Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Better Ecommerce UX

This month’s book was chosen because it is a viral book on habit formation that everyone should read, regardless of their industry. But, in the reading, it quickly became clear that the concepts in the book can be applied not only to engineering one’s own behavioural patterns, but also to directing the behaviour of ecommerce customers.

Atomic Habits offers detailed and persuasive insights into how behaviour change can be achieved through small but consistent actions. James Clear breaks the strategy for building good habits and breaking bad ones into four laws of behaviour change. 

  1. Make it Obvious
  2. Make it Attractive
  3. Make it Easy
  4. Make it Satisfying

Applying the four laws of behaviour change to ecommerce can indeed improve the user experience and increase the likelihood of customers converting. Let’s explore each law and its application to ecommerce.


Make it Obvious

Small changes to the environment can lead to substantial changes in behaviour. Whether you are making your exercise bike easier to access, or designing a digital customer journey, it’s about clear visual cues and reducing distractions from the goal. In ecommerce, making the conversion process obvious means reducing any friction or confusion that customers may encounter. 

  1. Clear Call-to-Action (CTA) Ensure that the CTA buttons, such as “Add to Cart,” “Buy Now,” etc, stand out and are easy to find on the product pages. Use contrasting colours and design elements to make them clear and visually appealing.
  3. Simplified Navigation Create a straightforward and intuitive navigation menu that guides users through the website seamlessly. Provide a search bar to help users quickly find what they’re looking for.
  5. Progress Indicators During the checkout process, provide a clear progress indicator like numbered steps or a progress bar at the top of the page. To let customers know how many steps are left to complete their purchase. This clarity reduces uncertainty and draws them forward through the journey.

Make it Attractive

One of the most interesting insights in Atomic Habits is that “It is the anticipation of a reward – not the fulfilment of it – that gets us to take action. The greater the anticipation, the greater the dopamine spike”. In the context of ecommerce, you can use this fact to prompt customers to buy your product by building their anticipation of how exciting it will be to own.

  1. High-Quality Product Images Use high-resolution images that showcase the products from different angles and in multiple use cases. Zoom features and 3D models let customers examine details and explore the product more freely.
  3. Compelling Product Descriptions Write persuasive, benefit-driven product descriptions that evoke emotion and clearly tell the customer exactly why they need this item in their life.
  5. User-Generated Content Make the most of your happy customers’ reviews, testimonials, and images. Showcase this social proof to help persuade prospective customers of the quality and benefits of your products.

Make it Easy

In the section on the Third Law of Behaviour Change: Make it Easy, James Clear talks about the need for practice or repetition to make tasks become automatic and effortless. You can make use of this in ecommerce by offering customers familiar pathways. Your ecommerce customers will largely be digital natives that are used to shopping online, using paypal, clicking the “buy now” option on social media. Don’t make them think, give them effortless journeys. 

  1. Digital Wallets Make use of digital wallets such as Apple Pay, PayPal or Google Pay so customers just need to log into their favourite option and use the payment and delivery details already stored in the wallet. This builds trust and saves form-filling time.
  3. Guest Checkout Don’t force users to create an account before they can checkout. Allows them to checkout as a guest with minimal information. You can offer to save their information in an account at the end of their transaction, as an incentive to return.
  5. Omnichannel Don’t just showcase your products on Instagram or TikTok with links to your store in the bio, make use of the platforms’ in-built stores so customers can buy your products quickly and easily without leaving their favourite app.

Make it Satisfying

As James Clear says is the book, behaviours that are rewarded are repeated. So, of course, the obvious answer in ecommerce seems to be making use of some kind of reward such as cashback or some king of loyalty scheme. But making ecommerce satisfying is also about going the extra mile to make your customers feel special and cared for. Nurturing your customer relationships will make you stand out from competitors who don’t communicate thoroughly or personally.  

  1. Order Confirmation and Updates Send prompt order confirmation emails and provide regular updates on shipping and delivery status to keep customers informed and satisfied.
  3. Personalization Use customer data to personalize recommendations and offers, showing that you understand their preferences and needs.
  5. Reward Loyalty Consider implementing a loyalty scheme that rewards repeat customers and increases the chances that they recommend your brand to friends and family.

Conclusion: Behavioural change as UX guide

Just as James Clear suggests “Whenever you want to change your behaviour, you can simply ask yourself: 

  1. How can I make it obvious?
  2. How can I make it attractive?
  3. How can I make it easy?
  4. How can I make it satisfying

When you are designing your ecommerce website, ask yourself those same questions at every stage. Whether you are trying to start a gym routine or convince more customers to complete transactions, people are people and our behaviours follow the same patterns and cues. 

By applying these four laws of behaviour change to your ecommerce website, you can create a better user experience that encourages customers to convert, and build long-lasting relationships with your brand. Remember that small improvements in each area can lead to significant results over time, aligning perfectly with the route message of atomic habits – tiny changes that compound into meaningful outcomes.

What did you think of Atomic Habits? What was your biggest takeaway from the book? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and join us here again next month for the next Calashock Book Club, suggested by Lance Owide on the BIG, commerce podcast – No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention.

by Verena