Skip To Main Content
Website Designer Creative Planning Sketch
April 22, 2022 - By Hawke Media

Most Important Elements of eCommerce Website Design

Today’s ecommerce market might be worth over $750 billion in the US, but gone are the days where a good product was all you needed in order to make a profit. A quarter of Americans now shop online at least once a month and competition is so fierce (Amazon already has 41% market share) that ecommerce web design that wowed visitors yesterday is not guaranteed to even attract their attention tomorrow. For example, three out of every four dollars now spent online is via mobile, yet as many as 84% of customers still experience difficulty completing a purchase through their smartphone or tablet. eCommerce website owners need to make sure that they design a customer experience, not just a look for their brand. 

The way the site is designed can have a huge impact on the consumer experience, which, in turn, can lead to an increase or decrease in sales. Not only is the experience important, but making a good impression with new visitors will lead to better customer loyalty and retention. Find out the key elements that distinguish market-leading ecommerce web design from the also-rans. 

1. Quality Product and Lifestyle Photos

Whether you are building a site from scratch or using a template-based theme, the quality of your photography has a huge impact on how your brand performs. Customers want in-store levels of visibility online. They want to be able to rotate your products, take a closer look, examine the texture and quality and view a selection of sizes and colors. 

If you’re using flat, low resolution product images sourced directly from the supplier, you’re selling your inventory short. Aim for these instead:

  • High-quality, high-resolution images that allow close examination
  • 360 visibility, so that customers can manipulate the object on screen
  • Lifestyle shots that show the product in action
  • Multiple views, from “what’s in the box?” to “shown for scale” imagery. 


2. Unique Page Layouts

There’s nothing wrong with using the native templates supplied by the big ecommerce platforms, but as your store grows you’ll want to stand out, not blend in. That means designing unique layouts that highlight key elements, showcase products effectively, tell a story, and allow the consumer to see products at first glance instead of having to click through to internal pages. Each click your user has to take on their way to a conversion can cost you traffic. As a priority, focus on an engaging image above the fold (not from a stock library!), supported with a clear tagline that sets your store proposition apart from the competition. 


3. Seamless Navigation

Too many ecommerce sites overcomplicate the user journey from landing page to product page to checkout, especially on mobile. Finding the right product through the use of filters and dropdown menus is half the challenge. Making it easy for customers to return to a previous page to amend their order without having to start from scratch is the other half. Keep navigation simple and seamless with an uncluttered top navigation bar, pop-up side navigation bars on each product page, and lightboxes or scrolling feeds that let users take a quick glance without losing their place. 

Periodically conduct user testing to ensure the navigation makes as much sense as you think it does. Hire internal UX/UI (user experience and user interface) specialists or bring on a month-to-month agency for short term UX/UI  audits. Check all links regularly too to remove broken or expired 401 and 301 error messages. 


4. Smart Search Features

For 43% of shoppers, their session begins with the search bar. Yet many are underwhelmed, either because the site doesn’t even offer a search feature, or because it requires the exact phrase to be entered in order to deliver a result. Build out the back end with granular product features and attributes so that customers can find what they need without having to know what they want. 


5. Emotional Connections

Is there a place for emotion in ecommerce? We’d argue that there’s hardly room for anything else. If your product or service doesn’t strike an emotional connection with your customer, they’ll keep on scrolling. Here’s how to strike a chord that converts:

  • Use a color palette that suits your brand. Canva has some interesting color psychology tricks to share here
  • Establish a brand tone of voice and mission statement that is consistent across email, landing pages, and social media. 
  • Speak to your consumer personally. eCommerce content should never be corporate. Make it human and engaging. 
  • Show your target customer in your imagery. As you grow, you can even share user-generated content to build a community. 


6. Promotional Messaging

Make sure to place the priority elements for holding visitors’ attention, like sales, discounts, VIP/rewards programs, new stock, clearance items, etc. in a prominent place on the homepage. It has to be the first thing the customer sees.

Setting up a good mousetrap, such as a pop-up sign with an email capture for the newsletter will also help with conversions. The latest growing trend in ecommerce is the “try before you buy” feature, especially within the fashion and accessories market. This can be executed in a variety of ways, which will make you just as competitive as brick-and-mortar stores. This allows online stores to provide a service that is often missed in online shopping. Execution wise, you can create a free shipping and returns policy that will allow customers to experience a “try before you buy” feel. 


7. Consistent Branding

Today’s ecommerce landscape is an omnichannel experience. Your ecommerce web design has to match the look and tone of your email marketing, social media content, and even unboxing experience, while also working the same across desktop, tablet, and mobile. Customers trust retailers that present a unified face across both online and physical stores. This can be achieved by using the same color schemes, tone, fonts, etc. Creating a native app to ease the experience can also help conversion. 


8. Social Media Integration

TikTok is the latest social media platform to allow direct purchases from ecommerce brands without having to leave the social media platform they were scrolling through. Brands should still prioritize their owned channels, however, while encouraging users to broadcast their experience on social channels. That means giving them the links and icons they need to share, tag, comment, and review. Social media might offer a conventional route for attracting new customers to your store, but it’s also an essential tool for empowering existing customers to serve as ambassadors for your brand online among their network. 


9. Progress and Momentum

In both the online and brick-and-mortar world, customers become frustrated when they can’t find what they’re looking for, can’t pay the way they want, and don’t know how far they are from the finish line. A simple progress bar can keep them moving down the pipeline. Keep in mind that the average abandoned cart rate for ecommerce stores stands at almost 70%. Take inspiration from Amazon and do everything to show your customer how many more steps are left, what extra costs are involved, and what other options are available if they want to change their order. Live chat and FAQ can also be valuable in answering questions and overcoming any last-minute objections. 

Going beyond basic usability rules to provide the human experience that online shoppers crave will go a long way conversions-wise. Getting positive, impactful user experiences plays a major role in not only new customer acquisition, but in long term customer retention and returning customers.

Let the web design experts at Hawke Media join your team on a month-to-month basis to enhance all the components listed above to maximize your website’s design and effectiveness. We make great marketing accessible to all.

free consultation banner