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In Your Customers’ Shoes – 4 Gripes That Are Costing You Conversions

One of the best ways to improve conversion rates is to identify and eliminate major stumbling blocks that are preventing your users from moving forward. Typically these are common issues like “Not Found / Out of Stock” errors, technical glitches, reducing clutter and removing distractions like third-party ads.

But sometimes the gripes are so common and so pervasive that visitors simply tolerate them (albeit with a great deal of frustration and aggravation) rather than go elsewhere.

But you can bet they won’t be back.

Gripe #1: “Just Copy Amazon”

Amazon is one of the web’s largest and most profitable websites, so it stands to reason that they put a considerable amount of time, money and emphasis on making their site as easy to use as possible (even patenting certain methods, like 1-click-shopping). Knowing this, many beginning website owners understandably assume that Amazon must be doing something right with their layout – so they copy it.


Jumia is Nigeria’s Amazon – right down to the layout, categories and color scheme

Amazon has many things going for it that the average new webmaster doesn’t take into account when designing their own site – for example:

  • Everyone is familiar with Amazon – They’ve been around so long that they’ve practically become a one-stop shop for even the greenest internet user. They’ve got brand recognition nailed down to where they’re a household name. People have come to expect a certain experience when shopping on Amazon, just as they expect superb customer service when buying shoes from Zappos. It has been ingrained into who Amazon is and what they stand for.
  • Amazon’s traffic comes from multiple sources – They’ve built up their markets over time, and as a result, their traffic comes from all kinds of places. People generally search for a specific product on Google, and see that Amazon is at or near the top. This means they’re already warmed up to converting (and buying) before they ever click. Can the same be said of your site?
  • Amazon makes mistakes too – They’re not infallible. And it’s not just the companies they choose to invest in. Cloud services go down, leaving websites in the dark. Mobile shopping fails. Pricing mistakes happen. Order histories get erased. Blindly following Amazon without doing your own split testing is a recipe for disaster.
  • amazonoutage2

  • Amazon’s Strategies aren’t Yours – They have different goals, tactics, competitors, partnerships… you name it. Copying their layout and assuming an instant win would make about as much sense as copying their business plan and crossing your fingers.

With that being said, of course it’s a good idea to look at Amazon for inspiration and ideas. But before you jump head-first into following in their footsteps – step back, look at your own plans, strategies and your audiences’ expectations. You’ll find that testing could reveal the complete opposite for you – and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Gripe #2: Mystery Meat Form Fields

We’ve done a pretty good job over the years convincing website owners that mystery meat navigation, multiple calls to action and constant distractions are all bad for conversions. But a new danger has reared its ugly head: mystery meat form fields. In a rush to be trendy and oh-so-cutting edge, companies (like Pinrose’s Scent Finder) hide form field directions in such a tiny, near-white font that it’s impossible to fill out the form:


You may have to tilt your head to see the barely-visible lettering in each input box

Simple fix: Use labels instead. Not only is it easier for mobile users to tap and fill out, but it also helps with general accessibility and ease of use. If I have to tilt my head or touch my nose to my screen to see what information you’re requesting, I’m not going to fill out your form.

Gripe #3: Not Accepting Paypal

With over $300,000,000 (yes, that’s three hundred MILLION) in payments processed every day, and over 150 million active users, Paypal represents close to 20% of the ecommerce market. Not accepting Paypal can literally be costing you orders, particularly if people prefer to pay by e-check or bank account transfer rather than fishing for their credit card out of their wallet/purse.


Payless Shoe Source doesn’t accept Paypal, but they don’t let you know until the third step of the checkout process

Remember, even by the time they get to checkout, an average of 67% of shopping carts are abandoned. While the main reason can range from shipping costs to lack of delivery estimates or forced account creation, a major determiner in moving ahead with the order is how easy it is to complete payment. Plus, with additional options such as Bill Me Later, and eBay integration, many people already have an active Paypal account.

Gripe #4: Browse, But Don’t Even Think of Buying

Has this ever happened to you? You’re shopping online when all of a sudden, you come across a beautiful accessory, piece of furniture or other must-have item. It’s absolutely stunning and you’re ready to buy it right away.

Except you click on it and…nothing happens.

Let’s say you’ve got your eye on this coffee table, featured under Living Room Sets from the Ashley Furniture Home Store:


What’s wrong with this picture? The fact that you can’t buy anything in it other than the couches

Want to know where you can buy it? Too bad. You can’t. Clicking on the item does nothing – leaving visitors frustrated and their curiosity unsatisfied. If you’re going to include something as part of a set – don’t mislead customers by including major things they can’t purchase. Subject tests were even conducted, and visitors say that not being able to buy an item in the photo reflected very poorly on the site they were browsing.

Better yet, label and pinpoint items or link to individual pieces along with a discounted price for buying the whole set. Leaving things out only leads to customers concentrating on what they don’t get, rather than what they do.

What Are Your Major User Experience Gripes?

Here’s your chance to have your say – let us know what interface and usability gripes you’ve been tolerating from the web lately – share your thoughts below in the comments!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

  1. One of my pet peeves was right here on your website. It drives me nuts when websites ask me for my email address but don’t format it so that the keyboard on my device changes to the email keyboard with the @ symbol and the period Allows me to get to the “.com”.

    My other pet peeve is websites that give me no way to contact anyone other than by filling out a form. Sometimes if I could talk to someone I might make a purchase immediately but the need to fill out a form and then wait for a response usually makes me leave the website completely.

  2. Hey Sherice,

    Nice post. Your list of gripes is great and true. I observe many sites and it have the same gripes you have metnion here. Its feels copycat and nothing new, its harm their business.

  3. Ugh, almost all of them are some of my biggest gripes. Especially the price part. It’s too much of a hassle to ask about the price, so why turn off your customers? My biggest gripe is probably shipping locations though. Where I live, the minimum time it takes for a package out of the country is….3 months.

  4. Nice post, well written.

  5. Good post. I sell my own music digitally, so fortunately don’t have to deal with shipping and fulfillment. I would add site’s performance to the list. In my experience nothing turns the customer away faster than slow loading pages when browsing the web shop. Then we can add mobile experience, unclear return policy, and so on. Thanks!

  6. Judith Gotwald Mar 21, 2014 at 9:50 am

    #1 Gripe: Hiding the price, making user click through multiple windows to find price.
    #2 Gripe: Having a popup ad for an add-on appear right after you’ve committed to purchasing a service or product. What! No thank you?

  7. When you visit a site and you can go no further than the first page because you have to enter an email address… CLICK, Raquel Out~!

  8. I hate when e-commerce sites ask for my E-mail in exchange for a 10% off coupon. When I see this I never do it, Wouldn’t it be nice to greet first time customers with a 10% off coupon on their first order….and at the end of checkout give the OPTION of signing up for an annoying newsletter.

  9. Pop up forms that appear before I have had the opportunity to even search for what I’m looking to buy. I leave and don’t return if this happens.

  10. Thank you for sharing this article. I agree with your gripes and try to avoid them by creating unique and likable content.

  11. I think where sites ask straight out for my details before we’ve even got to know each other is pretty crazy. Actually, I noticed that on QuickSprout, which is how I got to here. I’d been on the site only a few seconds and it’s already wanting my details. I didn’t even know what the site was about apart from being a business-related blog

  12. With all due respect, this article is pretty inessential.

    I can’t recall seeing any sites with gripes 1, 2 and 4, but I do agree with you about Paypal. I think many business owners mistakenly think about the money they’ll lose in Paypal fees, rather than the money they’ll gain by using Paypal to reduce transaction friction and therefore increase sales.

  13. I agree with a lot of these. I don’t think copying amazon for your ecom store is a good idea. I think using the larger corporate ideas can be good, when you take away certain things that work well.

    Websites that don’t use paypal can be a good and a bad thing. It seems ike every ecom site should at least give the option to choose. Let the users decide how to pay.

    Totally agree on the furniture example. Not being able to buy things you see or are shown is frusterating. Either that or when the button to buy doesnt work, is greyed out or other problems.

    Nice article


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