This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
A good ecommerce website design is critical when building your online store, as it attracts potential customers, provides an enjoyable user experience, and increases sales. Designing for ecommerce differs from building a regular website as it involves highlighting products and creating a seamless buying experience for your customers.
We outline the 10 best practices for ecommerce website design, along with examples, to take your online store to the next level.
1. Make Your Site Mobile-responsive or Mobile-first
Ecommerce website design should be planned with a mobile-first perspective. With some three-fourths of ecommerce shopping coming from mobile commerce (mcommerce), it is imperative that your ecommerce website builder provides mobile-responsive (if not mobile-first) templates. Responsive templates display consistently across all devices (from tablets to smartphones) and deliver an equally great on-site experience—with zero to minimal design constraints.
- Provide a consistent shopping experience across different browsers and devices.
- Ensure that your website sections’ padding and margins do not disappear on smaller screens. Moreover, font sizes and line spacing should adjust automatically to the amount of white space on the screen.
- Your website should also load fast, as mobile shoppers are more likely to purchase from sites or apps that help them make purchases quickly. For example, Google found that a 0.1-second improvement of mobile site speed improved retail conversion rates by 8.4%.
TIP: When viewing your ecommerce website, be sure to view it from several different devices and operating systems.
Examples of Mobile-first Ecommerce Website Design
The Elf on the Shelf mobile site makes its wide selection of products visible on its homepage. But instead of displaying several products that can be confusing from a mobile device, it packaged each category into a large, appealing featured image—with text describing the goal of the product in each buyer’s journey.
Frederick’s makes it easy for customers to buy on their mobile devices. It displays a search bar prominently, has clearly defined call-to-action (CTA) buttons for its limited offers, and even employs an add-to-wishlist feature right beside its cart icon. Notice that customers can contact its support team quickly by clicking on the Help icon toward the bottom of the screen
2. Keep It Simple
Approach ecommerce website design with a shopper’s perspective. Can you find what you need quickly or with fewer clicks? A good ecommerce website is easy to browse, easy to digest, and makes every element purposeful. Keep your website design clean, clean, and simple—focusing on obtaining a sale and providing a positive buying experience for your customer.
- Utilize white space, limit your website colors to no more than three per page, and employ simple and readable fonts.
- Make content scannable. Use headers and break up content into an easy-to-scan format with bullets, short paragraphs, and bold typeface to focus on crucial information.
- When using a grid layout for displaying products, we recommend limiting a row to display up to three or four products only to maximize its visual appeal.
- Eye-tracking studies of website visitors have historically shown that they usually follow an E or F formation when viewing a site. Use this as a basis to drive them to the primary conversion points of your website, such as CTA buttons or navigation menus.
Examples of Simple, Effective Ecommerce Website Design
Pilgrim designed its ecommerce site with its target audience in mind, employing a clean and modern website design that communicates the products’ theme with beautiful packaging and photography that keeps you interested in buying.
3. Provide User-friendly Navigation
Convenience is the top reason people shop online and, not surprisingly, one of the main reasons for shopping cart abandonment. A good ecommerce website design should enable your customers to find what they need easily, and it starts with user-friendly and effective navigation. This usually helps propel a customer from browsing your online store to purchasing.
Navigation refers to all the website elements that help users get to specific information on your website. This includes header navigation menu, product category pages, on-site search, product filters, and website footers.
- Your brand logo should lead to the homepage and always remain in sight, no matter how deep the user goes.
- Display your main navigation menu on top of your website and have well-organized website sections.
- Include a search bar with an auto-complete feature or relevant filters.
- Have a CTA button on each website page, especially the homepage.
- Enable filtering by size, color, brand, etc., especially if you have an extensive product catalog.
- Activate breadcrumbs on your product pages. Breadcrumbs allow users to return to several product categories and subcategories—and can serve as an expansion of the search.
Examples of User-friendly Navigation
Home Science Tools guides its visitors to products they need by displaying product categories and search filters (age, interest, and topic) prominently on its website. It also provides dropdown categories in its main navigation and displays a search bar in its header menu. Busy parents would not find it hard to look for what they need on this ecommerce website quickly.
Revelry provides excellent category navigation that allows its customers to search and discover different dress styles, materials, and colors.
TIP: Don’t forget about context when planning your ecommerce website design. For example, if your store has thousands of products, the priority should center around how convenient the search and navigation functions are. However, if your store has only around a hundred products or less on display, you can prioritize design and even remove the search bar altogether.
4. Use High-quality Images
High-quality images increase conversion—as much as 40% for 360-degree product photos—so it’s vital to put them into the spotlight, especially with product images. Customers want to see a product from as many angles as possible before buying. Providing clean, high-quality, and actual product photos also helps build trust and confidence between you and your customers.
- Create slideshows on your product pages that allow customers to view your product from different angles.
- Consider enabling a zoom or 360-degree photo feature on your images so customers can zoom in and see fine details.
- Make sure that your images are optimized for the web. Some high-quality images take a long time to load. Choose an ecommerce website builder that compresses and optimizes your images automatically for easy website viewing.
- Use lifestyle images of people using or interacting with your products whenever possible. For example, clothing products are more appealing when worn by a model instead of photographed flat on a surface or a mannequin.
TIP: Learn how to take quality product photos at home with our photography tips.
Examples of High-quality Images
This recreation apparel brand incorporates lifestyle photography with product photos, providing customers with images of how the items look indoors and outdoors. Notice how these clothing pieces are shot at different angles when worn.
Online jewelry store Marke makes sure to use eye-catching and emotionally appealing photos. It provides high-quality images of its wedding rings to showcase its details―with its product pages offering slideshow images and a zoom-in feature―and gives a glimpse of how the rings look when worn.
5. Use Color to Your Advantage
Applying color psychology principles in your ecommerce website design can help with conversion. Using color and imagery can inspire and motivate a person to take action, as studies show using red, for example, in CTA buttons can increase click-through rates by up to 34%.
- Choose colors that are consistent with your branding.
- Have website colors that pass accessibility guidelines.
- Follow the 60-30-10 design rule even in using color throughout your website—60% dominant color, 30% of secondary color, and 10% for accent colors.
Examples of Effective Use of Color
This spa-powered skincare brand effectively uses color to appeal to its primary buyers visually. It uses three colors throughout its website—millennial pink, baby blue, and Gen-Z yellow—giving off the funky and friendly brand they want to impart
Skullcandy’s website has always been a frontrunner for showcasing brand identity and design. It is a terrific example of using color effectively—using appropriate colors to evoke emotions based on its products’ target audience. The website is also easy to use and provides an engaging customer experience for its visitors.
6. Create an Easy & Seamless Checkout Experience
Unexpected shipping costs, a complicated checkout process, and the need to create an account are three of the top five reasons for shopping cart abandonment. All of these revolve around the checkout process. Your checkout page design needs to be simple and easy to navigate. Make everything about the checkout process clear—price, shipping fees (if any), the information you need to process the purchase, and what to do if they need to do a return or encounter a problem with their order.
- Give your customers an option to check out as a guest or register for your website.
- Have your customers fill out as little information as possible—only get what is necessary for a purchase to push through.
- Be upfront with your shipping options and how much they will cost.
- Have clear return and refund policies on your checkout pages.
- Enable the one-click checkout option if the feature is available. For example, Shopify businesses can use Shop Pay.
- Provide as many payment options as possible—like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and buy now, pay later options.
- Guarantee site security by employing ecommerce security best practices and display security seals on your website pages.
Example of a Seamless Checkout Experience
Rothy’s is a fashion company specializing in handmade retail products from recycled materials. As you can see, Rothy’s checkout process is clear, simple, and streamlined.
We would like to highlight the features Rothy’s has implemented that make for a great and seamless checkout experience. Scroll through the images below:
7. Display Customer Reviews & Testimonials Strategically
When designing for ecommerce, look for ways to display the reviews and testimonials you’ve gotten from your existing customers to potential buyers. Use social proof, which we cover in our cross-selling tips article, to your advantage because the most effective recommendation type is what real customers ultimately buy.
The more website visitors see how other people have had a good shopping experience on your website, the more trustworthy you’ll appear—and ultimately, an increase in sales will result.
- Add a rating system to your ecommerce website design, and encourage buyers to leave honest reviews.
- Display a testimonials section on your homepage and product pages.
- Leverage user-generated content (UGC) by adding a widget or section of it to your site. This type of content serves as testimonials and proof of how real people are using your product.
Examples of Incorporating Customer Reviews
We like how Verve Coffee Roasters displays its five-star reviews on its shop page as part of product captions—along with the product name, price, and an add-to-cart link. When you click on the product page, you will see actual reviews left by customers.
8. Make It Easy for Customers to Reach You
Aside from making your site easy to navigate and your checkout process simple, you should also make it a priority to ensure your customers find it easy to reach you. Customers are more likely to purchase if they can reach support quickly if they run into any issues.
- Have a Contact Us page visible throughout your website—in your website’s main navigation and footer areas. Display your email address, phone number, and physical store location (and hours, if applicable).
- Add a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page to address common questions.
- Link to social media profiles, if there are any.
- Provide multiple ways to get in touch. Live chat and automated chatbots can help customers find and select the right products and increase sales conversions.
- Set clear timeframes when it comes to getting back to your customers.
Examples of Customer-friendly Communication Options
Vuarnet, an online eyewear store, makes it easy for customers to reach out by adding a chat button on their website. It also displays prominent links to its contact page and social media platforms in its website footer.
9. Be Consistent With Branding
Branding is your unique identifier and what makes you stand out from the competition. An ecommerce website is a significant part of a brand’s identity, and it should convey the same values that your products embody. Take time to define your brand and infuse that into your website design.
More importantly, you should present your brand consistently across all your platforms. For example, when visitors browse your website, then look at your social media channels like Instagram, the colors and messaging should be the same. If they reach out to your support team, its tone should be similar to that used on your website—conversational, casual, formal, etc.
By creating a distinctive brand that trickles down to your ecommerce design and shopping experience, you are securing your business’ spot as a favorite brand, one interaction at a time.
- Choose your logo, signature colors, and fonts well. Apply it to all your customer touchpoints.
- Match your ecommerce website design with your brand’s tone. For example, does your brand have a fun, light tone and evoke happiness in your customers? Then, your website design should have the same style and deliver the same emotions.
- Go with a website builder that allows you to customize your ecommerce website to reflect your branding.
Examples of Consistent Branding
Allbirds is a sustainable apparel store that speaks to eco-conscious shoppers, and its ecommerce website relays this branding message throughout. From its pictures and targeted language in its web copy―even its product categories are inspired by sustainable living―to the displayed Certified B Corporation certificate, it resonates with its branding.
Women’s designer boutique Hebe made sure that its branding design elements stayed consistent throughout. Notice how its color palette is reflected in highlighted sections, especially for products. We also noticed how it was intentional with the font it selected. It is unique and can help with brand recognition.
10. Optimize Product Pages
Products make ecommerce websites different from the usual websites. Keep your products front and center, which you can achieve by optimizing your product pages. Most of what we have discussed above—like navigation, social proof, easy checkout, and high-quality images—also applies to your product pages.
You need to remember that an optimized product page is designed to be found using search engines and, more importantly, to convert browsers into buyers.
Implement the following takeaways below to optimize your product pages.
- Add more than one image for your products, ideally from different angles or perspectives.
- Add keywords relevant to your product’s title and image alt tags.
- Incorporate videos, if helpful.
- Place the Buy Now button above the website fold and use striking color to make it stand out from the page.
- Have clear pricing.
- Write well-crafted product descriptions that align with your brand and appeal to your target audience’s language.
- Add social proof.
- Optional features: Add-to-wishlist or buy-later options, product recommendations (upsell or cross-sell)
Examples of Optimized Product Pages
Pure Cycles’ bicycle product pages strive hard to give an in-person shopping experience it delivers online. You can see close-up pictures of specific parts, learn its specs, read reviews, and even watch videos right from the product page. You can also view photos from actual people who use it. It gives you all the information you need to make an informed buying decision.
When Pinpaper Press noticed that most of its traffic referrals go straight to its product pages, it revised its strategy and optimized the copy and design of its product pages. It included its tagline on product pages and a simple overview of what you can do with its product packages.
A well-thought-of ecommerce website design helps increase sales. This is important as 42% of consumers say that they abandon websites with poor functionality. So, always begin with your customers in mind when designing an ecommerce website—make it easy for them to purchase (and for you to close a sale).
Apply our ecommerce design tips in building your online store and go with a website builder that allows you to customize and infuse your branding and give you native features to enable you to list and sell products easily.