Exceptional Web design plays a vital role in a company website. From boosting search engine optimization and improving load times to attracting potential customers into the online shop, the design of a site is more than just aesthetics. For those looking to craft a site that doesn’t just look good but performs and converts, it’s necessary to understand top design principals. Here are eight experts discussing exactly what to consider and how to execute several of the most important Web design principals, regardless of the site’s purpose, products or target audience.
1) Anthony Spallone – Admin Director at Arctic Grey, Inc.
“To ensure the best conversion rates through design, it’s important to create clear and concise calls to action. I recommend having one main call to action per screen view, meaning one button per full-screen scroll whether you’re on a desktop or mobile device.”
Anthony from Arctic Grey touches on a very important element not only in Web design but also across the board in all eCommerce marketing. Having a single, clear and obvious call to action allows a visitor to know exactly what is expected of them. When multiple calls to action are implemented within a single Web page, it draws the attention of the visitor to several points of interest, which not only may confuse the visitor, but it makes it difficult for the website to really hammer down what’s important.
A website performs many functions. It’s designed to sell products, grow an email list, expand a social media presence and possibly to educate. With so many desired outcomes, it’s not possible to push customers to every desired end game on a single page. Instead, individual pages need to have a singular call to action, with different CTAs used on different pages. This not only helps improve the flow and appearance of the page but it maintains the visitor’s focus.
Another important point found in Anthony’s quote is to repeat the call to action to make sure it appears once per “full screen.” This means if a user needs to scroll down the page, another CTA (the same CTA) needs to be present again. This way, there’s no way for the site visitor to miss the call to action.
2) Paul Pritchard – Shopify Designer
“Design is how you establish trust with potential customers. If they see care in your design, they’ll know your products will follow suit. Trust is key in an online environment where customers can’t test out your products in person and the purchase needs to be made more on faith.”
Product packaging in brick and mortar stores is an extremely important piece of marketing. There’s a reason why people obtain full degrees in packaging. It not only showcases the product and grabs the attention of a potential customer, but it also gives an indication of the quality of the product within the package. When an inferior package is used, it reflects poorly on the product, potentially diminishing the possibility of a customer making a purchase. The same is true with Web design.
Paul Pritchard, a Shopify designer highlights this idea in that customers want a product they can trust. If the website looks like it was pieced together quickly, has little flow and doesn’t attract their attention, they become less likely to purchase anything from the site. Customers want a company that cares not only about its product but also about its presentation. Due to this, companies need to avoid putting out any new site updates until the business is confident with the overall quality of the site.
3) Vinny Galiano – President of Minion Made
“Your customer will know within the first few seconds if they feel comfortable buying from you. Why buy from you when they know industry-leading sites are secure? You must create a sense of security for your customers, giving them an overwhelming confidence in purchasing with you first and foremost.”
Customers want peace of mind. If there’s any doubt in the back of their head a site isn’t secure, they may avoid buying desired products or services. It’s important, as Vinny Galiano, President of Minion Made points out, to establish both a sense of trust and security for visitors. This begins by avoiding design elements typically connected with spam. An abundance of pop-ups, roll-over advertisements, and links leading out to third-party sites should all be avoided (at most, a site can include a single pop-up when attempting to exit the page).
Secondly, a page needs to clearly showcase the badge of the checkout service it uses. Whether it’s provided by Norton, Google or another security organization, including such a badge in the footer of a website and on checkout pages provides this peace of mind and will help improve conversion rates.
4) Jeremy Watt – Owner of Province of Canada
“Our overall approach to design has always been minimal without sacrificing detail. We know our customers like a clean aesthetic but we always want to provide them with all the product education they need so they understand what they’re purchasing. This blend provides a somewhat boring experience but it’s also a gimmick-free experience. Customers see a beautiful product shot, read the product details, and hit the “add to cart” button. The side benefit of this approach is a small percentage of customer questions and a small percentage of returns.”
Jeremy brings up an important point with the clean, minimal design aesthetic. It often comes across as “boring.” It uses a considerable amount of white space, is void of most pop-ups or moveable graphics. It’s simply the page and necessary information. However, the clean, minimal atheistic look of a website helps with a number of ways.
First, the minimal design look improves load time. Web browsers do not need to download unnecessary information, which slashes the amount of time it takes for a page to load. This helps improve conversion rates and boosts search engine optimization.
Secondly, the clean design pushes the visitor’s attention to exactly what the designer wants them to see. There’s nothing else for a potential customer to look at. Apple serves as a prime example of this. The company uses a very clean, minimal design for all of its products. On the back of the devices sits the clean Apple logo with nothing else around it. Because it’s a singular image in the midst of a clean design, it grabs the attention of anyone looking at it.
The clean look may not be as exciting, but it converts visitors, highlights the call to action and improves load time. Giving up a bit of excitement for these benefits is a valuable trade-off.
5) Amy Fronczkiewicz – Professional Photographer
“E-commerce businesses should never underestimate the importance of high-quality photography of their products. Simply put, great photography sells merchandise and will boost success rates. Having powerful visual imagery on a website will not only attract customers and encourage them to purchase products, it also strengthens a brand image in the marketplace.”
An image is worth a thousand words. Far too many businesses attempt to take photographs in-house, often with less than stellar results. An inferior product picture hinders the company’s ability to sell the product. When using a minimal Web design look, the visuals take center stage. A quality photograph needs to stand up on its own. If it’s unable to do so a visitor will lose interest. As Amy points out, a powerful visual will both attract customers and encourage them to make a purchase.
6) Greg Moore – Designer at Google
“One of the keys to good design for a solid brand, especially in e-commerce, is understanding people – who this product or service is for, what they really want deep down, and why they will care about your product over others. It’s a designer’s role to take those user needs and use them as a toolkit to build a brand the user can trust.”
Before a company can create a website, it needs to understand it’s key demographic. This is the point Greg Moore, a designer at Google, wants to make here. A website can look as aesthetically beautiful as possible, but if it doesn’t connect with the key demographic, it doesn’t matter at all. Everything needs to be designed with the target audience in mind. What do they do for fun? What’s their education level? Do they have children? Are they like to have a pet? Is it a dog or a cat? The more a company knows about its target audience the more it can implement it into the design of a website.
For example, take a clothing company. Is the target audience for the clothing company people who like to get outside, go camping and hiking, or would they rather go to music festivals and concerts? Do they enjoy drinking a beer at a local brewpub or an orange juice while watching their kid’s soccer game? The more a company knows about its target audience the easier it becomes to crafting a website designed specifically with the key demographic in mind.
7) Tetyana Karpenko-Duebbers – CEO at The Loupe
“Good web design makes your website navigation intuitive. Users should not stare the screen, trying to figure out where a menu or a “Contact” button is. Often we see two extremes here. Either one can have very creative web design with nice pictures and animation, but a user can not understand where to press or scroll. The other extreme – a lot of texts, buttons and options, and you are just lost in all these.”
Whether accessing a website from a desktop or mobile device, a visitor needs to easily identify how to navigate the site. If they are unable to locate important links, such as the “Contact Us” or the “About Us” buttons, they are more likely to back out of the page and look for a competitive website that does provide this kind of information.
As Tetyana, CEO at The Loupe points out, far too many sites attempt to over think this practice. The designers want to stand out and provide a different take, which is more than fine. However, if it impacts the way a visitor interacts with the page, it will do more harm than good. Above all else, functionality needs to reign supreme for all website design. When adding a new feature to a site, the designer needs to first consider its function, and if the target audience has the ability to properly interact with the page. If it doesn’t serve the desired function, it shouldn’t appear on the site.
8) Mark Perini – Founder of Icee Social
“By far and away the biggest mistake I see in e-commerce design is information overload. You’ll be tempted to showcase everything you have in your arsenal whether that be a plethora of information or a backlog of every product you’ve ever made. While it’s true that there are going to be customers who want to see the entire history of your brand, those people are few and far between. Figure out what your top products are and give them a place of honor on your site.”
Mark Perini’s quote regarding information overload directly connects to the importance of a minimal design. Every website serves multiple purposes. However, it isn’t necessary to cram every single purpose onto a single page. As he indicates, there will be visitors who want to know an entire history of the brand. That can be provided on the “About Us” page (or even an “Our History” page). It doesn’t and shouldn’t appear on the front page. By combining clear navigational tools, powerful photography and a minimal design, any eCommerce storefront will be able to avoid this kind of problem while promoting a clean, easy to use and attractive website.
No two sites are the same. Every eCommerce site features a different collection of products and targets different key demographics. No matter the products or audience, every site needs to consider and take advantage of what these eight experts have to say in regards to Web design. Each can help improve the overall layout and appearance of a site while also boosting conversion rates, load times and search engine optimization. Best of all, many of these Web design principals do not take long to override and execute on a current website.