A few years ago I went to a restaurant in London called Bob Bob Ricard. It’s a pretty swanky place though I didn’t think the food was that memorable. However it stays in my mind for one thing: on each table there is a button with a label saying ‘Press for Champagne’ (as per the pic above).
If you press that button, then sure enough the waiter arrives with a bottle of champagne — it’s great fun. Of course like most people, when our group visited we pressed it (more than once). This button has made the place famous and even merits its own tag on TripAdvisor.
Obviously most restaurants don’t have this kind of thing, and you can run a perfectly good restaurant without it, but it fits their opulent brand perfectly. Whilst not essential, a special feature like a champagne button definitely enhances the experience.
In ecommerce website design there are a lot of templates you can follow. From landing pages to checkout there are elements that have been established over time and are now expected by the user.
When it comes to the product page you should be showing product images, the price, a buy button, a description, and perhaps reviews and related products. So far, so standard, but there is room for enhancements to the experience.
Almost every product will have specific information that will need more explaining to the user, to help them bridge the gap between seeing it virtually and experiencing it in the real world. That information will vary from product to product and will be integral to the type of item it is. It’s a great place to do something special with your site’s experience.
A standard example of product-specific information is how items of clothing fit a person. Fit is obviously very important with clothes and something that can’t be truly tested until the user has the item in their hands, so the website needs to find a way to provide this information.
Sensible ecommmerce sites tackle this in a variety of ways, such as simply explaining their sizing with text like ‘Our sizing runs small, please order a larger size than normal’. Sometimes they go further by gathering this detail from each customer review or even showing a variety of images of different types of person wearing the product.
Another standard way to explain product details is the broad solution of Frequently Asked Questions. This allows the website to supply any extra information they think might be pertinent to the user. Commonly this is used to explain a bit more about how a product might work and how it interacts with accessories.
Sometimes this goes further than just text and includes images or video to better explain to the user. Despite this, FAQs are still a somewhat dry solution — it might be that something far more useful can be produced.
Supplying the user with product-specific information can be tackled in more creative ways than fit information and FAQs. Here are three of my favourite examples of more special features in action, which enhance the brands and show they are the experts in their domain.
A core part of the Lush brand is their ethical approach to cosmetics — including being 100% vegetarian and using organic and fair trade ingredients. As a result their product page makes a big deal about what goes into each product, with big and bright imagery.
The key natural ingredients are given lots of screen space and they have created a page of further details for each one, so you can read more about what it is and where they get it from. I don’t think I’ve seen anyone else go this far in explaining exactly what goes into their products and it can only give confidence to users that they are buying a responsible and quality product.
Try some Ray-Bans
When it comes to sunglasses, it really matters how they look on your face — they’re a fashion item before a practical one for many people. Ray-Ban understand this more than most and have invested in a feature for you to ‘try on’ their glasses at home.
This works on desktop and mobile devices and involves the user recording a short video of them turning their head, to which the site can then add your choice of shades. It works surprisingly well and helps users getter a better sense of style options.
It’s exactly the kind of feature a high-end brand like this should be offering their users to help differentiate themselves from cheaper alternatives.
Size your Swiss Gear
Swiss Gear make a variety of bags, wallets, and watches. But just what size are they? This can be hard to get across online.
They have solved this with a product-specific feature (powered by a tool called Tangiblee) that allows users to compare the item they are looking at with related items. For backpacks they feature items that tend to live in bags such as tablets, bottles, and notepads — things for which the user will have a good sense of the size.
There are lots of options in this tool, with the watches offering the user the ability to see the product on a man or woman’s arm, as well as compare the size against coins.
What’s your special feature?
If you have an ecommerce site or even if you’re trying to promote a service, it’s worth thinking how you can provide product-specific information in a useful and exciting way. It’s a chance to really stand out against the competition and show users that you are a thoughtful brand.
To be successful this special feature should relate to the USP of the product offering in the way that Lush re-enforce their ethical ingredients and Swiss Gear underline their useful sizes. Just don’t go adding novelty features to products for the sake of it — people interested in buying a poster probably don’t need a virtual reality video.
If you get it right, you might just stick in your users’ minds.
There are plenty more ecommerce UX tips in my book too.