Notes on Checkout Form Best Practices

GUEST CHECKOUT When ASOS allowed users to check out as guests without registering, their checkout abandonment rate went down 50%. Amazon doesn’t allow this.

  • Amazon privileges the long-term connection that registering creates over a one-time sale
  • If your site isn’t focused on long-term retention, I would allow guest checkouts

ACCORDION FORMS Accordion-style checkouts outperform traditional ones by 20%. But make sure yours is well-thought out in what it requires the user to do. American Eagle Outfitters has a great checkout process.

  • LukeW also did a accordion study and found another advantage is a decrease in completion times.

CHAT Apple’s order form has persistent chat available throughout the process–though smaller-scale businesses probably can’t afford this option.

OPTIONAL VS REQUIRED If a field is optional, why not remove it entirely? Make the form as short and simple as possible. Really really be certain that every field you require is absolutely necessary.

PRE-FILLED LABELS IN FIELDS My preference here: When users click into the field, don’t immediately remove the label–they might get distracted and when they turn their attention back to your form, they won’t remember what they are doing. Keep the label until their first keystroke.

COUNTRY Why require this? The address fields should be able to determine country–even if you want to collect country on the back-end, do it behind-the-scenes.

ADDRESS FIELDS/POSTAL CODE FINDER Why not consider using the first field for the street address and the second for the postal code—and then fill the rest of the address dynamically from the back-end? Saves the user input, especially important on mobile. After users fill in the two fields, provide a button labeled “Find Address” to finish the process. Stack the fields and buttons separately, giving a “Don’t know your postal code? Enter your address manually” text link next to the postal code field. (People scan down forms more than across, so avoid putting multiple fields in one row.) After users hit the Find Address button, provide a popup with possible address completions to select from—AND include a text link for “I don’t see my address here” to allow manual entry. Make sure the address is editable throughout the entire checkout process.

SHOPPING CART Consider a layout where the shopping cart is persistent and editable at all times. Maybe a two-panel layout, with the shopping form on the left and the cart on the right.

PROMO CODES Keep them as visible text links–prominent that those looking for it can find it, not so prominent that others abandon their task to search for codes. Provide a info button next to the text link to explain–and possibly at this point, just give them the code! Hard to say whether it’s better to give it now and stop them from going to search and possibly never come back.

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