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The 8 Most Important Principles in eCommerce Design

Larry Web Design Showcase Dec 16, 2016

Ecommerce is a valuable and profitable opportunity for online entrepreneurs, and it isn't likely to fade away anytime soon. Consumers have fallen in love with the ability to shop for and order products online, and it's becoming easier and easier for entrepreneurs and craftspeople to create their own shops and start selling.

It's important to have a good product and a reasonable business model - those are fundamentals - but even with those in place, it's possible for your ecommerce business to fail. If you want to succeed, you'll need a good design to complement and show off your offers effectively to the right target audience.

Why eCommerce Design Is So Important

BigCommerce offers a huge list of ecommerce sites with beautiful and effective designs - but what makes these designs so "effective" in the first place? Why does design matter so much to the health and success of an ecommerce business?

  • First impressions. First impressions are powerful. What people think of your brand the first time they see your shop could affect if - and how - they purchase from you for years to come. Give them a good experience, and they'll never forget you.
  • Information. How you design your website will affect how much and what type of information your customers receive. Buying decisions depend on this information, so your presentation matters a great deal to your bottom line.
  • Buying decisions. Buying decisions are complicated moments, and your design will affect how fast they're made, if they're made, and why they're made (or not made).

responsive opencart template

Most Important Principles to Follow

If you're working on a design for your ecommerce site, make sure you follow or consider these vital principles to secure more first impressions, provide better information, and encourage more buying decisions:

1. Apparent, consistent branding. Your branding should be consistent and visible throughout the site, manifesting in everything from the colors and images you choose to the wording and tone of voice in your product descriptions. This will be your site's "signature" and will help consumers learn to identify your store's values and unique offerings. IT can also help you build a better relationship with your consumers.

2. Audience targeting. Your website design should also reflect the needs of your target market. It's tempting but unwise to design a site that appeals to "everybody." Instead, you'll need to zero in on one specific target audience - you'll increase your relevance and decrease your competition this way. For example, if you're targeting a certain age group, call upon design trends popular with that age group.

3. Competitive differentiation. There are hundreds of buying options for consumers online, if not thousands. What makes your solution different? If you don't go out of your way to differentiate yourself in your design, you'll end up blending into white noise, and your customers won't have any reason to remember you. Do something bold and different.

woocommerce theme

4. Usability. Don't underestimate the value of user experience in ecommerce. How fast your site operates, how easy it is to see and use on mobile devices, and the structure of your layout can all affect a customer's overall experience. Run tests and make tweaks to make the buying process as simple and painless as possible.

5. Intuition service. You'll also want to cater to your users' intuitions. People don't have the time or patience to hunt down what they're looking for, so try making it easier to find. Give them search bars, sensible navigations, and workflows if they're having trouble making a decision. Again, you need to make the process as simple as possible.

6. Accurate descriptions. The descriptions of your products can make or break consumers' buying decisions. This may not seem like a design choice, but it is - the font, color, location, and length of your descriptive text will play a major role in its interpretation, and the images and video you offer of your products are incredibly valuable.

7. Minimalism. Minimalism is always valuable in design - this is the principle of "less is more." Instead of cramming more content, images, videos, and elements into your site, focus on emphasizing and drawing more attention to what you already have. Leave plenty of empty space to make your site easier on your users' eyes, and direct them where they need to go.

opencart template

8. Visible, compelling calls-to-action. Last but not least, make sure you have plenty of calls-to-action, which will grab your users' attention and direct them to make a purchase, fill out a form, or complete some other meaningful action on your site. If you don't have clear callouts, your users won't go out of their way to find them. Be obvious, and make a compelling case.

With these eight principles in place, you can escalate any ecommerce site to earn higher conversion rates, a better reputation, and ultimately, greater profitability. However, there is much room for subjectivity, and no two companies are going to have an identical path to success. You'll need to research your audience and niche thoroughly, and experiment before you determine the best approach in each of these areas.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Larry Alton

Larry Alton is an independent business consultant specializing in social media trends, business, and entrepreneurship. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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