9 Design Essentials For Ecommerce

The ecommerce industry is hyper-competitive. As a digital business owner, it’s your job to put together an online store that your customers will love and want to shop with again. Among other things, this means giving your online storefront some love and attention. A cluttered and outdated web design will make it difficult to persuade customers to shop with you – and what’s more, it’ll damage your brand. According to Adobe, 59% of consumers globally would rather engage with content that’s beautifully designed as opposed to simply designed – even when short on time. Designing a fantastic store that your customers will enjoy needn’t be an arduous chore. Here are 9 ecommerce design essentials to set you on the right path.

1. Inject personality

You want an ecommerce website that looks sleek and professional, while also being very easy to use. That much is a given. But you also want the store to have a unique personality all of its own – something that will make sure your customers remember you. This all comes down to good branding.

Play around with your theme, colours, layout and photography to find what works. You could even try split-testing to see which options your customers seem to prefer. Focus on what makes your company different from all the others out there and play to your strengths.

2. Use quality images

When we shop online, we buy with our eyes, since we have no way to hold and touch the item for ourselves. So having high quality photos – and plenty of them – is super important when influencing visitors to buy from you.

Consider also how you will present the images. Perhaps in tiled thumbnails or as part of a slideshow? Steer well clear of imagery that is blurred or pixelated; this will make your site look unprofessional. Here’s a useful guide to taking product photos.

3. Make it easy to search

An ecommerce website needs a prominent search bar – and that search bar needs to work effectively. Some users will have a product in mind when they come to visit your site, and of course, you want them to find it. If they encounter any problems with your search function, that’s a huge red flag. They may end up shopping with a competitor.

So make this task easy for your customers. Be clear about where they can search for products and use breadcrumbs to highlight where those items are categorised – this way, they can also take a look at other similar products in that category.

4. Use a professional theme

A lot of business owners, and even designers and developers, will use professional themes to create their ecommerce store. A good, responsive theme will do a lot of the groundwork for you and ensure that your website looks great on all devices. There are some excellent one-of-a-kind themes out there – Clean Themes and Pixel Union are good places to start, particularly if you’re using Shopify for your online store design. If you’re a designer or developer, you can learn Shopify’s Liquid templating language to customise and code websites for your clients, giving you lots of flexibility (and support).

5. Clean up your product pages

A clean web page is better than a cluttered web page. As consumers, we’re already easily distracted. A product page littered with clashing colours and typefaces, where everything is squashed onto the page and flanked by various advertisements, is too all over the place. If you were running a store in real life, you’d keep it neat and tidy. The same applies here.

Keep your products clean and spread out on the page with a clear description and price tag. You could also add similar or complementary products below.

6. Highlight your call to action

Even with the most compelling photos and product descriptions, you can’t expect to make sales if your customer isn’t sure how to take the next step. Your CTA is very important and should stand out on every page. A good technique is to make them a different colour to everything else and display each CTA as a button, rather than just text.

Another important note is to make sure they work. If your visitor is ready to make a purchase, but finds that when they click ‘add to cart’ nothing happens, they will quickly become frustrated and impatient.

7. Incorporate social

Social media is a crucial part of any digital business’s marketing strategy. A strong following and regular engagement will also impact your SEO efforts. Make it easy for shoppers to share your content with ‘click to tweet’ and ‘click to share’ buttons. Place them strategically so they won’t be missed, but not so blatantly that they dominate the page.

Facebook and Twitter are all well and good, but don’t forget about image-based social platforms like Pinterest. Pinterest is one of the most underrated social platforms for ecommerce, allowing you to showcase your products visually and as part of your wider content marketing strategy.

8. Be responsive

The number of people shopping on their mobile devices is growing – and will likely continue to grow. To accommodate these shoppers, it’s vital that your store is responsively designed; in other words, it will adapt whatever device it’s viewed on. According to Adobe, 80% of consumers will stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device.

So a store that looks great whether it’s viewed on mobile, desktop or tablet is key. By focusing only on one of these, you risk losing customers. Check out this article on the evolution of mobile web design and how mobile devices have changed ecommerce.

9. Streamline your shopping cart
If your customer has items in their shopping cart, they may continue to browse before checking out, just in case there’s anything else that takes their fancy. But they could choose to check-out at any time – and when they do, they need an easy way to get to it. Unfortunately, a lot of ecommerce companies drop the ball when it comes to their shopping cart, which can be a costly mistake.

Ensure that your shopping cart is both user-friendly and functional. It should be simple to add or delete items, as well as to alter the quantity. Above all, it should be intuitive. Confusing directions, or too many forms to fill in, are common reasons for cart abandonment. Finally, provide an estimate that includes auto-generated shipping fees based on the customer’s location. Last-minute high shipping fees are frequently responsible for customers changing their minds.

Hopefully these tips have helped you, whether you’re an ecommerce business owner or an aspiring web designer. What else do you consider to be ecommerce design essentials? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Guest Author: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant & Freelance Writer.
I work with ecommerce businesses to create fresh content and targeted marketing strategies that yield successful results. I also know my fair share about web design and am always happy to share my knowledge with others.