eCommerce website design

The general eCommerce sales worldwide continue to reach new heights every day. To put these figures into perspective, in the first quarter of the year 2020, Amazon reported $53 billion worth of profits. You see, Amazon is just one of the many eCommerce companies and majorly operating in the United States.

China and the Eastern Countries have Alibaba and Taobao. Alibaba and Amazon are global franchises. However, they operate in some regions more than they do in others. For instance, Etsy is much used in The United Kingdom.

Looking at these outrageous numbers, and recognising that this will only increase as the industry further grows, we have to conclude that the platforms on which these companies use to reach their customers are substantially crucial.

eCommerce companies such as Jumia, Uber, eBay, and others use well-designed and properly developed websites specially crafted for this purpose. Such websites are created by experienced and versatile developers such as those we have here at Utopia.

Several factors determine the overall success of an eCommerce website including product quality, brand recognition, shipping costs, return policies, trustworthiness, and customer service. However, thoughtful user experience design is also key to providing customers with a satisfying, and seamless experience.

Here is a comprehensive eCommerce UX design guide to creating great eCommerce websites, complete with examples.

eCommerce website design

Trust and security

Firstly, before you get into designing a killer eCommerce website, you need to know this; a customer is likely to click on your site or make a purchase if and only if they are ensured of their security. With the rampant cases of cybercrime, who can blame them? This is why, while considering the task, build your framework and let it speak of security to earn the customer’s trust. Most people are ever concerned about their privacy online. If your site is vulnerable to identity theft, or data loss, customers will simply go to purchase elsewhere.

Your ideal site is one that shares or uses secure and trusted payment systems on the page. Below are some methods that that will help you communicate trustworthiness to customers;

  • Include an overview of the business:
  • General information
  • Photographs of people in management
  • Contact information
  • Links to social media
  • A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page
  • Publish store policies and make sure they are easily available:
  • Shipping and return policies
  • Outline the return process, what products can be returned, and after how long
  • Provide easy access to a privacy policy that covers shoppers’ personal and financial information
  • Write in plain language and avoid coined company terms or legal jargon.
  • Share product reviews.

Product reviews help visitors understand more about the product. It also serves to alleviate any concerns they may have about the product. Also, they provide excellent eCommerce UX.

  • Use a secure server. 

Buyers trust that while they shop, their identity and personal financial data is kept secure. The SSL certificates authenticate the identity of a website and encrypt information that needs to remain safe. Shoppers verify the presence of SSL certificates by the padlock sign that appears before the HTTPS search window. This is one of the SSL certificates badges that is essential in indicating checkouts are secure. It will serve you best if your customers are assured of secure tours in your virtual shop.

A trust seal verifies the legitimacy and security of a website. Some trust companies even add an extra layer of protection by offering some insurance if the transaction turns out to be fraudulent.

  • Prove legitimacy. 

Make the website look legitimate and professional by avoiding typos, missing images, broken links, 404 errors (page not found), or other eCommerce UX-killing mistakes.

The user interface (UI)

User interface entails the look and feels of your site. This is the main driver of the impressions and clicks that ultimately lead to conversions. So, before people settle for your products, they have to like your site first. How do you make them do that?

What to consider when building an attractive UI design

  • Make use of the brand identity. Your designs should depict the company’s identity. This means that the colours and brand themes need to be utilised at every stage and across all platforms, including desktop and mobile devices. Therefore, the branding should be apparent throughout the website. This will help build a strong brand-customer relationship.
  • Establish visual hierarchy. Your header above the fold should highlight critical content. For instance, if there are offers on discount. Eliminate layouts that will jeopardise your UI wireframe.
  • Do not overdo. Designs involve colour, font, size, etc.; while using these design formats, be careful to limit their utilisation and avoid over-designing. Also, use contrasting text and background colour to enhance clarity.
  • Use known symbols. Stick to standard symbols and icons in your user interface designs. This eliminates confusion and customer frustration.
  • Avoid pop-up windows. Pop-up windows are a distraction. They are more like ads. Even if they contain valuable information, customers are more than likely to dismiss them immediately. Use other means to carry your information across to shoppers.

Website navigation

 How easy a shopper moves around your website is determined by how best you design the navigation tools of the site. An ideal site has seamless and frictionless navigation. If this aspect is not taken care of, you risk having many prospective customers visiting the site and ending up leaving halfway through shopping.

Here are some key aspects of eCommerce website design for easy navigation

Well-defined product categories

The top part of the window page should contain clear, well-defined product categories that the brand offers. Also, under the categories, there should be subcategories and narrow them down to the products. For instance, under the main category containing electronics, you can add subcategories such as Television, Laptops, Mobile Phones, Home Appliances, etc.; the point is to group products into categories and subcategories that make sense. These elements of an eCommerce website should be in single words to make it easier for customers to filter through the products with ease. For instance, instead of mobile phones, you can use smartphones. And, on Home Appliances, you can just write Appliances, then make another sub-sub category to specify office or home.

One can only add to the cart what they can find. Simply put, if a product cannot be found from the list, it cannot be purchased. That is why you are recommended to create a product search function that helps shoppers easily find what they are looking for.

  • Put the search box on every page and in familiar locations; most search bots are located at the top right region or top right centre of a page.  The box should be visible, quickly recognisable, and easy to use.
  • Searches need to support all types of queries such as product names, categories, etc.
  • Include a search auto-complete functionality. This element makes it easier for visitors to find what they are looking for.
  • Allow sorting and filtering of results. Let buyers sort search results based on various criteria. Most criteria include price ranges, verified sellers, colour, brand, and rating.

Filtering goods

Since a virtual store keeps a wide range of goods, it may be difficult for shoppers who visit your page to pinpoint the product they are after. Your work is to minimise such challenges by designing a suitable wireframe that supports filtering, as we have indicated above.

Quick product view

Just like filters, a quick product view reduces the time a shopper takes to find the product they are after. In this window, you will find a brief description of the product. Ideally, you should not try to include all the item details. Also, be sure to include “Add to Cart” and “Save to Wishlist” buttons.

Offers

Buyers will always be enticed with special offers, discounts, and other good deals on display. Even with brand loyalty, customers will always find ways to earn points or take advantage of the discounts and deals on offer. Therefore, if you want more traffic, always display these deals for shoppers to know them. Even with slight price differences, the psychological sense of saving some money creates an illusion of having the upper hand.

eCommerce product page design

The fact is that your store is virtual. But, for an outstanding eCommerce UX, you will need to create an illusion of being in the actual physical store. You need to develop a page that informs about the product picked in detail, including the size, colour, etc. Also, you need lots of pictures to enhance the customer’s in-depth look into the product.  

Use catchy product images

Images try to reduce the distance of the product from the buyer. They do so by exhibiting all the product features. Here is how your imaging should be;

  • Use a white background. A white background resonates nicely with almost all colours and themes. Whatever the colour of the product is, you are sure it will stand out on a white background. You don’t want the product to be distracted in any way with the page background.
  • High-quality and large images. Good images sell the product and brand. High-quality images catch the buyers’ interest, while large ones show finer details of the product.  
  • Use a variety of images. Display the product from different angles and include close-ups to provide a more coherent picture of the product.
  • Use video. Images and videos serve the same purpose. The difference is, with a video, you can transmit more information over a short time compared to images.
  • Consistency. Use images that are consistent across multiple pages and are also in line with the look and feel of the rest of the website. This will keep everything looking clean and uncluttered.

I am selecting product options and adding the product to the cart.

A creative and attractive design brings shoppers to your marketplace. An excellent navigation tool gives them a great user experience which ultimately keeps them on the page. Catchy product images help them to shop. Now, the last step is adding the product to the cart and paying to complete the purchase.

Before that, however, buyers will want to know about product availability, options for a variety of sizes and colours, dimensions, size charts, materials used, total cost, warranties, etc.

Sales strategies

Employ persuasive design

Whenever commodities are scarce, people place a higher price tag on them. Using this analogy, create a sense of urgency with a particular product showing how scarce they are and how many they are left. The illusion that a particular good is scarce creates motivation for purchase and drives potential buyers to take action.

Increasingly, companies are using advanced psychological research to study consumer behaviour. This is an attempt to drive up purchases and traffic on their web pages. In this case, persuasive design is the most effective way to garner more engagements and purchases.

Show related and recommended products

This trick is mostly used by sellers to ensure most sales from an individual shopper. Display similar products that shoppers might also like that work well with the current product or those that others have purchased. This can be displayed on a product detail page or in the shopping cart and will help guide shoppers to the products that meet their needs, potentially encouraging them to continue shopping.

Shopping cart design

The cart is essential as it enables buyers to edit goods by reducing, increasing the quantity or eliminating some individual products. This is where clients make the final decision to pay for the goods. The card design should be consistent with the buyer expectations. It should be user-friendly and editable, among other design recommendations as listed below.

  • Use a clear call-to-action (CTA). The standard call to action is the checkout button on the seller page. While designing one, ensure it is clear and visible. Also, it should be clickable and distinguishable from the rest. Generally, your CTA should be easy to see, understand, and use.
  • Use a mini cart widget. Allow customers to add products to their cart without leaving the page they are on. It also allows them to navigate, discover, and add more products.
  • Display product details. Displaying details like product names, images, sizes, colours, and prices in the shopping cart helps the shoppers remember each product.
  • Make the cart easily editable.
  • Provide sufficient feedback.

Usually, customers abandon their carts when bombarded with unexpected extra costs in VAT and shipping. To avoid such occurrences, place shipping options and taxes with precise calculation of the costs and an expected delivery date upfront.

eCommerce Checkout Design

A stylish and trendy design does not determine the success of an eCommerce website, nor does it necessarily provide great eCommerce UX. eCommerce success is measured by the number of completed purchases. Here are a few ways to build a well-designed checkout page.

  • Offer a variety of payment options. Firstly, approved payment options such as PayPal, Alipay, and others boost your credibility to the customer. Secondly, you need to provide a variety to suit the client’s method of payment. For instance, a majority of people use PayPal for online transactions. If your business does not provide this option and is rigid with on, then you may be in trouble. Different shoppers have different preferences when it comes to making payments.
  • Keep it simple. Minimise the number of fields and steps to complete the purchase. Ideally, using the shipping address as a billing address by default is an excellent way to minimise the number of fields.
  • Make registration-optional. You cannot for a minute think when a customer makes an account with your brand that they will purchase and come again. It doesn’t work that way. In fact, forcing shoppers to create an account with you before proceeding to make a purchase only serves to drive the shoppers away.

Let your prospective customers register an account after completing a purchase. This is after you have given them a reason to. For instance, faster checkout having personal information saved such as shipping address or payment information and access to exclusive offers that are only available to registered members.

  • Give direction. When using a multi-page checkout, include a progress bar that shows how many more steps are left to complete the purchase. When the purchase is complete, display an order confirmation and order status with shipment tracking.
  • Offer support. Include a live chat or contact number throughout the checkout process, so when shoppers have concerns, they can quickly get assistance in real-time.

eCommerce UX for the mobile phone

With the retail industry experiencing unprecedented growth due to technological advancement and change in demographics such as population and logistics, a mobile phone has never been so important before. With the consumption market clicking billions, companies are lining up to claim chunks of this free market. A company in the United Kingdom will know what a customer in Kenya feels about their services and products with a click of a button. One in Australia can order a product from China and be delivered within a week or a month. A brand in south Africa can gain market traction in Malaysia within minutes of proper optimisation and robust marketing.

All these benefits accrue from there being a framework enabled by the internet. Considering the internet has been with us for more than two decades, and these numbers have only seen sizable growth in the recent past, there are other factors that have led to such an unprecedented market shift.

The introduction and consequent development of a smartphone, introduction of enabling wireframes, enhancing online security and introduction of robust and target-oriented marketing strategies are some of the factors to thank for.

Data shows a steady increase in eCommerce activities, and 2021 – 2021 reached an all-time high following the pandemic that condemned people to their homes. Further, it is reported that a big chunk of internet users, whether social or professional, use mobile phones. This, therefore, explains why big firms such as Google will always come up with ways to introduce marketing strategies in the available sites. For instance, Google ads on every available popular social media such as Instagram.

With the internet, the gap between brands and prospective clients is closed. There being no barriers leaves these firms to compete for market, hence the endless advertising you see every day. It is necessary, and such are the factors that help to grow eCommerce to new heights.

Since huge numbers of internet users are smartphone users, the mobile phone promises a substantial return on investment, ROI. This is true because you are sure of increased traffic on your site as well as more conversions. This is why brands have been at pace to build smartphone compatible websites to drive up their sales. Having said that, search engines such as google also require brands to develop mobile phone friendly websites, a failure to which your site ranks poorly in the SERPs.

How do you create a smartphone responsive website? How should you design your site? Here’s some insight:

Mobile eCommerce UX best practices

Mobile phone user experience is standard, straightforward and predictable. For instance, you know that when you pinch the screen then move outwards, the window is zoomed in. or, when you double-tap an image, it enlarges for clear vision. Such gestures and navigation are what customers expect to meet in mobile eCommerce. When designing a mobile-friendly site, such factors should be considered.

Support image zooming by pinching and double-tap gestures

As alluded to above, people are familiar with certain gestures such as double-tapping and pinching the screen to zoom into the content on it.  Since you are vending goods virtually, customers cannot get physical contact with the products they seek. It is therefore advoked to upload clear images taken from all angles of the good. Additionally, you should design the site such that it allows shoppers to zoom in on products.

Considering the small screen size of mobile devices, this is a platform-specific issue. Supporting at least one of these features is essential for the success of your brand.

Low-resolution images are the equivalent of no-zoom images. Users are interested in seeing the details of a product clearly and need high-resolution images to do so. Given that huge images may lag your eCommerce website, you have work to do to optimise this feature. Otherwise, the option to zoom in on a low-quality image is pretty much useless.

“Save” feature for the cart

Most shoppers are constrained by the size of the screen on their mobile devices. Therefore, they can add goods to the cart then proceed to a desktop to view them before they can check them out.

Essentially, they treat the cart, in this case, a Wishlist. Knowing the possibility of such enables the designer to add a “save” option so the customers won’t lose their data when they abandon the site on another device.

This feature reduces cart abandonments considerably, allowing brands to cash on their otherwise unlikely purchases.

Here are other ways companies can retain their prospective customers.

  • Make the cart work as a Wishlist by saving items added to the cart.
  • Create an option to allow buyers to receive notifications such as emails with saved items.

Use descriptive and well-labelled forms

An eCommerce website will ultimately require registration by providing your personal details such as address and payment particulars. As necessary as this information is worth obtaining to avoid confusion, one needs to consider the plight of the shopper. This is so because buyers will want to be fast and quickly close purchases, especially if it was on a limited offer. Therefore, the forms that require filling should be direct, clear, end eligible.

Consider;

  • Placing form labels above the form to improve readability, usability, and clarity. Offering a brief explanation of why the info is needed will go a long way in alleviating the anxiety in shoppers.
  • Use steppers in place of drop-down menus. Steppers are used to increase or decrease the value by a constant amount. This option is much more convenient as it reduces user effort and is appealing to the eye hence satisfying user experience.
  • Auto-detection of credit card types streamlines the purchase process by providing immediate feedback for supported card types. Also, it enhances the user experience of the buyer.
  • Accelerate address lookup and validation to enhance the checkout process. Several APIs (such as Google Places and the USPS) may come in handy on this.
  • Match the text inputs with the appropriate keyboard. Display a dial-pad when inputting phone numbers and credit card digits and a text keyboard when inputting addresses and text. This will reduce user mistakes.
  • Limit the number of input fields to reduce typing effort. Fewer input fields will generate a less loaded form and will improve the UX checkout flow.

Provide Intelligent Auto-suggestion, Auto-detection, Address Lookup, and Error. Auto-suggestion makes it easier and faster for users to fill out forms.

Use Micro-interactions

Micro-interactions are details in a product’s interface meant to accomplish a single task while improving the natural product flow. For instance, I am liking and rating a product, picking a colour and size, swiping down to refresh data, etc.

Micro-interactions use:

  • Guides the user through the application intuitively
  • Provide general shopper comfort, alleviating anxiety and boosting trust.
  • Prevent future errors and provide immediate feedback to users based on the activities they’ve completed.
  • Improve user interaction with the app by responding to notifications.

Include straightforward thumb-oriented interaction

The first move towards improving the mobile eCommerce user experience is understanding the most common ways people hold their mobile devices. Creating a successful and usable mobile UX design is dependent upon the study of how users interact with their smartphones.

As we earlier noted herein, adapting interfaces to how people naturally use mobile phones increases user comfort and reduce buyer anxiety. Mobile devices and screen sizes vary, yet the “thumb zone,” a critical aspect of the design and user experience, remains the same.

Why you should design around the “thumb zone”:

  • To solve arising exploration and navigation challenges
  • Improve interaction by accommodating gestures and finger reach
  • Improve usability.

Conversion-oriented mobile eCommerce design

A conversion-oriented eCommerce website focuses more on elements that boost sales than anything else. One of the most important aspects is buyer security.

Security is one of the biggest concerns for users while shopping on mobile devices. Assuring your shoppers that their information is secured goes a long way in alleviating their concerns and trusting your brand in return.

We already handled this earlier, but it is worth reliving it. Consider the following;

  • Your direction element should include suggestive and clear labels with words like “proceed,” “secure,” and “encrypted”. This serves to strengthen the psychological comfort of users.
  • Use lock symbols to provide assurance to shoppers that their transactions are secure.
  • Use trust badges by security providers like McAfee Secure.
  • Apply colour psychology in design for an even better perception of trust by shoppers.

Prioritise search

The search function is hugely critical in eCommerce success. A prospective buyer will try and find a suitable product in terms of price and quality. Since these aspects are covered in the filter engine, a shopper will search the name or category of the product from the search button before applying the search. Indeed, brands such as eBay believe its site search is one of the most important features for mobile shoppers and emphasises it by placing it in the centre and above the fold on the interface.

Considerations:

  • Visibility. Keeping the search bar easy to access and above the fold gives shoppers a way to search for products effortlessly.
  • Provide predictions search by using data acquired from common search patterns and display related products on result pages.
  • Provide advanced filtering options that allow customers to find their desired products quickly and seamlessly.

Summary, here are some of the key features of a successful mobile eCommerce design:

  • Fast and easy sign-up and checkout process
  • Security and trust
  • Design interaction around thumb-friendly zones
  • Consistent and condensed navigation
  • Fast search and easy filtering of products
  • Links user stress, anxiety, and conversion rates for mobile applications
  • Fast-loading, responsive experiences of mobile sites
  • Supports gestures for product image zooming

eCommerce User Experience – Essential Design Strategies and Principles

Often at times, one registers and creates a shopping account with some eCommerce brands, you may find guidance and customer care bots on the site. These are further advancements on the back of yesteryears. Evidently, such progress is only going to evolve and grow in the industry.  

For market gains and increased commercial returns, eCommerce retailers and designers need to pay close attention to user experience and adhere to a standard set of eCommerce UX design principles.

Here’s the standard shopping cycle that, when well implemented, may result in more impulse purchases, less cart abandonment, and higher overall conversion.

  • Website discovery
  • Product search and browse
  • Product page
  • Cart
  • Checkout
  • Confirmation

Website discovery

Website discovery is pegged on a brand’s ability to market itself and its products to its target audience. Market brand placement is key to web discovery. Usually, brands invest a considerable chunk of their budget in adverts on social, print and audio-visual media in order to get a share of the extensive market as well as get to announce themselves on the industry scene.

On web traffic, visitors form first impressions of a page in as few as 50 milliseconds. Clearly, an eCommerce website needs to grab the user’s attention in less than one second the shopper appears on their page. This can be possible if the site has an excellent UI/UX.

Show relevant calls to action

Try to engage the client the minute they step on your page. Give the user timely content and trendy products you rerail on your website. Also, give them specific calls to action (CTAs). An appropriate CTA helps the user move to the next step in the shopping process.

When creating CTAs, avoid generic phrases such as “get started” that don’t clearly tell the user what’s coming next.

Connect landing pages for SEO

Usually, when a customer searches for something online, the chances are that they are likely to purchase it. This is why using, say, google data, you can narrow a clients’ search by recommending what you already know from their landing pages.

Product search and browse

On-site search is fundamental to a solid eCommerce shopping experience. Search is critical as it enables shoppers to get what they are looking for in the minimal time possible.

According to Invesp, 60% of online purchases are not impulsive. People often know what they are looking for. This goes in hand with autocomplete features of an on-page search feature.

Use filters

With filters, the goal is clear. You are supposed to enhance the ease of accessing goods on the site. While doing so, be careful not to limit options to more general categories such as colour, price, and shape only. Always seek to include specific options such as fabric used, fonts, invitations, etc.

Product page

On this page, the client wants to find a product description full of clear images. Furthermore, you need to prominently display important directions on the page. Such options include “add to cart” or “buy now” as buttons.

While giving the product description, use progressive disclosure and visual hierarchy to give the user the right amount of information. Give them information according to importance, i.e., most important to least important.

Arrange your description into sections; for instance, overview, sizes or dimensions, detailed features, and shipping information. Using expand or collapse navigation for additional sections to minimise cases of clients getting overwhelmed.

Build customer trust

Firstly, customer confidence and trust are builds based on how you have arranged your UI. A haphazard arrangement will definitely scare shoppers away. Secondly, the security of the site is of great importance—this why you need SSL certificates and security badges. Third, the payment system should be known and verified. And finally, there should be a variety of these payment methods.

Moreover, return policies, shipping options, product availability, and social proof (reviews and ratings) are some of the ways in which a brand can elaborate to win over customer confidence.

Shopping Cart

Earlier, we talked about some of the things that lead to buyers leaving the shopping cycle at this stage. Therefore, allow the user to edit any items they may want to update or delete in the cart.

Checkout

Let users check out as guests. This eliminates extra huddles, which may lead to shoppers abandoning goods in the basket.

Order confirmation

Give confirmation that includes successful payment processing and delivery details like address, delivery method, and expected delivery date.

The bottom line

The growing eCommerce market represents many opportunities for retailers. It represents an equal measure of fortunes for web designers as well as in developing competitive UI/UX for these brands to enhance conversion and ROI. Those that recognise the importance of UX and follow best practices for the eCommerce user journey can remain competitive and positively affect their bottom line.

Online shoppers expect frictionless experiences no matter what. When designing an eCommerce site, it is not just about building a website but creating an online shopping experience that will convert passive shoppers into purchasing customers.

Hopefully, this eCommerce website design guide will help you make essential design decisions in order to build a great eCommerce UX that is professional, attractive, user-friendly, and makes shoppers come back. Contact us today for a tailored service on UI/UX designs for your brand.