These days, if you’re in the world of retail, you need to be selling online. Designing a simple ecommerce website is a relatively easy affair compared to just a few years ago, but even so, creating something that perfectly matches your specifications takes careful planning and a smart approach to your target market.
Before you start, there are several factors you need to consider. Without a strategy underpinning your web project, you can easily lose time and resources further down the line. Bearing this in mind, here are some things to consider.
What (and who) are you doing this for?
The first step of your web project is to define the purpose of the website – and who the target audience will be. Everything from design and navigation to content and tone of voice should be informed by your audience and what appeals to them in a brand. Many ecommerce entrepreneurs struggle at this first hurdle: unsure of exactly what they need, they push on with some vague ideas in mind regardless…
It’s best to take a step back to ensure that you commission a web build that’s going to bring you business in the years to come. In fact, having a clear vision for your ecommerce business is imperative before you start designing a website. It’s not cost-effective to change the direction of your website halfway there — and this is experience talking.
But don’t get bogged down by the content planning stage either. Keep it simple. Essentially, you’re looking to create a website for your ideal visitor – the kind of person most likely to want to buy your products. So spend some time on your buyer personas before committing to any big branding decisions. And hey, don’t be afraid to do something different to your competitors if you want to stand out. You don’t want to be like them – you want to be better.
What journey will you lead people on?
Navigating through an ecommerce website is a journey, of sorts. So what type of journey will you create for your customers? One thing is certain: the start of your journey (the homepage) needs to make a good first impression. You need to preempt how visitors will move through your site, and the actions they’ll want to take at each stage. They need to be able to find their way around with ease, particularly when it comes to the money pages.
Basically, you want the journey to be as smooth and seamless as possible. A confusing website is unlikely to draw customers back a second time. It may help, as you create the plans for your website, to conduct a review from the perspective of a new visitor – or ask someone to conduct this review for you with fresh eyes. There are plenty of cheap user testing services that can help you with some good old-fashioned card-sorting exercises.
It might take you a little while to nail down the perfect information architecture or product catalog, so don’t lose heart. Keep trying and working with your web designers or CMS until you hit on something that’s fluid and right for you. For an ecommerce business, your user journey is your sales journey — it literally pays to get this right.
What content and imagery will you use?
In the lead-up to designing an ecommerce website, you should be creating (or outsourcing) plenty of quality, original content with which to populate your site – everything from product and category pages to in-depth blog posts. This content will not only serve to provide information and establish your brand voice; it will help your store to rank in search engine results. Hosting a blog on your website is also a great way to build shareable assets, establish industry expertise, and encourage readers to interact with your brand.
What about color and imagery? Your choice of visuals will also have a marked impact on your visitors’ first impressions. When selecting stock images, be sure you know where you stand with usage rights. Websites like Burst offer access to royalty-free images that are much higher quality (not to mention cooler) than your average stock photo. Likewise, your choice of color scheme is also important – different colors evoke emotional responses, so choose wisely to complement your brand. If in doubt, try a Color Palette Generator.
How will you ensure it’s functional and mobile-friendly?
Your website’s functionality will directly impact how people perceive your brand – so if it’s poorly organized, you can be sure it’s going to leave a bad impression. When we talk about functionality, this means things like loading time, having the right security features, ensuring there are no broken links, etc. Whether you have the website built for you or you design it yourself, make sure you have someone on hand who can ensure that your website features – contact forms, buttons, plugins – are all working as they should.
Plus, with use of mobile devices continuing to climb every year, having a mobile-friendly or responsive website is non-negotiable. Around 95% of mobile users now rely on their devices to search for local products and services.
Increasingly, websites that don’t optimize for mobile use are being penalized in search results, since they don’t offer a user-friendly experience. Of course, using mobile commerce software to build your website will take care of this for you – or if you’re using Divi, you can take advantage of the Divi Mobile Customizer to adjust the layout of your site for mobile devices.
How will you test and analyze the results?
Today’s ecommerce store owners have everything they need to accurately calculate ROI — and most complex analytics tool are free or accessible with a low-cost subscription.
Data analysis is something you should factor into your website build as you go, rather than tacking it on as an afterthought. Right from day one, you need to be ready to track and analyze user data to help you make key improvements.
Many don’t realize the growth potential offered by services like Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager & Google Data Studio, but understanding user behavior on your site, such as what buttons are clicked most and where the majority of your traffic comes from, is key to making improvements. Likewise, you’ll want to embrace website testing as a means of ironing out any kinks before you put it live. Sending new visitors to a broken website won’t do you any favors!
To conclude: it’s easy to build a website, but creating the ideal website for your business takes more than choosing one or two bright colors and a bold typeface – it takes strategic planning. Good web design is as much about functionality, usability, structure and content as it is about deciding where to place the logo.
Here we’ve listed some of the most important factors to consider, and with some work, you should be able to welcome new visitors to your website in no time. What are the factors you consider starting a web design project?
PS. Looking for a Divi Child Theme for your e-commerce project? Some of our most popular layouts are: Royal Commerce, Solo, Dreamer, La Panaderia and for Elementor OceanWP. Popular plugins for WooCommerce include: Woo Layout Injector, Divi – Awesome Woo Products and Divi Shop Extended 2.0