- Our large-scale testing of both desktop and mobile apparel sites shows that nearly all sites fail to provide sufficient sizing information for users (83% and 87%, respectively)
- This leaves many users without the information they need to make an apparel purchasing decision
- Apparel sites can support this user information need by implementing the 10 sizing information elements discussed in this article
For apparel products, selecting the correct size is a highly important aspect of the purchase.
During our large-scale testing of apparel e-commerce sites, we observed that users can be hesitant to purchase a product if they’re not confident in its sizing.
Furthermore, if the correct size is not easily discernible, users may leave the site to find more information, risking that they do not return.
Indeed, during both desktop and mobile UX apparel usability testing, uncertainty around sizing was a common cause for abandoning a product.
Moreover, a product that does not fit — whether it’s a t-shirt or an evening dress — will need to be returned, causing significant hassle and disappointment for the user and strain on the site’s customer support.
However, our Apparel UX benchmark shows that 83% of desktop apparel sites, and 87% of mobile apparel sites, fail to provide sufficient sizing information — putting themselves at risk of users abandoning the site.
In this article we’ll discuss the following from our Premium research findings of Apparel UX:
- Why size guides are so important to apparel users
- 10 best practices to ensure users have adequate sizing information on the product details page
Note: while this article focuses on apparel products, sizing information is also important for furniture e-commerce — see our furniture e-commerce page for furniture-specific details.
Why Size Guides Are So Important to Apparel Users
Many apparel brands have sizing schemas that aren’t intuitive, and sizing can vary greatly among brands, vendors, sites, and countries.
For the end user, the complexity of selecting a size can become overwhelming if sufficient information isn’t provided.
For example, a woman in her 20s might still wear odd-numbered junior sizes, but also even-numbered adult sizes. While shopping for denim, she might also land upon a brand that incorporates inch measurements instead of size. So, over the course of shopping, she could look at jeans in sizes 5, 6, and 28”.
Thus, for all but very savvy apparel shoppers and industry insiders, size ambiguity will be a concern and an issue.
Across countries, sizing also differs greatly for apparel, not only in terms of sizing systems but also with metric versus imperial measurements.
For sites with a large proportion of international users, users are likely to be unsure of the appropriate size and therefore will abandon pursuing the product without access to the right sizing information.
Indeed, sizing is an area where e-commerce suffers greatly in comparison to in-person shopping.
After all, a customer shopping in-store can select multiple sizes of the same product to try on, thereby arriving at the right size through trial-and-error.
On the other hand, e-commerce shoppers are taking a leap of faith when it comes to buying the right-sized product.
Thus, given the unavoidable issues introduced by not purchasing products in-person, e-commerce apparel sites need to make an extra effort to ensure users have all the size information they need to make a purchase decision.
10 Ways to Ensure Users Have Adequate Sizing Information on the Product Details Page
While nearly all apparel sites in our Apparel UX benchmark offer some information on sizing, only 17% of desktop sites, and 13% of mobile sites, provide sufficient information.
This leaves many end users without the information they need to make a purchasing decision.
Therefore, in order to ensure users have the information they need when it comes to sizing, it’s important to provide the following 10 components of size information.
1) Provide Conventional Sizing Information
Conventional sizing information — for example, “S”, “M”, “L” — is the first step for many users trying to zero in on the right size for a relevant product.
While conventional sizes often vary widely from brand to brand, failing to include it at all will leave many users without the basic sizing information they rely on to make a product selection.
Therefore, it’s important to include conventional sizing information, or a conversion from the product’s size information to its equivalent conventional size (e.g., “0=XS”).
2) Provide Numeric Sizing Information
Numeric size information is also important to include, depending on the product type.
For many users numeric size information is a standard when it comes to products such as dresses, and is a familiar and crucial aspect of sizing.
Indeed, users will sometimes cross-check numeric sizes against other size information to ensure the information “adds up” when it comes to making a final decision.
3) Provide Measurements in Both Inches and Centimeters
Measurements are another important piece of the sizing puzzle for users.
They allow users to be highly specific about which product size makes the most sense for them, depending on their various body measurements.
However, while some users will prefer to see the measurements in centimeters, others will prefer to see them in inches — and it’s unlikely that a user with a preference for one measurement system will know offhand what their equivalent measurements are for the alternative system.
To ensure measurement information is useful to as many users as possible it’s therefore important to include measurements in both centimeters and inches.
4) Provide International Size Conversions
During testing, some sites failed to include international conversions for their size information.
This means that users from countries that don’t share the sizing conventions that are provided by the site are out of luck when it comes to determining their appropriate size.
Sites that anticipate having users from a variety of countries, which have different sizing conventions, should therefore provide international size conversion information to help ensure users aren’t forced to leave the site to find the information themselves.
5) Provide Instructions and Tips for Taking Accurate Measurements
Measuring oneself to determine the appropriate size to buy can be tricky, especially for users who aren’t regular purchasers of apparel items.
Indeed, while having measurements information is important, it’s more or less useless if users don’t know how to obtain those measurements on their own body.
Therefore, along with measurement information users should also be provided with instructions on how to take measurements.
Ideally, these instructions will include not just text but also a “Human Model” image to help users visualize where exactly measurements should be taken.
6) Ensure Sizing and Measurement Information Matches the Product Type
Like many other product page features (e.g., product page descriptions), sizing information should not be universally applied across sites, but should instead be tailored to each product type — or, ideally, brand and product type.
In desktop and mobile apparel testing, display of irrelevant sizing information to participants was observed to damage user perception of the product and the site.
Similarly, when relevant information was included but required additional scanning because the test site used one generic list of sizing information for several product types, the test participants often gave up before finding the information sought — rendering the information the site presented useless.
Therefore, to ensure size guides are actually helpful to users, it’s important that size guides aren’t “one size fits all” but rather tailored to each individual product type.
7) Include a Link to the “Size Guide” Near the Size Selector
Of course, to be helpful to users a size guide has to be first found on the product page.
While our Apparel UX benchmark shows that nearly all sites get this right, by placing the link near the size selectors, some sites make it unnecessarily difficult to find the link to the size guide by placing it too far from the size selectors or making the link too subdued.
Therefore, to ensure findability of the size guide link place it near the size selectors and make it prominent enough to find at a glance on the product page.
8) Ensure the Browser “Back” Button Returns Users to the Product Details Page
For both desktop and mobile e-commerce UX, size guides that open as an overlay should provide a clear and easily accessible “Close” mechanism.
Yet testing also shows that many users will instinctively reach for the browser “Back” button instead — and can be severely disappointed if they aren’t returned to where they thought they would be.
Therefore, clicking or tapping the browser “Back” button should close the size guide and return users to the product page (and not the product list).
9) Include a Link to Customer Service in the Size Guide
Even when provided with detailed measurement instructions, conversion information, and comprehensive size charts, some users may still feel unsure about which size to purchase.
Providing a link to the site’s customer service, contact information, or live chat from within the size guide gives these users a direct path for getting additional sizing questions answered, which can give them the confidence they need to move forward with purchasing.
What’s more, the site benefits by giving all customers who access the size guide an additional signal of trustworthiness, underscoring that the site is transparent and customer oriented.
10) Consider Including Measurements of Human Models
During testing on apparel sites, we observed participants reference “Human Model” images in conjunction with the size guide to better gauge the product’s overall fit and sizing.
Providing the model’s measurements, and size worn, alongside the “Human Model” image gives users additional context that they can use to determine their most appropriate size.
Apparel UX: Help Ensure Users Can Confidently Select the Right Size
For many users, the sizing information provided by the size guide is instrumental in making their purchase decision.
An ideal size guide therefore not only provides a simple chart of measurements, but also includes the following 10 components:
- Conventional sizing information
- Numeric sizing information
- Measurements in inches and centimeters
- International size conversions
- Instructions and tips for taking accurate measurements
- A match between sizing information and the product type being considered
- A link to the size guide located near the size selectors
- Support for users’ expectations for “Back” buttons
- A link to customer service in the size guide
- Measurements of the models shown wearing the products
Feeling confident about selecting a size variation is an important factor for users who are considering adding the product to the cart, and a comprehensive size guide gives users the detailed sizing and measuring information they need to make a confident choice.
Yet despite the importance of including all relevant size information, 83% of desktop apparel sites and 87% of mobile apparel sites fail to provide 1 or more of the above-listed size-information elements — leading to some unnecessary abandonments.
Getting access: all 500+ Apparel e-commerce UX guidelines are available today via our Premium research findings. (If you already have an account open the Apparel e-commerce study.) (You may also want to see our Apparel e-commerce audit service for information on booking a UX audit of your Apparel e-commerce sales site.)