E-commerce is here to stay. And why not? The web makes it easier to compare products, gets rid of checkout lines, and for vendors, the "doors" stay open 24/7. We saw a recent post from Smashing Magazine that listed some fundamentals of E-commerce. Naturally, we jumped to see if Convergence was up to snuff.  Good news, here is the list below.

1)      Your Checkout Process Should be Completely Linear
We agree, and by integrating FoxyCart, we get the desired, “1-page” checkout, no next or back buttons necessary!

2)      Add Descriptions to Form Field Labels
Yup, you need these, especially in checkout with all of the secure info being passed around.

3)      Avoid Contextual Words Like “Continue”
This is a great note and Smashing does a good job explaining that continue could mean “continue shopping” or “continue to checkout.” We use a simple, clear Javascript “lightbox” cart view, and the only “continues” are with the key word “shopping” connected.  Since the checkout is 1-page, your last button is the clearly defined “confirm your order.”

4)      Visually Reinforce All Sensitive Fields
This is one of our customizable pieces of Convergence with E-commerce.  While the default is not currently reinforced, we have plans to highlight the payment info in future default styles. We currently gave the payment info its own column which helps reinforce.

5)      Don’t Use An “Apply” Button In Your Form
Customers do change their minds, so we like “Update” as the language over “Apply.”

6)      Format Field For Expiration Date Exactly As It Appears On Credit Card
We use both the number (eg. 04-April) and the complete year (2012), and both are drop downs, eliminating typing errors.

7)      Use Only One Column For Form Fields
We liked this note, but we have the payment info all by itself in a column under the totals.  We thought this helped reinforce the sensitivity a bit (like #4), and people tend to remember to enter payment info.

8)      Use Shipping Address As Billing Address By Default
This is one of the best notes on the list.  The form and checkout, for 90% of transactions that are not gifts, is so much cleaner and easier to use.  We use a check box to allow the customer to enter a second address.

9)      Use Clear Error Indications
Bright red text immediately after input (client side validation) does the job for us.  We may add some green “approved” validators in the future, if we decide it helps the experience.

10)    Registration Should Be Optional
A standard now, and we couldn’t agree more.  Glad to reduce the friction at the point of sale!

11)   Don’t Require Seemingly Unnecessary Information
This is really a privacy issue. Why in the world do stores need your cell?  We typically don’t, so we turned off the unnecessary requirements.  We do use email as a login/customer ID, but we like it because receipts and confirmations have a place to land.