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Five principles of eCommerce design to consider

When approaching your eCommerce project there are few things to consider. And none more likely to garner constructive criticism than the design of your site. Design, as with most creative processes, is very subjective, but in sticking to some basic principles you’ll be more likely to hit the mark and deliver a successful eCommerce site.

  1. Know your audience

You aren’t going to be all things to all men so understanding who you’re trying to appeal to will be key. Sounds obvious? Yes, but once designers begin they can get carried away developing beautiful images and exquisite calligraphic typeface. Great, but what if your typical target audience is male, between the ages of 30 and 45 working in the engineering industry? Now I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that your sublime design efforts may fall on stony ground. Design your website with your target audience in mind. And if you don’t know what they would appreciate then go out and ask before you commit time and money to a design that won’t work.

  1. Less is more

Keeping it simple and clean is often the best bet. You may well have a lot to say but prioritise your detail and give yourself enough space to clearly articulate it. Think about the user experience (UX) opting for simple, consistent design and management of detail throughout the site. Many designers will focus their attention on the product page and they are right to do so as this is the cornerstone content of your site, but be sure to carry those same design principles across your entire site. A great product page may encourage someone to add that product into their basket, but a poorly laid out payment page can lose you that sale.

  1. Be careful with colour

When it comes to choosing a colour palette for your site you are going to need to give a nod to your brand. But it is key to consider your product catalogue images too. If what you are selling is very colourful then you may want to pair back the colours used in and around the site and select a monochrome or muted palette to complement your bright images. By selecting no more than 5 complementary colours you can create a much stronger identity and create a consistency that people begin to trust. We should just mention the colour RED. Ever popular but a colour to be wary of in terms of web design. Often associated with warnings, too much red on a site has been proven to turn customers off, so if your brand is red heavy make sure you use it sparingly against a more muted palette.

  1. Responsive sanity check

It goes without saying that a new website should be responsive. But when designing your site, you may want to keep an eye on how the design works with different layouts. Is it enough that you can see a new page layout and the text renders as well for an iPhone or Android device as it does for a PC? Does the font now work? Does the colour work or does it now dominate the page? Before committing to a design stylesheet, check it on a number of different devices to ensure that it offers you the look, feel and UX that you were originally seeking.

  1. Test it!

Engage with some of your colleagues to do some simple but effective testing of your design. Asking people you trust to review your initial designs is a great way to gather immediate feedback that may help you to avoid some expensive design mistakes. Simple things like people having an adverse reaction to a colour or an image can help you refine your designs with little cost. Once you have engaged in a more formal design stylesheet you can begin to do more sophisticated testing using A/B testing. Consider doing a soft launch of your site into a defined target market using the principles of A/B testing and use the feedback to inform your final decisions. But remember your site should evolve in line with the intelligence you are gleaning from your usage data, so check back often to reflect any changes in how your site is being used or viewed.