5 Holiday Gift Guide UX Tips That Drive Sales

Preparing for peak will be a little different this year. With the pandemic still at large, unpredictability has become the only constant. US eCommerce penetration has seen 10 years’ growth in just 3 months, as consumers realize this ‘new normal’ is extending far past the summer season. One thing you can rely on? Brands will soon be releasing their holiday gift guides and as you prepare to inevitably release your own, we've put together a few holiday gift guide UX tips to help you along.

But, with unexpected spikes in discretionary and essential categories, it may be difficult to predict what consumers will be spending their money on this year. It is now more important than ever to closely monitor what categories have been purchased at a steady rate, and what categories are seeing unexpected spikes, especially if you have access to our e-Merchandising platform

What we do know is that more than 75% of consumers have tried new shopping behaviors, methods, brands, and places with 60% of those consumers expecting to integrate these new brands in their post-COVID life. In addition, consumers are still sticking to purchasing the ‘essentials.’ The spike in spending on discretionary categories we saw in April has since been in decline since mid-June. 

Here are some holiday gift guide UX tips to help you optimize your product categories and gift guides ahead of the peak holiday shopping season:

1. Avoid creative that takes up most of the screen—especially on mobile!

We have seen over and over again that users are not likely to be exposed to content when there is a false bottom. Ensure that the next section is partially visible, and while you don’t have to try to fit all your content at the top, we want to make sure that highly converting content will most likely be seen below the fold.

Holiday gift guide UX tips: limit website banner size to encourage users to scroll further down a page

Target's banner size lets users see there is more content on the page, encouraging users to continue scrolling.

On this Target landing page, the hero image, while large, still allows for part of the next section to be visible. This avoids the ‘false bottom’ and indicates to users that there is additional content below. This can encourage users to continue scrolling and ensure site content lower on the page is still seen. 

2. Be specific with category and gift guide labels

Every time a user clicks on content or a category push on your homepage, they are taking a chance on you. With limited time and pageviews to convince someone they should purchase, all copy and labels should be specific. It is more difficult for users to narrow down a large product listing page than to visit a page with a narrower scope, especially if exposure is low past the fold on listing pages. Opt for more specific category pushes, rather than generic categories that are more difficult for users to anticipate.

Holiday gift guide UX tips: a female clothing brand offers highly-specific gift guide landing pages to appeal to specific buyers

A female clothing brand offers highly-specific gift guide landing pages to appeal to specific buyers

Gift guide categories are
intentional and speak to users' personalities. Above these categories, there are also specific guides based on price for swift navigation to what’s most important to users.

3. Provide a seamless way to navigate to other categories or gift guides from the list page

There is no reason a user should have to navigate all the way back to the homepage just to find another category they were interested in. As category pushes tend to perform better than single product pushes on the homepage, you may want to consider providing ways to easily navigate to other closely related categories and gift guides directly from the list page the user is on. 

Madewell makes it easy to narrow down search results by price point

least 3 categories are seen on the Homepage, and do not take the full length of the page. Once the user clicks to the gift guide list page, they can also use a category dropdown to jump to more specific gift guide categories.

4. Don’t forget to include any seasonal or relevant parameters within your filters

In addition to navigating to peak season categories, you can help users by adjusting your filter options to better match shopping behaviors during this time. You don’t want to overwhelm your user with a long product list, but rather encourage your user to utilize the filters effectively. For example, are your consumers concerned with price? Provide parameters that allow them to filter by ‘Gifts under $25,’ Gifts under $50,’ etc. Make sure your filters are clearly visible and easily reachable from anywhere on the page. (Make them sticky!)


5. Be intentional (and creative) with the images and media you use

Choosing images is notoriously difficult, but when the images themselves are cluttered, the page feels cluttered as well. Busy images can be distracting and make the page harder to read, even if the font is legible on the page. Especially if there is text on your images, ensure the images have empty spaces on which the text can be read easily. This is a pro tip for any carousels you may be utilizing. (Don’t forget, you don’t want to auto-rotate your carousels!)

This is also a good time to get creative with your media. More dynamic and interactive media is used to communicate brand or product features, such as auto-playing GIFs, which are quick to load and communicate the type of products being featured, as well as the brand tone.

J. Crew's gift guide features a fun and festive GIF to get visitors in the holiday spirit

On the J. Crew homepage above, the gift guide category uses an engaging GIF that automatically plays. On the gift guide list page, there is a category dropdown that helps users jump to different gift categories. Users can also easily narrow down listings using buttons like 'Best Selling' and 'Gifts under $25.' 

Target's 2019 gift guide takes a fun, interactive approach to connect customers with great gifts for everyone on their list

Gift lists with fun and approachable descriptions mimic the layout of a Pinterest collage, posing product images on a colorful combination of background colors. Each tile lists the price and produces a popover panel that allows the user to navigate to the PDP or view similar gifts.


And there you have it, our 5 holiday gift guide UX tips to help you create a memorable and helpful gift guide this holiday season.

Overall, you want to ensure seamless navigation for your users. This may be the first time for many to be shopping all their gifts online, and just like the in-store experience, no one wants to be confused about where to find something they’re looking for. On the plus side, this is an opportunity to guide your customers to great gift ideas and increase your digital sales. 

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3 Travel UX Must-Dos for Your Travel Booking Website

Travel UI design can be a hard nut to crack, especially when it comes to conversions. Our recent analysis of 2,100 Million visitor sessions across several verticals found that travel and tourism has one of the lowest mobile conversion rates of all sectors (0.90% average).

Desktop reigns over mobile within this sector on every performance metric, touting higher conversion rates: 2.90% vs 0.90% on mobile, and average cart values $1,860 vs. $1,790 on mobile.

Visitors spend almost double the amount of time on desktop as they do on mobile sites — 6 minutes 4 seconds on average, suggesting a less than optimized experience. The bounce rate appears to confirm this story, with a considerably higher rate of bounces on mobile than on desktop visitors bounce less, bearing a bounce rate of 39.80% (45.70% versus 39.80%). 

It is clear that even in this mobile-first age, booking an international flight or a train ticket on your smartphone phone may still be far from being user-friendly, let alone instinctive. Since travelers are largely defined by their mobility, developing headache-free solutions is paramount. Take advantage of the following tips to optimize your site for mobile users.

Make it Easy to Navigate Your Site

Whether you provide a multitude of transportation options or accommodation around the world, it’s imperative to optimize your website or app for booking on-the-go.

The best way to achieve this end is by ensuring your users can easily find what they are looking for on your site or app. 

That’s where the navigation menu comes in handy. By providing a clear navigation menu, visitors can quickly navigate the myriad of information and deals you have on offer. The more frustrated visitors become trying to navigate your site, the more likely they will bounce or exit without having converted.

Make sure that the most important parent categories are visible upon reaching the site. Avoid using ambiguous wording for navigation links so that hesitation times remain low, especially for featured content, offers, or features. Don’t leave users guessing what kind of content they’ll be directed to before clicking on something.

In addition to a clean navigation, use category or product pushes throughout the site in relevant areas so users don’t always have to rely on the global navigation (especially if it isn’t sticky to the page.) This can help keep your users engaged even after they’ve found what they’ve been looking for.                                          

An example of good travel UI design: On JetBlue’s homepage, the focus is solely on searching for flights, vacations, hotels, or cars. However, upon opening the menu, users are presented with key categories and CTAs dedicated to booking, managing, or exploring travel options. Categories and subcategories are written in large text and use helpful icons. The contrast in the background of the sub-categories makes it easier to read.

Create Seamless Experiences between Mobile, Web and Mobile Apps.

Many travel apps, especially those for booking transportation and accommodation, require specific functions and features that use the native capabilities of mobile phones.

For example, users are able to add their boarding passes, pull up their tickets or even track their baggage through mobile apps. Are travel brands replicating these essential features for their mobile websites? If not, they’re missing out on key mobile UX improvements. That’s because equipping users with access to the same types of features across platforms is key to providing a seamless travel UX. 

Surface Upsells and Cross-Sells When it’s Relevant

Users are easily overwhelmed when presented with too many options to choose from or multiple tasks to complete. Focusing the user on the most important task, such as booking a flight, is much harder when users are bombarded with a variety of extras or promotions they are encouraged to take advantage of. 

You wouldn’t put every checkout step on one page; the booking process should take a similar approach. It should be spread out across several steps to make it more easily digestible. 

The same goes for any upsells or cross-sells. Options should be progressively surfaced during different stages of the journey and in places where they are most relevant. 

When a flight is selected, the users are immediately provided an option to upgrade their seat. It clearly lists the benefits and price to upgrade. Bold colors that pop from the screen are used to indicate these special options.

That Does it for Travel UX 

Overall, your travel website should make any booking or research process as easy as possible. With mobile users increasingly on the move, any process should be made simple and easy to understand. That includes reimagining and optimizing crucial features so they take into account the context and goals of distinct audience segments. Learn what works best by studying your users’ behaviors and putting customer intelligence at the heart of your experience decisions.