You have a plan to sell your products or services online. You’ve decided what you’re going to sell, and now you just need to find a good web designer and developer.
This stage can be somewhat daunting for new store owners. Finding a good designer who understands your goals and who knows what’s really important in an ecommerce website design is crucial.
I’d like to help out with this process. To help you understand what’s crucial and what’s not, I’ve compiled this list of the most important features that a store’s design should have. This list will help you separate the designs that merely “look nice” from those that perform well — and will convert more visitors into paying customers.
Want to know more? Let’s dive in.
Very user-friendly and understood navigation
Navigation is the most important part of an ecommerce store’s design. Good navigation helps new shoppers easily find what they’re looking for without any hassle, but poor navigation frustrates them and may even lead them to abandon your store.
So what is good navigation? When the visitor can easily go from the landing page to checkout. No matter what that landing page may be — whether it’s your homepage or a specific product page — a visitor should be able to quickly find their way around your site without any problems or questions to ask.
The main categories should be presented first in your navigation, then the less important destinations are in the drop-downs or site footer.
Care and Share has a simple site navigation with very basic categories, and the drop-down menu breaks it down just a little further:
Kmart, a much larger store, also does something similar: their most important categories are at the top, and the drop-down menu has clearly labeled divisions that help guide navigation with specific locations.
Presenting both broad and narrow options with clear labels allows customers to browse your store in the way they want — either slowly, simply seeing what you have to offer, or quickly, as they look for something specific. And if they prefer to avoid your navigation altogether, your search is only a click away.
Compatibility with all devices and screen sizes
As many stores continue to see a rise in mobile-only shoppers, it’s important to be conscious of the many different devices and screen sizes used by your customers.
Responsive design is a method of web design that automatically scales a site’s appearance up or down to match the screen size on which it is viewed. It’s quickly become a standard for new websites in the last few years, thanks in part to Google considering a site’s mobile-friendliness a ranking factor and recommending responsiveness as the best way to comply.
The web designer you choose should propose a responsive store — and if they don’t, you’ll want to emphasize how important this is to you.
With more and more shoppers migrating to mobile devices, your store’s design should absolutely be able to match the screens on which it’s viewed. If it doesn’t, you’ll likely find that your customers are leaving for other — far more mobile-friendly — stores.
Quick loading times
Did you know that approximately 40% of online shoppers will abandon a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load? No matter how beautiful your store’s design may be, if it slows down the speed at which your pages load, your bounce rate will rise and your conversion rate will drop dramatically.
If you don’t want to lose your customers, you should aim to implement a design that loads all of its assets quickly. The slower your store’s design loads, the more potential customers you’ll see bounce from your site and back to search engines.
The good news is that it’s possible to achieve a beautiful store design without making all of your visitors impatience. Between compression tools, content delivery networks, and WordPress-specific tweaks and plugins, you can ensure that even your largest images and graphics load quickly.
Here are a few tips to help you keep your design from bogging down your site:
- Test your homepage load time regularly. Pingdom has a free website speed test, or you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights.
- Compress large image files. Free services like TinyPNG and others allow you to do this in just a few seconds!
- Make sure your hosting is suitable for a highly trafficked ecommerce website — and that you can upgrade your plan when you need to.
- Research ways to improve your site’s speed. If you’re planning to use WooCommerce – which I use for all my ecommerce websites, check out this helpful collection of tips to speed up your WordPress-based website.
Crisp, clear, beautiful images
Have you noticed the recent trend in website design that revolves around large, screen-filling images? For example, the St. Genéve homepage is dominated by this beautiful photo an outdoor bedroom set:
These large, eye-catching images serve a few purposes. For responsively-designed sites, these images scale up and down to fill screens at any size without any loss in quality. But perhaps more importantly, they immediately direct a visitor’s attention to a crucial call to action.
Take another look at the St. Genéve homepage. The beautiful background photo immediately shows what the product is, while the overlaid text has a clear call to action: “Welcome to our world.”
Large images like these, combined with calls to action, do a great job of explaining your products or getting your customers to look at something specific. The large area allows you to highlight a product in great detail, and the right photo can sell an item for you from the very first second.
Of course, your site design shouldn’t be focused only on one or two big images on your homepage. You should also use clear product images throughout your design, whether it’s to direct shoppers to specific pages or simply to show off what you’re capable of.
There’s no reason you should limit the usage of product images to their individual pages. If you start utilizing them throughout your entire design, you’ll have a better shot at directing brand new customers all the way to the order confirmation screen.
Match your branding
Finally, while the tips I’ve given you so far are meant to help your store design with qualities that will improve the experience of your customers, the design must match your company’s branding, goals, and industry. With so many talented designers out there, there’s no reason you have to go with something that functions well but doesn’t fit your company.
If you’re selling high-end fashion accessories, the overall look and design should be elegant and stylish to reflect this. But if you’re selling roasted coffee beans, that same design will likely look out of place on your store — and you won’t like the way it ties into the rest of your branding, likely leading to a complete redesign.
With these tips in mind, you should be better prepared to find a web designer and developer that meets your needs and understands your customers. If you have any questions or would like to discuss a project, please reach out anytime, I’d be happy to have you onboard.