Magento checkout extensions have been very popular for a long time. For Ecommerce owners the idea of increasing sales just by making the checkout process smoother is a very appealing one.

The problem is that most checkout extensions are actually harmful to conversion rates and checkout usability. Except for one!

All Magento checkout extensions I've seen out there are very bad in terms of load speed, conversions, and stability.

Don't combine checkout steps into a single crowded step

First of all I have no idea why but all checkout extensions I've ever seen combine the checkout steps into a crowded 3-column design and promote this as if it's a positive thing.

Here's a screenshot taken from one such extension to illustrate what I mean:

Magento Checkout Extensions

Even the savviest users get confused with such a layout! Not to mention most internet shoppers eager to complete their purchase quickly and move on. I mean - which fields are you supposed to fill out first? Why are there so many options everywhere? It's really overwhelming - especially if you're just buying a shirt or a pair of shoes!

There are a ton of checkout extensions but somehow they all combine all checkout steps into one crowded page with 3 columns. It doesn't get any worse in terms of usability and conversions!

Don't overwrite Magento's functionality

These extensions also completely overwrite Magento's checkout functionality which is a big no no in terms of upgade-ability, stability and security.

What that means is that you'll run into countless issues and problems with new Magento verions, and other 3rd party extensions (such as payment methods, shipping methods, etc).

Don't weigh down your checkout page

In addition these extensions add their own style files, template files, and layout files to the checkout page which will affect load speed and page performance - actually slowing down the most important page of an online store!

Don't trust anything but numbers

If you're trying out a Magento checkout extension, you should make sure to test conversion rates with A/B testing (you can use Google Website Optimizer for that if you want a free and quick implementation). One company did test conversion rates and saw a huge decrease in conversion rates when compared to the original Magento checkout process!

Well, that's expected to anyone with any sense of design and usability.

Look for an alternative

You can stick with the native Magento checkout functionality and that's fine. Except for the very first step which is very confusing to users:

Magento Checkout

Fortunately this first step can be easily and seamlessly removed with the Optimized Checkout Extension without affecting any of the checkout functionality and all its possible scenarios.

If you want users to sign up for your newsletter at checkout you can incorporate this very simple extension which adds a newsletter check-box with a bunch of possible scenarios you can configure in the admin.

Links mentioned in this post:

Cross posted from Noam Design.