11 Steps To A More User-Friendly Ecommerce Website

A user-friendly design is essential if you want to succeed with your eCommerce website. While it may seem like designing an eCommerce site is fairly straightforward, there are many nuances and details that site owners miss. These design mistakes can hurt sales and create a poor reputation for your business. To ensure that your eCommerce site is user friendly, here are 11 steps that you can follow to create a great design.

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Step 1: Use the Right Content Management Systems and eCommerce Platforms

image by ingeniumweb.com

In order to create a well-designed eCommerce site, you have to start with the right content management system. You can use anything from WordPress, Magento, to Joomla for your CMS. WordPress is by far the easiest solution for beginners. It's easy to find WordPress hosting providers and there are many eCommerce platforms like WooCommerce that will help you build an eCommerce store from scratch.

If you need extra technical help, you can look for WordPress hosting providers that will help you install and set up plugins like WooCommerce. What's important here is that you have to use the right CMS and eCommerce platforms to build a functional eCommerce site that's easy to manage.

Step 2: Design an Intuitive Navigation Menu

When is the last time you thought about your site's navigation? Try using your navigation menu yourself and see if it feels intuitive to use. You want to make sure that everything is organized, the design is presented clearly, the logical links are accessible first and the link categories are relevant. You can use a wide variety of styles from the horizontal, drop down to vertical menu. Just make sure the design is simple and easy to use.

Step 3: Improve Your Site Architecture

Site architecture relates to your navigation but goes beyond it. If you have a larger site, you want to make sure that your product categories are properly organized in the navigation menu. You want to also see if you can break down larger categories into smaller ones so that it's easier for users to find. Finally, you want to use breadcrumb links to help your users navigate back and forth between different products pages and category pages.

Step 4: Make Sure You Install a Search Function

Many users prefer to find what they're looking for by using a search function. Not having a search function available can frustrate these users. A simple addition of a search function can make your site far more user friendly than before. You may also want to add advanced search functionalities if you feel that your large product listing justifies it and if it can help your users hone in on exactly what they're looking for.

Step 5: Use a Shopping Cart That's Functional

image by financesonline.com

There are so many examples of eCommerce sites that use shopping carts with poor functionality. For example, there are sites that use shopping carts where you cannot adjust the quantity of an item. There are also carts that make it confusing to enter coupon codes. Make sure that you choose a shopping cart that's easy to use, simple and intuitive if you care about your users and your conversion rates.

Step 6: Design a Responsive Site

More people are using mobile phones and tablets to shop online. If your eCommerce site is not optimized for these mobile users, you are throwing away anywhere from 10 to 50 percent of your sales. The easiest way to make sure your site is mobile friendly is to design a responsive site. A responsive site adapts the design to the device the person is using to browse your site. There are many responsive themes and templates for all the major CMS platforms, so you can still design a responsive site on a small budget.

Step 7: Optimize for Load Times

One of the biggest reasons users abandon sites is because of the load times. Many eCommerce sites have problems with load times due to the sheer amount of images and scripts that they are using. Figure out how you can decrease your load times. The task can be very technical, so you may want to work with an expert to take a look at your code and your images for optimization.

Step 8: Make Sure Your Contact and Business Information Is Accessible

If you want to be credible and trustworthy to consumers, you must go out of your way to make sure that your contact and business information is accessible. Make sure your phone number is listed in a large enough font somewhere in your header. Create a dedicated contact/business information page that lists your phone number, email and address.

Step 9: Show the Best Sellers

image by burstcommerce.com

Your best sellers are best sellers for a reason. Your target market is interested in buying these products and like these products. If you want to be more user friendly, list these products prominently on your site. You'll not only help your web visitors find what they're looking for, you'll also increase your profits. It's a win-win scenario for both parties.

Step 10: Optimize Product pages

image by ecomextension.com

Many eCommerce stores do an okay job with the main page but fall short when it comes to their product pages. You have put a lot into the layout of your product pages. Run some tests to figure out how to organize the product descriptions, images, ordering choices (sizes, colors, add-ons, etc.) and add to cart button. Your data will do a far better job in predicting how your product pages should be optimized than guessing ever will.

Step 11: Simplify the Checkout Process

image by dribbble.com

The easiest way to lose a guaranteed sale is to make your checkout process too complicated or annoying. There are some eCommerce stores that want you to register before ordering, include your birthday and complete a survey during the checkout process. That's a surefire recipe for cart abandonment. Instead, create a checkout process that is simple and streamlined. If you want to collect other information like the customer's birthday, you can do so after the sale is made.

By following the steps outlined above, you'll be able to transform a clunky eCommerce website into a user friendly one. It's not just about providing a better user experience for your customers. By creating a more user-friendly design, you'll support your branding efforts, increase your sales and generate more return orders.


Phong Thai Phong Thai is a Web Developer, Web Coder for 16 years with PHP, JavaScript, CSS. He is the creator of JavaScriptBank.com - provide thousands of free JavaScript code examples, web development tips and tricks, helpful blogging guides.

Follow him on twitter@js_bank or connect with him on facebook@jsbank if you want. His websites for your knowledge: javascriptON.com, inOneSec.com, www.gomymobi.com

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