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7 Major Ecommerce App Design
& Development Mistakes to Avoid

Ecommerce App Design

App usage is the most important channel to consider for sales right now. Advertisers who promote their shopping apps account for 59–61% of sales, according to recent figures.

Don’t get carried away with these figures, though. Mobile user information suggests that the number of apps users are willing to download is actually trending down. This means users are getting more discerning about what apps they choose.

So, you need an eCommerce app for your business—but just pushing out an app for the sake of it isn’t going to achieve much. App design is a unique discipline. Even big businesses make mistakes that lead to wasted time and money. 

Here are seven of the most common app design mistakes that you need to avoid for a successful eCommerce app.

1. Web Design Ported to Mobile

This is by far the most common mistake, especially for businesses launching an app for the first time. You can’t just port your website design to mobile and expect the user experience to stay consistent. 

Starting out with this mindset leads to a variety of problems. First, you’ll end up with a sub-par visual experience. Product descriptions won’t fit into the correct screen space and images will be poorly optimized and could end up pixelated.

These issues are easily rectified with an app-specific design. You need product information to show the key information and description upfront. This needs to fit around any initial product images and maintain readability. 

Further information is great for interested users but can be reserved for drop-down or rollout formats. A user who is interested in a product won’t have a problem unfurling a menu. Keeping it hidden by default means that you preserve a smooth experience for browsing users.

Product images themselves must be formatted for mobile display. This means a clear image in a small space. Including the option to zoom while maintaining resolution can be helpful if users want to see more detail. 

If you have a product that needs to be seen from multiple angles, let users swipe between images. This is much more convenient than trying to squeeze multiple images into a tight space. Keep in mind that images will also need to be formatted for both vertical and horizontal displays.

Take a look at this example of a really clean app design from education provider Coursera: 

Ecommerce App Design

2. Slow Onboarding & Forced Account Signups

Speed and convenience are two of the key factors behind the popularity of mobile app use. Users often want to make purchases in a matter of moments. This can be difficult if they’re forced to sign up for an account before checking out. 

Of course, as a business, you want to consider the following–cash flow from assets formula, collect user data, and encourage returning users. This can be achieved without standing in the way of a sale, though. Forced account sign-ups are still surprisingly common despite the increased bounce rates and potential lost revenue they cause.

Users will have to give details like address and contact information when finalizing a purchase, anyway. Asking them to submit this information up front in an account sign-up is off-putting. Instead, design your app to remember these details and offer the account sign-up post-purchase. 

Other onboarding mistakes can also harm your app retention. Let your users choose to use geolocation on their device or set a location and language. Remember their choice and avoid asking every time they open your app. 

Don’t include any additional steps before users get to your landing page. Once they’re there, a user should be able to quickly and easily get to where they need to go. A ‘carousel’ design of rotating images can be a great way to promote your offers or most popular products. 

Be sure that this doesn’t block users from accessing what they want to see. Always have your categories drop-down, account options, search bar, and shopping cart visible from the get-go. 

Ecommerce App Design

3. Feature Creep

Simplicity should be your watchword when it comes to app design. In the design phase, you’re probably going to look at competitors' apps and come up with a long list of features you’d love to implement. You don’t need to rush all of these features into your initial app roll-out, though. 

Your primary concern should be getting your app running quickly, smoothly, and without crashes. Take a look at some app reviews on Google or iOS. It should be immediately apparent that a slow app or an app that crashes will be immediately uninstalled and negatively reviewed.

It’s often overlooked, but your Inventory Planner Inventory Aging app should be as robust as anywhere else in your business. Take a look at your testing methodologies to ensure they are flexible enough for app design. Consider using program testing for app development. 

All you need for a basic app rollout can be broken down into four simple categories. A product catalog (or service list), a helpful and intuitive search function, a user account hub, and a shopping cart or simple checkout feature. 

Remember, you can always add features as you go. A good first impression is vital for app retention and returns business.

4. No Personalization

A generic app experience is a bad experience. Personalization is important to users, whether they are aware it’s happening or not. This can be as simple as greeting a user when they log in—which also lets users who share a device know they’ve signed in to the right account.

With users who have already signed up for an account, you can tailor the app experience to their preferences. You can highlight related products to previous purchases. Or offers on frequently purchased products. 

Utilizing user data using a sap cloud platform integration solution, you can tailor push notifications to encourage users to return to your app. Hide the things your users ignore anyway and create a smoother, more enjoyable browsing experience for them. 

Take a look at how flight comparison app Hopper uses notifications to keep users informed of fluctuating prices:

Image Source

What about first-time users? Is it even possible to personalize their experience? Well, yes it is. We’re not talking about what that specific user wants to see in this case, though. Personalizing a first-time user experience means more intimate, less sterile, interactions.

This is achieved using micro-interactions. If you don’t know the term, you’ve probably seen them in action. These are often little messages that crop up letting you know action has been completed. “You added X item to your shopping cart”, for example. 

Not only do these interactions make the experience feel more personal. They also cut out the apprehension of wondering whether an action was completed. The customer no longer needs to spend time wondering if their order went through or whether their payment is processing.

Further down the line, you can use these interactions to mimic functions from popular social media apps. For example, adding a ‘like’ icon to product images lets you build a wishlist for customers while preserving the feeling of browsing an app like Instagram.

5. All Fingers, No Thumbs

Think about how you use a mobile device while browsing. If it’s a phone, you probably hold it in one hand and browse with your thumb, right? This is the most popular method for browsing apps and you should design around this use case where possible.

When you think about his kind of usage, you can see the mistakes other apps have made. The most common mistake is putting buttons out of thumb reach. Poorly formatted text and images that require two-finger pinching to zoom in and out also crop up a lot.

You can tackle these issues in the design phase if you consider how users will use your app in practice. This comes down to knowing when to automate testing and when to have your QA team perform practical tests of the software. 

Beta testing can also help you overcome these issues. This is when you release a pre-release version of your software to a small group of interested users. You can use this to collect real-time usage data and collect feedback from participants. 

You can use this user data and feedback to improve your app for the final release. This allows you to gain real opinions of your app without ruining that all-important first impression.

6. Navigation & Input Problems

Navigating an app should be simple and intuitive. We’ve already spoken about the importance of having a simple and clean design. This should follow all the way through your users’ navigation of the app. 

Consider your buyer’s journey. Where do they want to go next? Avoid unnecessary scrolling and separate processes like purchasing into neat pages. Auto-load the customers’ next step with as few inputs as possible.

Analytic software can help you optimize your design as you go. Applications like Smartlook or Flurry can let you monitor user sessions. This allows you to look at how users interact with your app in real-time. 

Use this to identify potential pitfalls and when customers leave the app. Also, analyze the most successful parts of your app and use these insights to improve lower-performing pages. 

Ecommerce App Design

Make sure that when customers need to input information, they can do so easily. Many apps rely on default smartphone keyboards. These can be small and difficult to use. Try using a custom keyboard, especially an enlarged numerical keyboard for things like card numbers.

Being able to reach buttons with your thumb and not make mistakes can really help form a smooth user experience for inputs. If you’re using an alpha keyboard for customer data, make sure you disable auto-correct features so customers don’t have to correct your corrections.

7. Creating a Subpar User Experience

We’ve discussed a lot of specific mistakes that apps that are on the market right now are still making. The main reason you want to avoid these mistakes is to maintain a high-quality user experience. There are also a lot of smaller, more subtle mistakes you can avoid to achieve this.

Just like in real life, users hate out-of-stock items. Balance taking the information you need with making the process fast and simple. Always make sure you are ahead of forecasting inventory levels to never run out of your valuable stocks and lose revenue.

Listen to your customers. When you have an in-use app, it can be tempting to add new features and tools like multiple location inventory management just to keep up with market trends. This can help bring in new business, but if it’s not something your existing audience wants, you can lose just as many long-term customers. 

Failing to keep up with ever-changing technology is a pitfall for established apps. This can mean ensuring your CTOs are reading the latest quality assurance blogs. Or it could be sending your marketers to the latest digital marketing seminars. Either way, letting your competitors overtake you will lead to customer migration.

The final mistake that can really drag down a user’s experience is improperly served ads. Some apps still use in-app pop-ups or screen-size ads that require a user to click through. There are better ways to advertise in apps with software integration tools.

Adding steps to the customer journey is a bad idea. Consider using in-app ads that are integrated into your content instead. Try and customize these for user preferences as well, to keep the content relevant.

Push notifications are the most popular ad type for successful apps right now. They’re less intrusive than most ads as users opt-in to receive them. Remember—the content should be personalized for the user when possible.


App design isn’t easy. You’ll probably need to iterate on your initial design more than once. As you move forward, continue to use customer feedback and analytic data to inform your design choices. 

Approaching your app design from a mobile-first perspective, and crucially, from the user’s perspective, will be a major step in the right direction. And avoiding the common mistakes above will give you an edge over many of the app choices out there. 

That said, with nearly 3 million apps on the Google Play store alone, and likewise the App Store, it will be up to your business to show what really makes you stand out.

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