eCommerce website design plays an important role in building trust and authority with potential customers to ensure that an online store converts sales efficiently to generate revenue.
Unlike other types of website (blogs, for example), Web design in eCommerce sites plays a more direct role in the success of that online business, because the design impacts conversion rates and sales directly.
It's also important to note that when we talk about "Web design", we aren't referring only to the theme or template (i.e. the look and feel), but also the functional design, SEO, and performance.
This article lists 5 great tips to help improve the Web design of your shopping cart in order to help increase sales.
eCommerce website design tips
Before we begin, it is important to note that when it comes to setting up and running an online business (especially an eCommerce website), the faster you can begin generating a steady income, the more likely you are to succeed.
Don't waste lots of time designing the site. Use tools that make Web design fast and easy so that you can focus on growing the business instead.
If you haven't yet started designing a website, I strongly recommend you select on of the leading hosted shopping cart solutions that offer excellent Web design and performance - no Web design experience required.
To get started, check out this list of the top hosted shopping carts that also has a comparison of their market share (popularity) and SEO performance.
Let's get on with the tips...
1. Speed, speed, speed
Not only does Google take page load time very seriously (something you need to keep in mind if you care about ranking well in search results), but your customers do too.
On average, you can expect about 1% loss in revenue for every 0.1 seconds a customer has to wait for pages to load.
2. Space for lots of content
I can't tell you how unlikely you are to drive valuable organic search traffic to your store without including unique, relevant, engaging, and useful content on every product page.
Many online store owners try to cram as many product pages onto their site as possible. Each of these pages has little or no original and helpful information (like custom written product reviews, customer reviews, articles and posts on how to use the product, etc).
Why would Google return a thin product page in the search results when it can return a much better page from Amazon?
It's a lot of work, but building great content into the fabric of your product landing page design is arguably the most important thing you can do to attract customers via the search engines.
There's a great example of an eCommerce product page with lots of cool content at Michael Hyatt's book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, on Amazon.
In particular look at how much original and useful content has been contributed by reviewers - lower down the page. Absolute gold!
3. Put customers "next to the product"
It's absolutely vital that customers feel as close to the product as possible - as if they were in a physical store and able to pick up the product and explore it.
Recently I wanted to book a hotel room, and found myself trying to select from a range of room types. All of them had names like "ultimate superior" and "executive luxury", and prices - but no images.
The problem for me was that I couldn't see what I was actually getting for the different room prices. I got frustrated, and left the site.
You have to design product pages so that they are very simple, very clear, and very descriptive.
In particular, use high quality images that can help customers to compare the product to the mental image of what they have in mind.
4. Increase conversion rates with usability
I run a separate online business that had pretty good customer sign-up rates, but pretty foul conversion rates - in other words, customers were interested enough to register, but then failed to make a purchase.
I spent a single morning physically going through the steps required to complete a single transaction. In doing so, I discovered that at one or two points in the process it wasn't immediately obvious what the next step should be.
I added a few instructive comments designed to encourage people by confirming they were doing things correctly, and telling them what to do next.
Overnight my conversion rate increased by 200%. I wrote an article about it, with a graph showing the increased earnings at increasing website traffic and conversion rates for maximum profit.
The point being that you should continually analyze traffic patterns and try to improve your design and checkout procedures to make purchasing as quick, pleasant and intuitive as possible.
Being able to find and purchase what you're after quickly and easily, makes for a good customer experience.
5. Include highly relevant cross and up-selling
If a customer has added a product or two to their cart, it is a pretty good indication that they are preparing to complete a transaction.
Why not gently increase the average transaction value (and therefore average profit) on a per transaction basis by including offers of closely related, or better, products.
The trick here is to make sure that the products you offer are genuinely of interest to that person. There is little point in designing a "related products" block that offers only vaguely related stuff.
Think about why the customer is purchasing a particular item, and what else they might need to go with it. Again, Amazon does this extremely well by offering discounted combinations of products based on the product you are currently viewing.
So those are my top 5 eCommerce website design tips to help improve SEO, performance, and conversions. Hopefully, by implementing these suggestions, you will notice an increase in sales and revenue fairly quickly.
What other eCommerce design tips do you recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments below.