Five Things to Consider When Designing Your eCommerce Website

Have you ever clicked on a website and immediately backpedaled? What made you do so? Maybe the layout looked like it hadn’t been updated since 2012. Or perhaps it was because none of the products had a review, let alone five stars. When building your eCommerce website, there are many key factors to consider to ensure customers stay on your site, know how great your services or products are, and follow your desired conversion path. Let’s take a look at five web design best practices that are often overlooked but are integral to a successful eCommerce experience for you and your customers.

1. Conversion Rate Optimization

Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is increasing the number of users who perform a desired action on a website. This can be several things, including purchasing, signing up for a newsletter, or filling out a contact form. Once you’ve decided on a proper end goal for your users, CRO comes in to funnel users toward that end goal.

Before you can start tracking user paths throughout an eCommerce website, you need to understand who’s visiting the site in the first place and where they’re going. This can be accomplished in many ways, but the most effective method is by utilizing website analytics. Web analytics platforms like Google Analytics offer insights into who’s visiting your website like demographic data, geographic data, and more. This information aids in understanding the people making purchases on your site, which pages are successful, and which pages fall short of your goals.

Another powerful tool for tracking users is Hotjar, which allows you to track real users’ journeys across your site. You can see what draws their eye, what their mouse lingers on, where they get stuck, and how far down your pages they scroll. Utilizing analytics data mixed with visitor experience tools allows you to unearth key insights into users’ eCommerce experiences.

Using these tools, we found that a web design best practice is to make the call to actions, or CTAs, recognizable immediately. If you’re trying to funnel users to your online shop page, the user shouldn’t need to scrounge around to find the shop button. Instead, have a colorful, branded button that says “SHOP” loud and proud at the top of your homepage.

Similarly, ensure your site has a content hierarchy that users can easily follow and highlights key pieces that encourage conversion. Content hierarchy is strategically laying out information on your eCommerce website so the most important information is emphasized and the less important content falls to the back. Focus your energy on the key pages customers view the most. This is usually the home page but can also be landing pages designed to convert traffic to a specific purchase. These pages should have the CTA prominent and not make users scroll before they know what you want them to do. Streamlining will decrease your site’s bounce rate—or people leaving the site—and encourage engagement and retention. These factors add up to more conversions.

2. Build Trust

This may seem obvious, but customers aren’t going to purchase from a site they don’t trust, whether that be due to the brand or level of security. Ensure you make a good first impression to build trust and a great customer relationship immediately. Factors that help bridge the trust gap between brand and customer include having a sleek, modern website and including items like a blog, reviews, and user stories that show legitimacy.

Reviews are a significant part of how people shop. Having legitimate reviews on your site—both good and bad—establishes trust with the user.

Another large part of how users shop is imagery. People tend to browse with their eyes first, just like window shopping in real life. Once they’ve found something intriguing, they dig deeper, read descriptions and reviews, and hit the “add to cart” button.

3. Be Consistent

Brand consistency is extremely important to a successful eCommerce website and brand as a whole, building trust with your customers. Users should recognize your brand no matter if they see it on social media, engage with the website, or view signage or packaging. This is accomplished through strong brand guidelines and consistent usage. Brand guidelines oversee everything, including imagery, colors, and even your tone of voice. Establishing a strong look and feel that is recognizable and distinguishable helps customers create a strong association and connection to your brand and sets you apart from the competition.

We mentioned CTAs before, but it’s important to note that a successful CTA always uses the same color palette across the site. If there’s any color differentiation, our mind associates those CTAs as two different actions. We can use this concept to our advantage, as well. If your main CTA is “shop,” make that your primary call to action color while “learn more” could be a secondary color across the site to maintain consistency and make it easy for the user to navigate.

4. Accessible and Responsive Design

In the past, users needed to hop on a computer to surf the web. This is no longer the case. Users are reaching for their smartphones and tablets more than ever, which means a successful eCommerce website needs to accommodate various screen sizes. This practice is called responsive design, as the site ‘responds’ to sizing and various screen widths and adjusts its content inherently to accommodate as many screen sizes as possible. This adaptability makes for a better browsing experience and will lower bounce rates for users on mobile devices. Checking Google Analytics to see what devices your users use to access your page can help you decide how to best design your website.

Hand-in-hand with responsive design is accessible design. Accessible design helps make a website more user-friendly regardless of age, disability, or any other factors that could be a barrier to entry or purchase. Effective eCommerce website design caters to a wide range of devices and users. ADA compliance plays a key part in this process with up to 20% of your potential user traffic coming from users with some sort of disability. Digital accessibility includes adding ALT tags to your imagery, ensuring your colors have a high enough contrast, making videos pausable, and so much more. Knowing these website design best practices will help you take your site from good to great and help include inclusive user experiences that benefit everyone.

5. Site Performance

Page optimization and site optimization are essential to strong eCommerce web design. Site optimization is the process of decreasing load times, reducing file size, and minimizing code files on your site. Page optimization is the same but on a page-by-page scale. If your site loads at the speed of a dinosaur, users are more likely to jump ship and move on to the competition. This increases your bounce rate and decreases purchases. Site speed also affects a website’s SEO rankings. SEO ranking is how search engines like Google and Bing list results when you search for something on their platform. Things like site performance and proper SEO efforts can be what gets you on the coveted front page of search results. If a site loads quickly, it also uses less power on the device accessing it and the server it’s hosted on, thus making it more environmentally friendly. So a fast website makes your users, Google, and the environment happy.

A few ways you can improve your website load time is by ensuring all images are optimized for the web. Try upgrading your hosting provider, as cheap hosting often equals poor performance. Additionally, reduce your website redirects and limit them whenever possible to boost your site speed. Simplify your website code, including your CSS, JavaScript, and HTML to increase your website speed. When you improve your website speed, you establish your site as trustworthy, reduce the bounce rate, and keep your customers satisfied.

If you want an in-depth look at your website or additional recommendations for improving your eCommerce website, contact Big Storm today! A successful eCommerce website comes down to data and understanding your users, and our team of web experts can help analyze your numbers, customers, and site to help you reach your goals.

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