As web developers, we want to give our clients the best website design possible, one that suits their needs and their budget. To achieve this goal, our designers focus on creating a website that enhances customer loyalty and optimises conversion rates.
This is what UX design is all about – connecting with consumers and building positive relationships with a target audience. The better a company can make these connections, the greater their customer loyalty, conversions, sales and profits.
We have all visited websites that are not user-friendly and it’s usually due to poor UX design. When the user’s experience isn’t considered in the design process of an eCommerce website, for example, traffic slumps and conversions decline (or never take off). This is a concept that some business owners find hard to grasp because if your website doesn’t leave a positive impact on your visitors, your only recourse is to improve the site’s UX design.
You can pay for more traffic, but if the UX design is the problem, the few sales that result from increased traffic aren’t likely to turn into long term loyal customers. On the other hand, you can turn things around and improve your conversions, if you put some serious effort into improving the user experience (UX design) of your website.
The best website design doesn’t need a host of bells and whistles, it just needs to make it easy for visitors to find what they want. So keeping eCommerce website design in mind, let’s take a look at seven rules that our web developers keep in mind when they are creating a site for one of our clients.
1. Don’t get too creative
Whilst our clients want a unique design for their eCommerce website, visitors expect some form of consistency when they visit a website. They expect to see a header along the top of the page with a menu underneath. They expect a logo in the left top corner and a search box on the right. They expect to see a sign-up box and social media icons in the footer, along with social sharing buttons on every page or post.
They also expect to see your contact details on the footer, which can also include links that are less frequently needed such as Privacy, T&Cs, Shipping, Refunds, and so on. Keeping to a recognised layout for your website makes it easy for visitors to navigate around your site and find what they want. Your creativity can be used in other areas that don’t negatively affect UX.
2. Focus on clarity
Too many colours, popups and disorganised content all result in a cluttered eCommerce website that confuses visitors and results in poor UX. Whilst your website needs to be aesthetically pleasing, it also needs to function. For example, don’t fill your pages with images and text, instead organise your content into clearly defined sections with enough white space to allow visitors to quickly focus on the content.
You can delineate or highlight specific sections on a page with different coloured sections, but it must be done in a logical way that doesn’t create confusion. In the same way, if a link or button needs to be clicked, make sure that this function is obvious, and keep the look of these links and buttons consistent throughout your site.
Another aspect of clarity is to let visitors know exactly what you offer, the instant they land on your website. If a visitor needs to search for the answer to the question, “yes, but what do you do?”, or needs to search the page to find out how to buy your product – then you have lost them immediately. It’s all about clarity, which involves removing as many obstacles in your sales funnel as humanly possible.
3. Design for short attention spans
You need to focus on the most important aspects of each page because people scan down pages. A study in 2015 by Microsoft found that our attention span has dropped from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015. So you have 8 seconds to attract a visitor’s attention before they become bored or frustrated and leave. This means that you need to remove all unnecessary content on each page, where this content doesn’t enhance your sales funnel.
Of course, your eCommerce website design needs to include product images, prices, options, colours, and any other details that contribute to converting visitors into buyers. Any other content, however, needs to be assessed for its contribution to your sales funnel. This approach is called functional minimalism, where all the content on a page should be relevant to achieving one goal – making a sale. With only 8 seconds to attract a visitor’s attention, you need to critically assess the content on your website and decide what is and isn’t needed.
4. Know your target audience
The best website design focuses on the needs of visitors. This means that you need to understand the needs of your customers and your target audience and then design a website that fulfils their needs.
Using these elements as a base, you can differentiate your site with some judicious creativity. Another proven strategy is to actually ask your target audience what they want in an eCommerce website and then incorporate their feedback into the design. You can identify the needs of a customer through user interviews via phone or face to face, or some prefer a digital method of user-generated recording.
5. Don’t overcomplicate functionality
Websites with poor UX often overwhelm or confuse visitors, who have no idea what steps to take to find the information they want. When a visitor has difficulty interpreting certain steps involved in achieving a specific goal on your website or when they need to put a lot of thought into their actions, they lose interest. The steps that they need to take should be intuitive, not complicated.
In other words, the higher a visitor’s cognitive load and the less intuitive it is to find what they want or follow instructions, the more likely they will leave your site and go to the competition. So if you want to provide a guided shopping experience on your website, make sure that the steps are short and easy to follow. Remember the term functional minimalism mentioned above and all will be well.
6. Personalise & differentiate your eCommerce website design
After starting with the admonition not to get too creative with your sites’ design, there has to be some flexibility to allow you to differentiate your website from the competition. You don’t want your site to look like everyone else’s website, so it clearly needs to reference your brand messaging and build a connection with your target audience. Personalising your website so that it appeals to your customers is a good first step, particularly if they can relate to the company, as this builds customer loyalty.
The best website design is one that makes your company or product memorable, not forgotten amongst a wash of other sites. Creativity needs to be intentional with the goal of increasing a visitor’s interaction with your site and making them want to spend more time learning about your products or services. It doesn’t mean overwhelming them with popups and a page crammed with as much content as can be packed into space.
Instead, the colours, layout, font and style should all represent your brand, offering an aesthetically pleasing user experience to your customers, whilst being simple to use and eminently functional. Clarity and simplicity don’t need to equate with boring and uninteresting, however, it takes a very talented web developer to master functional minimalism, whilst still being creative.
7. Understand the design process
The design process can be overwhelming for business owners and inexperienced developers. The solution is to know exactly where you are in the design process so that you don’t miss anything important or get too far ahead of yourself. The steps would be identifying user needs, identifying business goals, competitors research, sketching, creating wireframes, designing a prototype with the final design. So for example, there’s no point in worrying over the colour, shape and size of a BUY button, if you haven’t finalised where it will be placed on a page.
It’s easy to get caught up in the details and lose sight of the big picture. We are all aware that ‘the devil is in the details’, but there is a time and a place for these details! Feedback from users is most effective when it is used to optimise the aesthetics and functionality of the entire site, rather than nit-picking over where to place a button.
For professional help with eCommerce website design, call the team at Acid Green on 1300 139 658 or ask for a free quote today.