer reviews were also harbouring fugitive errors.

Schuh increased smartphone conversions

Schuh’s mission is “to provide individual high-fashion footwear, sold in a unique and exciting retail environment.” In short, they sell shoes that make your feet feel like royalty.

Schuh had invested heavily in its online presence and wanted to make sure users had a great experience – no matter where, when or how they were using its site. So it ran remote user experience tests on its smartphone website with WhatUsersDo.

Errors you know about vs. errors you don’t know about

As users browsed products on the Schuh website, we noticed that many couldn’t access customer reviews – even though there were links that suggested customer reviews were available and that users could access them.

This lady was left confused when she couldn’t read reviews – she mentions that she’d prefer to do so before making a purchase:

Now look at how much of a difference access to reviews makes to another user:

Even worse, once users had clicked and were unable to view customer reviews, there was no way of correcting the error. Users had no idea what had gone wrong or why, and whether or not there was anything they could do to get what they wanted.

Without UX testing, Schuh could have continued for years without realising that some users had trouble accessing reviews – a major factor affecting whether or not they buy.

It wouldn’t have known about the error, so it would’ve done nothing to help users recover.  

How did Schuh solve this problem?

Looking on the current Schuh mobile site, reviews are simply displayed on the same page as the product – no need to click through.




An elegant solution that avoids the situation creating an error in the first place. The Schuh guys even added some nifty features to their reviews while they were at it. #Winning

What were the results of user experience testing?

After running one batch of tests on its smartphone site, Schuh saw a marked increase in smartphone conversions – as with ASOS, we can’t say by how much. But here’s a testimonial from the online development manager that worked with WhatUsersDo:


“A quick, easy and cost-effective way to get immediate, quality feedback on problems your customers are facing today. On the back of the feedback we received regarding the difficulties faced in stock reservation, we made the reservation services more obvious which resulted in an increase in conversions.”
— Stuart Findlay, Online Development Manager, Schuh


Wouldn’t you like to fix some super-simple issues that are obvious to users but not to you? It’s extra revenue, just sitting there... begging for you to make a move.