The top five things your website checkout should do

With ecommerce rapidly growing in popularity, most shoppers have become familiar with the online checkout process. However, sometimes a brand’s familiarity with their own website (and what they expect from it) can lead them to assume that consumers who have never visited their website before will naturally find it easy to navigate. 

They may struggle to see the ways in which the checkout process they have in place might be frustrating to motivated visitors. Imagine all the effort that has gone into getting a customer to decide to purchase a product, only to put them off at the last moment with a difficult checkout.

In this blog, we will explore the top five things a checkout really should do.

1. Keep users focused

Once users have reviewed their basket and reached the checkout stage, the time to showcase any additional offers and cross-sell items is over. You don’t want to distract the user from completing their purchase with new offers or products. 

Equally, you want to make sure that any important links the user might want to review during checkout, such as terms and conditions or a privacy policy, do not navigate users away from the page or force them to restart the checkout. Opening this information in a lightbox, pop out, or new tab is a better option.

2. Handle user errors effectively

If a shopper makes some sort of mistake while checking out, the way you offer them support will make a massive difference to their shopping experience. Have you ever gotten to the end of a form and tried to submit it, only to find out you have made an error and will have to go back to make an edit? And what if there was no information about which field the error was made in, or what the required format for that field was? 

Good checkout design not only minimises errors in the first place by providing well placed tooltip and infield examples, but also provides clear error handling live so you know immediately what error has occurred before you get anywhere near that call-to-action (CTA) button.

3. Provide information

Users require easy access to all the information they need in order to make the next step towards purchase. Shoppers should be able to see a live summary of their order built into the checkout stage which updates automatically when any voucher and discounts are added, as well as when a delivery option has been selected. 

The more precise the information you can offer users, the better. For example, instead of providing the estimated number of days for delivery, provide the actual date range they can expect their package. This will provide users with more clarity on their purchase decision. Likewise, if your platform offers an ongoing service or a free trial, advise on when and how future payments will occur, as well as the ongoing cadence of the subscription. 

Finally, one of the most important bits of information you can provide users is the answer to the following question: “what will happen after I place this order?”. Consumers want to know what will take place after they have completed the checkout stage. It’s crucial that marketers communicate whether or not the shopper will be receiving an email confirmation, or if their order is going to be pending until someone has been in touch to confirm requirements.

Clearly providing that information upfront, ahead of the user taking action, will help reduce hesitation and consequently, cart abandonment. 

4. Give confidence

A recent survey conducted by Croud found that a large number of users still have concerns about making high value purchases online. 


While ‘large’ is a relative term, how you address this concern for all purchases, large or small, is the same. There’s plenty your site could (and should!) do to address this before users even reach the checkout stage, but the last thing you want is for them to lose confidence at the final hurdle. Reiterating your site and payment security credentials right when users are committing to entering sensitive information is a great way to offer reassurance to the shopper. 

Similarly, it’s helpful to offer clarity on how customers can go about making returns should there be any issue with their purchase. Hiding information on how to make returns in the mistaken belief that it’ll reduce your return rate only serves to make your website seem less trustworthy, as though there is a difficult or inconvenient return policy.

5. Functionality for all

By now, I’m sure most of us know how a checkout should work. But does it really work for everyone? For example, are users on all devices able to easily use the checkout on your website or is your responsive design having issues scaling on mobile and leaving some information outside of the viewport? Is the checkout process easy to navigate for users who do not use a mouse but instead rely on keyboard-only tabbed navigation progress through the site? Ensuring that it’s both obvious and accurate as to which element is highlighted when using tabbed navigation is a really important accessibility issue to be mindful of. 

Finally, bringing us back to error handling, it seems obvious (and hence often overlooked) that green means good and red means bad. However, relying on colour alone to indicate failure or success in your checkout is a sure fire way to frustrate colourblind visitors who may struggle telling these colours apart. Thus, it’s important that you provide some copy alongside these colours to ensure everyone can seamlessly complete the checkout step. You want to make sure you’re considering all users visiting your website to ensure you’re offering them a quick and easy shopping experience.

If you want support reviewing your website’s checkout process, Croud’s CRO team is here to support you. Our comprehensive checkout audit provides actionable advice on how you can improve your checkout experience for your audience. Get in touch to learn more.

by Lucy Pharo
9 September 2022



Related posts