You have to watch this video...
Why is this so funny? Because it is so true. Most web checkout experiences are abysmal. The user experience suffers because technology is allowed to dictate the experience when it should be the other way around. Pair that with many businesses' obsession with being able to market back to their previous customers and CYA disclaimers and agreements, and you end up with exactly this kind of mess. Perhaps the most regrettable part of all of this is that we've actually grown used to this. It takes an example like this video to highlight how far we've allowed user experience to fall. It has to be about the user. It has to be about building the best experience possible.
What is User Experience?
User Expereience is what separates the winners from ... the rest.
In a world where anyone can make a site or product with minimal effort, success will fall to those who best encompass the facets of UX:
Useful: How effectively and simply does it solve problems or make life easier?
Desirable: Techniques of emotional design can help here.
Accessible: How well does it work for those with disabilities? Sometimes, following the standards may not be enough.
Credible: Is it error free? Does it convey authority? Does it reference more than itself?
Findable: Is your information organized in a way that makes sense? Does it lead to the user to what they're looking for? Peter Morville wrote a great book in the issue: Ambient Findability. He is also the creator of this lovely usability honeycomb.
Usable: Usability all about finding out what works and why it works. It is an industry unto itself but a good starting point is Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think. You can also follow the reasearch of Jared Spool's User Interface Engineering.
Valuable: People like a lot of things that have no value, but they are less willing to pay for it. What creates value in the mind of your consumer depends largely on what you offer and who your customer is.
Properly executed, the principles of UX can turn customers into a fanatical fan-base. To that end, you should be testing every feature, every page, every flow within your application against these principles. But why stop there? There are more customer touch points to your business than the web. As you consider how you can improve each customer touch point, remember: Good is the enemy of Great. This is especially true in UX.