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6 ecommerce web design principles you need to know about

Andy Thorne
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For successful online retailing, having a truly unique website that reflects your brand is vital. However, do the best performing eCommerce sites share common factors? We look at 6 ecommerce web design principles you need to know.

The variables involved in creating buoyant sales for your eCommerce venture are numerous and diverse. Largely as you’re dealing with consumer behaviour, and the many things that influence purchasing decisions.

How consumers respond to your individual products is pivotal. Is what you sell attractive enough to give you a competitive edge?

However, the truth is that your ability to be convincing in selling your products – influencing and persuading consumers – rests on how well your website is designed. You could have a mind-blowing product range and still fail if your digital marketing lets you down.

To help online retailers, here are 6 ecommerce web design principles that require your urgent attention!

1.Hicks Law

Giving site users one too many options can increase decision making time, and they click away

If this makes website design sound scientific, it’s with good reason. Drilling down on how your target customers react, think and behave involves sociology, psychology and a few other ‘ologies’ at times.

User-centric website design focuses on exactly what you need to say to inform, educate, influence and persuade the consumers likely to buy your products.

When laying out your product pages, you need to consider Hick’s Law. This principle is also sometimes referred to as Hick–Hyman law, as it’s based on a study conducted by British and American psychologists with those names.

They chartered the length of time it takes to make a choice. It became clear that the more choices you give someone, the longer they take to make a decision. Perfectly logical but when you apply that to website design, you have a matter of seconds to sell your products. If you give site users too many choices, the decision is too lengthy, and they click away.

One of Factory Pattern’s mantras is that simple, high-quality eCommerce pages sell. Eliminate distractions and focus on compelling product descriptions.

2.Don’t make users think

the usability of your site should be at the forefront of design decision making

Continuing the theme of how fleeting consumer attention is, and how well simple websites work, your page design needs to make decision-making quick and easy.

For more background to this, Steve Krug’s ‘Don’t Make Me Think’ book is fascinating. It shows how the first law of usability is to make your site obvious and self-explanatory.

That must include having a responsive website, that performs seamlessly on any device, and which helps users navigate directly to the product they seek. Then, they should be able to transition to your checkout page with as little conscious effort as possible.

3.Website focus

Don’t make it hard for users to understand what you are selling, be clear, crisp and concise

If you’ve invested in the cost of an ecommerce website, you want to get your money’s worth by packing in lots of products and selling messages. There’s nothing wrong with that, as long as your website is well structured, with products properly categorised, described, supported by SEO and also searchable on your site. All focused around a clear brand.

Each page needs a clear intention and brand positioning that’s totally unambiguous. At one glance, users should be able to see what you are offering, and why they need to buy it.

4.Visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is ensuring you are displaying the most important information to your customers in the correct order to achieve a goal e.g conversions, page clicks

To create successful ecommerce websites, this is another core design principle you need to know. Visual hierarchy is a concept developed in psychology. When you look around, some things will instantly attract your attention, while other elements will be ignored.

This shows your mind creates a hierarchy of importance – things you look for, as they matter to you.

Website designs that support strong lead conversion use a proper visual hierarchy for your target audiences.

5.Grid-based layout

Remember, your customers have a short attention span so keep them gripped with your a simple grid formation

This is another ecommerce web design principle to take seriously if your tendency is to cram as much as possible on to your pages. To match your site users’ short attention spans – and hunger for instant affirmation that your products are of value – your page architecture is crucial.

The best ecommerce pages work on a grid system, with content organised in a way that makes it effortless to visually scan. The ‘meat’ of your brand statements should be above the fold too (top half of the page).

6.Load time

You can optimise your site in several areas to keep the page speed low, such as image file sizes

We will keep this quick. If your website is slow to load, or clunky to navigate around, you will lose site visitors fast. It’s estimated that almost half of website users expect pages to load in just two seconds. Can you promise that?

How to measure your website design

The ultimate assessment tool you have is your website traffic, lead conversion rate and sales value. Poor sales suggest you’ve overlooked a fundamental website design principle, and your User Experience is flawed.

We can evaluate your website and suggest repairs, upgrades and eCommerce design principles to get your sales up.