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13 tips for your e-commerce website design
In the digital age, more businesses are resorting to e-commerce. Through e-commerce, you can serve customers across the world without relying on them visiting a physical location. As such, your selling power is endless.
Furthermore, e-commerce represents changing consumer behaviour. In 2020, 87% of UK households shopped online. The industry is also expected to grow at least 5% annually for the next three years. Introducing e-commerce is now a necessity for many brands.
However, as with any sale, you need to attract potential leads and convert them into customers. It starts with a high-performing website that delivers an outstanding user experience and portrays your products in the best light.
We have listed our top tips for designing an e-commerce website that drives results and generates sales.
Keep it simple
When designing an e-commerce website, it’s tempting to add as many flashy aspects as possible to grab attention and stand out from the crowd. However, it often has the opposite effect to what you want – making things overcomplicated, hard to use and deterring users.
Instead, keep things simple. You need a minimal design that emphasises your products and represents your brand well. You should also aim to streamline your creation to allow users only to do what you want them to do, rather than get lost in the void of your website.
Put yourself in your customer’s shoes
You need to remember who your website is always aimed at: your customer. At every stage of the process, think from the user’s perspective, so you create a product that suits their needs entirely.
It takes 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they’ll stay or go. So, cater to them from the very start.
Here’s an example of some of the questions to ask to tailor your planning to your customers:
- What information could a user need when first visiting your website?
- What is their end goal?
- How long will they be willing to spend on your website?
- What are the most popular products that users are likely to be looking for?
- What does their user journey look like, and how does your website fit into this?
By adequately considering your users, you can build an e-commerce website that suits their needs perfectly, delivers a fantastic experience, and exceeds their expectations every time – creating loyal customers.
Make your content easy to read
Every website should use content to signpost, enabling users to find out the information they need to know and use it to move towards the next action successfully.
You need to ensure your content is easy to digest, giving people details they need quickly and clearly. Users spend an average of 5.59 seconds looking at a website’s written content – so you need to provide the answers fast.
Firstly, you need to incorporate readable text with a clean font, big enough size and bold colours that stand out from the background. It’s worth using headings and brief text so content can be skimmed, allowing the reader to find out exactly what they want.
You should also use language that your customer understands to avoid confusion while aligning with your brand tone of voice to create a consistent experience.
Use clear calls to action
Throughout your website, you should use calls to action (CTAs) to guide the user across your website and lead them to the action you want them to take. You should aim to use a clear CTA on every page that highlights what the next step is.
Try to feature the call to action prominently, such as placing it in larger font, high up on the page or in a box. It’s also essential that the call is engaging, using concise language that makes the user want to click.
Remember to use one CTA per page, as this prevents the confusion of multiple actions and clarifies what the user should do next.
The added benefit of using CTAs is that is it can progress the user journey and allow you to secure a sale from every website visitor.
Make the purchasing process quick and easy
Creating a great user experience means making your website easy to use and navigate. This particularly matters in e-commerce, where you aim to get a website visitor to make a purchase online.
You need to ensure there are no barriers that prevent them from making a purchase. Common examples of issues that might do so include:
- Slow loading speeds or broken pages
- Inability to find the page/action they need, e.g. checkout and product pages
- Inability to input personal or payment details
- Asking for too much information
- Inability to input promotion codes
- Inability to edit or add to basket
- Pop-ups blocking the page
- Checkouts that look unsafe or untrustworthy – or that are blocked by the internet browser
Essentially, you want an e-commerce experience that is fully functional and enables users to fulfil their goals. Thinking from your customer’s perspective will support you in achieving this, as will rigorously testing.
Factors to consider are ensuring you have all the required security features on your website, doing everything you can to maximise speed, using simple navigation that makes it easy to find pages, a basket and checkout system that is interconnective, and data capture forms that only require the necessary information and are easy to fill in. This should make the ultimate act of a purchase straightforward.
Implement a sensible structure
Part of making your website easier to use is utilising a sensible structure. This comprises how your pages are linked together and where customers find them.
For example, if you sell multiple products, it makes sense to categorise them together. If someone is looking for a specific product, it should sit under all the relevant categories. For example, a golf shoe might sit under ‘golf’ and ‘footwear’. You should do this based on your customers’ associations, as they will be the ones searching.
Similarly, if two pages often go hand in hand – for example, a product page and delivery information, it’s worth ensuring a link between them to make it easier for the user to access answers.
Another element is to use a simple menu at the top of your website that contains links to the most common pages, again categorised in a way that makes sense. You should also seek to minimise how many clicks a customer needs to make to get to a specific page, as this will make a faster process.
Use high-quality imagery
A large part of any website is the visuals. You need to use high-quality imagery that compels leads and demonstrates your offering well.
In e-commerce, you will want to ensure you use good imagery of all your products, as they can determine whether someone makes a purchase or not. Aim to use at least one image on every page which demonstrates the product on sale.
For your main pages – and especially your home page – you should use more creative imagery while still representing your brand in the way you want to be seen and aligning with your overall design.
Ensure a straightforward but effective design
Alongside your high-quality imagery, you need a compelling website design. It’s essential to not be over the top but instead focus on a simple and impactful design.
Examples of features you may wish to include for maximum results include:
- A selection of bold colours used selectively and consistently across the website
- Imagery and video in appropriate places
- Other visuals, such as icons, to make content understandable
- Fonts that are readable and match your brand personality
- Short sections of text
- Menus and buttons that stand out and match your design
By considering these factors, you should be able to deliver a website that looks good, is easy to use and showcases who you are.
Include a search bar
Another essential feature of any e-commerce website is a search bar. This typically features at the top of a website.
The purpose of the search bar is to enable a user to quickly find what they want without looking around your website manually. They can search any term and get the right results at the click of a button. It’s especially crucial if your website has many pages.
However, you need to ensure you’re using the correct terminology across your website and picking language that reflects what your customers use so that the functionality works.
In today’s world, research is a critical purchasing decision stage. For most consumers, this research comes in the form of customer reviews which iterate the experiences others have had with a particular brand. 88% of consumers reportedly trust online reviews as much as advice from friends, showing how powerful they can be.
It is wise to utilise reviews on your website to showcase the positive experiences others have had and convince new leads to make a purchase. They’re a vital tool in driving sales and loyalty.
There are many ways you can utilise reviews – some brands will feature them on their homepage, while others will include them on the relevant product pages. Whichever you choose, remember to have the appropriate channels to collect them and use them to build a favourable reputation for your business.
Stay on brand
When designing a website, it must deliver the same consistent experience your customer would expect across your communication channel and, if it applies, any physical locations you have.
To do this, you need to ensure your design remains on brand. Ideally, you will have set brand guidelines that dictate the imagery, colours, logos, fonts and other visual aspects relating to your business – so aim to incorporate these into your website for continuity.
Moreover, you should ensure you reflect the values tied to your brand to create a holistic experience with your customers. This will also enable you to set expectations from anyone who visits your website – in a positive way that inclines them to purchase.
Make it responsive
A vast proportion of the public no longer use their computers for online shopping. Instead, they use smartphones and tablets. You need to ensure your website works on any device a user might wish to shop on, through a responsive design.
57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website on mobile. If you fail to make yours work for different platforms, you could lose customers and damage your reputation.
It’s integral to include responsive features across your website, making it useable and resizable across devices. Remember to test it across different devices to deduce any issues. This will enable your customers to buy from you on their terms, fuelling your possible sales.
Test, test and test
The final step of any website is to test it thoroughly. It’s your chance to uncover any issues that might cause havoc later and ensure you are offering the best possible experience to users.
Testing shouldn’t be done randomly. You need a comprehensive testing plan that enables you to check multiple scenarios, reflecting the many ways a user may move through your website. It’s also wise to use neutral testers who can give your website an objective opinion.
Spend time in this stage, exhausting the possible areas of error. Remember to list any issues that occur so they can be added to your fix list before you go live. It’s worth noting the feel and overall experience offered by your website so you can ensure it meets expectations.
An excellent e-commerce website should enable you to maximise your sales potential by effectively serving customers at any time, in any place.
To reach this nirvana, you need to meet the expectations of every user and offer an outstanding experience. This means spending time working on an exceptional design and website plan that considers your audience’s needs, removes all barriers to sale, and creates only positive associations with your brand.
The reward will be unlimited selling power that drives all your key metrics.