The Complete Guide to Ecommerce Website Design

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Ecommerce has become a popular and accessible way for people of all ages to make money online. It’s fast, easy, and can be done from anywhere in the world.

But setting up your platform in a user-friendly way is an important step that shouldn’t be overlooked.

In this article, we will go over everything you need to do in order to make your ecommerce site as usable and aesthetically pleasing as possible!

Why Is Ecommerce Website Design So Important?

There are plenty of reasons why someone may want to start an ecommerce store.

Maybe you want to generate a source of passive income. Maybe you want to sell a product that you’re passionate about as a side hustle. Or maybe you just want to give up your old job because you’ve always dreamt of being your own boss.

Whatever the reason may be, deciding to open up an ecommerce store is an excellent way to take control over your life, your finances, and your passions.

But in order to get the most out of your ecommerce business, you need to get it set up correctly first. This includes several things:

  • Ordering your products
  • Marketing your business to the right people
  • Obtaining permits and licenses if applicable
  • Registering your business with the state and federal government
  • Setting up your ecommerce website
  • Growing your online presence through social media, SEO, and advertising

But one of the most important—and often overlooked—components of a stellar ecommerce business is its web design.

Without a user-friendly interface, your customers will stay on your site for shorter periods of time and convert to buyers far less frequently. High bounce rates and lower conversion rates are not only bad for your bottom line, but they are also bad for your search engine rankings as well. Thus, a navigable site with attractive aesthetics is imperative if your goal is to sell as much as possible.

Plus, a great website design can portray your brand exactly how you want it to! Isn’t that the point?

Let’s take a look at an example:

Real estate agency Miller and Smith faced a major problem with their website. While its design was sufficient, the company wasn’t quite sure how users were interacting with their site. As a result, they couldn’t tell where they could improve or how they could engage more of their website traffic.

Once they switched to a new web analytics platform and could visualize how their prospects were interacting with their site, they learned several things:

  • The beautiful images they decided to place at the top of their page were being scrolled over in search of the information at the bottom.
  • Users kept looking back for the communities that Miller and Smith was building in order to see the layouts.
  • Lots of users just used image galleries and lookbooks to gloss over things.
  • Visitors clicked on text lots of times in pursuit of more information about key topics.

Once the agency knew these insights, they implemented changes on their website to make the information and content that their visitors were looking for more accessible.

  • They removed photos from the top of their community page so users could see information right away.
  • They added thumbnails so users didn’t have to scroll back to see community layouts.
  • They added relevant internal links that guided website visitors through the site, showing relevant information the entire way.
  • They added captions where necessary and improved the content on their best-performing pages.

The results? Miller and Smith was able to reduce its bounce rate by 7.5% and increase its goal conversion by 8.5% year over year.

So how can you do the same? Let’s go over a few tips.

Quick Tips to Improve Ecommerce Website Design Today

There are lots of things you can do to improve your ecommerce website. Some take months while others can take effect immediately. If you want to start making immediate improvements to your site’s quality, however, here are a few tips:

Make On-Page SEO Adjustments

Your site may be bogged down by things you can’t even see. Take a look at the code on your pages and make sure they are well-optimized for search engines. This includes things like using proper tag hierarchy (H1, H2, and H3 headers), adding keyword-rich titles and meta descriptions, compressing images, and making sure images have alt text.

Meta tags are important because they improve your site’s click-through rate (CTR) from the SERP. A well-written title and meta description can entice searchers to click on your listing instead of your competitor’s.

Your site’s speed is also a ranking factor, so you will want to make sure your pages load quickly. Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is a great way to test your page speed and get recommendations on how to improve it.

If you aren’t sure how to locate these things, SEO Screaming Frog Spider Tool is an incredibly useful resource that will show you everything you need to optimize your site. And best of all, it’s free!

Update Your Product Pages

Your product pages are the bread and butter of your ecommerce website. If they are not up to par, neither is your business. Make sure your product pages are well-designed, informative, and easy to navigate.

Some things you will want to include on your product pages are:

  • High-quality product photos
  • Product descriptions
  • Customer reviews
  • Sizing information
  • Product videos (if applicable)

Make sure your products are easy to find and that the customer can easily add them to their cart with a single click. The last thing you want is for customers to get frustrated and leave your site without buying anything.

Additionally, consider adding related items to your product pages. By doing this, you can give customers additional options that complement the product they’re interested in.

For example, if you’re selling a book, you could also include a related bookmark or piece of jewelry on the same page.

This is one of the best ways to boost your average order value while also giving customers more of what they’re looking for. 

Improve Your Site’s Navigation

Your website’s navigation is one of the most important aspects of your site. It should be easy for visitors to find what they are looking for, whether it is a product category, a specific product, or information about your company.

There are a few things you can do to improve the navigation of your website:

  1. Internal linking: Add links to other pages on your website throughout your content. This will help visitors find what they are looking for and keep them engaged with your site.
  2. Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs significantly improve the navigation of your website, especially if you have a large site with many products and categories. They provide users with an easy way to see where they are on your site and how they got there.
  3. Clear product menus: Make sure your menus are easy to understand and use. Split your products into categories and subcategories to make them easy to find.
  4. A search bar: If you want your customers to find what they’re looking for quickly and easily, add a search bar to your site. A search bar will allow them to search for specific products, categories, or information on your site.

Each of these implementations can be accomplished in less than an hour with a site plugin or by implementing them into your site’s source code.

Streamline Your Checkout Process

If your checkout process is difficult, outdated, or slow, you are likely to lose customers. Abandoned carts account for an estimated $18 billion in lost sales each year and the less you contribute to that statistic, the better.

The first step in streamlining your checkout process is to take a close look at the steps involved. Are there any unnecessary steps? Can any of the steps be combined? Any confusion at any stage of the process can lead to abandoned carts, so it’s important to make sure that the process is as simple and straightforward as possible.

The next step is to make sure that your checkout process is mobile-friendly. With more and more people using their phones to shop, it’s essential that your website be optimized for mobile. If your checkout process is difficult to use on a small screen, you’re likely to lose customers.

Finally, make sure that your checkout process is fast. Customers hate waiting, and even a few extra seconds can be enough to discourage them from completing a purchase.

While some of these steps need refining that will take a bit longer, there are a few improvements you can make today.

For example, if you use a platform like Shopify, you can take advantage of their built-in checkout process which is already optimized for conversion. If not, you can integrate a third-party solution like Stripe or PayPal to streamline the process for a relatively low cost.

Include Customer Testimonials

Social proof is one of the most important aspects of conversion optimization. It’s essential that you give your visitors confidence that they are making a purchase from a reputable company. When people see that others have had success with a product or service, they are more likely to take the plunge themselves.

You might not have video testimonials or direct quotes from customers right off the bat, but you can still use customer reviews to your advantage. If you allow for product reviews on your site, you could take a few of the best ones and highlight them on different pages of your website or use them to create social media posts.

Even if you don’t have product reviews on your site, you can use reviews from other sites if you have an Amazon store, external blogs that reviewed your product, or Google My Business reviews.

Add an AI Chatbot

Chatbots are computer programs that can mimic human conversation, and they are often used to provide customer service or support. But chatbots can also be used to recommend products, provide shipping information, and even upsell customers on additional items.

For ecommerce businesses, chatbots can be a valuable tool for increasing sales and improving customer satisfaction.

Here are just a few of the benefits of using AI chatbots for your ecommerce site: 

  • Increased Sales: By providing personalized recommendations and helping customers find the products they need, chatbots can increase your ecommerce site’s sales. 
  • Shipping Information: Customers often abandon their shopping carts when they realize how much shipping will cost. Chatbots can reduce abandoned carts by providing shipping information upfront. 
  • Improved Customer Satisfaction: In addition to helping customers find the right products, chatbots can answer questions, provide customer support, and resolve issues.

Not only can this quick website addition improve customer satisfaction, but it can also ensure that your customers have a great purchase experience and leave your site feeling positive about your brand.

Long-Term Strategies for Ecommerce Website Design

Long-term, you’ve got lots of comprehensive options to consider for your ecommerce website design.

Use A/B Testing

A/B testing (also known as split testing) is a method of comparing two versions of a web page to see which one performs better. It’s an essential tool for any website owner who wants to improve their conversion rate.

Setting up an A/B test is relatively simple. First, you need to identify the element of your site that you want to test. This could be anything from the placement of a button to the color of your homepage.

Once you have identified the element to be tested, you need to create a second version of your site with the desired change. You can then use a service like Google Analytics to split traffic between the two versions of your site and track which version performs better.

How often you should run split tests will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • The size and complexity of the site
  • How much traffic it receives
  • The resources available for conducting tests
  • The complexity of your product offerings

With that said, most experts recommend conducting split tests on a regular basis in order to ensure that the site is performing optimally. In general, it is advisable to conduct a new test every 1-2 months and whenever there is a significant change to the site (such as a redesign).

Collect User Feedback

User feedback takes a while to collect, but genuine feedback from your customers is one of the best ways to learn how to improve your site experience–and business as a whole–long-term.

There are several ways that you can collect user feedback, including:

  • In-person interviews
  • Online surveys
  • Customer support tickets/chats
  • User testing sessions
  • Product reviews
  • Social media comments

Chances are, you’ll collect different kinds of user feedback at each of these touchpoints. In-person interviews and user testing sessions will give you qualitative data that can help you understand the user experience, while surveys and product reviews will provide quantitative data that can be used to measure customer satisfaction.

Create a Website Design That Matches Your Brand

You’d be surprised, but a lot of ecommerce sellers miss the mark on this. Your website is one of the most important touchpoints for your brand. It’s where customers go to learn more about your products and make purchase decisions.

So if you want to connect with the right audience and convert them into customers, it’s best to make your website a clear representation of your brand identity. You can accomplish this by using colors, typography, imagery, and other design elements that match your logos, external branding, and overall portrayal of your products.

You should also make sure that this matches your marketing materials and social media profiles if you have any.

For example, a surf brand that sells wetsuits and surfboards might use a website design that is heavily inspired by the ocean. This might include blue and green colors, waves in the background, and images of people surfing.

It would also need to match the social media profiles linked to it, which likely highlight beach lifestyle, outdoor activities, and the ocean.

Optimize Your Website for Mobile Users

Over 70% of ecommerce purchases happen on mobile devices and that figure grows every year, so it’s important to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile users.

Plus, Google’s algorithm favors mobile-friendly websites, so if you’re not optimized for mobile, you could be missing out on a lot of potential traffic and sales.

There are several things that you can do to make your website more mobile-friendly, such as:

  • Use a responsive design
  • Write shorter paragraphs
  • Simplify the navigation menu
  • Increase the font size (a little bit)
  • Use larger buttons
  • Make your site scrollable
  • Have your website interact like a mobile app

If you take a look at Nordstrom, SSENSE, Farfetch, and other major fashion retailers, you’ll see that they all have one thing in common: users don’t need to download an app to get all of its functionality.

If you use Shopify to design your ecommerce website, then you’re already ahead of the game. Shopify’s platform is designed to make mobile optimization a breeze.

But, if you’re using another platform or CMS, mobile optimization is still possible–you’ll just need to put in a little extra effort.

Test Different Types of Content

If you want to get the most out of your ecommerce site and attract the most possible visitors, having a blog is the best way to do it.

A blog is a platform where you can share your thoughts, ideas, and knowledge with the world. By providing valuable content, you can attract new visitors to your ecommerce site and build trust with potential customers. In addition, a blog can help you to boost your search engine ranking and increase your chances of being found by potential customers.

But you need to make sure that you are writing quality content that will appeal to your target audience.

One way to do this is to test different types of content and see what works best for your ecommerce site. Try writing both long-form and short-form content and see which gets the most traffic and engagement. You can also experiment with different topics and styles of writing to see what resonates with your audience.

Over time, you will find the sweet spot of topically relevant content that engages your audience and helps you to achieve your business goals.

Next Steps

Once you have a beautiful, intuitive, user-friendly, and mobile-optimized ecommerce website, it’s time to start thinking about traffic. The next step is to generate awareness for your website and get people to start visiting it.

There are a number of ways that you can do this, such as:

  • SEO: Make sure that your website is properly optimized for search engine ranking.
  • PPC: Use pay-per-click advertising to drive traffic to your website.
  • Content marketing: Write and share high-quality content that will attract new visitors to your site.
  • Social media: Use social media platforms to promote your ecommerce website.
  • Email marketing: Send emails to potential and existing customers to encourage them to visit your website.

And of course, don’t forget to continuously track your progress and analyze your website traffic data so that you can continue to improve your ecommerce website design and marketing strategy. Website design is not a one-and-done type of task–it’s an ongoing process that you should continually work on to ensure the success of your business.

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