“Good design is unobtrusive” is one of the most universally-accepted design commandments. When a design is executed well, you barely realize it’s there.
But that’s not to say your ecommerce website design doesn’t significantly impact your store's success. Users assess your site’s visual appeal within 0.05 seconds of landing, meaning you have a concise window of time to entice them to stay and shop.
Most standard web design best practices also apply to ecommerce stores; use lots of white space, enlist colors and fonts that speak to the brand, and apply contrast to ensure CTAs stand out. But, with ecommerce, there are additional considerations to take into account. You can follow the tips below to create a design that draws shoppers in and subtly persuades them to convert.
Six ecommerce website design best practices
1. Treat the homepage like your window display
Less is often more when it comes to ecommerce web design, which is especially true of your homepage. Most shoppers will land on this page first, so it’s essential to establish clear branding that resonates throughout the entire customer experience. Shoppers already familiar with your brand should recognize it instantly, while those new to your store should form a lasting impression based on the site’s look and feel. Like a brick-and-mortar window display, the design of this page should catch a visitor’s eye and encourage them to start shopping.
2. Complement your ecommerce website design with merchandising
In ecommerce, your site aesthetic doesn’t end within the typical boundaries of web design. Everything from your product photography to how images are curated and laid out on category pages will impact a shopper’s impression of your store. Group products by style, color, or themes for an aesthetically-pleasing shopping experience that reinforces your brand identity. When highlighting special offers with banners and badges, consider creating reusable templates to ensure cohesiveness with your overall ecommerce website design. Check out more tips in this in-depth ecommerce merchandising guide.
3. Don’t reinvent the wheel
Shoppers have an ingrained sense of where certain features can be found on ecommerce sites. Whether it’s the navigation menu, filter, sort options, add to cart button, or links to shipping and return policies, your design should enable customers to locate these critical touch points without thinking. Yes, trying something new and original can be tempting, but anything that delays or obstructs a shopper’s ability to convert should be eliminated from your ecommerce website design. Less is often more when it comes to ecommerce web design, and this is especially true of your homepage. Most shoppers will land on this page first, so it’s important to establish clear branding that resonates throughout the entire customer experience. Collaborating with a skilled web design company can help you establish a concise yet impactful visual narrative that encapsulates your brand identity and seamlessly permeates every facet of the customer journey. Read more ecommerce UX tips here.
4. Keep the search bar visible
Speaking of making key features easy to find, display your search bar prominently and consistently throughout the shopping journey. Don’t fall into the ecommerce design trap of hiding or collapsing the search box in the name of decluttering your page. Shoppers who use site search convert significantly more than shoppers who browse. Please don’t get in their way by concealing this revenue-generating asset. Check out these search bar design best practices for more.
5. Streamline the checkout
Distracting design can be a huge conversion killer in the final stages of a shopper’s journey. The cart and checkout pages are where you want to strip your design back to basics so customers can quickly and easily click their way to a purchase. Some best practices to keep in mind: include a progress bar so shoppers can see exactly how far along they are in the process, streamline the number of fields they have to manually fill in, and keep buttons and links to an absolute minimum.
6. Make sure your ecommerce website design is responsive
Even the most beautiful ecommerce website design in the world will be rendered useless if it’s not responsive. In 2021, 73% of all ecommerce sales worldwide are forecast to be generated via mobile. Shopper expectations are high, and most will quickly bounce from a site that fails to perform smoothly on their chosen device. Test your site thoroughly on all screen sizes (and browsers, for that matter) to ensure the experience is consistent, no matter where or how your customers choose to shop.
Ecommerce website design: the unsung hero of conversion optimization
When exploring opportunities to boost conversion rates, it can be easy to overlook the impact of your ecommerce web design. The good news is you don’t necessarily have to commit to a lengthy and costly redesign project to make impactful changes. Start with A/B testing and tweaking minor design elements – this will indicate whether more extensive improvements are needed. Remember, a poor visual experience can detract from all your other optimization efforts and frustrate customers. When executed well, however, ecommerce design can gently steer shoppers along a frictionless path to purchase.