Humans love to see progress. It’s why we invented calendars, clocks, and mile markers. We like transparent beverage bottles so we can see exactly how much is left. Progress bars that are displayed when downloading or transferring a file exist for the same reason. Progress is calming while the lack of it is extremely unsettling.

A multi-step checkout should be treated in a similar fashion. Nobody likes grappling in the dark. You need to show your customers the progress they’re making. Have a progress bar at the top of the page and highlight the current step they’re in:

Cart  –  Shipping  –  Payment  –  Review and Confirmation 

The example above shows a customer that they’re in the payment stage. They’ve already viewed the cart, filled in shipping details, and only the order confirmation step is left. By showing customers the completed steps and the ones remaining, you put them more at ease and motivate them to complete the process. It’s a subtle but powerful form of encouragement.


A few things to keep in mind: