People often mistakenly assume that an e-commerce website is a practical matter that requires no special design. This is false in many ways.
First, user-experience (UX) based design involves much more than just the looks of the website – it focuses on the flow, intuitiveness, functionality, emotions it evokes in user, the anticipation of user’s needs and seamlessly ironing all potential problems so that once the site is live, it all looks like smooth sailing.
Second, an e-commerce platform should be designed with products in mind and allow them to shine. A good e-commerce website design is the one that makes the user remember the products, not any obstructive graphics or design elements. The e-commerce website design you will remember will usually be the one that is so bad you never want to shop there again. But there is art to minimalism, and doing it right requires experience.
Your e-commerce platform is the core of your business. You want to do it right. Make sure you’re working with an experienced website design & development agency in Dubai to get measurable results.
Meanwhile, here are some tips on what good web design means when it comes to online stores.
1. Evoke the right emotions
You might have noticed that UX professionals mention the user’s emotional experience a lot. These aren’t just some web design buzzwords. Emotional experience doesn’t imply that your customer will be brought to tears by the design (let’s hope not!), but simply that everything we experience makes us feel something. A well-designed digital product can be a sense of comfort, amusement, inspiration or excitement.
Think of a good shopping experience, the fun you can have browsing attractive products, the spark you feel when you imagine them in your life (e.g. yourself wearing a beautiful new outfit on a fun night out) and the entire lifestyle promise they come with. Think of the ease you experience when you don’t have to think too hard and the things you desire are at your fingertips, just a click away. Think of the comfort that you experience browsing casually from your phone without any rush, noise, crowd or interference. Remember the excitement you feel when you can easily find exactly what you’re looking for, and then have the site read your mind and offer further suggestions tailored to your taste. And the immense satisfaction when all is done and you’re anticipating the delivery.
Now think of the effort it takes to look for things you need when you’re not sure what to search for and where. Think about the sense that your time is being wasted by the site taking forever to load. Think about the annoyance of pop-ups messing with your browsing experience. Confusion when you have no idea how to place the order or make changes to it. Sheer frustration when you’re halfway done filling in your details just to be signed out and having to do it all again. The concern you feel about the safety of your data from a website that seems to be designed by amateurs. Well, at that point you’ll be long gone to a competitor’s website and will never put yourself through that experience again.
This is what we mean by evoking emotions and why they are so important in web design & development.
2. Keep it simple
Options are good, but making decisions exhausts people. Too much information and choices feel like a chore and not like a joyful digital experience you want to provide.
A good e-commerce website designer needs to prioritize and think about what information is important to the user. The entire history of your company may not be the top concern a potential customer has in mind when they’re looking to buy a product.
Highlight the top brands and best-selling products and try to always get to the point as fast as possible. Use copy that is clear and informative and visuals that tell the story right away. Using slideshows on a home page is a great way to show your top selection without creating clutter.
Good search functionalities and intuitive layouts can be of great help in meaningfully applying information so that it isn’t overwhelming while still being easily available.
The menu bar needs to be uncluttered and to the point. Navigation should be obvious, and it should take just a few clicks to get to any part of the website.
Navigating an online store should not be hard work, it should be leisure.
3. Know your target
Effective UX design first needs to identify who the user is. A good website design needs to display a fantastic understanding of the brand’s core demographic and cater to them.
Of course, some general rules work on all human beings, but even websites that target a broad range of customers need to possess a good understanding of possible challenges each group can face to be able to preemptively smooth them out.
More niche platforms can be further optimized to accommodate a very specific set of requirements that might not work across-board but will be incredibly effective in selling to the target.
For example, an experienced website development agency will analyze your target’s behaviours and psychology based on their age (what makes sense to a teenager can be confusing for an elderly person), location (e.g. young people in Dubai might act differently from young people in Sweden), gender and more. A great design should feel personable and should resonate with the people you’re talking to.
4. Capture attention instantly & respect uses’ time
Digital customers have very short attention spans. A challenge with designing an effective e-commerce brand is that you have to get the message through instantly, there is no time for subtlety or convoluted content. What your customer experiences in the first few seconds on your desktop or mobile page can make you or break you. We call this the “WOW” factor.
The solution isn’t to be loud, but to be relevant. The user is wondering who you are and what you have to offer them – give them the answer as soon as they click on your page (e.g. “a gorgeous luxury brand whose products will glam up your life” or “a cutting edge technology provider that will solve your problems”).
Consistency is also important – your brand message, look and feel and the entire UX need to reinforce each other.
5. Tell a compelling story
We know we just said to be to the point and not getting into irrelevant detail, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have excellent content. It’s not easy to provide the story behind the brand and products in a way that is relevant and easy for the reader to instantly grasp, but when this is achieved you will manage to stand out among the competition.
A story isn’t told just through blocks of text, is the mix of right copy, tone of voice, imagery or video content, even colours and designs that speak to visitors on different levels.
A website design agency with a solid content creation foundation will know just how to best achieve this for your brand. This is why we recommend prioritizing a full-service branding & digital agency who have experience in building entire brands and know how to tell a story through design.
6. Use gorgeous, hi-res visuals
Even though this is the last point, it is a crucial one. The focus of the e-commerce website is on the products. The website design needs to allow them to shine and take the stage. But for the website to do that and still look attractive, the product images need to be excellent.
Organize a professional product shoot. Make sure all photographs are perfected in the post-production stage. The images need to show a clear view of the product, use appealing displays, and be hi-res. Models can often help the user visualise the product in the context relevant to them.
Keep in mind that many big images can affect website loading speed which is potentially fatal for your online store, so your website design & development company needs to be able to assist with this, as well as suggest the right hosting provider that meets the website requirements.
The layout of the pages needs to be clean as well and avoid looking busy or cluttered. Product images need breathing space to leave an impact.
Beautifully shot, large images on a clear background can have a breathtaking effect, especially when coupled with intuitive functionality (e.g. parallax scroll down sequences similar to those on social media).
With more and more brands turning their business to the digital platforms, the difference between an ok and a great web design can prove to be invaluable. Your e-commerce website is the key to growing your business so you should be ready to allocate a reasonable budget and not use any shortcuts to get the best for your brand.
To be a credible online retail brand you have to look credible. Look for an agency in Dubai with a good background in website design & development as well as branding, and reach out to them for consultation.