Top 10 Design Tips for Designing a Successful eCommerce Site


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Shoppers are online now. At least 40 percent of shoppers are, according to a study by UPS. They estimated that four out of 10 purchases are being initiated and completed in eCommerce channels only. When shopping online, 31 percent of the time consumers start right at the retailer’s website, instead of a search engine or an online marketplace. It’s time to get your eCommerce site in the best shape ever to appeal to the next generation of mobile, global shoppers.

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The very first question that should come to mind when you think about building an eCommerce site is “How do I make a good first impression?” In an earlier blog, we presented evidence that you only have a fraction of a second to grab the shopper’s attention and win their trust. Only a stellar design can operate that quickly. That’s why we’ve highlighted our 10 top tips for designing a successful eCommerce site below.

1. Determine Your Approach to Single vs. Multiple Products

Some retailers take the Target or Walmart approach to selling everything under the sun. Other retailers have one stand out revenue driver, like the Casper mattress, even if they sell other items as well. While multi-product sites are the norm, there are some amazing single-product sites with much higher conversion rates. The way you make this critical decision is by conducting a red ocean vs. blue ocean analysis. Red ocean refers to sharks-in-the-water markets where competition is fierce, while blue ocean is smooth sailing where you are the very best or even the only supplier who does what you do. Red ocean markets call for multi-product sites giving shoppers more paths to purchase, while blue ocean calls for single-product sites that maximize profitability.

2. Get to Know Your Target Audience (UX Research)

While there are some best practices in user experience (UX), every target audience has their own needs, goals, and aesthetic preferences. Do your homework and discover the most popular websites in your niche or product area. A little extra time spent in research early on can equate to massive performance gains when the site is ready for visitors.

3. Create and Implement Consistent Branding (UI Design)

Some aspects of user interface (UI) design overlap with UX, and often a single designer handles both, but they are very different concepts. UX covers structural factors like how easy it is to navigate the site and the brand’s trustworthiness. UI is primarily about the visual appeal of the site. Unique design elements make a site stand out from the competition, and that’s the goal of a great UI designer. Online shoppers, particularly mobile shoppers, prefer big images and lots of them to help them make snap decisions. UI design also guides you in preparing a minimalistic layout so customers don’t get distracted on the path to checkout and purchase.

4. Build In Simplicity and Ease of Use (UX Design)

In contrast, UX is about the entire experience of interacting with your brand. Part of what shoppers are buying amounts to bragging rights. They want the social approval from buying something cool, so make it easy to share product images and purchases. UX design helps you simplify the cart management and checkout so customers can make a quick purchase even without an account or keep track of customer info to simplify shopping the next time. Another benefit of great UX is that it encourages shoppers to spend more time on the site, search for other items to buy, and upgrade to more profitable options.

5. Write Detailed & Effective Descriptions (Content)

All eCommerce sites look up to Amazon, which has spent a great deal of money and time on research what makes shoppers spend more money online. Hire someone who can write mouth-watering descriptions. Upsells, mentioned above, and cross-sells, where you suggest other items to add to the cart, are the best way to increase revenues. You’ve already got the customer on the site, so it’s much easier to encourage them to increase the cart size than it is to win over a new customer.

6. Deploy the Latest Smart Sales Tactics

There are several different “locks” that impel shoppers to take action, including time locks “Sale ends tonight!” and option locks “Only 3 items left in stock!” Highlighting scarcity is one of the go to techniques for eCommerce sites because people tend to assume that eCommerce sites have infinite inventories. Another smart tactic is to bundle products in logical groups. Even if you can’t afford an AI program to suggest “Shoppers who bought this item also bought…” you can create that same effect with bundling.

7. Create Motivating Calls to Action

Great eCommerce sites start with psychology. Buyers respond well to highly focused action words that tell them what to do in your call to action (CTA) buttons. Instead of a button that says “Select” shoppers are more likely to click a button that says “Add to Cart” for products or “Get Access” for services. Colors also have a critical role to play. Bright, vibrant colors draw shoppers to the most important area of the site – the conversion path.

8. Prove Your Trustworthiness

Transparency make you more trustworthy. There are countless scammers and black hat sites out there so you have to go above and beyond to reassure shoppers that they can trust your brand. Transparency means making it easy to contact you and find answers on shipping and returns. A focus on security to protect private customer information also goes a long way in generating customer loyalty.

9. Make Sure Your Technology Is On Point

Why wouldn’t you go with the best. Online shoppers are one click or finger swipe away from your competition, so make sure your site is up to speed with the latest online tech. Find out how to deploy responsive technology and techniques for loading images faster. Delays or ancient tech drives away customers who are accustomed to shopping efficiently.

10. Fill Out Your Sales Funnel

Laying out the customer journey, from the first time they become aware of your brand to the recurring purchase cycle of a loyal customer, deserves your time and attention. We will delve into this entire process in more detail in an upcoming blog, but here’s what you need to know now. The traditional sales funnel helps prospects become qualified leads and site visitors become customers. That doesn’t normally happen without your guidance and support. Investigate how to help your particular set of shoppers move from one stage to the next.

Refer back to this list throughout the process of building your site, but here is the most important point to keep in mind as you get started. Assume your target audience has seen millions of eCommerce sites. They are hungry for something new but skeptical of big claims. Research what motivates your specific audience first, as that will shape many of the decisions in your design tree as you build. Do be afraid to take a stand and be memorable. The few consumers that you may lose will be more than made up for by the loyalty of those who stay. At the end of the day, people want to buy from people, not from bland and homogenous websites. Your eCommerce site represents you, so be bold. Make it magic.

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