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You’ve decided to launch a new e-commerce business. Scary, but exciting times!
You’ve got killer products, settled on affordable prices—you even started to work on a whole new website to showcase your goods and start selling online. It seems like nothing stands between you and immediate success, right?
Just as we’ve already explored with the e-commerce checkout flow, a poorly designed shopping experience can (and will) force users to leave and find a better experience elsewhere. While in the first resource we focused on the checkout part of it, here we’ll find out how the whole design of your website can impact sales.
But more importantly, we’ll figure out what are the best practices so that you can find your way through this challenging task.
The e-commerce landscape has changed a lot in the last 5 years. First, the quantity of online transactions has exploded—retail e-commerce sales worldwide have gone from 1.3 trillion dollars in 2014 to a projected 4.1 trillion dollars in 2019. This has lead to an inevitable race to the greatest UX. Trust me, in this crowded landscape, you don’t want to be trailing behind.
To further understand the importance of great e-commerce design, let’s make a parallel with the physical world.
Remember when Apple came up with the first Apple Store back in the early 00’s? It completely transformed the way we, as customers, shop. It did so thanks to two major improvements to traditional shopping experiences:
We can’t emphasize enough the huge impact these stores had on the retail world. Take a good look around next time you enter a shopping center; every shop looks, in some capacity, like an Apple Store—bright colors, refined design and large spaces that breathe.
If an outstanding shopping experience is now a key element to the success of physical stores, it fully translates to the digital world as well. Maybe even more so, because, you know, it’s way easier for users to quit a lousy online experience.
It’s estimated that e-commerce sales will account for 17.5% of total global sales in 2021, which means the offer is on the rise. Standing out with a good-looking website and a seamless shopping experience will go a long way in this new digital reality.
An e-commerce site is primarily built for customers to shop. Your design should make it seamless for them to do so. It has to be intuitive and easy to use if you want to make more sales.
Simplicity – A user entering your website for the first time should never have to ask her/himself: “Okay, what’s the next step?” A confusion-inducing UI is your worst enemy here.
We’ll see later on how you can make each step of the shopping experience more pleasurable for customers.
Coherence – You want your design to be coherent with what you’re selling in the overall feel and look. If you’re doing this right, better are the chances for engaging with an audience that is looking for the kind of products you’re offering.
Picture this: your very serious dad is shopping online for a brand new luxury car. He opens up a website that is full of bright colors; a massive clash with the sober, luxurious product he’s looking for. In a second or two, he’s out, back in the digital jungle.
Colors, images, fonts, everything should match. To be able to get there, you first need to know your product, obviously, but also your target audience.
Trustworthiness – The website needs to inspire trust to potential customers. A design that looks professional will instantly erase most doubts a user could have when getting to the checkout process.
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes: would you give personal and payment information to a shady-looking website? Probably not.
Transparency – Quickly enough, newcomers to your business will want to know who you are and how you operate. Make sure that contact info and policies for shipping and returns are easy to find.
Why? Here are a few striking statistics:
So yeah, people shop on their phones a lot, which in itself is a great reason to build a mobile-friendly shopping UX.
But you also have to know that a responsive website is one of the major ranking signals in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) since Google has rolled out mobile-first indexing. SEO is not something to disregard when it comes to customer acquisition, so this makes responsiveness mandatory to any successful e-commerce website.
We’ll explore mobile-specific design throughout the rest of this guide.
Here’s a typical online store infrastructure:
Each new step leads your customer closer to conversion, which in this case represents the purchase of an item. Your goal, as the website designer, is to lower the psychological barriers between each of these steps as much as possible. You want to ease the passage of a user from one step to the next.
I’ll break these steps down with the design needs you should consider for each of these pages.
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