In today’s hyperconnected world, building an ecommerce website is one of the steps aspiring entrepreneurs take to generate truckloads of online sales.
Several years ago, the first course of action would’ve been to find a web design professional or agency. That was, however, before content management systems and self-service website builders were mainstream.
Today, any person can build a fully functional, professional-looking ecommerce website without ever touching code. In fact, you can get a brand new ecommerce site up and running within the next hour if you already have the resources and funds at your disposal.
What people can’t replace with tools, however, are the skills and knowledge needed to craft something that can engage an audience.
Fortunately for you, this post will discuss five simple yet effective strategies that will help you design a killer website from scratch.
If you’re starting from a clean slate, the worst mistake you can make right now is to be invested in the wrong platform.
It’s true that most DIY website platforms follow an identical formula when it comes to the web design process — pick a theme, plug in some content, and combine extensions to incorporate functionality. But as you try more of them, you should notice several nuances that can drastically affect how you’ll use the platform and, ultimately, the results you’ll get.
Some website builders, for example, depend heavily on minimalistic themes and a drag-and-drop approach to website creation. While using these platforms is undoubtedly a breeze, flexibility isn’t their strongest suit.
If you plan to offer additional features to your audience apart from content consumption, such as online shopping, booking, account creation, and message boards, see to it that you’ve explored all your options. You need a comprehensive ecommerce platform that can also help you with the marketing and accounting aspects of your online business.
When designing websites, it’s important to identify the specific goals you want to accomplish.
Ask yourself, do you need your visitors to convert into email subscribers? Are you trying to create sales or raise awareness for a particular cause?
Identifying these goals is the key to determining the core page elements that should stand out in your design. Everything else that can distract users away from this goal must be considered as visual clutter and, therefore, be either made less visible or removed altogether.
You can observe this goal-oriented approach being practiced by big-name brands in the marketing niche. For example, take a look below at the main landing page of Neil Patel whose main goal is to promote his webinar:
We can break down Neil’s design choices into a couple of landing page elements, particularly the value proposition and CTA or call to action.
Remember, it all boils down to understanding the expectations of your target audience.
In the example above, Neil knows that his visitors are website owners who are struggling to gain more traffic. As such, his value proposition — which is to share the steps on how to get 1,702,148 visitors a month — is made the centerpiece of his design.
Of course, this can be considered as an oversimplification of what having a goal-oriented design means. If you own a smaller website, you’ll have to experiment with a bunch of other page elements that could improve the user experience and build trust, be it an explainer video, user-oriented internal links, infographic, or a stunning product photo.
Speaking of elements that build trust, there’s nothing more convincing to online users than positive online reviews and testimonials.
Statistics show that 85 percent of online users embrace online reviews as if they’re actual recommendations from people they know. As such, it will be wise to use a layout or plugin that lets you display multiple customer reviews without taking up much space.
WordPress users, for example, can take advantage of the Strong Testimonials plugin, which lets you present reviews on any page as a slideshow, grid, or list.
Here’s an example of how your testimonials could appear:
Aside from reviews, another type of user-generated content or UGC you can leverage are social media posts that mention your brand. You just need a social media marketing strategy that can engage your existing followers and utilize their reach to further your brand, such as hashtag contests and employee takeovers.
Sometimes, the most important aspect of web design isn’t something you can see on the page.
Your website’s loading speed, for example, is something you can’t afford to ignore if you want to maximize user engagement.
According to statistics, 40 percent of users on desktops and 53 percent on mobile would abandon a website that doesn’t finish loading in three quick seconds.
The good news is, there are plenty of tools out there that can show you exactly what you need to do to provide users with a smooth browsing experience. GTmetrix, for example, goes as far as pinpointing the resources that require optimization.
Finally, it’s a well-known fact that even experienced web designers rely on trial and error to an extent.
There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution in web design. What may have worked for a previous project may not yield the same results for a new one.
A web developer’s only choice is to test their designs, measure the data, and find areas that can be improved. The fastest way to do this is to utilize A/B or split testing, which is the practice of testing two or more versions of the same page at the same time.
For WordPress users, a surefire route is to use a plugin like Nelio A/B Testing, which works by allowing you to run “Experiments” that pit together multiple versions of your landing page to determine which will have the highest conversion rate. You can also narrow down your testing efforts by comparing posts, themes, headlines, and other specific components of your design.
If you use a different platform, you can run A/B testing campaigns with third-party testing tools like Crazy Egg and Hotjar.
At the end of the day, the best strategies are those that require you to be in touch with your goals, your users, and what data tells you.
Again, there’s no specific blueprint to follow if you want a website that effectively engages your audience — there are only design principles and rules you must live by. Everything else depends on the needs and preferences of both you and your target audience. Good luck!