What You Need to Know About Designing Your Online Store

eCommerce is perhaps the greatest modern tool for small businesses trying to branch out. However, building an online store can be daunting, especially for those who lack design skills. The good news is that there are plenty of simple, intuitive platforms available for business owners these days, and they often come at a minor cost.

Thanks to platforms like Shopify and Magento, building an eCommerce site from scratch couldn’t be easier. However, many still shy away from the prospect of designing a selling site for fear of getting it wrong. So, what is “good” website design and how can you achieve it?

What Makes “Good” Website Design?

Good website design usually goes unnoticed, allowing the products to shine. Bad website design will leave users frustrated, however, resulting in higher bounce rates and more shopping cart abandonment.

In other words, your online store doesn’t just need to look good – it also needs to function seamlessly and keep your audience engaged.

This means an eCommerce site should flow from one page to the next, allowing the customer to navigate without being distracted by design features. It also means your website should evoke a particular mood that reflects your brand and audience.

The best eCommerce websites know the importance of marrying form (how the site looks) and function (how it works). To achieve a well-designed store, you need to focus on both. This sounds easy enough, but how does it look in action?

Top Design Features for eCommerce Sites

Every business is different. Therefore, every eCommerce site will look and feel different from the last. However, this doesn’t mean you should flout the rules of good design. There are certain features that successful online stores have in common, including:

• Accessibility

Your website should not only be accessible on a laptop or desktop computer. It also needs to be compatible with mobile devices. Considering that 62% of smartphone users have made a purchase on their phones in the last six months (as of Sept 2018), you cannot afford not to be mobile-compatible.

Most eCommerce platforms have mobile-compatibility built in. However, you still need to consider mobile users when designing your site. You can do this by making sure your site has plenty of visual content and tap-buttons, and that your phone numbers and contact information is in text rather than image form. Better yet, you can link your phone number directly to “call” buttons or FaceTime, so there’s no “copy and paste” required.

• Load Speed

Online shopping is all about convenience. Therefore, if it’s not easy for your customers to buy from you online, they’re going to go elsewhere. Bear in mind that the average user will only wait 3 seconds for a page to load before navigating away from your site. Slow page speed will directly impact your sales, and with so many brands competing for business online, you can’t afford to lag behind.

According to data from Unbounce, there is more than $18 billion worth of shopping carts abandoned a year on eCommerce websites. What’s more, 18% of those abandoned carts are because of slow page-load time.

To combat shopping cart abandonment, make sure you test your load speed regularly and that you’re operating on an “https” rather than an “HTTP” domain.

• Color Scheme

Statistics show that 85% of shoppers place color as a primary reason for why they buy a particular product. Color directly influences mood. Therefore, the color scheme of your site could not be more important.

Take Coca-Cola for example. Their pillar-box red branding is no accident. The color red triggers emotional responses like excitement, boldness, love, and passion. These are the feelings Coca-Cola wants people to associate with its soda.

When designing your site, you want the colors used on your site to reflect your brand, but you don’t want to overdo it. Remember that the functioning of your store is just as important as how it looks.

• Easy Checkout

Making improvements to your checkout process is perhaps the most crucial part of designing your site. Once you’ve got customers to the shopping cart, you don’t want to lose them.

To make it easy for your customers to check out, you should remove all distractions from your checkout page, allow “guest” checkouts (so customers don’t have to sign up first) and test and analyze your checkout process regularly.

Which Platform is Best for My eCommerce Site?

When it comes to building your eCommerce site, the right eCommerce platform can make all the difference. There are various providers out there offering different design and programming features, but Shopify and Magento are considered two of the best.

Here are some of the pros and cons of each:

• Shopify

Shopify is the largest, most utilized eCommerce platform on the web, with more than $46 billion worth of sales worldwide.

One of the main benefits of Shopify is that it is continually evolving to keep up with the latest technology. The platform has recently broken ground with powerful additions such as Social Shopping. Using this feature, customers don’t even need to leave their social media platform to buy products online. Shopify can also be integrated directly with your Facebook account, making it easier for users to buy from you.

Shopify is also cost-effective, starting at $29 to $299 per month. With a range of free and paid design templates, it’s also easy for beginners to create a professional-looking site. Shopify also offers 24/7 support for everything from technical problems to design. There is also an excellent community forum, which can be especially useful for beginners.

The most prominent downside is “Liquid,” Shopify’s own coding language, which requires eCommerce store owners to pay an incremental price for customization. This makes it more difficult (and expensive) to make your store entirely unique.

“Getting a quality website is not an expense, but rather an investment,” Dr. Christopher Dayagdag, CEO, Marketlink Web Solutions.

• Magento

Magento is a popular open-source eCommerce platform. Its reliability and scalability have made it one of the most popular eCommerce platforms available today, especially for growing businesses. However, Magento is not for everyone, especially if you are not a programmer and you don’t have a developer working alongside you.

Magento is an excellent choice for companies with a high volume of products. It also has far more customization features than Shopify. However, it can be more complicated to use, and it comes with a steeper price tag, as well as additional programming costs. Although the basic version is free, you’ll need to shell out at least $20,000/year for an enterprise solution.

To Conclude

eCommerce design isn’t just about how your website looks. Although your color scheme, layout, and fonts are important, good design is also about responsiveness, accessibility, and ease of use. The most beautifully designed website in the world is no good if the checkout doesn’t work.

Having an eCommerce site where the function doesn’t meet the form will only frustrate customers and cause them to click away. However, when it comes to designing your store, you don’t have to go it alone. The right eCommerce solution will help you strike a balance between seamless functionality and great design, so you never lose an online customer again.

Timothy Kelly

Timothy Kelly

Chief Editor at SmallbizStar
Tim has been a writer for over 20 years covering financial markets and small business.

In addition to writing about the financial markets, Mr. Kelly writes extensively about digital marketing and SEO.

Mr. Kelly attended Boston College where he studied English Literature and Economics, and also attended the University of Siena, Italy where he studied studio art.

Mr. Kelly has been a decades-long community volunteer in his hometown of Long Island where he established the community assistance foundation, Kelly's Heroes. He has also been a coach of Youth Lacrosse for over 10 years. Prior to volunteering in youth sports, Mr. Kelly was involved in the Inner City Scholarship program administered by the Archdiocese of New York.

Before creating ForexTV, Mr, Kelly was Sr. VP Global Marketing for Bridge Information Systems, the world’s second largest financial market data vendor. Prior to Bridge, Mr. Kelly was a team leader of Media at Bloomberg Financial Markets, where he created Bloomberg Personal Magazine.

Contact Tim tim.kelly@smallbizstar.com
Timothy Kelly

Timothy Kelly

Tim has been a writer for over 20 years covering financial markets and small business. In addition to writing about the financial markets, Mr. Kelly writes extensively about digital marketing and SEO. Mr. Kelly attended Boston College where he studied English Literature and Economics, and also attended the University of Siena, Italy where he studied studio art. Mr. Kelly has been a decades-long community volunteer in his hometown of Long Island where he established the community assistance foundation, Kelly's Heroes. He has also been a coach of Youth Lacrosse for over 10 years. Prior to volunteering in youth sports, Mr. Kelly was involved in the Inner City Scholarship program administered by the Archdiocese of New York. Before creating ForexTV, Mr, Kelly was Sr. VP Global Marketing for Bridge Information Systems, the world’s second largest financial market data vendor. Prior to Bridge, Mr. Kelly was a team leader of Media at Bloomberg Financial Markets, where he created Bloomberg Personal Magazine. Contact Tim tim.kelly@smallbizstar.com