Authored By: Jeff Bronson

Let’s talk about online store design problems. Pretend you’re sitting in a room talking about your new website design. Sales have been dropping lately and a new website is under discussion. Hopefully sales will skyrocket this time around.

Do any of these phrases sound familiar?

  • “Green’s my favorite color, let’s use that.” (HiPPO)
  • “My agency is really creative, our new design will double sales in 60 days. You’ll see.”
  • “Just make it look like Apple’s site!”


Everyone’s got an opinion, so how do you know which one to choose?


A common design mistake is focusing on brand egos and aesthetics without taking customer needs and goals into account. You might think customers will be so impressed with your flashy new design they’ll purchase more than ever before.  Usually, this isn’t the reality of what actually happens. What most agencies don’t tell you, is that conversions often drop after a brand new website launch, despite making a great portfolio piece.

When speaking about ecommerce in particular, shoppers want lots of information about product specifications, compatibility, shipping, returns, accessories, features, high quality images and the list goes on.  Framing all of these components with an attractive, easy to navigate website will do more for revenue than the latest design technique.


web-design-goodux“Alright, I get your point. So how do you recommend we approach design decisions?”

We recommend iterative design, based on quantitative and qualitative data. This means designing things based on feedback, then improving. It’s the opposite of radical redesigns where everything changes at once and everyone hopes for the best.

Most people associate quantitative data with something like Google Analytics. Without a doubt, it’s one of our favorite tools for uncovering what and where things happen on a website.

If you’re trying to “do it yourself”, the problem with analytics is information overload. Not knowing how to collect important data, where to start analyzing what you’ve got and how to act on what you find. At this point, you’d have an idea of what shoppers do and where they do it, but you wouldn’t know why!

Here’s the secret ingredient to understanding why, and that’s listening to your customers.  Using an all-in-one analytics tool like Hotjar helps you understand why shoppers do things.

Have you ever wanted to know answers to things like:

  • Are visitors clicking on dead ends (broken links)?
  • How far down the page do visitors scroll?
  • What challenges do visitors face on different screen sizes?
  • Are certain areas of my website distracting shoppers from their goal?
  • Are shoppers NOT clicking on important areas?
  • Are visitors looking for information that’s NOT easily available?

Let’s take this a step further. How about just asking your customers for feedback?
Hotjar makes this process much easier with user feedback tools, for example:

Feedback Polls

Asking the right questions at the right time (with polls) can uncover a goldmine of useful information.  The right time could be when a shopper is about to leave your store, or views a certain page or scrolls halfway down a page. As we’ll soon see, polls helped one retailer learn why their shoppers were abandoning checkout.

Visitor Session Recordings

Watch actual recordings of shoppers (anonymously) navigating through your store. It’s as if you’re peeking over your shopper’s shoulder and understand their challenges first hand. The value of this one Hotjar feature alone can’t be overstated.

Of course videos can be filtered by a wide range of attributes. For example:

  • See how well a paid landing page is performing.
  • Identify challenges mobile users face.
  • Watch sessions where visitors stayed longer than 2 minutes.



Visually see where shoppers interact with your store. See where their mouse moves, clicks, taps and scrolls on desktop, tablet and mobile devices. You’ll quickly understand which content get’s the most action, and what content is ignored.

Incoming Feedback

After rating their experience from Hate to Love, shoppers can provide additional text feedback. Then, shoppers can even take a screenshot to show specific elements of your store they loved or caused them problems.



Of course, you’ll be able to gauge sentiment over time and see all replies. A great way to see how shoppers feel about a recent design change!



Ask and/or incentivize shoppers to participate in personalized one on one user testing.



Turning insights into action

Now that we know what Hotjar can do, let’s look at a few actual insights.

A client in the women’s fashion industry had a store with traffic that was increasing, yet sales continued to decline. They came to Copious wanting a fresh perspective and actionable advice. As part of a store growth analysis, we used Hotjar along with deep dive analytics findings and UX observations.

Issue #1: Navigation Challenges

This client’s header navigation contained several subcategories and style options which is great. A person shopping for shoes would be off to a good start based on top level navigation.


Once a shopper gets into search or the actual category page, things take a turn for the worse. None of the relevant sub categories or style filers exist. Instead, a sitewide navigation menu shows unrelated options that confused shoppers.



Several actions could be taken based on this one finding.

  • Brainstorm more effective product filtering and navigation concepts.
  • Create design variations for these concepts
  • A/B split test variations to gauge effectiveness.

Issue #2: Size Selection Challenges

On product pages with size options, the background color on the selected size turns pink when clicked. Otherwise a default size has a darker gray color that confused shoppers.  It wasn’t obvious that in order to purchase, a size needed to be clicked.  So the shopper kept trying to click ‘add to bag’ with nothing happening. You’ll see by the red dots, it took over 3 click attempts before figuring out the size selection process. This issue was compounded with messaging about out of stock notifications showing at the wrong time.


Several actions could be taken based on this one finding.

  • Exploring new product page design variations to better communicate sizing.
  • Researched back end logic powering ‘out of stock’ notifications.
  • Exploring new color options to communicate size availability.
  • A/B split test color variations to gauge ‘add to bag’ outcomes.

Issue #3: Coupon Code Challenges

We used Hotjar’s poll feature, asking shoppers about to abandon their shopping cart a simple question.



Eye opening responses started quickly rolling in.



To put it another way, here’s a word cloud. Larger texts indicate popularity.



Coupons were a huge concern. Many shoppers had issues receiving, finding and using discount codes, which impacted sales revenue.


Several actions could be taken based on this one finding.

  • Explore design concepts to better communicate discount code info.
  • Research coupon usability challenges on mobile devices vs desktop.
  • Research email deliverability issues preventing shoppers from getting their code.
  • Examine the impact of stronger brand positioning in relation to the large percentage of discounts given to generate over $15M in sales.
  • Use Google Analytics to explore sessions where shoppers arrived from coupon emails.

If this retailer used a radical redesign approach, discount code issues would never have been understood without Hotjar’s help.

What if Hotjar wasn’t used?

Getting real shopper feedback is an important part a store growth analysis. To recap, analytics give insight into what and where something happened, Hotjar helps illustrate why.


  • This client could have made expensive design mistakes, causing more lost sales and mounting frustrations.
  • The full picture behind dropping sales wouldn’t have been known. Meaning if you don’t know what barriers your shoppers face, how can your store overcome them?

Where to start?

So with a tool like Hotjar, how do you know where to start research?
Great question! Here’s a few ideas.

  • Identify high traffic, high bounce rates pages in your analytics tool.
  • Identify key purchase funnel pages, like your shopping cart.
  • Identify best selling/worst selling product pages.
  • Identify landing pages you’re sending paid traffic to.


As we’ve seen, pairing qualitative data (the why) with quantitative data (what and where) can yield meaningful insights to guide incremental design decisions.

Understanding your shoppers isn’t a one time thing. Just like your business and website evolve, so do shopper wants, needs and behavior. If your store isn’t generating the sales you know it should, it’s time for a fresh set of eyes.

Don’t have time? contact us to start a conversation.