We all have a degree of brand loyalty hardwired into us, but it’s highly advisable to move with the times when it comes to online technology. An estimated one in eight people still use Microsoft’s long-defunct Internet Explorer, and 7% of PCs are running on Windows XP – launched in 2002 and discontinued in 2014. Whether through loyalty to dependable platforms or mistrust of newer alternatives, millions of people across the UK continue to rely on obsolete software that increases their exposure to malware, as well as poor online experiences.
More worrisome for ecommerce platforms, the outdated software your customers are using can mean your lovingly-crafted Edge and Safari-friendly websites won’t work properly. And that can directly impact on your profit margins, since shopping sites with missing graphics or unreliable functionality won’t inspire much confidence.
Fortunately, there are various ways ecommerce platforms can tackle outdated consumer software. These are UK2’s recommendations for maximising your site’s compatibility…
Test on every browser
By that, we don’t just mean Internet Explorer and Netscape – which are still being used by 1 in 250 people. We mean older versions of platforms like Firefox, which is currently on its 56th incarnation. A dozen older versions of Firefox are still being used, each with up to a dozen sub-releases and updates. It’s clearly impractical to test them all, but a random selection should reveal key issues revolving around how ecommerce platforms display.
Test on every OS
Having established that there are no browser display issues, ensure ecommerce platforms can be successfully used for transactions on older operating systems. Again, a cross-section of Linux distros and Windows generations should be chosen at random, along with older versions of Mac OS X (especially 2009’s hugely popular Snow Leopard). Complete low-value transactions to ensure technical issues like card verification are handled appropriately.
Study analytics software
Today’s analytics tools are able to identify individual site visitors and track their behaviour, which might identify recurring problems. If two thirds of visitors using Safari leave your site on the payment page, there’s clearly a problem. These consumers rarely provide unsolicited feedback about why they abandoned the site, so investigative work is necessary. If trends become evident, it’s incumbent on you to establish workarounds as quickly as possible.
As stated above, most customers will quietly slip away from sites they don’t like. But that doesn’t have to spell an end to their brand experience. Analytics tools or cookie tracking may enable you to identify them and enquire why they didn’t complete a purchase, or request feedback on their site visit. Every page of an ecommerce website should clearly display Contact Us and social media buttons, while feedback forms may attract observations on usability.
Specify system requirements
This can be done in several ways. A prominent disclaimer could recommend minimal software requirements for an optimal user experience. Web pages can be programmed to identify obsolete browsers or incompatible software, automatically displaying a warning when the site is opened on such browsers or software. And researching plugins or add-ons for known compatibility issues may support messages encouraging certain users to try another browser. After all, most people have several devices they can use to access the internet, each with its own combination of OS and web browser…