Research Topic

Accounts & Self-Service UX

How do users track and return orders? How do they manage their account data?

Accounts & Self-Service is a unique aspect of the e-commerce user experience. Unlike the 6 other e-commerce themes we’ve researched, ‘Accounts & Self-Service’ is often not part of the “direct purchase funnel” — in most cases, users don’t need to sign in to complete a purchase.

However, this isn’t to indicate that Accounts & Self-Service UX is less important than other e-commerce themes. Returning users — those most likely to use Self-Service features most often — are critically important to a successful e-commerce business, which means the Accounts & Self-Service UX performance can be just as important as the UX performance of the Product Page, Homepage & Category, or other e-commerce areas when it comes to a site’s overall long-term sales.

The Importance of Accounts and Self-Service UX

Moreover, the Accounts & Self-Service area of e-commerce is arguably the most personal of the e-commerce areas that a user experiences. Users tracking a package, attempting to cancel a wrong order, or attempting to return a product often interact with a site on a deeper level than users, for example, browsing product pages or filtering product lists. They have more “skin in the game” after having invested much time (and potentially money as well) with a site — and therefore are particularly attuned to any friction encountered while trying to manage Accounts & Self-Service features. Frustration mounts quickly if it’s difficult to accomplish Self-Service tasks.

Indeed, when users find it difficult or impossible to manage Accounts & Self-Service features the consequences can be severe, both for users and for sites, as negative experiences in Self-Service Accounts can lead to lasting brand damage. Our quantitative study of 800+ US adults finds that 12% would never purchase from a particular e-commerce site again, while 11% would be unlikely to do so — solely due to a negative return experience. Clearly, an investment of resources to improve the user experience of Accounts & Self-Service areas is warranted. This is especially true when factoring in how high-performing Self-Service Accounts will likely lead to reduced customer support requests — making the investment to improve the Self-Service Accounts features likely to eventually pay for itself.

UX Issues With Bespoke Pages and Navigation

Additionally, Accounts & Self-Service often have bespoke pages and navigation, with many internal departments producing their own content, and many site-specific features — for example, store credit cards, site communities, specialized order tracking features, etc. Because of the diversity of the content, there’s much more of a risk of running into severe UX issues: rather than having to only worry about a few product page templates, sites may instead have dozens of unique features that must all be kept up-to-date and perform well for users.

Furthermore, Accounts & Self-Service is an under-researched area of e-commerce. While there is ample guidance available on crafting homepages, for example, there’s a relative paucity when it comes to Self-Service account features. One main reason is the difficulty in researching aspects of an e-commerce site that are mainly hidden from public view, which makes it vastly more difficult and complex to research Accounts & Self-Service compared to other e-commerce areas (as we at Baymard discovered — for example, having to return countless products from different sites just to see what interfaces would be best to test).

Baymard Insights Into Accounts & Self-Service UX Research

Research into Self-Service Account design patterns has therefore been long overdue, which is why we at Baymard devoted a full year to researching only this area of e-commerce. During testing, test subjects encountered more than 1,400 usability issues as they tried to update their stored account information (like addresses, passwords, or credit cards), track a package, return an item, or cancel a wrong order. We’ve analyzed and distilled these observed issues into the 65 guidelines on how to develop a high-performing Accounts & Self-Service user experience, which address such topics as:

  • How to design and structure the “My Account” drop-down
  • The account dashboard
  • Account sign in
  • Stored addresses and payment methods
  • Newsletter unsubscribe and frequency
  • Online order cancellation
  • Orders & order tracking
  • The order returns flow and UI
  • General account navigation, structure, and information

This page provides you an overview of our research specific to Accounts & Self-Service. All of this research is available as part of Baymard Premium.


The Accounts & Self-Service UX Performance

To accompany the usability test sessions we’ve also benchmarked 59 top-grossing US and European e-commerce sites across 110+ research-based Accounts & Self-Service UX parameters. This has resulted in a benchmark database with 8,000+ Accounts & Self-Service elements manually reviewed and scored by Baymard’s team of UX researchers, along with 6,000+ categorized best and worst practice implementation examples from leading e-commerce sites (all categorized and performance verified).

 

The UX performance scores from our Accounts & Self-Service and Mobile Customer Accounts UX benchmarks are plotted in the interactive scatterplot above.

This is a sub-set of the full benchmark which includes 244 e-commerce sites.
View our full UX benchmark


2,000+ Categorized ‘Accounts & Self-Service’ UX Examples

FREE RESEARCH CONTENT

Explore design patterns across 2,000+ examples of e-commerce Accounts & Self-Service designs and features from leading e-commerce sites, organized into 8 different page types.

This is a great way to get UI and UX inspiration for page types such as; the ‘My Account’ Drop-Downs, the Account Dashboard, Address Books, Stored Credit Card pages, Newsletter Management pages, “Orders” Overview pages, Order Tracking pages, and Order Return Flows.

Account Dashboard
444 Examples

Address Book
377 Examples

Stored Credit Cards
263 Examples

Newsletter Management
291 Examples

Orders Overview
131 Examples

Order Tracking Page
151 Examples

Order Returns
130 Examples

Browse all design examples


Research Articles on Accounts & Self-Service UX

FREE RESEARCH CONTENT

We’ve released a small subset of the Premium research finding on Accounts & Self-Service UX for free in these articles:


7 Research Reports on Accounts and Self-Service UX

PAID RESEARCH CONTENT

All 65 Accounts & Self-Service research findings are available as part of Baymard Premium, and are divided into the following 7 topics:

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account Drop-Down

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account Drop-Down

7 guidelines, 47 pages

Placement of the ‘My Account’ drop-down menu, account features to include, how the ‘My Account’ drop-down should be structured and styled, personalization, and what ‘My Account’ drop-down implementations should be avoided.

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account Dashboard

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account Dashboard

6 guidelines, 33 pages

Providing paths to all ‘My Account’ features, highlighting recent orders, limiting ads, and using icons; dashboard designs that use a sidebar or ‘Cards’ for navigation.

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account Sign In

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account Sign In

6 guidelines, 30 pages

Account sign in, including password reset and account lockouts, ‘Soft’ sign in, automatic sign out, sign in when accessing order tracking from an order status email, and where users should be sent after sign in.

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

‘Your Account’: Addresses, Payments, & Newsletters

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

‘Your Account’: Addresses, Payments, & Newsletters

13 guidelines, 66 pages

Credit card updating, default addresses, editing vs. adding a new address, newsletter frequency and ‘unsubscribe’, confirmations, and ‘Apply’ buttons.

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Orders & Order Tracking

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Orders & Order Tracking

14 guidelines, 73 pages

Order list item design, order tracking pages, third-party order tracking, how users get to order tracking, guest order tracking, order status emails, order cancellation, order receipts, and order status filters.

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Order Returns

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Order Returns

11 guidelines, 65 pages

Initiating, moving through, and finalizing a return online; returns costs, shipping methods, in-store returns, shipping labels, and packaging returns.

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account-Wide Navigation, Structure, & Information

Accounts & Self-Service Topics

Account-Wide Navigation, Structure, & Information

8 guidelines, 46 pages

How to layout and structure information and navigation, describe complex flows or features, and finding and understanding self-service features, and the courtesy navigation.


Subscribe to Baymard Premium to access all of our Accounts & Self-Service UX research

Get full access to all our Accounts & Self-Service UX research reports, benchmarks, and page designs previewed here, along with our complete 650+ guidelines for Homepage & Category Navigation, Search, Product Listing, Product Details Page, Checkout, and Mobile E-Commerce. Utilize our 130,000 hours of UX research to improve your Accounts & Self-Service user experience and to document your UX decisions.

Learn more about Baymard Premium


Full-Site UX Audit

IN-DEPTH REVIEW OF YOUR SITE’S UX PERFORMANCE

If you don’t want to read all of the research findings, but “just want the results”, then have Baymard’s team of researchers audit your site.

The audit provides you with a detailed external review of your site’s UX performance across 500+ e-commerce UX elements, as well as a detailed UX performance comparison against the current ‘State of the Art’ performances and the competitive landscape. In addition, the audit provides you with 40 prioritized suggestions for UX improvements with best-practice implementation examples.

Learn more


Test Methodology

This research on Accounts & Self-Service UX is part of Baymard Institute’s full 130,000 hours of large scale research catalog, which is based on:

  • Usability Testing: 25 rounds of qualitative usability testing with 4,400+ test participant/site sessions following the "Think Aloud" protocol (in-person 1:1 moderated lab usability testing).
  • Manual benchmarking: 54 rounds of benchmarking the world’s 244 top-grossing e-commerce sites across all 650+ UX guidelines (150,000+ implementation examples and 225,000+ UX performance scores).
  • In-lab eye-tracking testing.
  • Quantitative studies: 12 studies with a total of 20,240 participants.

Baymard’s research methodology is described in detail here.


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