Using Video to Improve the E-Commerce Shopping Experience

Susan Weinshenk

I interviewed usability and user experience veteran, Susan Weinshenk, on some of the ways that the professional UX community can do a much better job with incorporating video to create more positive customer relationships on e-commerce websites – both for improved sales and overall shopping experience.




First, A Little About Susan Weinshenk, Ph.D.

I’ve had the fortune of personally working with Susan on a client usability report back in 2003. Here’s just a short list of her accomplishments:

  • She’s the Founder and President of the User Experience Institute. (Previously she was the Chief of User Experience Strategy for Americas at Human Factors International.)
  • She has 30 years of experience in the field of human factors/usability/user experience (UX) – including author, trainer, researcher, consultant, presenter, and developing user-centered methodologies – with both web design and e-commerce.
  • Her most recent authored books are 100 Things Every Designer Needs To Know About People and Neuro Web Design: What Makes Them Click? (She also has a companion blog at and a podcast series on user experience.)

You can also follow Susan on her Twitter handle: @thebrainlady.

Interview with UX Veteran and Web Usability Professional, Susan Weinschenk, PhD:

Susan, as a veteran UX professional, to what do you attribute the lack of published UX/Usability research for online video to date?

Most UX/usability people don’t have a background in video. They are used to working with computer screens, Internet, software or even products (like medical devices.) Video is relatively new as a form for study in the usability/UX community, beyond basic items like user controls for video: playback, recording, etc. In general, the UX community hasn’t been focusing on content. Fortunately, I do see that changing.

Is it time for the professional UX community to spend more of its efforts researching and testing online video so they can provide their findings to the public?

Definitely. Video is such a powerful medium (online). I believe that video is the big opportunity on the Internet right now, so I do expect that the UX community will start paying attention to video, but it will be slow to permeate.

What do you think needs to change for more UX professionals to be involved with usability research and user testing for online video?

I think UX people need to realize that video is not just “content” that someone else is responsible for; it is part of the UX responsibility. That speaks to my larger point: Content in general, whether video or not, is within the responsibility of the UX person. Right now, in many organizations, the UX people are responsible for the presentation of the content, but not the content itself. I think it’s time for that to change. Otherwise, who’s minding the content?

User Experience Tips for E-Commerce Video

  • Learn the art of persuasion. I encourage everyone to check out Susan’s article, 5 Reasons Why Online Video is So Persuasive. E-commerce is all about sales, and sales are all about conversions, and conversions happen from persuading customers to take an intended action. Susan herself says, “video is one of the most powerful media choices for online persuasion.” I also recommend checking out my earlier interview with University of Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab Director and Experimental Psychologist, Dr. BJ Fogg, Video Tips for Persuasive E-Commerce.
  • Mention the call-to-action right within the video. This can mean something as simple as a text graphic, an outro/closer, or even having the spokesperson audibly mention what the viewer can do next.
  • Keep it simple. As Dr. Fogg says: “People must be able to actually do what you are asking of them. It must be simple enough for them based on their level of ability, in accordance with their level of motivation to do the task.” That means don’t clutter up your video player or web page where your video resides, with too many choices that could distract from the actual shopping experience.

  • Keep it social. Shoppers now expect web videos to have sharing features. You definitely want to include standard social video features like Facebook Like/Share buttons, Twitter “Tweet” buttons, along with “Send to a Friend” email and embed code options. You also want to give your audience the opportunity to share their own feedback from the video experience, so leave a space for comments as well.
  • Give users a virtual shopping experience. Liveclicker’s Video Commerce platform is an excellent example of a “social technology” that lets customers select and compare related products right from within the video display, including interactive video capabilities allowing customers to both shop and share the video with others.  See the example screen shot below of their client, Advance Auto Parts’ interactive video player:

For more information on this topic, check out the 2 part series I did in October featuring tips on how to optimize user experience in e-Commerce videos.