If you’re not onboard with eCommerce by 2019, it’s a wonder you’re still in business; more and more of our shopping is moving online. This year, 3.53 trillion USD (or about 10% of the money in the entire world) moved through online retailers, and it looks like the online space is only going to take a greater share of revenue in the future.
And of course, an attractive storefront is key to securing conversions and retaining customers. You wouldn’t shop at a store with dripping pipes and rats running around between the aisles, and customers don’t stick around at eCommerce stores with subpar design. Many business owners don’t take design seriously enough, and then get very confused when their online store fails to take off.
Don’t worry, though: we’re here to help. Here are five top tips to help you take your eCommerce design to the next level.
#1: Find the Right Balance for Video
2015 was a strange year, and one of its defining trends was that everything was video. It didn’t go quite as well as expected. Which isn’t to say eCommerce video is bad, simply that it was oversold and needs to be deployed intelligently rather than slapped down over everything like you’re putting marinara sauce on a pizza. Video isn’t here to save you: it’s a tool that needs to be used precisely to be effective.
We personally recommend no more than one video per page, and make sure the video has a purpose: video shouldn’t be obligatory, and if it doesn’t enhance the page, then it needs to go. Videos should be unobtrusive, and shouldn’t autoplay. If you’re on a budget, creating an inline youtube product video is a great way to show off your products in a way that’s actually relevant to the page.
#2: Cialdini’s Principles of Persuasion
The traditional marketers amongst you will probably have heard of one, but I’m always amazed by how many people haven’t. Cialdini’s 1984 book Influence: the Psychology of Persuasion is a must-read for any marketing or design professional, and is on so many college reading lists for a reason. I highly recommend that you read the entire book, but here’s a digest if you’re busy, with how to relate it to design.
- Reciprocity: when people get things, they’re more likely to buy things. In design terms, this means not hiding away your free content: too many sites bury their free stuff, without realising that it’s a huge driver of sales. A huge number of users will only be on your site at all for the free things, but that’s fine, because it means more visitors, more traffic, and higher overall sales; if 10,000 new visitors show up and only one of them buys something, that’s one sale more than you would’ve had otherwise. Make your free content easy to find.
- Scarcity: if something is rare, people want it more. This means LIMITED TIME ONLY sales, ONLY THREE LEFT inventory notifications, all that jazz. Make these notices hard to miss, and trigger your customers’ FOMO reflex.
- Authority: people are more likely to buy from someone who looks like they know what they’re doing. In eCommerce design terms, this means looking the part: the website of a major law firm is going to look different from a local florist, and it’s important that you design to expectations. This principle also means displaying awards and qualifications in ways that help build customer trust.
- Consistency: people tend to be consistent—if they’ve done something for you in the past, they’re more likely to do something for you in the future. This is part of why newsletters and other signups are great: not only are they a way to stay on your customers’ radar, they represent a very minor commitment that gives you a foot in the door for later commitments. Don’t be afraid of the newsletter signup popup! Don’t be afraid to ask customers to create an account, or like/share content.
- Liking: if people like you, they’re more likely to buy from you. This is a big part of why a lot of modern brands have started building more down-to-earth social media presences, and it’s why you should try to develop friendly, approachable design. People like friendly people, and people buy things from people they like. Simple.
- Consensus: if people see other people doing a thing, they’re more likely to do it yourself. This is where the term ‘social proof’ comes from. This means making things like reviews and other customer-driven content easy to find and presented as attractively as possible.
#3: Keep it Simple
One rookie mistake from newbie eCommerce designers is that they throw everything they have at a page, and end up with a jumbled mess. Especially if you’re new to design, stick to 2–3 colours, 1–2 typefaces, one major visual element per page. Each page should have an identity, and everything about your design should reinforce that identity.
Your About Us page? That’s about you. Your contact page? That’s about how to contact you. It seems obvious, but it’s something a lot of rookie designers trip over: they’re trying to squeeze as much as possible out of each page and they end up creating a confused mess. Each page has a purpose and that purpose should be able to be expressed as a single sentence; any element that doesn’t support that purpose needs to go.
#4: Optimize Your Images
Load times are one of the single biggest killers of conversions, and poorly-optimized images are one of the main culprits for long load times. This is especially bad in eCommerce, since we’re so reliant on visual elements to communicate what our products are. Understanding image optimization is critically important if you don’t want people checking out of your site before they even get to view it.
Going back to point #3, less is often more—having dozens of images on each page is bad from a technical perspective, but it’s also often visually unappealing, since the viewer’s eye doesn’t know where to go. Your keyword here is elegance: the art of knowing exactly how much you need to make things look beautiful.
#5: Have a Mantra
It might sound a little vague fluffy, but you need a one sentence mission statement that you’d feel comfortable printing above the door, and you need it to guide all your design decisions. At the end of the day almost any aesthetic is workable, if it feels coherent with itself. Having a single through-line you can fall back on will give everything a sense of direction and togetherness that will be anything but vague for end-users.
Really, it’s about having an identity: if there’s a kernel that all your design is built around, it’s easier for viewers to understand and is more likely to make them fall in love with your business.
And that’s us for today! With these five techniques, you’re sure to enhance your eCommerce design, and have the edge on your competition. Good luck, and good sales. If you need an eCommerce Web Design team to help you with this, try CodeClouds’ web design team in Fort Wayne.