I have to confess, as an individual, I sometimes dread the conversation of ecommerce design. Functionality and design meeting full force, where a sales team can be barking about site functionality mixed with the marketing team wanting beautiful design. So what’s a designer to do?
Many people think that Ecommerce sites are strictly about selling products, not about looking good. But web design is more than just the aesthetics; it’s intrinsically linked to how usable the site is. And if a website provides a terrible user experience, the customer won’t want to buy anything.
Here’s a few thoughts on the topic surrounding the balancing act of design and usability:
Customers relate to a site that has a human presence, so having a twitter account and a blog are great ways to make a connection. They also appreciate integrated, easy forms of sharing. It’s a two-for-one: adding social media makes your customer’s experience more streamlined, and it also gives you the opportunity to get free advertising and feedback via sharing.
Kiki & Bree makes their presence on Twitter a key component of the homepage, gives tips of the week on their blog, and allows customers to share product pages through Twitter, Facebook, or email. This fully integrated social sharing allows the site’s target demographic to connect with both each other and with the company.
Many designers put all their efforts into the homepage and breeze through the subsidiary pages. Of course, it’s a critical component to the design; it’s where you establish the look of your brand, and where the navigation system is established. But it might be argued that product detail pages are even more important; after all, they’re where your customers will spend the majority of their time on your website.
Need Supply Co demonstrates several practices that make these pages easy to navigate. If the user hasn’t filled out every required field, smart fields inform them of their specific error, instead of giving them a generic error message. The photos are crisp and varied, and rollovers allow the viewer to flip through them quickly and easily. Finally, the navigation is extremely clean and simple, making every component easy to understand and work with.
A very small operation might not need to have anything more complex than an Etsy account. But for those who want more options, there are other solutions; Amazon’s Ecommerce software is great for small businesses looking for a bit more control over their own site. Of course, if you’re talking about a behemoth of an online retailer, ponying up for a developer who can design custom tools for your needs is probably the best bet.
Remember that loading time is very important when it comes to user experience; if it takes too long to load, you’ll lose customers by the minute. New features are arising in browsers to reduce some of your file size. But until they’re standardized, it’s best to stick with a number of images, videos, and effects that your site can definitely handle.
Web users are subconsciously alert to the signals that your website sends them; if an Ecommerce site is difficult to navigate, or very generic-looking, it makes user feel suspicious of the quality of your company, and therefore the quality of your product. A well-designed website is one of the most crucial components to building up the initial trust and eventual brand loyalty that turns a business into a big success.
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