6 Best Practices for Outstanding Ecommerce Website Design

Lucy Manole

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April 27, 2021

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Effective marketing strategies get online shoppers to land on your website. However, getting shoppers to your site and convincing them through the checkout process are two different things. A lot happens in between! For instance, a poor user experience (UX) can dissuade shoppers, leading them to abandon your store at any time. 

A seamless website design plays a big role in getting customers to complete the checkout process. Factors like crisp typography and high-quality product images are critical for boosting user experience and conversions. 

If you are in the business of selling goods online, in all probability you may have already jumped on the ecommerce bandwagon. But selling online isn’t easy if your website lacks the basic elements that excite and engage the target audience. Create an awesome ecommerce website with the design tips shared below.

Let’s get started!

1. Incorporate Your Branding Elements

Merging branding elements into your content design is a key aspect of a strong  ecommerce marketing strategy. It helps to keep the design  visually consistent. Furthermore, it helps  the audience to connect with your brand.

You can strengthen your branding by taking a few initial steps: 

Choose a Clear Brand Purpose 

Invest time into refining your business mission, vision and values. This business practice  will help to identify your target audience and depict a clear brand story. 

For instance, Dove’s brand purpose is to improve confidence among girls around the world. This personal care brand doesn’t deliver luxury beauty products but aims for making ‘normal’ women feel extraordinary, which is evident in their website copy and imagery. 

dove homepage showing its brand purpose
Source: Dove


Select the Ideal Typography and Imagery 

The choice of website graphics, logo variations, typography and fonts must complement your brand personality. Encourage your in-house design team to pick the best from your collection. Dedicate a Pinterest board or create a microsite for displaying them all.

2. Leverage High-Quality Graphics and Images

Encourage your UX team to incorporate graphic design elements like apertures, patterns, and other stylistic images that add flair to your website. These can come in handy even in marketing collaterals and advertisements. High-quality and unique imagery can boost image SEO as well as the user experience by showing products in real-life scenarios. This leads to an immersive ecommerce website design. 

Graphics help convey messages easily while creating a positive environment. There are tons of ways to optimally display imagery on ecommerce sites. We have enlisted a few below.  

Optimize for High-Pixel Density Displays

The Device Pixel Ratio (DPR) is an easy way to multiply image dimensions to translate logical pixels (what you see when you look at your device) into physical pixels (actual number of pixels in a device’s screen). 

For devices with a DPR of 2, a wider image with less clarity will look better than a narrower image with enhanced quality. Despite the same file size, an image with a greater DPR count will look crisp and clear on the website.

Take a look at the images shared below. Both are of the same file size but the right one is optimized for devices with DPR-2. Tools like Imagekit.io and ImageEngine can help to achieve this. 

example of images with different DPRs
Source: Imagekit.io

Use the Ideal Image Format

Serve images in the best possible format depending on the image content and the browser format. Many sellers make the mistake of uploading images in the same exact format as provided by their graphic designers. Those files are typically large and can slow down page load and thereby harm the user experience dramatically.

This is the effect of image compression on an online jewelry storefront, Gehna. By using WebP versions for images instead of PNG or other common formats, the site’s load speed improved drastically, saving up on file sizes.

Gehna's homepage image size comparison
Source: Commutatus

3. Add Product Demos and Videos

Product videos improve website UX and help shoppers make a quick purchase decision. This contributes heavily to conversions, leading to business growth. Such videos are instrumental in sharing an engaging brand story, keeping visitors informed and answering commonly asked shopper questions. 

An ecommerce website design can incorporate videos through the following methods.

Product Videos 

Product videos offer an in-depth guide on product features and benefits while keeping the visitors engaged. Whether it’s a five to ten-minute video or a series of visuals highlighting the essential features, these videos inform the prospective buyer of the desired characteristics of a product.

This is how Nikon chose to give an extensive product tour for the ‘D6’ DSLR model.

Nikon d6 product tour video
Source: YouTube

Customer Testimonial Videos 

Customer testimonial videos are an ideal medium to persuade prospective customers to make a purchase decision in your favor. While written reviews and star-ratings are crucial, videos featuring customer testimonials improve brand credibility and trust.

Take a look at this customer testimonial on Instagram. The transformation story is sure to boost BeachBody’s conversion rate.

beachbody customer testimonial
Source: Instagram

Remember that when you embed videos onto your site, you’ll want to add title tags and descriptions to videos to not only improve SEO, but to also boost your website’s accessibility. 

4. Optimize Site’s Load Speed

A recent survey by Akamai revealed that the recommended ecommerce site load speed shouldn’t exceed two seconds. In fact, a one-second lag in load time costs Amazon 1.6 billion dollars of sales every year. A slow load time your site can therefore impact  conversions, increase the bounce rate and hurt other user engagement metrics. 

Take a look at some effective ways to speed up your ecommerce website.

Reduce the Time to First Byte (TTFB)

TTFB refers to the time required before a page loads completely. A fast TTFB can quickly deliver elements like HTTP requests, process requests, and response times to a web browser. 

Here is an illustration that explains the concept of TTFB.

definition of ttfb
Source: QuickSprout

The ideal TTFB count must be less than 200 milliseconds. A high TTFB negatively impacts traffic and SEO. One of the best ways to reduce TTFB is by enabling browser caching. Here’s an interesting read from Ryte Magazine that shares details on this subject. 

Choose the Right CMS Platform

While some content management systems (CMS) are built for general web publishing, others are designed specifically for ecommerce. Hence, platforms not designed for ecommerce requirements may perform poorly during traffic peaks. Open-source hosting solutions serve best for setting up ecommerce storefronts.

Because of the innovative features they offer, SaaS ecommerce solutions like BigCommerce, Shopify, and Squarespace are gaining popularity. However, some site owners prefer a combination of a CMS platform (WordPress) and its ecommerce plugin (WooCommerce) for building an effective ecommerce design. 

The choice of a CMS depends largely on your online store’s needs and the benefits offered by the platform. CMS platforms can benefit web developers to continue working on pre-existing tech stacks by offering more flexibility, integrating custom codes or providing enhanced security features. 

An ideal ecommerce platform should offer a combination of integrations, mobile compatibility and customer payment options among other essential features.

The ultimate aim is to set up an online shop that offers convenience and supports multi-device transactions. The idea is to provide enhanced user experience through simplified navigation, multiple payment integrations, and a clean checkout process that can improve conversions.

Count on a CDN Provider

Typically, when a shopper visits your store, they are redirected to the central web host’s server. In other words, every visitor on your store is accessing a single server to view content. This leads to slow load time or server crash when the traffic peaks.

Hence, it’s wise to use a CDN or content delivery network. CDNs are known to improve the speed of a website by caching content across multiple locations. It then delivers the content to the shoppers through the server closest to them. 

Count on CDN services like Imperva’s global CDN to improve site speed, become crash-resistant and boost your online store’s SEO. 

Designing a fast ecommerce website isn’t a matter of installing a few plugins. It needs proper planning! To know more ways of speeding up your website, check out this article from Quicksprout.

5. Opt for a Clutter-Free and Accessible Website Layout

Here are two clean website layouts from the ecommerce segment. Take a look at the website layouts of these ecommerce stores. The navigation menus clearly depict the major offerings of the digital stores instead of confusing them with pop-ups and wide banners.

homepage of NOVA
Source: NOVA
welly homepage
Source: Welly


Notice how these online stores are devoid of any visual clutter. This approach in ecommerce website design lets users find the exact things they are searching for, thus improving conversions and sales. 

A few effective ways to create a clean ecommerce design layout.

Organize Products into Broad Categories

The way you build and display your online store is key to ecommerce success. A thoughtful and clear categorization will cause less friction for online buyers, contributing to higher conversions. 

Successful ecommerce businesses like Amazon, eBay and Walmart have provided multiple features like an array of related products, buying guides and other value-adding content. All this ensures enhanced user experience and conversions. Make sure you incorporate these features in your ecommerce website to boost your engagement rate.

For example, look at how Macy’s put this into practice. Visitors can get to a category or product landing page within three or less clicks. 

navigation menu on macys.com
Source: Macys.com

This three-click rule forms a key aspect of a seamless ecommerce website design, as usability is defined by how easily a user can achieve his/her desired goals.

Incorporate Minimalistic Design Concepts

Minimalism in web design has gained popularity among designers as it provides an enhanced user experience. Web designers can make use of simple hacks to achieve a minimalistic website design.

First, use vivid imagery and clear typography to enhance the products and content of a website.Further, colors and transitions can provide strong contrasts to the website design. 

Ecommerce designers should opt for rectangular blocks on the site for a natural content flow. Simple navigation and a robust search can go a long way in helping customers locate products on ecommerce storefronts. Use these tips to achieve a minimalist design on your online store. 

Apply Accessibility Design Principles 

Designers tend to treat accessibility as a nice-to-have feature. However, accessibility not just allows businesses to expand their customer base (15% of the global population suffers from some form of disability) but also protects them from expensive accessibility lawsuits. Online stores are required to comply with ADA standards for accessibility.

Incorporating accessibility in ecommerce web design isn’t tough if you heed the below-mentioned pointers. 

  • Media - All the images used on the website should carry alt text. This will allow the screen readers to understand the message conveyed, making your store accessible to all. Videos shouldn’t auto-play. Also, people with disabilities should be able to access it using a keyboard. All your product videos should have options for closed captioning and transcripts. 
  • Text - Write descriptive product pages with clear titles. Break up long paragraphs into smaller paragraphs or bullet points. 
  • Navigation and Links - Instead of ‘Click here,’ write descriptive text links that explain what the user is clicking on. Make links contrasting to the standard text color. Also, design for large clickable areas.
  • Colors - Avoid bright colors or color combinations that could cause issues for individuals with color blindness. Use visual separation (such as whitespace or borders) to make your store accessible to people with color deficiency or learning disabilities. Making your page visually usable is a critical part of web accessibility.
  • Web Development - Avoid hard coding that causes issues when using assistive technologies like screen readers or voice recognition. You can implement a semantically-coded frontend to make it easy for users to access the content using screen readers.

6. Utilize Colors to Your Advantage

Color is one of the most powerful tools in an ecommerce branding toolkit. In fact, nearly 85 percent of shoppers consider color as a major factor when making a purchase decision.

Use brand colors strategically to stir specific emotions in your audience and persuade them to act in your favor. 

color statistics chart
Source: QuickSprout


Here are some proven methods to effectively use colors in your ecommerce design layouts.

Apply Color Psychology

The choice of colors in web design differentiates products from the competition. They even influence the buyers’ moods and feelings and shape their attitude or perception of certain products.

For instance, black and orange are the colors that come to mind when we speak of Amazon. 

Use color psychology in web design to reflect what your brand stands for. For instance, green tends to represent  balance and harmony, while orange can convey both confidence and friendliness. Look at this demonstration below for a better understanding of different emotions associated with various hues and tints.

color psychology chart
Source: CoSchedule

Consider Your Industry and Products

As mentioned earlier, certain sets of color schemes represent specific industries.

For instance, eco-conscious brands like Babyganics, which sells  baby products, gravitate towards lighter tones of greens, blues and yellows to reflect their delicate and caring brand persona. 

Babyganics homepage
Source: Babyganics.com

Final Thoughts

Your website is the face of your business. An outdated and unappealing layout can make a brand look cold and aloof. No one wants to buy from such brands! 

The practices mentioned above will encourage shoppers to spend more time on your ecommerce store, increasing the chances of a sale.

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