Category: UX advice / Ecommerce guides

The death of product quick view on ecommerce listings pages

A ’quick view’ is an ecommerce feature designed to allow the user to see more details and images for a product via an overlay window, whilst on a product listings page (PLP). The idea is that the user gets a peek into more content whilst still being on the PLP, so they can quickly close the window and not lose their place browsing. For site designers, it allows you to keep the PLP clean but still provide more details.

Whilst they’ve been around for a long time, the ecommerce design experts at Baymard Institute have been recommending against them for a few years now. Instead they were suggesting you should display extra information on mouse hover over a product listing. To me this seems pretty similar to a quick view but the bigger problem is that the sites I deal with are now getting 70% or more of their traffic from mobile, where hovering isn’t something users can do.

Almost all big ecommerce sites that I’ve studied drop the quick view from their mobile versions—I assume to save space and to simplify the user journey. Those sites that keep it on desktop now demote the feature to be a tiny option. An example below is from TopShop (if you can’t spot the quick view, it’s the small grey magnifying glass icon with the lightning bolt in the middle).

TopShop desktop product listing page

Despite not being popular this function might be helpful to some desktop users. To find out if it is, you could run a desktop user test to check how users engage with this feature, as I happened to do recently. It was at this point that I came across a problem.

How do you write a task that gets users to it? Something like “Now quickly view the product”, or “Find out a few more details about the product”, or “Click the magnifying glass icon with the lightning bolt in it”? For the first two the user will almost certainly just go to the product details page as it’s the obvious (and by far the biggest) thing to click, and in the last example you’re obviously biasing things by telling them exactly what to do, and won’t find out whether they’d choose to use it.

This problem isn’t helped by the fact that the icon (like almost all icons) isn’t one that people will instantly understand and can’t work without a label. Yet this is how many sites are choosing to show it.

It made me realise the fundamental issue with quick view is that there just isn’t a meaningful use case for it. Looking “quickly” at a product isn’t something many users are crying out for and is backed up by the fact I don’t think I’ve ever seen a user click into one. From all the analytics I’ve looked at mobile users are quicker in their browsing (lower time on site, fewer pages viewed) and yet most companies have decided their mobile versions don’t need this feature at all.

It’s a feature that could easily exist on mobile but ultimately it’s a feature without a need, and that’s why it’s on its way out.

Getting the balance of information and imagery right on a PLP can be a challenge, especially for smaller screens, but that’s the thing to spend time getting right. Never assume having extra information that can be found with a click will actually be seen, and in ecommerce don’t design actions for desktop only, because it’s unlikely to be where most of your users are.

Last updated on 28 October 2019
Designing Ecommerce Websites 2nd edition book cover

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