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E-Commerce Design Mistakes To Avoid

E-commerce websites are a relatively new territory for both buyers and sellers, and as a result much traditional retail wisdom does not carryover to the web. Though many business professionals view websites as simple ads for their products, in reality e-commerce sites need to account for essentially all aspects of the real-world shopping experience to successfully attract and engage consumers. To safeguard against the common pitfalls of e-commerce website design, check out the 10 most common design mistakes.

Hard-to-use checkouts

Usability is crucial for e-commerce websites, as it defines how intuitive, convenient and effective a customer’s online experience will be. A poorly designed website that suffers usability issues can easily frustrate customers into giving up on a purchase mid-checkout. Quality e-commerce sites make a point of creating optimal usability during checkout. The best checkout system let customers make purchases with or without having to log in, and they carryover users’ information when they do log in to help them save time and effort. Also, having as many payment options as possible and making shipping rates and policies obvious from the get-go helps improve the user experience and save customers a lot of worry.

Denying customers a good look

When you keep a customer from getting a close-up look of your items, you might as well be redirecting them to the mall from whence they came. E-commerce sites should maximize the interactive experience for users while offering their products apt visual representation. If you can’t find the means to put in multidimensional, rotating views or videos, simply including a series of high-resolution product shots from differing angles can still work wonders. And finally, all products deserve professional-quality photography, whether your goods are on eBay or on American Apparel.

Neglecting search and discovery features

Having an obvious and easy-to-use search feature is expected of just about every website in this day and age, so e-commerce site owners have no excuses when it comes to the search bar. But products should be not only searchable, but also discoverable. Product discovery is akin to the window-shopping experience of a mall. On the web, customers can’t glance to a neighboring aisle and have their attention caught by something different. But product suggestions can absolutely compensate for it. Amazon knows this. Pinterest knows this. And now you know it.

Omitting product details

Trust is absolutely vital to e-commerce. Hoping your customers trust your word regarding product color and quality is one thing. Hoping your customers trust you enough to buy blindly is another. Just like limiting visual product previews to a singular, tiny image hurts the customer’s shopping experience, obscuring or omitting crucial information in written form does it all the same. In order to feel confident in your products, customers want all the information you can give. They want details, details, and more details — both visually and in writing.

Providing cause for insecurity

One of the biggest hindrances to consumer trust in e-commerce is the absence of privacy policies. Obscure and hard-to-find privacy policies are equivalent to entirely absent ones. You can also increase your customers’ security by using reliable and reputable credit-card processing services and making sure to protect their personal information — especially if you intend on asking for a lot of it. Compared to physical stores, there are fewer barriers to setting up an e-commerce site, and that’s why e-commerce sellers need to take all available measures to make customers feel safe and secure from the start.

Forgetting about customer service

In line with combating e-commerce-inherent trust issues, websites should make a big emphasis on customer service, making the online experience easily translate into a personal connection when possible. As such, contact info should be made obvious on e-commerce pages, and customers should be able to get a hold of a real person on the phone or at least have their questions answered caringly and promptly via email or other methods. Good e-customer service is a huge step in bridging the gap between physical and digital stores, so be sure not to neglect your contact information.

Overdoing product categories

While having a lot of product categories might seem like a good way to beef up the perceived size of one’s inventory, it tends to do the opposite when the categories are too specific, ambiguous or overall lacking in products. Worse yet, it can confuse and overwhelm customers and prevent them from finding what they want. A strong category list should be intuitive, helpful and relevant to customers from all backgrounds, especially if you sell niche products.

Underestimating the importance of aesthetics

Website aesthetics give customers their first impression of your company and products. Customers’ perceptions of credibility are established instantaneously, making their trust in your products and services essentially a gut reaction in regard to your appearance. Now more than ever, having an attractive website can really pay off. That’s why e-commerce websites simply cannot afford to be anything but beautiful. Certainly, beauty is subjective, but pairing high-quality, professional images with a clean, organized and logical layout leaves relatively little room for error or complaint.

Trying to fit too much on the homepage

While it is crucial to give customers as much (relevant) information as possible, one common mistake on e-commerce sites is wrapped up in being informationally over-ambitious on the landing page. Think of your landing page as your store window. It should engage potential customers with a glimpse of something desirable, offering visually appealing imagery, catchy and concise writing and an emotional hook. It should not feel like a page out of a catalog, drowning customers in hard-to-decipher details. Landing pages should leave customers wanting more—not leave them scrambling for the door.

Trying to do it all yourself

Finally, the biggest mistake e-commerce professionals can make is trying to save money by doing everything themselves. When cost-cutting measures are taken as far as putting under-qualified individuals behind the wheel of website development, design and marketing efforts, it typically does more harm than good. Tasks that are fast and easy for professionals become costly learning challenges that often result in emotional attachment to subpar work. Worse yet, it can spread you too thin to focus on other important matters. Design may look easy but, like anything else, it’s best left to the professionals.


The author of this piece was Olga Kharitonova, an experienced Magento Project Manager from Customer Paradigm. 


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