This article was updated in March 2023.
Running a successful e-commerce business involves a lot more than listing popular products at fair prices. If your online store doesn’t offer an attractive design and an enjoyable user experience, your sales will suffer, and your business might never reach its full potential.
In this article, we’ll talk about why design plays such a crucial role in an e-commerce company’s success. Then we’ll go over three ways you can design a more effective website for your small business. Let’s get to it!
Why Web Design Plays a Critical Role in E-Commerce
One of the first things that most of us notice when we visit a website is its design. At a glance, you can usually tell whether a site looks professional or was designed in a hurry.
However, good web design is about more than just looks. That becomes apparent once you see that most online retailers favor cluttered designs:
Effective web design is all about improving the user experience. That means creating pages that are more enjoyable to use and that, alongside your content, lead to increased conversions and greater engagement.
Using A/B testing, AMD found that a minor variation in the appearance and position of its sharing icons increased social shares by 3600%.
It’s just one example of the role web design plays in the way visitors engage with your products and content. By making a minor change, the company was able to see a massive boost in conversions.
3 Ways to Design a More Effective Small Business Website
Most small businesses don’t have dedicated teams of web designers with years of experience, who know precisely how to tweak your website’s style to achieve better results. If you want to leverage web design to grow your company, you need to approach the process methodically and focus on making progressive changes. Let’s look at three ways you can design a more effective website for your business.
1. A/B Test Any Design Changes You Make
In the previous section, we talked about how AMD used A/B to drastically increase social sharing for its content. A/B testing involves showing your site’s visitors two variations of a specific page at random, and then measuring which variation yields the best results.
There’s a lot of software that enables small businesses to implement successful A/B tests with ease. Some of our favorite options include:
- VWO. This service enables you to create A/B tests using a visual editor, and lets you track a variety of interactions with your pages.
- Optimizely. This tool enables your designers to set up A/B tests using a front-end editor, and it supports multiple simultaneous experiments for individual pages.
When it comes to A/B testing, your best bet is to make small changes between variations of your landing pages. Instead of showing customers two entirely different versions of a shop or a landing page, try focusing on simple differences.
For example, you can test whether changing the style of an Add to Cart button leads to more clicks:
With A/B testing, you need to collect a significant amount of data to get results you can trust. Some marketers suggest minimum sample sizes of at least 1,000 people if you want to be sure that the results of your experiments are conclusive.
A/B testing will give you access to a wealth of data about what your customers prefer relative to web design. The more experiments you run, the more you’ll be able to optimize your store.
2. Add Social Proof Elements
Social proof plays a significant role in how well your online store converts visitors. In many cases, visitors will have no previous knowledge of your brand or what type of products and services you offer. That means you need to build trust before they decide to make a purchase.
Adding social proof elements to your website is one of the most effective ways to build that trust. By ‘social proof’, we mean everything from trust badges to user reviews, case studies, embedded social media profiles, and more:
Reviews are by far the most effective social proof element that you can add to a product or service page. By showing reviews, you prove to customers that you run a real business and that you have happy clients. More importantly, reviews often include details that you might not think about adding to product descriptions.
From a design standpoint, it’s essential to make review sections as easy to locate as possible within the pages of your website that are designed to convert:
On top of making reviews simple to find, you also want to increase their readability. That means giving enough space for comprehensive reviews, including titles so they’re more scannable, and even adding a search bar if possible.
3. Simplify Your Navigation Menus
E-commerce projects are among the most complex websites in terms of structure. If your business offers multiple product categories, your navigation menus can quickly become overly complicated. Amazon, for example, offers products in dozens of categories and subcategories:
As your store grows, it’s all too common for your navigation menu to become cluttered. That makes it hard for visitors to find what they’re looking for. If those visitors are new to your store, they might quickly grow frustrated and take their business elsewhere.
One simple way to keep your navigation menu uncluttered is to follow in Amazon’s footsteps, and add product or service subcategories to it. That way, your primary navigation menu will remain simple, and customers will be able to narrow down what type of products or services they’re looking for.
A lot of e-commerce websites also include links to their most popular products or categories within the body of their home pages:
Combining both of these approaches will make it easier for new customers to find the products and categories they’re looking for. If you want to go the extra mile, we recommend incorporating ‘related product’ sections into your page designs. That way, you can increase the time visitors spend browsing your website.
Design plays a critical role in the success of your small business website. If you sell products or services online, your approach to web design should help your business look professional, and make it as easy as possible for customers to find what they’re looking for and decide to buy it.
Do you have any questions about how to use design to improve your small business website? Let’s talk about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.