6 Marketing Considerations for an E-Commerce Web Design

As a digital marketer, I audit ecommerce websites several times a week and I see the same things over and over again: shocking, blatant marketing mistakes that are somehow missed in the mad shuffle that is website design.

When working on a new website, it’s easy to get caught up in the aesthetic aspects of the design – and don’t get me wrong, design is wildly important for branding and building trust. However, you should be sure not to let your pride come before your profit. The purpose of an ecommerce website design is to make sales.

Below are six marketing considerations to keep in mind as you’re going through the process of designing for ecommerce.

1. Just about every ecommerce project that comes through our doors lists Apple as a website they’d like to emulate. It’s clean, minimalist – and lord knows their sales are going well. But we can’t all be Apple, as much as we’d like to be.

It’s vital for your website to have a clear and highly targeted brand direction.

Frequently, we’ll see sites that have a beautiful luxurious look and feel, but are trying to sell products to a low-end market and are wondering why their website is not making sales. Or vice-versa – they’re hoping to sell luxury goods on a website that looks like a discount warehouse.

When visitors land on a website, they should immediately understand where they are. Is this a luxury product? A vintage retailer? Household goods? Similar to designing the interior of a brick and mortar shop, you should design your ecommerce website with your brand’s positioning front of mind.

2. Piggybacking on the previous example, a post on the BFM blog demonstrates what a difference high-quality product photography makes on the Apple site. Beautiful images can make or break an ecommerce website and they can also impact your ability to market the site on other channels.


apple ad

Online marketing is in an era of visual sharing. Pinterest, an online inspiration board, is growing at a breakneck pace. Facebook, the granddaddy of social networks, gives higher preference to images in its news feed. What does all this mean? Having quality product photography will make your website infinitely more sharable on the social web.

3. Another common ecommerce web design issue is the lack of attention given to internal pages. Your homepage is not your whole website. In fact, as an online retailer you are hoping to get people off your homepage and into the conversion funnel as efficiently as possible.

Make sure you’re giving some love to your internal pages as you’re going through the web design process.

There are two particular sets of internal pages to keep in mind – key category landing pages and the shopping cart.

  • Category landing pages are where (if you have a good Search Engine Optimization team), you will be getting targeted keyword traffic and (if you have a good PPC Marketing team) your PPC campaigns will be driving traffic to. So it’s important that these pages function well as standalone entities. Some elements to consider when designing these pages are a descriptive headline, a rotating banner or featured products section, and some well-written content or messaging at the top of the page.
  • The shopping cart is often seen as a purely transactional space and not given much design attention, but this is also where a lot of visitors abandon the conversion funnel. Usability design is extremely important here, but graphic design is important as well. One common and very detrimental mistake is sending users to third-party shopping carts. The cart should be hosted on your site, designed to match your branding and engineered to be as streamlined and user-friendly as possible.

4. This one should be quick. For heaven’s sake, put contact information on your site! Preferably a phone number and Contact Us link in the upper right hand corner. This is where people know to look for it. Creativity will do you no good here – just make it quick and easy for people to find and contact you.

5. One issue a lot of established brands run into when they’re building an ecommerce website for the first time is that they serve an older demographic that’s afraid to make online payments. This is where trust symbols come in. Every ecommerce web design should include trust symbols.

On the homepage, trust symbols might be awards, client logos, industry memberships, etc. When you get into the shopping cart, VeriSign, MacAfee and Better Business Bureau badges can boost faith in the security of your checkout process. Paired with strategic messaging about respecting the privacy of the shopper, these small design elements can have a huge impact.

6. Perhaps the most important, but most commonly overlooked design elements on an ecommerce site are the calls-to-action. These little buttons and links are what ultimately drive visitors to take an action on your site. The messaging is extremely important, but there are also some design considerations that may affect the clickthrough rate.

  • First, they should always look clickable. If it’s a button, it should have a little gradient and a little shadow so it actually resembles a physical button and makes you want to click it. If it’s a link, it should be underlined, which is the universal signal that the text leads somewhere.
  •  Second, they should be high-contrast, meaning your calls-to-action should stand out on the page from the rest of the content. Buttons should be in a contrasting color from the rest of the site to make them more impactful. Links should be larger and a different color than the rest of the text, to make it clear that they represent an action.

All of these suggestions are best practices, but the great thing about ecommerce web design is that everything can be measured. So don’t take my word for it – always be running A/B tests on every aspect of your site to ensure that it’s achieving the best possible conversion rate.

And let us know if you have some other interesting ecommerce web design tips. We'd love to hear them. Please leave a comment below or Tweet us at @BFMweb.

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Comments on this post

  1. Maneet Puri said:

    Good one Adrienne! Ecommerce has successfully changed the business scenario but today we can feel stiff competition in the market. In order for a business firm to successfully captivate on visits and to improve conversion rate, following the design principles you have mentioned is just perfect. I would like to add that the interface of the Ecommerce portals should be such that assists the visitor at every stage and makes him feel easy. Small help texts can work magic in winning the confidence of a visitor and converting the visit into a sale. Last but not the least, keeping things simple is not a bad idea!

  2. The 6 Marketing Considerations for ECommerce Web Design that you shared in this article is something so helpful in creating web designs. Your ideas are great. And I really agree with you that trust symbols are a must. Two thumbs up for this!

  3. What a nice collection of tips. As you rightly said, Having the site design ‘relevant’ and ‘appropriate’ to the products being sold is the first and foremost thing that is to be considered.
    An eCommerce website can never be ‘complete sales website’ if it doesn’t have high-quality images, trust symbols, contact information and ‘call-to action’ links or buttons.

    Thank you Adrienne for excellent tips for creating a complete ecommerce website.

  4. In my opinion designing is important for brand as well as internet marketing also if your designing is not good then you have to face many problems while you promote your site.

  5. Just came across this site, I was doing some research on ecommerce design. I really a lot of the points above. I have to agree that #6 is the most important though, you’ve got to have a call to action. Multiple calls in fact, I think you have to find different ways to monetize the traffic that comes to your site. Give them first, secondary & tertiary options to make a purchase. Amazon does this phenomenally well.

  6. isabellasophia668 said:

    The survey , which samples the views of 164 buyers of information technology in the field of retail , entertainment and hospitality , entertainment and financial services and the public sector , also found that 27 % of respondents do not know who is your web host is , while 53 % of companies can not give a reason Why they chose the current provider . He said 16% of the respondents said that the web hosting company recommended by their agency web design , while 11% had a recommendation from a colleague.

  7. Hi Adrienne, thanks for sharing this useful tips for designing an e commerce website. Really a great help.

  8. Biz Boost Pros said:

    Great Tips!! Considering these marketing tips during website designing will increase the value of your business. Keep it up!!

  9. I agree with the points such as internal pages design, well structured category pages. SEO & PPC drives much traffic and relevant too if keywords are targeted very well on each page. So optimal e commerce website design is very necessary.

  10. Joseph Pauliono said:

    When I started learning Internet marketing and then SEO, every expert who taught best practices online always said the same thing about the importance of contact information in the upper right hand corner where people expect to find it. Surprisingly, it’s 2014, we have more people talking about online marketing knowledge yet that basic mistake is still committed by a large percentage of business websites. Now, I’m glad you mentioned about the shopping cart because we commit that same mistake too. Common sense really has to be common practice. Thanks!

  11. Pingback: Stay Ahead in eCommerce With Marketing Tips | Mental Itch

  12. Atif Asif said:

    Really nice Article to creating E commerce website with ease. Thanks

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