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E-commerce Website Design: Best Practices for Online Stores

Published on:

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The aim of your online store is to sell products or services to your customers - it’s as simple as that.

How you go about this sale, however, will differ depending on your industry and target market, the demographic of your customer, and you overall approach to marketing.

One of the first things that we tell our clients is that they should view their website as an online shop window. It needs to create the kind of first impression that makes customers want to head inside and find out more, before ultimately completing the customer journey by making a purchase.

And while it’s true that every website is different, and every customer group has different needs and preferences, there are some hallmarks of good e-commerce that clients should take on board and use in their own designs.

Here are some best practice tips and tricks from our website design pros and e-commerce team.

Bring every element of your website back to user experience

User experience (UX) is so important when it comes to any website - but it's particularly true for e-commerce stores.

You will find countless articles online filled with UX tips; however, our first tip is incredibly simple. Always design with UX - user experience - at the forefront of your mind.

One of the best ways to do this is to consistently review parts of your site from the perspective of a user. Consider how they navigate to a specific webpage, what they see when they land on that page, and how quickly they can find the information they’re looking for.

Use high quality images... but sparingly

Product photoshoot for e-commerce website

The purpose of your e-commerce site is to convert browsers into buyers. While high quality imagery is crucial to let customers know what they are getting, too many images can become overwhelming.

As such, making sure that any image you use is excellent quality, surrounded by white space, will prevent them from getting lost on the page.

TOP IMAGE TIP: Where possible, showcase photos of a product in use. This depicts everything from functional purpose to size with incredible ease, minimising the need for lengthy written explanations.

Stop using unique and quirky menu lists!

Controversial, we know - after all, we are huge fans of personalised and brand-centric marketing which ties directly back to your brand.

However, when it comes to the menu and navigation of your website, the best thing you can do is to keep it simple. Instead of creating your own words and terms to replace the standard “About Us” and “Shop”, use the terms that customers recognise and expect to see. If you don’t, you risk frustrating and confusing them - pushing them towards a competitor site that is more intuitive to use.

Optimise your online store for mobile

If you use social media for marketing, then the chances are that some customers will find your website via social apps - and will therefore spend most of their time browsing your site and store on a mobile device.

Optimising for mobile means ensuring that the user experience is streamlined and easy to use - and that all the buttons and functions work intuitively.

Improve your checkout

It’s really easy for e-commerce websites to put all their emphasis and design focus on the journey towards checkout, only to give up and assume that by that point, the sale is guaranteed.

However, answer us this. Have you ever reached the checkout and ended up abandoning the process due to a bad or untrustworthy checkout experience?

Improving the design and function of your checkout will ensure that you don’t lose customers at this crucial last hurdle. What’s more, it will make paying for products much easier for customers, leaving a good taste in their mouth and making it more likely that they will post a positive review, recommend you to friends and family, and use your website again.

And finally…

Keep it simple

This means:

  • Choose one main action that you want customers to take on each webpage and highlight that action with a clear CTA button
  • Stop surrounding web pages with coloured banners and countless pop-ups, and instead focus on what you are trying to achieve
  • Emphasise your branding
  • Layer images as backgrounds to create a professional aesthetic
  • Lean on customer reviews and testimonials where you can

Implementing some, or even all, of these tips and tricks will make your website better from a business and a customer perspective - and will likely lead to more sales and conversion effortlessly.

And if you need support in fine tuning and improving your e-commerce website design, the Social Loop team is here to help!