A layout for an e-commerce site is not new to any web designer but any such project has a fairly large scale. Its importance is that the difference between a good design and a decent one can be the key to profit. Web designers know that any error can be worth thousands of dollars and success is a good way of attracting other clients. Certainly, the design of an online store is very important, but there are two other factors with greater influence: price and the offer itself.
A rich and assorted offer gives customers the opportunity to choose the best solution, one that is adequate to their budget and needs. The cost of any online sold product is another factor against which a design, be it perfect, does not stand a chance to turn out huge profits. On the other hand a very interesting layout can bring many visitors (that and a well thought SEO policy are key factors in getting a good traffic) but these visitors will not translate into buyers in the absence of an attractive offer. In conclusion a quality design is a necessary condition for the success of a site but it’s far from a sufficient condition.
No parts of an online store layout can be neglected, but there are some elements that play an important role in attracting customers and compelling shoppers, in this post I’ll illustrate these and offer an explanation about the role they play. I appreciate any opinion about this article, so do not hesitate to use the comments box.
1. Call-to-action button
Any online shops have it a generous offer, a good price-quality ratio and a good design will bring in few buyers if the call-to-action button is not easy to find. Such a button should be designed so as to provide a strong contrast, but not hurtful for the eyes, a smooth as possible integration in the layout, without being irritating to the customers. Likewise a call-to-action button is more likely produce sales if it’s complemented by an appealing text message. The examples below are more than eloquent:
2. Easy to use menu
A potential buyer who uses Internet services is not always a keen connoisseur of the latest technologies and any new element in the layout of a site can be a terrible source of problems. To avoid even the smallest discomfort to visitors, the menu should be as complete as possible and placed in plain sight, typically any supplementary effort on the part of the users is severely punished. Even if the menu is sufficiently complete, most online stores have inserted in the design a search form that allows easier control to display relevant results. The thorny problem consists in creating a menu + a search form not bushy enough to bore the visitor but efficient enough to easily and quickly guide him to the searched products.
3. Accessible site
A common mistake of designers is placing in one basket Internet users and online buyers. Forming the ranks of the online shoppers are most Internet users but there are many persons who use Internet services sporadically. Another category of buyers consists of people with disabilities, who require a more accessible site in order to be able to navigate.
Apparently, the percentage of those who for health reasons cannot use the full potential of the Internet is low, but combined with people who have difficulty in use, we have a number that cannot be ignored. On top of the moral aspect, which cannot be neglected, the commercial aspect is crucial, thus any online store owner must treat the issue of accessibility seriously.
The big disadvantage of an online store consists in the lack of physical touch or the possibility to see and observe the products with your own eyes. To compensate for this situation, programmers must use images as suggestive as possible, giving precise details. In this problem, the type of the product plays a key role. A site featuring and offering for sale electronics will not need a lot of images but instead a more accurate description of the characteristics, while an online store specializing in selling clothes requires more images. On the other hand, the use of very clear, with a larger resolution images, attracts customers but it also means longer load times, which is not enjoyable to anyone.
5. Loading time
The world lives at a fast pace and time is the most precious resource and consequently has no patience to open a site that requires a few seconds to load. Any online store owner should be aware that loading time is a great way of chasing away customers.
6. The Newsletter – the first step in getting loyal customers
A newsletter is the guarantee that you will obtain some loyal visitors and ignoring this aid can be very expensive. A visitor can appreciate an online store but will soon forget the address so he won’t be converted into a regular user. A newsletter addresses exactly this quandary: it keeps the subscriber updated with the latest products and promotional offers.
7. The possibility to offer feedback and commentaries
Any buyer is well aware that he assumes certain risks in shopping online, but by reading reviews, comments or any feedback from others who have benefited from a similar product, they can make their own opinion. This seemingly unimportant thing is crucial to convince visitors of quality: a product with many positive feedbacks is definitely viewed with more confidence than one without any reviews. Equally important is the possibility to provide feedback after purchasing a product, to ensure valuable fair and transparent feedback. In the short run it will not seem like much, but in perspective, in the long term this will contribute to building a brand.
In conclusion, a successful online store is determined by an attractive and functional design, some elements playing a more important role, but decisive remain the quality and the price of the offered products. No customer will buy a product of questionable quality at a steeper price only because the site has an impressive design.