E-commerce Website Design: 12 Common Mistakes to Avoid [TIPS]

Customers expect a certain standard of website design and usability, especially when shopping on e-commerce websites. If you make too many design and functionality mistakes, you will not only lose customers, you will harm your long-term reputation. Fortunately, most mistakes are relatively easy to fix. If you want to improve your current ecommerce site, or you’re thinking of creating a new site, here are some of the most common design mistakes to avoid.

1. Information Overload

Although it’s tempting to cram each page – especially the homepage – with your red-hot products and promotions, you don’t want to visually overload your visitors. Make a good first impression. Avoid pop-ups, animated graphics, and background music. A clean, self-explanatory structure is more likely to convert visitors into customers.

2. Poor Product Descriptions

Too many ecommerce stores feature generic, uninspiring, and meager product descriptions. Make sure you answer all the questions a shopper may ask about a product. Use emotive language that stirs emotions in the reader. And highlight the product benefits – don’t just give a list of technical features.

3. Lack of Error Reporting

It’s very frustrating for shoppers when a page error occurs during site navigation. Technically, it’s easy to set up notifications when unexpected errors occur. Ask your webmaster to install automatic email alerts if a 404 (page not found) error occurs, for example. Then fix it.

4. Vague Contact Information

Before customers make a purchase, they need to know they can trust you. By making your contact details clearly visible on every page, they’ll be reassured that they can contact you if they have a problem. Consider adding a separate help request form, or at least include an FAQ section.

5. An Ineffective Site Search Engine

Many e-commerce sites have inadequate site search facilities. Make sure customers can filter their search results. For example, can customers refine their searches by price, category, and popularity? Help visitors find exactly what they’re looking for by including a highly visible search box in the top right hand corner of every page.

6. Not Displaying Related Products

Look at the displays in any brick and mortar store and you’ll see related products grouped together to increase the chances of add-on purchases. If you don’t design your website in the same way, you could lose many potential sales. Consider using an e-commerce platform that also allows you to manually add related products to the product pages.

7. A Lengthy Checkout Process

The quicker a customer can complete their purchase, the better. Don’t give customers too much time to reconsider with long forms and a confusing checkout process. If you can, combine checkout pages by using two-column layouts. And offer the option of registration after the order is complete.

8. Not Enough Trust Indicators

Trust seals and security badges such as Versign, BBB, and Truste will help strengthen your credibility and should improve conversions. Testimonials, customer reviews, and displaying a client portfolio will also boost the confidence of visitors.

9. Amateurish Typography

Visitors to your site probably won’t read every word of your copy. But they will notice inconsistent fonts or too much text. As most people scan each page for key information, headlines should highlight your main marketing message and product benefits. Only use one or two fonts, and leave enough space between lines for increased readability.

10. Limited Payment Options

Can you expand your customer base by using a payment service that will accept every major credit card? What about the customers who only want to pay by Paypal? Limiting the ways customers can pay will only restrict the number of total sales.

11. Confusing Navigation

If customers can’t find the product they’re looking for in a few clicks, you may have lost a sale. Carefully plan your navigational links and product categories to maximise site usability. And have a clearly visible “checkout” button on every product page.

12. Inadequate SEO

Sites with powerful SEO strategies behind them will inevitably attract more potential customers. Don’t get left behind. Help your ideal customers find you by following the golden rules of optimisation. Regularly add original, relevant content with keyword-rich headings, have clear navigation, gradually build links, and so on.

Avoiding these mistakes will not only improve the usability of your store, it should ensure you attract more potential customers by featuring higher in the search engine results pages. Consumers will have a much better shopping experience in a more user-friendly store, and this will keep them coming back for more.

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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