I’ve gone through several eCommerce design changes to my stores in these past 10 years. Some were more successful, some have seen my sales plummeting fast. I’m here to share with you what I’ve learned during these years; the design of your store, be it Shopify Store, Woocommerce or other platforms, is paramount to your conversion rate.
A well placed search bar or box is very important
When people find your store in Google or other search engines, they usually enter on your homepage, and when they do that, you want them to find the search bar VERY fast. That smart search bar helps them easily navigate to relevant help pages.
A help page without a search bar means your customer has to click and navigate their way around, read plenty of lists and hopefully stumble across the right page. This makes for a really high effort and frustrating customer experience.
Aspect found that 65% of consumers view a company favorably if they can solve an issue without calling customer service.
Here is a GOOD example of a well placed and visible search bar.
As you can see in the screenshot, not only you have quick access to a large enough search bar, but you have also plenty of other customized search options below.
On the other hand, here is an example on how NOT to do it. The store below doesn’t have ANY search options, so you just have to browse your way around and…just, you know, hope for the best.
Focus your store on making PROFIT
Plenty of people build up a rather gorgeous store, but they loose track of what’s really important – converting the visitors into clients. You burry the products, the search bar or the categories beneath unnecessary graphics or gimmicks that just annoy your clients, for example. Bottom line: effective and well built design for your eCommerce store is NOT what it looks great, but what sells.
Graphics doesn’t matter, it’s the bottom line you’re after.
Take Amazon.com for example. You’ve heard of it, you know it (some of us by heart). It’s not looking amazing. At all. But what it lacks in graphics it more than make up in functionalities. Amazon is just a ruthless money grabbing machine – Jeff Bezos is testimony to this.
So never loose sight of the purpose of your store – it is there to sell products and make you money. The store has to look professional enough to convince customers to spend money there, it has to be TRUSTFUL and simple enough to navigate.
One of the best things you could do to calibrate your store is do some A/B testing and measure the conversion rates. You may be surprised how much the conversion rate may change if you only change the color of the BUY button, for example.
Clear topics and categories
Icons or at least organized text is a great way to communicate and display the categories or topics where your customer might need help. Customers don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to help themselves. They want to get in, grab their desired product and go on with their lives.
Content is paramount – in eCommerce as well, yes
The value of good content can’t be underestimated. Let’s take dropshipping for example.
When you’re dropshipping products, plenty of store owners just copy-paste the descriptions from the providers, without changing anything. This duplicates the content (so lower ranking in Google) and, most often than not, bores your customers or doesn’t provide them with the necessary details.
An ecommerce platform is basically a content management system. The products, their descriptions, and pictures are the content, which is the true value of your site. You can change platforms, templates, menus, and categories. But what cannot be easily changed is the content. Good product detail pages can take several hours to create. A site with 1,000 products can be the result of thousands of hours of work.
Always make sure that you can port this content when you move to a new platform. This typically involves exporting the data in a comma-delimited file or similar and then importing it into your new system. Take the time to get this right so you don’t lose this investment.
Another consideration is whether to move customer data — names, addresses, and contact details. This may seem to be vital marketing data, but in my experience it’s not necessarily worth porting. It depends on your business model
Use of white space
White space is an essential part of readability on your help pages. If they’re not structured clearly and readers are not able to scan pages easily, expect a lot of support requests because they just won’t be bothered to look over a poorly designed page. You don’t want your store to be too crowded, but you don’t want it to be too loose!
Along with headings, subheadings and bullet points, images and videos add a better dynamic to your help pages but also help break up large pieces of text.
Use a linear checkout process
Have you ever purchased from one of those sites where you go to check out and then redirect to suggestions or your cart? Yeah, me neither. That’s because a checkout process should be simple: either go back or forward. That’s it. No redirects, no landing back in a cart or shopping page.
Simple and transparent does the trick.
Make sure your store is FAST
Did you know that 25 percent of Web users abandon a Web page if it takes more than four seconds to load? It’s true—talk about impatience!
Mobile users are slightly more patient (what does that say about mobile carrier performance?). But just barely: They will give a page up to 10 seconds to load. And there are no second chances: three of five people won’t return to a site they abandon due to slow load times. Never, ever, unless it’s Amazon and one of the very rare times the platform is down.
Adding further insult to injury, an increase of just one second in your site’s page load time can cause a nearly seven percent decline in your conversion rates.
Time is money and consumers are not a patient breed. All it takes is mere seconds to lose a sale. So make sure you’re working with a good, reliable hosting company; your success depends on their performance.
So here’s another piece of advice: choose your apps or plugins with much care prior to installing them into your store. Check their performance, read articles about them and see how much do they slow down your store. For example, VITALS is a Shopify App that is definitely worth checking, as even if you install ALL of their 40+ features it slows down your site much, MUCH less than the equivalent of the competition.
Bottom line – don’t forget the purpose of your eCommerce store
An eCommerce store should be ever evolving, a living organism you truly take care of and improve upon. The content should be relevant and continuously refreshed.
You need to remove the out of stock items (replace it with “preorder”, if the products will become available again at later times), while the new stock should definitely be highlighted and advertised as such, giving customers reasons to return again and again.
Don’t loose sight of one thing, though: you are in business to make money, and your online store should be center on this one thing, not to win design awards.