Guidelines & Best Practices For An eCommerce Website Design

Do’s and Don’t – Think before considering eCommerce Website Design

For an online business, no other part of marketing is as vital as having a top-notch website. It is the front door of your organization and is critical in creating a first impression. The first visit to your site determines how users will interact with the content and whether they are willing to put their money into your product or service.

Having a good website simply won’t work in this day and age with cut-throat competition in the market. Either you need to have a great one or lose customers to rivals. As a result, companies across the globe are employing professional eCommerce development companies to develop their websites and apps.

Designing a Website – What To Do And What Not

With rapidly increasing competition across the eCommerce sector, it is essential to have an engaging and user-friendly website. As people are shifting more to their PCs and phones for work and media consumption, the online world has become the new marketplace. Sellers are using the internet to advertise their products, while buyers are using it to search for which ones are suitable for them.

1.1 Purpose of the Guide

Designing an e-commerce website might seem to be a challenging task for a business owner with no technical know-how. But there are several tools and procedures that even beginners can use to build their own site, without having experience of coding or graphic design.

This guide aims to do exactly that – to equip users with basic steps and techniques that need to be kept in mind while designing a website.

1.2 Importance of eCommerce Website Design

As per Forbes report, there are over 1.5 billion websites and around 200 million are active as of today, With infinite alternatives for users to land on, your website needs to be more than just a pretty face.

It should ensure your users more value and quicker solutions than those of your competitors. It needs to be optimized for ease of use, glitch-free navigation, relevant content, multi-device accessibility, and an overall smooth user experience.

1.3 Benefits of a Well-Designed eCommerce Website

Online interactions are just like human interactions – creating a good first impression is crucial. Your e-commerce store determines how audiences perceive your brand and whether they are interested in your service or product. Moreover, a well-designed website earns the credibility of search engine algorithms and appears higher up the list of search results.

If your site is not optimized for SEO, gaining online traffic will be an uphill battle. The most important reason why you need professional eCommerce development services is that your competitors are already implementing it.

  1. Understanding Your Target Audience

A successful marketing campaign starts from and stops with the target audience. It is a group of users who are in the market for your product and are likely to search for it and procure it.

2.1 Identifying Your Target Market

The saying “You cannot sell everything to everyone” holds true barring a few exceptions like essential commodities. It is essential to know who uses your product or is interested in paying for it. For instance, it is pointless to go about advertising a bike to a lady in her 50s. It is popular among young individuals in their 20s and 30s, and that is where it should be marketed. If you don’t know who is willing to check out your product, you will end up wasting time and money on ads to the wrong set of people.

2.2 Analyzing Customer Behavior and Preferences

If you wish to attract relevant visitors who are likely to make a purchase, you need to study what they are looking for and how they are interacting with both your site and that of others.

There are several metrics for assessing this like what device they are using, how long an average viewing session lasts, how many views the page is getting, and whether users are returning or not.

2.3 Creating User Personas

User personas are virtual representations of potential customers based on data and market surveys. They help you understand your target audience better and motivate them to buy what is being offered.

To create useful personas, you need raw data about your users. This is done through detailed research of users who have visited your site and their interactions – how long they spent, what they searched for, if they purchased, or added items to their cart, and so on. Demographic details like age group, occupation, and location have to be studied and reproduced to create virtual customer personas.

  1. Do’s of eCommerce Website Design

Here is a list of factors eCommerce development companies emphasize on, while designing a website.

3.1 Focus on User Experience (UX)

An essential aspect of web development is User Experience (UX). It refers to how satisfied a customer feels while interacting with a system — a website in this case. A good UX boosts the chances of conversions to sales.

Users are likely to purchase from a site that is easy to use and provides relevant solutions. It builds the customer’s trust in the brand and also solidifies the brand’s image. Moreover, it helps improve your site’s SEO rankings and builds credibility with search engine algorithms.

3.2 Mobile Responsiveness and Optimization

One mistake you simply cannot afford to make is not optimizing your eCommerce site for mobile platforms. With over 5 billion people using smartphones today, the way we access the internet is evolving rapidly. If a site is not modified for mobile phone screens, it will not operate well on one.

First and foremost, the UI will take a hit as the images and buttons will be too small, and the content will be almost unreadable. Then comes the UX – users will have to zoom in and out multiple times and keep scrolling endlessly.

Since average mobile interactions are shorter than those on PCs, the focus should be on having the least number of steps to conversion. Icons and buttons should be of the right size for touches and scrolls, while the text has to be short and crisp.

3.3 Clear and Intuitive Navigation

Navigation speed and usability is another key aspect of building an e-commerce platform. You may have a website with a fantastic UI (User Interface) with relevant content, high-quality graphic design, and navigation features.

What determines the user experience is how fast it loads, how responsive the clicks and scrolls are, how it performs on mobiles, and whether there are glitches while making payments. The user will find your site engaging only if these criteria are met.

3.4 High-Quality Product Images and Descriptions

With eCommerce platforms taking over the offline retail market like the wind, most of us now buy literally everything online, from small food orders to expensive items like smartphones and laptops. However, customers are often skeptical before parting with their money before getting an in-hand feel of the product. This is why leading e-commerce sites and apps provide high-quality product images and accurate product descriptions.

A user pays for a product based on how it looks and what its features are, as displayed online. It is integral to convince the buyer that “What You See Is What You Get.” This reduces the hassle of repeated exchanges and returns.

3.5 Streamlined Checkout Process

You need to pay serious attention to the checkout process of your eCommerce store because frankly, this determines your website conversion rate. If every time a buyer wants to make a purchase on your site, he has to wait for minutes due to technical issues or keep filling in card or account details, they will get frustrated and move on to your competitors.

The entire process from adding an item to the cart to making the payment and getting a confirmation is vital for the UX. It should involve the minimum number of steps (clicks or touches) possible and there should be no glitches like failed payments, long processing times, or double debits. Quicker payment options like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Google Pay should be available to users.

3.6 Implementing Trust Signals and Security Features

Trust signals are elements in your site or app that make your customers feel secure about making purchases. They are not limited to a few types but come in many forms like unique selling points (USPs), guarantees, customer ratings and reviews, premium memberships, awards and certifications, etc.

It is also mandatory to have strong security features deployed to protect your site from cyber attacks, malfunctions, phishing, and data loss. Security testing is thus mandatory after designing and deploying a site.

3.7 Utilizing Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Product or service reviews, and testimonials by customers which suggest to new users that people have been satisfied with what you are selling and that it is worth paying for.

These build up your website’s social proof and enhance the brand image and user trust. A well-liked website is a strong indicator for ranking algorithms, and this helps to generate more traffic.

3.8 Incorporating Social Proof and Social Media Integration

Almost everyone with internet access today is using social media on some platform or the other. It has become the new ground for buyers and sellers to interact. Therefore, integrating your eCommerce website with your social media pages is a must. Your social platforms should inform users about your brand, latest offerings, new announcements, etc.

Social proof is a confirmation of the fact that customers approve of your product and are asking others to purchase it as well. It comes from user-generated content (UGC) like ratings, reviews, social media posts, and photos with the product, and other sources like expert comments, influencer team-ups, media mentions, and so on. It not only makes your brand popular but also improves your online visibility by boosting search rankings.

3.9 A/B Testing and Continuous Improvement

A/B Testing, known also as Split Testing, is a method by which separate versions of a solution are compared to decide which one works best. In the sphere of web design, it plays a critical role in determining the design and entire UI.

From what color a button should be to what will be the text for a CTA (Call To Action), all the elements on your site can have different versions both stylistically and functionally. This is why it is beneficial for web designers to get users to try the various alternatives, and then make the final decision based on what they prefer.

  1. Don’ts of eCommerce Website Design

While there are points to adhere to while building an eCommerce website, there are some common mistakes you should stay away from. Discussed below are a few design blunders you need to sidestep.

4.1 Avoiding Clutter and Information Overload

We all like sites that are informative and insightful. But too much info is tedious both for the user to take in, and the computer or mobile system to deal with. When the amount of data input exceeds the system’s capacity to process, the site becomes slow and laggy, completely ruining the user experience.

The same goes for the design elements as well. Too much aesthetics clutters the page and takes the focus away from keeping the user engaged and converting them to buyers.

4.2 Steer Clear From Complex Checkout Processes

No one likes to keep waiting for their payments and checkout process to complete. Users are dissatisfied especially if there are issues like failed payments, double debits, or long confirmation processes. This is why ECommerce development services try to ensure the least number of clicks or touches from the addition of an item to a cart to the successful completion of payment.

Quicker payment modes like Google Pay, PayPal, and Apple Pay are also being introduced in online stores to provide customers with more alternative and convenient options for payments.

4.3 Flashy or Distracting Images and Animations

While relevant animations and images can transform a website’s ability to attract customers, overdoing them can spoil its charm. You should know how to use them and how not. If your animations are too loud and flashy, it distracts the user and takes his attention away from buying your product. If they are too long, they will take more time to load and thus hamper your site’s speed and UX.

4.4 Overwhelming Pop-ups and Advertisements

Pop-up ads can be effective in sites to get the immediate focus of the user, increase visibility, and drive sales. However, if a visit is greeted by too many of them on opening, it once again diverts the user’s immediate concern from procuring items to closing pop-ups.

If your site resembles an illegal sports-streaming or movie-downloading service with ads filling over half the screen, users are bound to avoid it and move on to competitors.

4.5 Poorly Written or Inconsistent Content

Low-quality or thin content can kill a page’s visibility online. Content that does not provide any value or solution to the user, copy-pasted text, and keyword-jammed content are nowadays easily detected by search engine algorithms. These drastically lowers your search rankings and inflow of traffic.

4.6 Ignoring Mobile Users and Responsive Design

If your site is not mobile-optimized, when opened on a smartphone, the text and buttons will appear too small and impossible to access. To ensure a smooth UX, you need to make it usable on all mobile systems with responsive touch and swipe features and a focus on having minimum steps to conversion. The texts, images, and menus should also be sized optimally.

4.7 Neglecting Website Speed and Load Times

A poor UX is bound to repel customers, however good the product or service is. If your site takes ages to load, is difficult to navigate, or malfunctions while making payments, the user will feel dissatisfied and won’t be likely to buy from you in the future. Hence, a fast site is no longer an added benefit, but an essential requirement today.

4.8 Lack of Clear Contact Information and Customer Support

Getting users to make a purchase on your site is crucial, but it’s only half the battle won. The goal is to have them return and keep buying from you. For this, brand trust is vital, and you need to have accurate contact info and excellent customer support. Customers should be convinced that you have their back even after the purchase and will provide them instant solutions to their issues and queries regarding products.

 4.9 Excessive Steps for Account Creation or Registration

With the youth of today living life on the fast-lane today, no one likes filling out unnecessary details and verification codes while signing up for an online store or service. Make sure that you have the user go through the least possible steps in order to create an account or register for a service. This will ensure an opportunity to promote your brand to a wider audience and boost sales.

  1. Leveraging eCommerce Design Best Practices

The design of your site dictates a major part of your brand’s credibility among users, and you only have a few seconds to create the first impression. Here are some effective design practices you must utilize.

5.1 Implementing a Cohesive Brand Identity

A brand’s identity isn’t just its name or logo. The design elements should be consistent across all platforms – app, website, social media, ad campaigns, etc. Features like the typography, color schemes, images, and layout. This sets a distinct personality and character to your brand. It creates a sense of recognizability and reliability among users and keeps them choosing you over others.

5.2 Using High Conversion Call-To-Action (CTA) Buttons

A Call-to-Action is when you ask the user to perform an action like making a purchase, signing up for a service, entering details like email or phone number, and so on. These buttons and their text are some of the most important elements of any eCommerce site. Include CTAs that grab attention, build a problem and offer a solution, generate interest, and draw affirmative action. It is also crucial to place your CTAs in the right places.

5.3 Cross-Selling and Up-Selling Strategies

Businesses across the world are heavily employing cross-selling and up-selling techniques today in order to drive sales. Cross-selling is enticing the customer to purchase other products related to the one he is already buying. For instance, if you buy a cheeseburger at a restaurant, the server will ask if you want to add some side dishes and drinks and make it a full meal.

Upselling is in action when the customer is encouraged to buy a premium version of something he has bought or is about to buy. Continuing the cheeseburger example, in this case, the server will ask you if you want to make it tastier by adding extra patties, cheese slices, vegetables, and so on.

In order to cross-sell and up-sell, you should know your audience well, map customer journeys, find problems, and offer solutions involving buying your products.

5.4 Personalization and Recommendations

Website personalization is a method of engaging the user by providing exclusive offers and customized recommendations. This enables the brand to advertise to relevant customers, get to know customer preferences, and ensure that they spend more time on the site. Apt examples of this technique are flash sales, loyalty programs, BOGOF (Buy One Get One Free) offers, and so on.

5.5 Simplifying the Search and Filtering Process

A site can contain numerous products, but the customer wants the one that suits their needs. This is where efficient search filters come into play. If a user wants tennis shoes of size 10, they need not go through the entire footwear section. This is achieved through simple yet useful filters based on brand, price, model, purpose, specifications, etc.

5.6 Incorporating the Visual Hierarchy and F-Pattern Design

If a page is cluttered with design elements, the user does not know where to look for what he wants to buy. It is necessary to follow an apt visual hierarchy, i,e. the arrangement of design elements so that the user’s eye is guided to the parts that are relevant to him.

The F-pattern refers to the shape the user’s eye travels while reading a page. An NNG group study suggests that we read in a horizontal movement first, constituting the upper bar or the letter ‘F’. Then we go vertically down and read horizontally a few more times.

  1. Evaluating eCommerce Website Performance

Building a good site is just half the job done. Performance testing your app or site is mandatory to ensure a satisfactory UX.

6.1 Tracking and Analyzing Key Metrics
It is crucial to assess which criteria are relevant to your website’s performance, and evaluate how the site is functioning, keeping these factors in mind. Some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and metrics you should track are page speed, time to display the site’s title, rendering speed, bounce rate,  requests per second, and conversion rate.

6.2 Google Analytics and Other Tools

Google offers several free tools to review your site’s productivity. Google Analytics (GA) helps you assess performance, collect data, track user activity, evaluate your target audience, and get an overall picture of your marketing campaign.

All this data is displayed in the form of easy-to-interpret charts, grapes, and ranking lists. You need to deploy other Google tools as well, like Search Console, Page Speed Insights, Keyword Planner, etc. You can also seek professional help from digital marketing company like us to make the most of online marketing techniques.

6.3 Identifying and Addressing Pain Points

The internet is updating and improving its features each passing day. Therefore, your website, especially if it has been up for a long time, will have features no longer compatible with present-day systems and platforms.

These non-functioning or malfunctioning features need to be identified and resolved at the earliest, to ensure traffic flow and sales. Some of the common pain points are slow page loads, incompatibility with modern browsers, poor mobile experience, difficulty in finding information, too many clicks, and so on.

  1. The Future of eCommerce Website Design

With eCommerce platforms overwhelming the brick-and-mortar retail market today, having an effective and engaging website is vital, more than ever before. New trends are taking the web by storm, and you need to have a grasp as well.

7.1 Emerging Trends and Technologies

Competition among sellers to grow their market has never been so tight, and to that effect, they are starting new trends and using new tactics to stay ahead of the curve. Animated product releases, overstimulated pages, smart chatbots, 3D animations, retro-styled typography, parallax zooming and scrolling, and refining the 404 error with mini-games are just to name a few.

7.2 How AI is Transforming eCommerce Web Design

In the field of web development, Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers a wide variety of advantages that make the entire process much more effortless and effective. Developers can easily modify block content, add fresh content, rectify grammatical errors, and add CTAs. Through machine learning, developers can find out preferences of customers and spot trends in their interactions to provide a better user experience.

7.3 Adaptation to Changing Customer Needs

Online business is evolving by the minute and so are our specific requirements. With thousands of products and services readily available at our fingertips, our needs have become more identifiable than ever before.

This is why adapting to the appetite of your target audience should be the key focus while designing a site. Methods like A/B testing, usability testing, performance testing, and search analytics should be utilized to this effect.

To Round It Up

In a nutshell, it can be said that eCommerce is here to stay and will only grow in the years to come. Considering how people are increasingly resorting to online trade, your eCommerce site is the face of your retail brand. The average 20 to 60 seconds a user takes to scan your site dictates how they feel about your product or service, and whether they are willing to pay for it or not. A good website is no longer a feather to your brand’s hat; it is the very head.

Looking to hire professional web developers for your online business? We at Webgen Technologies have your needs sorted. A reputed top eCommerce development company based in Kolkata, India, we have been bringing smiles to our clients’ faces since 2011.

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