Ecommerce Website Design Essentials

An ecommerce website design typically has three key elements: A header section, a body section, and a footer section. These sections generally are arranged vertically in the following order. We will look at what goes into each of these sections, and then at the considerations that may affect ecommerce website design.

One important design consideration is whether to follow the conventional practice or create innovative new designs. Conventional practices are best for routine elements like navigational menus, overall layouts, and linking methods.

Website visitors are not likely to spend time working out how to move around the site; they would prefer to do these things instinctively by following established practices. If things look unfamiliar, they are more likely to go elsewhere.

The Header

The header section typically includes:

  • A logo representing the brand
  • Top-level menu with clearly labeled items arranged horizontally
  • A header image that could provide a flavor of what the business offers
  • A site search box to search the whole site for what a visitor is looking for
  • Phone number or email address to contact the business

Convention also allows the top-level menu to be arranged vertically in the left column instead of horizontally at the top.

The Body

The body of the website is where you present your offer. In the case of an ecommerce site, it will have:

  • Product images, descriptions, prices and purchase buttons
  • Announcements about discount sales, offers, and promotions
  • A contact form to subscribe for the business’ newsletter

The content could be different on select pages such as About Us, Contact Us, and Blog. These pages will have content indicated by their names. A vital characteristic of the body section content is that it tends to be unique from page to page of the site.

The Footer

Like the header section, the footer section also will have standard information that gets repeated on all the pages. Information in the header, such as contact and menu items, could be repeated in the footer.

Additionally, the footer section could include a copyright notice, address, social media buttons, and links to select pages. Footer content can vary significantly from site to site.

Design Considerations

By attending to certain things while designing the different sections outlined above, you can improve visitor experience, which in turn can lead to better business results.

Overall Layout: A clean and straightforward layout with plenty of white space, with all the different elements such as navigation links at expected places, tends to please visitors and keep them at the site. 

On the other hand, a cluttered page that makes it hard to find what you are looking for is more likely to make the visitor hit the back button and go elsewhere.

Color Scheme: Color has a psychological dimension. Different colors evoke different feelings. For example, blue is associated with trust, and pink feels feminine.

Another consideration is the number of colors used. Too many colors tend to be distracting and unprofessional. It is best to use a few colors that go with each other. Here is a resource on psychology of colors.

Fonts: The fonts you use affect the personality of the site. While serif fonts (fonts with a flourish) convey formality, sans serif fonts, are suitable for a personal touch.

Readability is also important. The font color should stand out clearly from the background. And if your audience tends to be older people, it is best to use larger size fonts.

Navigation: Visitors should be able to see navigational elements at expected places. The main menu should be at the top or on the left. Links in body copy are best as underlined text in a highlight color (or clickable images). Visitors also expect to see clickable links in the footer. Don’t confuse them if you want to keep the visitor on the site.

Responsive: Responsive design means that the layout will respond to the size of the screen on which the page is displayed. What looks great on a desktop screen could be unreadable on a mobile screen. Responsive sites will adapt the layout automatically to the screen size.

Mobile-friendliness has become an important SEO factor for ecommerce stores and marketplaces with Google suggesting a mobile-first approach for website design. Design the site assuming that it is going to be viewed in a mobile, and then make any changes for desktop display.

Page Load Speed: The content of the page and other elements can affect the speed with which a page loads on the screen. For example, graphic-heavy pages could take more time to load. The location of your hosting server, and how well the server is configured to handle page requests, can also affect load speed.

Visitors might not wait more than a few seconds for a page to load. They might give up and go elsewhere if your page is too slow.

Complete your Ecommerce Website Design with Quality Content

Content is all-important for the success of the site (and your business), and we give it a section of its own. In the case of an ecommerce site, the main tasks performed by content are:

  • Displaying merchandise
  • Facilitating purchases
  • Helping the buyer to pay for the purchases

The focus should be on designing pages that make these easy so that visitors tend to buy more.

Displaying the Product: Buyers are interested in seeing the product, checking whether it is indeed what they are looking for, and knowing the price. Help them achieve these through:

  • High-quality product photos, preferably photos of each product from different angles
  • A clear but concise description of the product that answers likely questions in the buyer’s mind and
  • Cost of the product, including price, taxes, and shipping; many prospects abandon the purchase at the last moment when they see unexpected costs

It is also a usual practice to display related products so that the customer is tempted to buy more. For example, if you sell mobile phones, you might show phone cases and chargers below the main phone display.

Facilitating Purchases: Each product display could include two buttons. A Buy Now button would take the customer immediately to the checkout page to complete the purchase of that product. An Add To Cart button would add the product to the virtual shopping cart. The customer can add more items to the cart and pay for all these during checkout.

Paying for the Purchases: Important requirements include:

  • Provide full details of the amount due, prices of each product, taxes, shipping charges, and any discounts
  • Offer different payment options, including COD, Net Banking, Payment Wallets, and Credit/ Debit cards
  • Don’t insist on creating an account before a purchase can be completed. Even unknown “guests” should be able to buy
  • Ask for a minimum of information
  • Make the entire process simple, clear and easy

Locating Products

If you sell numerous products, you have to ensure that prospective customers can easily find what they are looking for. Finding products can be made easy by:

  • Categorizing products into meaningful groups, and allowing buyers to drill down from top category to specific products. Clearly labeled categories are displayed so that visitors can select the category
  • Once a category (or subcategory) is selected, the buyer can indicate specific preferences through “filters” such as style, size, color, price range, and more. Products meeting the criteria are then displayed
  • Providing a clearly visible site search box to allow the visitor to indicate exactly what the person is looking for

Building your Brand

Brand building is a critically important consideration for ecommerce website design. It is your image in the minds of your prospects that make them come back to you when they want to buy what you sell. The image (brand) is a mix of their belief in your capabilities, quality of your products and support, and trust in your fairness and dependability.

How do you build a great brand?

You start the ecommerce website design process by designing an impressive website and filling it with great content.

  • Create a great look and feel for your ecommerce site by following the steps outlined so far. The look and feel should be consistent across your whole site. Don’t change layout, colors, and fonts from page to page!
  • Start a blog and create useful and helpful posts regularly. For example, you could provide guidance and tips on how to use specific products in the best possible way
  • Write all content, from blog posts through product descriptions to About Us page in a way that projects professionalism and helpfulness
  • Get the content to the attention of your target group through different types of marketing efforts 
  • Product reviews from happy customers and price comparisons with competing products can add to the impact

As the content and marketing efforts start to bring in business, enhance the brand through high-quality products and excellent customer support.

Ecommerce Website Design Summary

Design your ecommerce website to keep visitors on its pages, and get them to browse your offers. Greet the visitors with a clean and professional look. Make it easy to find a product, and then to complete the purchase.

People buy from you when they trust you, are confident about the quality of your products, and feel that you are fair and dependable. Create that kind of image about your business by working on building your brand.

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