What makes a good e-commerce website?

For many businesses, their website is the first point of contact between buyer and seller. Many people do most of their shopping online now for a variety of goods and services. This means that having a website that’s both visually enticing and easy to use can offer your business a new platform to conduct trade. Depending on your niche and industry, having the option for users to purchase your products or services directly from your website can be vital to ensure you don’t lose out on custom or fall behind competitors who are already offering this as an option.

The digital revolution has meant people now expect good service with little delay, so if your website is difficult to navigate or slow, you could find yourself losing out on customers. This is why a good e-commerce website design is so important. But e-commerce websites are not without their complexities, to shed some light on the topic, we’ve compiled a list of factors and considerations that make for an effective e-commerce website.

What is an e-commerce website?

What exactly is an e-commerce website? By definition, e-commerce or electric-commerce means the action of completing a transaction online, so an e-commerce website is a means of buying and selling products and services online. Just as in a traditional shop you’d find on the high street. An e-commerce website is a platform on which businesses can build their online store and carry out transactions but accessible anywhere and at any time.

Essentially, e-commerce websites are constructed into 3 key parts: a storefront, products and a checkout. The virtual storefront allows you to display your business similarly to how you would with a shop window, think of this ‘window’ as an opportunity to highlight key information about your brand, offers, featured products or events. The product pages essentially do what they say on the tin, they’ll include product information, price, images and depending on the product, list the variations available to purchase. The checkout should make for a simple and secure transactional process between the customer and your business. Prospective buyers should be able to see a summary of their purchase including estimated delivery times and a breakdown of costs. Returning users should be able to login in with their details to avoid re-filling in forms about payment, billing and delivery information.

what makes a good e-commerce website

What makes a good e-commerce website?

1) Presentation

A key factor for creating an effective e-commerce site lies in the way that your products and services are presented to visitors. Website design is incredibly important when it comes to visualizing and communicating brand messages. It can really help ‘set the scene’ and set expectations for what users can anticipate from your business and help communicate the story behind your brand. The design and layout of your products will depend on your industry as well as the products or services you provide. You should also consider your target demographics too, are you a B2B business or B2C? The way you present your brand and products on your website should reflect the interests, needs and desires of your intended buyers.

For instance, if you’re a fashion retailer, you would want your site to be visually appealing to your desired audience, clean and reflect the brand personality. Your homepage should be striking and engage the user with either engaging imagery of your products or entice them to learn more about your business’s story. Your layout should be easy to navigate and not confuse the user – this is one of the quickest ways to lose a potential sale. By providing quick and easy navigation you’ll entice users to continue browsing for extended periods of time, they might even purchase an additional product.

Taking another example, if you sell tickets to comedy gig nights, your website might appear busier since you want to portray the concept that your events are exciting and full of life, creating a good representation of your business. You may use more colour, imagery or video to add to the excitement. You could consider adding testimonials or reviews from previous attendees, 93% of consumers say that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions.

Whatever your stylistic choices may be – having prices, trust signals and reviews clearly visible would be imperative to persuade users to complete a purchase. Its likely customers will immediately want to know costs and prices, whether the site is secure and safe to pay through, and what the returns or satisfaction policy is. Try to be as transparent and provide relevant information to avoid prospective buyers bouncing off. These two different examples show that creating a good e-commerce website can vary widely depending on the industry, as well as the needs and expectations of the user.

2) Usability

If your website is clunky, poorly laid out, or difficult to navigate, it’s not going to be a place customers want to spend time browsing your products or services. Making your website easy to use is essential if you want customers to keep coming back. With 52% of global internet traffic from mobiles, you must ensure your website is mobile-friendly and accessible on a variety of smart devices. We’re not suggesting that every business needs an all-singing all-dancing mobile app but providing the same level of usability that users can get on desktop would be a great place to start. Consider the placement and size of features like call-to-actions and forms too, smartphone screens are obviously smaller than your average desktop, bear this in mind when you’re working on optimising your site for mobile.

3) Security

It’s paramount that your e-commerce site can provide a safe place to store and process online transactions. Retail giants like Amazon and eBay have gained trust with buyers through their proven security measures. According to a study in 2018, the e-comm industry experienced up to 32% of all successful security threats annually. It’s crucial that you implement a number of protocols to safeguard your buyers online. For customers to shop on your site, they need to know they can trust you.

With visual trust signals on your homepage and throughout your site, you instil that needed trust value, without which your customers might consider spending their hard-earned cash elsewhere! Having a secure payment system is paramount, and resilience to hackers and malware is key.

The best e-commerce websites

Understanding what makes a great e-commerce website is one thing, but looking at some examples of already successful e-commerce sites is endlessly useful to help inspire your design.

Global fashion retailer ASOS has got it nailed. With easy-to-use navigation, extensive but minimalistic product pages and a trusted, safe and secure checkout process they’ve removed any potential barriers that a buyer may experience that results in not closing the sale.

For smaller in scale businesses, take a look at Moooi the high-end furniture and home accessories retailer. Offering a variety of bespoke products crafted by elite designers, their product pages are laid out in a way that best promotes the imagery of the items, represented as pieces of art appose to a fixture or fitting. They know their market and their audience and have created an e-commerce site that successfully reflects this.

Websites that get results? We can help.

Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a long-established business you’ll want to stand out in the crowded digital market space and provide exceptional user experiences for your customers. Extending the reach of your products and service with a functional, best practice, e-commerce website.

We design and build completely bespoke e-comm websites for all businesses big or small. We want to help businesses unlock their online potential by increasing traffic to your website and generating valuable conversions.

What are you waiting for? If you’re looking for a new e-commerce site optimised for your audience and market that’ll drive tangible results for your business, get in touch with a member of our friendly team today. We’d be happy to discuss any ideas or plans that you may have or we can start from scratch, by combining our creativity with our technical expertise we’ll find the right e-commerce solution for you.

Emily Bradnam

Emily joined the Bright Design team as an apprentice in 2018 and now plays a key role within the marketing team as an SEO Executive. Her main responsibilities are to identify strategies, techniques and tactics to improve the number of online visitors to client’s websites. Driving growth and profit for our client-partners.

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