The checkout process for ecommerce websites represents the number of steps taken by visitors in order to get the products delivered to their doors. It is the path followed from the click on the checkout button to the “Receipt” page. Visitors are required to go through more or less “steps”, depending on which website they buy the products from, and depending on the logged-in status.
Very often, website owners want to know what is the perfect number of checkout pages for their websites. To misquote Dylan, “The answer, my friend, is “testing” in the wind”. There is no universal number of steps that will work for all websites. The magic number of steps depends on your audience and how you address their factors such as concerns, friction, and anxiety. The only way to find your “perfect number” of checkout steps is to A/B test different lengths and paths.
I took screenshots for more than 100 major e-tailers and I analyzed how they display the progress bar image during the checkout process.
Despite the fact that there is no universal progress bar to address all websites, there are, however, some guidelines you can follow. I marked the “DO’s” in bold and green.
One of the things I was surprised to discover is that several e-tailers don’t even have a progress bar. More than 10% (12 out of 111) of them are not displaying the bar, which can be confusing for their visitors.
1. Are e-tailers numbering the steps in their checkout progress bar?
Yes – 52
No – 47
2. Do they provide a sense of action to visitors (i.e., arrow icons symbolizing the “move forward” action)? For this one, I considered that numbering the steps provides a strong “sense of action” to users.
Yes – 80
No – 19
3. Highlight the current checkout page against the rest of the pages in the process?
Yes – 98
No – 1
4. Do e-tailers provide a “Review Order” or “Confirm Order” page?
Yes – 75
No – 24
5. How many steps do visitors perceive when they look at the progress bar?
2 – 3
3 – 21
4 – 30
5 – 38
6 – 6
7 – 1
6. Is it the progress bar displayed horizontally or as a vertical list?
Horizontal – 92
Vertical – 7
7. Do e-tailers address any anxiety concerns in the progress bar? For example, telling visitors that the checkout process is secure.
Yes – 6
No – 93
8. If the checkout process has more than five steps, how many e-tailers are numbering the steps?
13 out of 38
9. How many e-tailers are grouping the Billing and Shipping Page in a single one?
27 out of 99
10. How many e-tailers provide some confidence of mind to visitors by marking completed steps as “being correctly done”?
1 out 99 (1800contacts.com is the only one)
Enjoy the Progress Bar collection: