9 Essential Web Design Tips for an eCommerce Website

With eCommerce sales at an all-time high, you might be eager to enter the market by launching your own online store. There are millions of eCommerce websites, though. To succeed in this highly competitive market, you must use an appropriate design that compels shoppers to find and purchase their desired products.

1) Include a Search Bar (With Good Functionality!)

All of the top eCommerce websites, including Amazon and Walmart.com, have a search bar. Typically found at the top, it allows shoppers to easily find specific products or types of products. Rather than clicking through multiple navigation links, shoppers can enter the name of a product into the search bar. By including a search bar in your eCommerce website's design, you'll promote a better user experience (UX) that manifests in the form of increased sales. Also, make sure the search results are logical, easy to filter and the search results page is well designed. There’s nothing worse than making a search and ending up with random results!

2) Use Multi-Tiered Categories for Navigation

The ease at which shoppers can navigate your eCommerce website will directly influence its sales. In addition to a search bar, using multi-tiered categories will help shoppers navigate your site more easily. Rather than adding a link to each product on the main navigation menu, for example, use a hierarchical format consisting of top-level categories and lower-level categories. These additional categories can also greatly benefit your SEO campaign.

3) Simplify the Checkout Process

How long is your eCommerce website's checkout process? While shoppers probably can't purchase products with a single click, forcing them to click through too many pages may deter them from completing the process. In fact, a study conducted by Baymard found a long checkout process was the third-most common reason for abandoned shopping carts, surpassed only by unexpected costs and forced account creation.

4) Design with Speed in Mind

When designing your eCommerce website, consider how it affects average load times encountered by shoppers. For eCommerce websites, time is money. The longer it takes a shopper to load your eCommerce website, the less likely he or she is to make a purchase. According to a SOASTA study, one in three shoppers will leave an eCommerce website if it takes longer than five seconds to load.

To prevent long load times from costing you sales, consider the following tips when designing your eCommerce website:

• Enable browser caching so that shoppers don't have to load your eCommerce website's files each time they visit it.

• Compress product images, as well as other images, before uploading them to your eCommerce website.

• Limit the number of plugins, extensions or apps installed on your eCommerce website.

• Host videos on YouTube and embed them on your eCommerce website.

• Monitor and remove broken links.

• When updating your eCommerce website's design, run it through Pingdom's speed checker at tools.pingdom.com to see whether it lowered or increased its load time.

• Use both a high-end web hosting service and a Content Delivery Network (CDN).

5) Ensure Mobile Compatibility

Not all shoppers use a desktop computer to navigate eCommerce websites. Many shoppers now exclusively shop for products online using a mobile device. If your eCommerce website isn't compatible with mobile devices, you'll struggle to capture and convert these shoppers into customers. The good news is most eCommerce platforms, such as Shopify, BigCommerce and even WordPress, feature mobile-friendly templates or themes. Alternatively, you can ensure mobile compatibility with your eCommerce website by adopting a responsive framework.

6) Eliminate the Clutter

A cluttered design can cripple the performance of your eCommerce website. If it contains lots of links, images, text containers or other visual elements with little or no cohesion, you can expect poor sales revenue. A cluttered design is distracting for shoppers. With so many visual elements displayed, shoppers don't always see the product links, resulting in fewer sales. Using a clean and cohesive design, on the other hand, keeps shoppers focused on what really matters: product links.

7) Use High-Quality Product Images

When designing product pages, as well as category pages, use high-quality product images. Shoppers rely on images to see what a product looks like, so images naturally influence their purchasing decisions. If your eCommerce website has grainy, distorted or otherwise low-quality product images, shoppers may hesitate to make a purchase. After all, it's difficult to decide whether a product is worth purchasing if you can't see it. By using high-quality product images, shoppers can see exactly what the products look like.

8) Enable Customer Reviews

Don't ignore the value of showcasing customer reviews in your eCommerce website's design. Statistics show over three in four shoppers trust customer reviews as much as recommendations from a family member. If a shopper sees lots of reviews from satisfied customers, he or she will assume the respective product is valuable and worth the price for which it's listed. Therefore, enabling customer reviews on product pages can drive sales for your eCommerce website. Just remember to provide excellent customer service to promote a high ratio of positive to negative customer reviews.

9) Test Different Designs

Even if your eCommerce website's current design is performing well, you should still test different designs. Making small changes to your site's current design can have a big impact on conversion rates and overall sales revenue. Moving the main navigation menu from the left to the top of your eCommerce site, for instance, may result in more sales. Additionally, changing the color scheme and text of your site's call to action (CTA) may help to funnel shoppers to your store's checkout page. These are just a few of many changes that can improve the performance of your eCommerce website. Of course, the only way to know whether a specific change works is by testing it in a new design.

You can spend hundreds or thousands of dollars promoting your eCommerce website, but unless it's properly designed, you'll fail to create a profitable online business. When shoppers encounter a poorly designed eCommerce website, they may feel reluctant to provide their payment information and complete the checkout process. By using an appropriate design, however, shoppers will feel more comfortable and confident purchasing products on your eCommerce website.

Read next: 8 Biggest Graphic Design Trends that Will Dominate 2020
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