So, you are all set to start an eCommerce business. With mixed feelings of excitement, impatience, and confusion, you must be thinking about the first major decision to take- your eCommerce website design and development.
Trust me, the first few initial decisions while setting up an eCommerce business are damn crucial. They can either take your business to the sky or make you experience that free fall from the very same sky. Developing your eCommerce website is one such crucial decision.
The confusion from choices
With so many options and easy eCommerce solutions in the market, it’s obvious to feel the temptation of choosing any one of them and start that eCommerce website ASAP. However, it’s really hard to tell that the particular eCommerce solution can even offer you the functionality you want; at least until you check it by yourself.
Some popular eCommerce solutions in the market
- Drupal Commerce
- Zen Cart etc.
But what would you check in these solutions from the design perspective? This article will guide you for the very same. We have prepared a list of every basic requirement of an eCommerce website design as of 2017 standards. These features should be necessarily there on your website. Apart from your custom requirements, these basic features will ensure that your website keeps running smoothly and keeps making the money for you.
So let’s start the list now
1. A clear navigation
To purchase your products via your eCommerce website, the customers must first find their desired products on it. The easier is the process for finding a product, the more is the chances of their conversion. This can first be assured through a well-organized navigation on the website.
A good navigation will always allow the visitors to move easily from pages to pages, products to products, categories to categories and so on. However, the larger your website becomes, the more difficult it get’s for the developers to keep the navigation unambiguous. But, it’s ultimately a crucial requirement and your website should always offer a quick and predictable navigation system.
This brings me to the next point that is also important from the website navigation point of view.
2. The website search
E-Commerce website search is an element that is often treated with least priority unlike the landing pages, email marketing, and SEO etc. There are two reasons for that:
– Website owners think that default website search is enough
– Website owners push this task for some other time
Any of these two reasons are not strong enough to treat website search with the lowest priority ever. You must have seen the website search functionality on popular eCommerce sites like Amazon, Etsy, eBay, and Alibaba. Have you ever thought how these big sites manage to return instant and quick results for whatever search string you type in? Why the search made for big brands like Apple return the search results so fast?
It’s because they do not depend on the generic search functionalities, and they know how to use the website search to boost the conversions.
It’s understandable that you are not Amazon and you don’t have enough budget to manage a dedicated team to work on your website search. However, there are eCommerce service providers who have dedicated website search improvement experts and they can help you in your case as well.
Moreover, there are several ways to improve the website search by making some simple tweaks all by yourself. Use these website search improvement tweaks to get a standard eCommerce website feature as per 2017’s requirements.
3. Easiest eCommerce checkout
The standard of checkout processes on eCommerce has changed a lot over the past few years. As of 2017, checkout pages have been optimized over and over to present the easiest shopping experience to the customers.
Today, if your website runs an inefficient checkout process, you will provide a pool of reasons to your customers for abandoning your shopping cart. Check out this stat from baymard institute which shows that most of the reasons for shopping cart abandonment are due to a fault on the checkout page itself.
It’s necessary to avoid these checkout faults as far as possible and make your checkout process a smooth ride. Leverage the checkout page optimization tips from the experts and decide to integrate an efficient checkout process that does not only eliminate the checkout page anomalies but also give more opportunities to drive better conversions.
You can use a One Page checkout model to make your checkout process faster, easier, and conversion friendly, and of course, to avoid the shopping cart abandonment as well.
4. A well-organized Homepage
The homepage is the most important part on any type of eCommerce store. It is a place where customers might come clueless, but still find the desired product through a proper guidance.
As a shopper, sometimes you might not have an idea of what you want to purchase, and simply open your shopping application just to window shop. You might open the app and discover some tempting deals showing on the homepage, or a featured product that you have been looking for a long time, or anything else.
This is what most of the shoppers do. They look for the better deals and better opportunities to shop. Your website’s home page is the one element that can help you win such customers. By featuring products, categories, deals, and other important notifications on the home page, you can guide the shopper to your conversion funnel.
The most effective shopping websites in 2017 never fail to use a large home page where they can show and promote current sales, new arrivals, products rating, deal of the day, flash sale, member’s only deals, and much more. These features on the home page act as an easy navigation link to guide the shoppers on the right page on the website.
This is how Fab has designed it’s home page to feature everything important from the conversion point of view.
As you can see in the image, it’s a long home page. Although it’s long, it’s nice and the website designers have put the featured products at proper placement which does not only makes the page complete but also improves the navigation.
5. Images for multiple purposes
“A picture is worth a thousand words”. It’s just a saying, but it completely fits your eCommerce website. You can find images on almost every website you visit on the internet. Especially, when it comes to eCommerce websites, you will need images for multiple purposes, and each purpose has its own critical significance:
For example, you can find the images like these on every eCommerce website:
- Product images
- Category images
- Home page banner images
- Home page deals images
- Landing page images
- Website blog images and much more.
When you are running an eCommerce website in 2017, you cannot afford to omit the use of images for sure, neither you can afford to commit these deadly mistakes in the image usage.
You have multiple options to get the images for your eCommerce website. Think a little from conversion front and use the images to:
- Optimize your website’s shopping experience
- Guide shoppers to understand the product with an image
- Provide multiple angle view of the product to explain it better
- Explain the content of your blog post and attract shoppers
6. Responsive website design
In the half past journey through the year 2017, we have seen how mobiles are gradually coming to the mainline and suppressing the number of users on the desktop devices. Especially in eCommerce section, they have already suppressed the number of requests from the desktops.
Even Google has shown multiple signs that Mobile Optimization is the next big thing that Google wants from the websites in 2017. Mobile’s have become a standard today. If your website is not mobile friendly, you will remain at disadvantage both on CRO and SEO point of view.
Users (on mobile) will not like to shop on a website which cannot even adapt its pages as per the devices screen size. Moreover, if you are presenting the same desktop version to a mobile customer, I can bet you will have zero conversions and 100% bounce rate on mobile at least.
Can’t say, if customers once visited the mobile site will ever return to your desktop site or else go to some other responsive site for an easier shopping experience.
You need to go mobile with your eCommerce website. There are three options that are used nowadays to make the website’s mobile friendly. You can use any of these:
Responsive- The same site as on desktop is served to the mobile users as well. The mobile site and desktop site will have the same URL. The difference is, there are responsive design codes that make the pages to adapt the whole design according to the device’s screen size.
Separate mobile version- In this approach, you create a separate mobile site for your eCommerce site. Here the mobile site and desktop site will have different URLs. You will design a completely mobile focused site with all the mobile friendly design standards and host it on your sub-domain.
If your desktop site URL is “random1site.com”, the mobile site URL will look something like “m.random1site.com”. Here “m” means mobile. All the separate mobile sites have an URL under the corresponding desktop site’s sub-domain.
Mobile first Design: The third approach says that you should design the mobile site first and then make it responsive to the desktops.
Designing for the mobile first approach requires a comprehensive planning about how it will be used on mobile devices and how it will be made usable on the desktop devices. It also raises a question that if any element is not needed on the mobile, then would it be wise to put on the desktop version?
Over to you
An eCommerce website in 2017 will ask you for many things. However, out of those, if you can feed these 6 requirements successfully, you will have a website that can survive and compete with other websites on the internet. Do not confuse these points for conversion optimization, as you will always need to perform the CRO as well as SEO to keep kicking. You have a long way to go on SEO and CRO front after developing your website. However, you will experience an easier path if you have already done these 6 implementations.
Author Bio: Ethan Roy is a Magento extension developer at knowband with years of experience on various eCommerce developments. He loves to share the knowledge with his readers and regularly writes about various eCommerce and Magento related topics.