When you’re running an online business, there are many factors that can contribute to your success or failure. Building a reliable supply network, delivering products and services in a timely manner and responding promptly to customer queries are crucial. Just as critical, if not more, is your e-commerce website design.
Users need to be able to find your e-commerce website and do what they need to do quickly, with minimal interruption. What makes for the best e-commerce product page design? We’ll explain what makes for e-commerce web design best practices.
Use a Simple, User-Friendly Design
The best online store layout is a simple one.
Consider working with a professional website designer or user-experience architect if you don’t have a background in building e-commerce web design layouts. Look for website experts who have experience with e-commerce web design best practices, as they’ll be in the best position to meet your needs.
If you don’t have the budget for a design team or even a single web designer, there are plenty of do-it-yourself website-building products out there that include an e-commerce component. These usually take the form of plug-ins that are provided in partnership by third-party vendors such as Shopify, BigCommerce and WooCommerce.
Help the User Focus on What Matters
When designing your e-commerce website, focus on simplicity. Your main objective isn’t to dazzle your visitors with incredible visuals. Rather, it should be to make their purchasing journey as easy and as seamless as possible.
It depends on who you ask, but a solid e-commerce design typically includes at least 6 elements:
- Color scheme
- Typography (fonts)
- Responsiveness (mobile optimization)
You’ll need to decide how each of these elements work together to create a seamless user experience.
You should probably keep your navigation as uncluttered as possible and ensure it works properly on mobile. It should be simple for visitors to conduct searches, log into their profiles or view what’s in their shopping cart. If you’re taking the DIY route, there should be plenty of e-commerce templates available through your website builder to get you started.
Keep in mind a simple design can help your website load faster. This is crucial, as online shoppers have become accustomed to fast internet speeds and fast-loading web pages. Don’t overload your site with unnecessary code and be sure to compress demanding assets such as photos and videos as much as possible.
Google notes that 1.49 megabytes of data takes 7 seconds to load on a fast mobile 3G connection. According to web analytics business Kissmetrics, 40% of consumers will abandon a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. It won’t matter how beautiful your website is if it causes browsers to stall out.
Rely on the ‘Jobs to Be Done’ Framework
One of the best ways to design a functional e-commerce website is to use the “jobs to be done” framework. Harvard Business Review states that this framework centers on “the progress that the customer is trying to make in a given circumstance — what the customer hopes to accomplish.”
In other words, map out each unique customer journey that could unfold on your e-commerce website and design it to make those journeys easy and painless (even enjoyable). In most cases, your visitors will be looking for a product or service information and a way to make a purchase. But there should be clear pathways for them to accomplish other jobs, such as submitting a complaint, asking a question or planning for future purchases.
Include Detailed Information About Products and Services
Naturally, when you’re selling something online, your customers will want to learn as much as they can about it before they buy. Not only should your products and services be featured on your website, but they should be accompanied with plenty of information to educate visitors and help them decide.
It’s the term “information” that some people get confused about. Information can come in a variety of forms. Your goal should be to select which types of information will be most useful to your customer and display it somewhere conspicuous — usually on your product or service pages.
Product and service information may include the following:
- Written descriptions
- High-resolution images
- Prices (including shipping fees)
- Demonstration videos
- Customer reviews and ratings
- Add-to-cart buttons
- Related products and services
To avoid overwhelming your user with information, you may not want to include all of these elements on each product page. You’ll have to make a judgment as to which types of information are most pertinent to your buyer.
Pieces of information such as prices and product descriptions are essential, as is the add-to-cart button. These elements should be easy to find and distinguish among each other. You can use design approaches such as contrasting colors and typography to highlight the most important assets on each product page.
Add SEO Information
Include any pertinent search engine optimization (SEO) data on each one of your pages. These include meta descriptions, title tags, header tags (H1, H2, etc.) and alt tags for images. Not only does this data help you rank in online searches, but they make your pages more accessible to users.
Image alt tags aren’t just an SEO ranking factor; they’re important for people who use screen-reading technologies because they enable them to understand images.
Build Trust and Transparency
Most businesses have a tentative relationship with third-party operators of review sites at the best of times. With that in mind, it’s important to realize people are relying on objective testimonials more than ever. According to a survey from marketing business BrightLocal, 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as their friends’ recommendations. Anything you say about yourself on your own website will be seen as biased by your user.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say nice things about your business on your website. It just means you’ll need to back it up with substantive evidence. One way to get reviews is to send automatic email inquiries to your customers after they make a purchase. With the proper disclaimer, you can anonymously post these reviews on your product pages. You can also integrate them into your e-commerce homepage design.
However, sourcing reviews from third-party sites is one of the most transparent ways of doing this. You can do it for your business as a whole, but you should consider doing it for each of your products or services. Typically, you just need to embed a piece of code from the review site. For example, Yelp makes it easy to embed your favorite reviews directly on your web pages.
Other Forms of Social Proof
Reviews are perhaps the most powerful form of social proof, but you shouldn’t stop there. You also should consider assets such as:
- Customer testimonials and recommendations
- Other customer-generated content like images and videos
- Awards, certifications and badges
- News coverage
- Social media share counts
- Social media mentions
Use social proof strategically and only where relevant. Too much proof could overwhelm a user or give the appearance you’re trying too hard to make yourself look good. Remember to stick to the “jobs to be done” framework.
Dedicate Space to Resolve Customer Issues
In a perfect world, your e-commerce website always runs smoothly and every customer would be satisfied with your products and services. But you must prepare for the eventuality that something will go wrong and your customers will become upset. After all, between 15% and 30% of all online purchases are returned, according to a 2015 report from the National Retail Federation and software company The Retail Equation.
As an e-commerce business, your customers will be going to one place to find answers: your website. It’s your job to make their visit fruitful.
Start With the Basics
Clearly display a telephone number on your home page or in your navigation. If you don’t want to be reached by telephone, you need to integrate other channels into your e-commerce site design for taking customer inquiries. Some companies use an email address, but installing a live chat feature on your website might be more effective — as long as you have the capacity to respond to inquiries.
If you sell a product or service that you need to educate people about, consider creating an FAQ page. Keep tabs on the most frequently asked questions you receive on your customer service channels, then address them there, updating the page regularly.
If you sell software or other complicated products, consider forming a discussion board, a knowledge base or other educational resources.
Eliminate Roadblocks Between Visitors and Their Purchases
Try to remove anything on your website that may be unnecessary or that might get in the way of your customers and their purchase. That means limiting the amount of content you post to your e-commerce pages and being selective about what content makes the cut. For example, your e-commerce checkout page design should be free of anything that doesn’t shepherd customers toward finishing their purchase.
Some e-commerce companies are tempted to overload their pages with content because they think it will improve their results in search results. While most SEO experts recommend creating long-form content, you need to consider the purpose of each of your pages, too. Google uses 200-some factors to rank pages in search results — and content length is only a part of the equation.
Your e-commerce web design features are bound to perform better if you design it specifically with your customers in mind.