eCommerce Website Design
eCommerce websites have their own unique character that is designed to lead the visitor
to one simple task – make an online purchase. A web designer needs to consider a variety
of online selling principles while designing an eCommerce website. In this article we will
try to take a look at some of the major design aspects that you must have in an
Many of you are probably already asking why eCommerce website design is different
from any other website design. They all need to be attractive, well organized and use the
right colors that fits the website spirit and so on. Your instincts are good. However a
close look at some successful eCommerce websites will reveal the conceptual differences
that are typical in a successful eCommerce website.
An eCommerce website needs to follow certain selling principles:
Give the user a pleasant experience during his online shopping.
Make certain you provide sufficient information on who owns the website and why they
should be trusted.
The website must be easy to use. If it isn’t, the visitor will go to your competitor.
Those principles are not new. We all know those basics from our day to day experiences
in the mall, shopping center and every other market place that is waiting for us to open up
our wallets. The big challenge for a web designer is how to translate those conventional
marketing techniques to the virtual world of the internet. I’m sure you’ve all noticed that
in most supermarkets the bread stand is placed at the far end of the building, yet you can
smell the fresh bread at the entrance (sometimes they even use a special air duct to carry
the smells). That has been done deliberately. Marketers use our sense of smell to draw us
through the store where we are exposed to all sorts of tempting goodies as we go to get
our loaf of bread.
How do you draw an imaginarily path in a web page? A path designed to lead the visitor
to do what you want him to do…make an online purchase. Unlike the supermarket our
website has no smell. In a website the distance from one point to the other is pretty much
the same, so the exit is always right there. In a website you can try to order the “shelf” in
the way you think will best expose the visitor to many of your products, but there is
always a chance that he will find a short cut to another page that can also be the way off
As can be see, although putting your products on the web is much easier then renting
space and opening a supermarket. However, selling your products on the web can be
A good eCommerce website design will lead the visitor to the right page in one click or
two at the most. Sometime web designers will use techniques that would never be
considered for non-eCommerce websites. Everyone has seen at least one sales letter
website. On these web pages the only link is to the order form. Sales letters are not the
most typical eCommerce website because they usually sell only one product. That allows
the web designer the ability to exaggerate the one click principle and make it an
advantage. All the facts about the product have been presented to the user is a smart way
while every few lines he has the option to click on the order form. If he is not yet
convinced he will have the option to continue to read more facts and testimonials about
the products. Believe it or not, those sales letter websites are actually selling.
“What about online shops?” Online shops have to deal with more then one product. Of
course, the greater number of products increases the complexity of the website.
Sophisticated eCommerce websites use a variety of personalization technologies in an
effort to determine the best selection of products to offer to the visitor. Personalization
technologies are a major part of advanced eCommerce websites. However this topic is
beyond the scope of this article. The cleverness of an eCommerce website’s
personalization technology has a major influence on its design. The first to use such
technology was Amazon.com who decided to push their client’s books to a visitor based
on that visitor’s past orders combined with the statistics they had collected on all visitors
used to predict what someone looking at a specific book might also be interested in
reading. Today the goal is to try to predict what to offer the user on his first visit as well.
An eCommerce web design is also about the layout. One important aspect is where the
user’s eyes look first when accessing a web page. Lots of research has been done on this
topic. Most research showed that the middle left side area will attract the most attention
followed by the center of the page. By using these techniques web designers try to draw
the “walking path” for the visitor’s eye, much like what was done at the supermarket. An
experienced eCommerce web designer will know how to create designs to meets those
If you are about to open an eCommerce website or you are already own one, make sure
you understand the web design principles for online selling. Consider consulting with an
experienced website designer preferably someone who has experience with eCommerce
Good luck with your sales.