Doing this ecommerce checkout, and I'm curious, should the order summary be visible throughout the entire checkout process, or just at the last step (where the CC info is entered)?

I haven't read the Baymard report so I don't know an awful lot about these things!

4 Answers 4


Simple answer : Yes

When I am ordering something on the net, I like to be aware of the item I have order, what it has cost me, if I am paying for shipping (and if so, how much) and if the site offers free shipping for a specific amount, how much more do I have to buy to take advantage of the free or expedited shipping. Taking all this information away from me and presenting it to me only at the last minute when I provide my credit card information is going to lead to some surprises especially if the tax is pretty high or the shipping rates are rather high.

You don't want to shock your users at the last minute, so keep them informed at every stage of the feedback.

I guess you could call this an adaptation of the Jakob Neilson's Heuristic : Visibility of system status

  • The OP is asking about visibility of order summary throughout the entire checkout process not in general. Do you really need to know the prices when entering your shipping address?
    – dnbrv
    Mar 5, 2012 at 5:01
  • @dnbrv ,I would say yes, I might be an extreme case or an outlier ,but I like to be aware of how much money I am spending and how much the bill adding up to at any time
    – Mervin
    Mar 5, 2012 at 5:58
  • I would put it even stronger, that if it is changing by what you are adding - like shipping location - then it should be updated or at least the changes made clear. As a customer I want to know the implications of what I am doing. It really annoys me whe I cannot see how much I am spending until I am largely committed. Mar 5, 2012 at 9:46

Take a look at "Windstream’s Cart Simplification Test" on Which Test Won. They had a "5% increase in service orders" and "Results were 90% conclusive" when there was no order summary in the side bar of checkout pages.

  • What's even more interesting about this test is that significantly more people who responded thought that the version with the summary would perform better. Just goes to show that a good A/B test is always worth trying out even if you think you know the outcome.
    – JonW
    Mar 7, 2012 at 19:49
  • 1
    Can you add the article's note that "[r]esults were 90% conclusive" to your answer? If that's referring to a test of statistical significance like a P-value (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P-value), the results would fall below the threshold of true statistical significance used in many social science-y fields. So maybe the results aren't as conclusive as they seem?
    – Niq
    Mar 7, 2012 at 21:05
  • Thanks, I added the 90% in. So you saying that it would have to be 95% conclusive in order to pass statistical significance? Also, when I took the test I voted for option B because I thought 1) the order summary added clutter 2) showing the end user the $ amounts (on that page) would scare persons who were having second thoughts, and they wouldn't complete the purchase.
    – user8840
    Mar 8, 2012 at 16:15

I don't think it needs to be present all the way through the order process, but it shouldn't be a surprise at the end either.

I also like to keep the checkout process as clean and free of visual distractions as possible. The order could consist of dozens of items, if you're showing the full order on every page of checkout that could get very cluttered.

If the first screen that initiates the checkout process shows the full order details (as much as you can show - you may have variable devivery costs do can't show the full fee here) that the user has to accept to proceed then you've given them as much detail early on as you can, minimising the surprise factor later.

At each stage of checkout you can show a running-total for the total cost, so when you are selecting the delivery charge don't only show the fee itself but the amount + order to get a full cost too. Doing this keeps the user in the picture throughout the process, doesn't overwhelm them with data and helps keep the order process as simple as possible.


I prefer when I'm presented with the order details before I put my CC info in. Some websites don't make it clear what the final price with shipping is and taxes until very late in the process. Sometimes I'm even unsure of if it'll show me the final price before charging my card.

  • Earle, good answers on Stack Exchange are the ones that provide factual support for the argument not personal opinions.
    – dnbrv
    Mar 5, 2012 at 13:44

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