How To Wow Your Customers With Your eCommerce Website Design
Here’s a tough question: Is your eCommerce website doing enough to bring in sales for your business?
Technology trends and standards change quickly, and many expert agree that you should overhaul your eCommerce site every two to three years to make sure you’re staying on top (in addition to regularly updating your site with product information, for example). However, if your site isn’t delivering the sales or the growth that you’ve been hoping for, the time to update could be right now.
Don’t worry. You don’t need to tear it all down and start from scratch. Take a look at these top design tips, identify areas where your site could use an update, and dig in to make a more navigable, appealing, and profitable online store!
Top 10 Design Tips For Your eCommerce Website
Start by taking a long hard look at your current website. According to Statista, these are some of the design elements online shoppers value most:
- Good search function
- Filter options
- User comments/product ratings
- Clear design
- Good product placement
- Limited advertising
- Overview of recently view items
- Help function
How does your site rate when you look at it with those elements in mind? Check out some of your competitors’ pages, noticing what positives jump out at you as well which elements turn you off.
How does your site compare in these key areas?
1. Improve Search Functionality
Imagine walking into a new store. Maybe you have an idea of what you’re looking for, or maybe you’re just in the mood to have a look around. In this case, it doesn’t matter why you went in, because all the shelves in the store are covered with cloth, so you can’t see what’s on them, and the aisles are blocked with locked gates. How likely are you to stay in that store, much less to make a purchase?
That’s a ridiculous scenario, right? No one would ever design a store that blocks would-be customers! The truth is, though, that too many eCommerce websites place obstacles in customers’ way. So how can you remove them?
When shoppers visit your online store, no one physically greets them and says with a smile, “What can I help you find today?” Customers may have to find what they want on their own, but you make it easier for them to find what they need and have a pleasant browsing experience. That’s what’s meant by the term search functionality.
It can be as simple as making sure you have a search box located at the top of the screen, so it’s easy to find. Or you can take it to the next level, by customizing the search function to match your products, like in this example from music licensing site Rhythm Couture, which allows browsers to search not only by genre but also by mood.
2. Let Satisfied Shoppers Help You Sell
When it comes to eCommerce, trust can be a barrier that’s hard to overcome. As new customers find you, some of them will wonder if they can actually depend on your and your products. Will you really deliver what you say you will? And on time?
A well-designed, professional-looking website does a lot to establish your credibility. But you can go one better by allowing new customers to see testimonials from those who have shopped before them.
If your eCommerce platform allows customer reviews, enable them. Then display them prominently. You can put snippets of good reviews on your landing page and on the product reviews on product pages. Don’t worry about the fact that you might receive some negative reviews. A negative review alerts you to a problem that you then have the opportunity to correct. When new customers see that you respond to problems or shortcomings, they focus not on the problem but on the way you handle it.
By the way, you should reply to positive reviews as well as negative ones. Acknowledge satisfied customers and thank them for their business! That adds a personal touch to a faceless transaction and helps online shoppers form a relationship with your brand.
3. Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
Is your eCommerce site designed to work best on a big screen, like a laptop or desktop computer? How well does it translate to the small screen of a mobile device? Grab the nearest mobile device and test it out. If you’re wondering how important this really is, you can stop wondering. Last year, according to Statista, U.S. shoppers spent more than $135 per online order placed via desktop or laptop computer. From tablets, the average order totaled almost $102, while smartphones averaged $95 per transaction. That means total sales from mobile devices, combined, were almost 50% higher than sales from traditional computers. In other words, if your website doesn’t look great on a small screen, you may be turning customers off and leaving sales behind.
The good news is that whether you worked with a web designer or built the site yourself using a web-builders app, your site probably looks okay on a mobile device. The most popular web builders automatically convert your site from desktop to mobile for optimal viewing. If your site’s a little older, you can test it using Google’s mobile-friendly test. Don’t forget that many phones will load your site more slowly than a computer will. So don’t overload your site unnecessarily with enormous images or video files.
4. Don’t Visually Overwhelm Your Users
Online shoppers don’t tend to stay on any website for too long. Even for a giant like Target, Walmart, or Amazon, the average customer stays only 3.5 to 10 minutes, according to Statista. The average visit to your website may be of even shorter duration. It’s tempting to use the “kitchen sink” method and throw everything you have onto your landing page, in hopes of giving that customer the one thing they’re looking for.
Don’t give in. A cluttered landing page is one of the worst design mistakes you can make. It’s far better to use simple design elements to speak to your customers and entice them to dig in further. Take a look at this example, from real estate website Trulia.com.
What’s great about it? It uses a compelling image as a background, one that speaks to the target audience of people searching for a new place to live. It has a simple and appealing tagline: “Discover a place you’ll love to live.” And customers can easily see how to use Trulia’s search function to locate their new home.
5. Don’t Hide From Customers
Remember just above, where we talked about trust as a deterrent to online sales? You have another chance to build credibility by making your contact information not just available but obvious.
Why is that important?
Whether it’s a first-time visitor or a returning customer, anyone considering an online purchase from you seeks reassurance that it’s safe to do business with you. That’s true not only when a problem arises but also when you’re just starting a relationship. Let customers see from the outset that you’ll be there to back them up on the off-chance that something goes wrong, and you’ll be more likely to earn their business.
That doesn’t mean you need to splash your personal email and contact information across your website. Take a look at this contact page from PayPal. It’s clear and uncluttered and the most important information is right up front: “Tell us about your issue so we can help you more quickly.” That personal offer is followed by an FAQ list that allows customers in a hurry to help themselves by searching a database of common questions. Down below are other contact options, including instant messaging, a community board, and a link to a resolution center, for customers with serious concerns. Your contact page may contain different elements, but the message should be the same: If you trust us with your business, we’ll be there for you when you need us.
A couple of last thoughts on the trust issue: You won’t be able to resolve every issue customers have, and that’s OK. You can reassure them at the point of sale by acknowledging that sometimes things go wrong, and you’ll still be there for them. That means making your returns policy obvious too. If you’re not sure how — or why — to create your online store’s return policy, read our article on eCommerce return policies to learn all about it.
Finally, make sure you let customers know that your online store is a safe place to do business from a cybersecurity perspective, too. Post your SSL certificate on your website to give customers peace of mind.
6. Use Images That Sell
It won’t matter if you have the finest, most perfect products in the world. Post crummy images of them online and you’ll find that sales are hard to come by. Does that mean you need to shell out big bucks for professional photography? If you have money in your budget, that’s certainly not a bad idea! But it’s not strictly necessary, so long as you follow some commonsense rules. The photos on your sales website should share these qualities:
- High Quality: Don’t post photos that you snapped on your phone. Find a good digital camera and learn how to use it.
- Zoomable: You can find a widget at low or no cost that allows users to click or rollover zoom to see details in your online photos.If you use a website builder, it probably has this function built-in.
- Plentiful: Don’t place one picture per product and call it good. Show the item from multiple angles. Show how it can be used. Studies suggest that customers respond well to up to five photos per product.
- Uncluttered: There’s no one right way to shoot your product photos. It depends upon your product and your audience. You may find it’s best to shoot them on a neutral background or to show them in the setting where they’ll be used. Just make sure to keep the focus on the product, and not any extraneous items included in the photo.
7. Stick With Your Branding
Your eCommerce store is an extension of your business and it should represent you well. Make sure that it echoes and amplifies your branding decisions. That means you should use the same color scheme as you use on your business card and brochures, the same type of background as you use on your social media sites, and the same language you use when you talk to customers about your product. Feature your logo prominently, too, so you make a strong first impression.
8. Make An Offer They Can’t Refuse
When new customers click their way to your website, you may have only a brief window of opportunity to gain their business. Give them an opportunity to save money or gain something for free, and you’ll have captured their attention — and maybe the sale. Whether it’s a buy-one-get-one sale, free shipping if you spend $100, or a no-strings-attached download once you enter your contact information, a special offer can convert a looker into a customer.
9. Tell Your Story
Another way to personalize the online sales experience is to let customers know who you are or to see an example of what you do. Take a look at the Grammarly landing page, below. Although this is just a screenshot, if you visit the site you’ll see that the box on the right provides an actual example of Grammarly’s editing service in action.
This is a great example of telling your story online, in a compelling way that grabs customers’ attention. You may not be able to include a demonstration of your product or service, but you can add an About Us button that gives customers a look inside your operations and motivations. That’s another key to building trust.
10. Ask For The Sale
Traditional sales revolve around The Ask. Salespeople are trained to ask for the sale multiple times, in multiple ways. An online sale is really no different, except that you won’t have a live salesperson standing in front of the customer to close the sale. Your website itself needs to do the work for you. This landing page for the online collaborative coding platform Glitch offers a great example. It’s an uncluttered page, with some graphic elements and a description of what the site does. Right below that is The Ask:
See that big green button? “Join Glitch,” it entices. “It’s free,” it adds. That’s a pretty unmistakable call to action. Does your website ask customers to buy in such a straightforward fashion? If not, you may be leaving sales on the table, simply because you didn’t ask the customer to buy.
Optimizing Your eCommerce Website
A lot of elements combine to create a great eCommerce website. Hopefully, this list provides a starting point as you look at your current website and think about how you can improve it. If you feel it’s time to start from scratch, you can find a great website builder that allows you to do it yourself, even if you don’t know how to write a single line of code. When you work with an online builder, you’ll find templates and tools that have already taken these design elements into consideration, and it won’t be as much work as you anticipate to create an effective website. Before you know it, you’ll have an up-to-date, improved website — and online sales to match.