The checkout page is the most important page of any website. A well-functioning checkout will provide the cashflow any business needs to survive. Yet it is very common to see mistakes in checkout pages; through which you lose would-be customers at the last minute; the so-called conversion killers. Preventing or fixing these errors can make the difference between making and losing money.

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of learning out loud. Now, to show you that I practice what I preach, I'm going to share what I recently learned about improving the checkout page by removing conversion killers.  Four ways to optimize your checkout page:

1. Eliminate distractions

So many things already compete for the customer’s attention and on this page you want to prevent choice overload by creating an oasis of peace and quiet. In the checkout everything should be centered around checking out. No distractions and nothing tempting the user to click away.

This means that your checkout page should be one single page, with a mobile-first design. There should be no menu bar, no social media or other links in the footer that could tempt the user to click away.

You should focus on making the checkout experience as frictionless as possible. Eliminate form fields that are not strictly necessary to complete the transaction. Especially resist the urge to use coupon code form fields on the checkout page, because many of your potential customers will start googling to see if they can find such a code; during which they may get distracted and never come back to complete the transaction.

If you still want to work with coupon codes, make sure your user can add them before he or she gets to the actual checkout page, and include the discount in the price you show in the basket.

Other than this, use a simple layout with neutral colors everywhere and only one single high-contrast color for the pay button. Doing this helps because of the Von Restorff effect, which states that our minds are attracted to that one stimulus that differs from all the others.

2. Minimize risk

The checkout process is the scariest and riskiest part of the customer journey. So do everything you can to reassure your customer and make them feel safe and comfortable and conversion will surely go up. This is the result of the Peltzman effect, which roughly states that if perceived risk decreases, demand will go up.

person sitting near poker chips

Predictability prevents uncertainty. If the whole checkout experience works exactly as the user expects, that will create trust. This also means that you should never surprise a customer with unexpected costs. It turns out that nothing kills conversion rates in the checkout quite as much as unexpected extra costs, such as substantial shipping costs.

The best thing you can do is to take away any and all risk by offering a 100% money back guarantee. Zero risk bias means that most customers value reducing a small risk to zero disproportionately high. This makes sense, seeing that this is basically the entire business model of insurance companies.

Another way to make your user feel safe and secure is to create recognizable elements. Make sure you show the icons for the payment methods (e.g. paypal, creditcard) before the checkout and then again in the checkout itself. Use secure payment symbols and make sure to use the same titles and images in the checkout as you do on the product detail page.

Displaying company information, such as the company's official registered name and business address, can also inspire confidence.

3. Inform to reassure

Users are also reassured by information about what they are actually buying. So make sure that you have at least some information about the product on the page.

The most important thing here is to start with an image. Not only is it true that one image says more than a thousand words, but it also adds some tangibility to the product your user is buying in an otherwise virtual buying experience. This is especially important when buying non-physical products, such as online courses.

Other than that, add some general information about the product, making sure to list its unique selling points. This will reassure your user that he or she is making the right choice.

What also helps in this regard is to present some of the social proof you have acquired such as reviews and testimonials. Grouping together a few of these will create a so-called cheerleader effect.

Scarcity can be a powerful trigger of FOMO (the fear of missing out). A simple countdown timer that shows how many items are still available or how much time is left until the offer expires increases conversion rates substantially.

4. Aftersales

Finally, make sure to pay attention to your user experience after they have visited your checkout page.

If the user did not end up buying the product (abandoned cart), it is usually worthwhile to retarget these users through email. This works especially well if you can offer them a frictionless way to pick up where they left off with a direct link to the checkout.

If the user did buy the product, be aware that every buyer experiences a phenomenon called buyer's remorse in which they instantly regret their decision to buy your product. The only way to combat this is to offer immediate affirmation.

So don't say "thank you for your purchase, we will send you an email", but do say something like "Congratulations on purchasing this product. We are sure you will love it".

Little details like these can make the difference between whether a company lives or dies. It may be tedious to pay attention to all the details, but remember:

“It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than by doubling your traffic” - Jeff Eisenberg