Retail online sales worldwide totaled $353 billion in 2019, and revenues are projected to grow to $654 billion in 2022. eCommerce is a highly competitive market and serves a huge audience.  More than 2.14 billion people worldwide are expected to buy goods and services online in 2021. In this article, we’ll explore seven eCommerce design principles to make your brand stand out.

7 eCommerce Design Principles To Make Your Brand Stand Out

This creates a high set of expectations for eCommerce websites — one that is higher than ever before.

To succeed and stand out in the ever-expanding eCommerce industry, businesses need to create an outstanding online shopping experience and delight customers every step of their way.

In this article, we’ll discuss seven web design principles in eCommerce that will help you create a functional, trustworthy, and successful online store in 2021 and beyond.

Design Principle #1: On-Brand Visual Appeal

The user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) of your eCommerce website should be aligned with your brand’s visual identity to make it instantly recognizable.

To create on-brand appeal, you need to:

  • Create a brand style guide and follow it
  • Be consistent with typography and colors.
  • Use original, high-quality product images.

Remember, the first impression can make or break your conversion rates. Always design with your ideal customer in mind, which is important for conversion rate optimization.

Make your online store look unique by using an eye-catchy hero image, a custom-made illustration, or a mesmerizing video that will speak directly to your target audience and make a strong emotional connection at first sight.

Design Principle #2: Clear Layout and Easy Navigation

Your website doesn’t just need to look good. Users also need to feel good while browsing through your pages. This means that your webshop needs to be highly functional and easy to use.

Follow these simple guidelines to make your ecommerce design as simple as possible:

  • Avoid unnecessary clutter
  • Don’t overcrowd the screen.
  • Don’t overdecorate the UI elements.
  • Use a minimalistic design approach to say more with less.

Once you create a clutter-free layout, the next step is to design a coherent website navigation ecommerce design principles.

To make sure your prospective customers don’t end up frustrated because they cannot find what they are looking for, create a simple main navigation menu with clear categories and subcategories.  Ensure that the breadcrumb trail (secondary navigation) tells visitors exactly where they are at each page on your site.

The next element to address is the search bar, one of the most important online store elements.

Your customers are going to appreciate an efficiently searchable website. To accomplish this goal, make the search bar visible on each page, create as many filters as possible, and build the search function to work quickly and seamlessly.

An example of a well-designed eCommerce layout and navigation.

Principle #3: Distinctive CTA Buttons

The call-to-action (CTA) buttons across your website should be visually distinctive. You can make them immediately recognizable by using a high color contrast.

These buttons also need to be properly sized and well-positioned. To incorporate them in your website design the right way, make sure to have a single CTA button above the fold, and don’t forget to place a button next to the product images.

Pay attention to the words you choose for your calls to action. The CTA copy should clearly state what you want your customers to do with your ecommerce design principles.

The best practice is to use concrete, action-oriented verbs like “Shop,” “Add to Cart,” “Add to Wishlist,” “Browse,” and “Compare Products.”

Principle #4: Engaging Copy Throughout the Website

The copy is one of the most important assets of your eCommerce website. And just like the design, your web copy needs to be aligned with your brand style, voice, and tone.

To make your copy as engaging as possible, you should:

  • Be clear and concise.
  • Speak directly to your customers
  • Use simple words and simple sentences.
  • Highlight the benefits your customers can gain from your products or services
  • Empathize with your audience
  • Make copy easily understandable.
  • Make copy easy to skim through.
  • Use conversational tone
  • Finally, connect on an emotional level.

Remember, when you run an online store, your website is your sales tool.  An experienced copywriter usually knows and applies the above principles of good copywriting, but it is always good to lay out clear guidelines regarding these principles.

Put your unique value proposition at the hero section of your page to immediately highlight the benefits and boost your competitive advantage.

Don’t shy away from long-form sales pages, either. These can be a huge selling point, so be sure to provide rich value to your visitors at every point during their customer journey.

Thorough audience research can help you learn more about the psychology behind your customers’ online behavior and decision-making process. This can help you write compelling copy and balance between the content hierarchy, CTA prioritization, forms, and different landing pages.

eCommerce Design Principles #5: Detailed, Informative Product Pages

Speaking of landing pages, your product pages are most frequently going to be the first page your customers visit on your site.

Not providing enough information about your products could quickly turn your leads away.

Go into detail about your products by including a unique product description followed by high-quality, original photographs, promotional videos, 360° videos, 3D models. Moreover, any other visual element that applies to your business.

Use your website’s content and design to address your customers’ different online shopping behaviors, habits, and expectations.

Apart from clearly stated prices and CTA buttons, always try to include on your ecommerce design principles:

  • Firstly, product reviews, ratings, and testimonials.
  • Secondly, suggestions for related products
  • Product comparison options
  • Up-to-date availability of sizes, colors, and product variations
  • Finally, additional costs, if any.

Design Principle #6: Clever Use of Pop-Ups and Notifications

Use push notifications, banners, chatbots, and pop-ups to promote special offers, discounts, and newsletter signup forms. In addition, instant chats are common in the eCommerce industry.

Be cautious with this practice, though, as pop-ups and notifications could be a double-edged sword.

If they appear too pushy and too aggressive, they could be perceived as disruptive, annoying, or unpleasant. This is especially true if all of the promotional boxes jump out in a period of a few seconds after a potential customer has entered your website.

To stand out from the competition and personalize your visitors’ experience. You can also consider designing a chatbot that can act as a less intrusive pop-up or banner and have a logical flow guiding your visitors in their journey.

If you design these elements to appear at different times and in different places on your website, those pop-up boxes and notifications are much more likely to serve their purpose – grabbing your customer’s attention and intriguing them to explore further.

eCommerce Design Principles #7: A Streamlined Checkout Process

Once you have a customer’s attention and decide to make a purchase, your eCommerce website’s main goal is to create a streamlined checkout process.

Here are several key points to get you on the right track:

  • Firstly give users an option to choose between registering as a customer or purchasing as a guest.
  • Secondly, provide clear feedback at every step of the way (via success or error messages)
  • Make checkout forms simple and understandable.
  • Use example text in form fields when possible.
  • Keep personal data protection regulations in mind and ask for necessary information only.
  • Provide safe and secure online payment solutions
  • Try not to overwhelm customers with too many payment options.
  • Be transparent about the total price.
  • Include shipping details and estimated time of delivery
  • Finally, display a message after the purchase has been completed.

You may also want to consider implementing the tracking option and using the given email address to send gentle reminders to customers who abandon the checkout processes. Sometimes, people get distracted and stray away from your website, unintentionally.

Key Takeaways: eCommerce Design Principles

Your eCommerce website should delight customers in every step of their interaction with your brand – from the moment they enter the website, through the search process, filters, product descriptions, popular and related products, wish list, and shopping cart, to a fully streamlined checkout process.

To accomplish this goal and make your business stand out in a highly competitive market, a carefully planned eCommerce design can help you:

  • Firstly, keep your online store easy to use and highly functional.
  • Secondly, help your website visitors find the information they need.
  • Encourage your prospective customers to take action.
  • Inspire customers to come back.
  • Finally, reach your audience via social media platforms.

Providing an excellent online shopping experience is one of the key elements of building trust and paving a path for your customers to return and, eventually, become loyal fans of your brand.




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