This 3-part article series will describe common problems with web shop applications, typical application errors and shop manager’s mistakes which cause disappointment in potential customers and which should be avoided to create a reliable application, giving you the possibility of purchasing goods and products through a well-functioning, professional path of purchase. This is also a story about the importance of application testing and gathering information to avoid as many mistakes and errors as possible to reach the final product tailored to the today's consumers’ needs.
In the first part we will quickly discuss the top ten (of probably more) common problems with webshops that occur nowadays. These are as follows:
- Sign up for web store fails
- Add to cart button not working
- Checkout not working
- Browsers compatibility problems
- Language – specific signs
- Plugin problem
- Payment doesn’t work
- Oview my order details summary or history
- 500 error on specified page
- Translation issues
Sign up for web store fails
How many times is there a situation that the user cannot simply log in. Each try to restore the password fails as well.
It is important to ask the user to log in at the right time of the purchase procedure and guard the security of user data store. It often happens that the conflict concerns connection of the store with the database both for retrieving data from the database and their record (order data).
Add to cart button not working
Simple issue, which has been recently found on such giants like Amazon, that prevents the user from adding any product to the shopping cart. The customer cannot finalize the purchase, so as a consequence he is very quickly discouraged to use the services of the store.
Checkout not working
Ok, we have just somehow added the product to the basket but there is another issue. Checkout doesn’t work. We cannot either enter our data or the checkout page is not fully responsive – some options don’t appear when another marked by user. In this case, a number of the store’s elements fail simultaneously. Problems can be caused by naming of the products, cart components, database, transfer data to a purchase page or data authentication. Checkout page is a very complex site where many elements depend on other parts of the system and somehow ties them together in such a way that the customer can buy the product and pay for it at the same time being sure that the product will be sent to the destination address indicated during checkout procedure with no complications.
Browsers compatibility problems
Well known issue, especially reported by Firefox and Internet Explorer users where the displayed pages differs from each other even if the page code seems to be the same. Some buttons just don’t work, some page elements are not properly displayed which causes a lot of errors and ultimately results in the inability to purchase a product or even review the store's offer.
Language – specific signs
Compatibility with multiple languages should be also supported. Various languages have different language-specific signs and characters which, if incorrectly encoded, may be wrongly displayed as a string of other characters or blanks in the text both on our website and in the correspondence from the store (such as theorder summary or automatically generated emails and messages). Furthermore, it can cause delivery failures of the purchased product if the customer data will be incorrectly displayed or saved into the database.
If the shop uses external browser plug-ins, scripts, page elements that display different kinds of effects, forms, etc. there can occur a problem with their display (or installations problems with plug-ins needed for their display). The transition of the purchase path by the customer may not be possible then. Besides, viewing parts of thestore’s content may be difficult. In extreme cases the failure of the plug-in may lead to the exclusion of the browser and subsequently to the loss of the customer’s session data. This can lead to the need of passing again through the sometimes arduous path of purchase or even duplicating the information sent to the store, which in turn may expose the client to duplicate bank transfer or leakage of private data.
Payment doesn’t work
Moreover, it happens very frequently that you cannot( for some reason) enter the payment system (because of the locked choice of payment options, simply because the payment page is not displayed after redirection). As a result, the customer cannot use neither external nor internal payment provider, or as in the previous case there may incurexpenses or loss of personal data (such as account number or password). These problems can be avoided by making sure that the connection between the store and the payment provider is correct (when it comes to the payment provider’s plugging into the store and when it concerns the response returned by the provider at the time of payment, along with their normal and correct service)
Cannot view order details summary or history
After purchase, we cannot view the details of the contract or, in the case of additional feedback messages from the payment provider or the store’s operator, these messages are not displayed. This could be, for example, the lack of information about the failed payment. The customer does not know in this case that the payment did not come to fruition or why it occurred.
500 error on specified page
The most serious mistake is probably when any store item returns error codes or empty pages. From the user side, it looks as if the page just simply didn’t work. For example: a user is trying to get into the shipping price list or a page of advertised and very popular product but instead of seeing the contents of the selected pages he only sees the message 'Page not found'. It is easy to prevent such situations by making sure that connections between all the existing references to the shop and pages do work. Each link that the users can click should bring the user back some content that he will be able to read and react to. There should not be any so-called ‘dead links’ in the store that do not lead to any site, returning only error codes or contents of error messages.
Supposing there is a web shop page which is available for many countries and offers from the shop menu to change the language. Unfortunately, most of the store’s content is not translated (like the menu of the available languages suggest). Not only that, the languages available for selection may not always correspond to theavailable languages when clicked. Imagine a situation in which the customer from China, choosing Chinese language is redirected to a Polish website. These situations are very familiar with a phone users where suddenly and inexplicably the phone’s menu is switched to another language. The user is stuck. It is important to ensure that the correct translation of all the items in the store for all the accessible languages (if the multilingualism of our shop is available) is provided and done well with all the standards.
The final word
It is very important to take care of each of the elements kept in the store, using proven technologies and refining the smallest details. In the next part we will go through and discuss the most common mistakes committed by the creators of online shops.