7 Common eCommerce Website Design Mistakes You Might be Making

account_circle Web.com Team

This article was originally published on September 13, 2016. It was updated on August 24, 2021.

Key Takeaways

  • Minimalism is key to designing your eCommerce site. Stay away from the fluff that could distract your customer.
  • Make sure that your online store is mobile-friendly. Designing a website to be “mobile-first” is a smart idea, because the elements that work on mobile devices generally translate well to desktops, while the opposite is not true.
  • There should be enough information on your product listings and they have quality photos.
  • Make it easy for customers to search for products and information like customer support and shipping.
  • A secure website gives customers confidence to shop on your site because they understand that their information is not at risk.

Have sales for your eCommerce website slowed down? Or did they never take off in the first place? The problem might be with your eCommerce website design. Many small business owners make some common eCommerce website design mistakes that can keep prospective customers from buying. Along with the 7 eCommerce website design mistakes that we will share with you, Andrew Potochnik, a Website Design expert from Web.com, will also share invaluable tips on how to make a professional online store work for you.

1.    Cluttered design

Today’s eCommerce websites are clean and simple, with visuals and photos at the forefront. If your website is too cluttered with images, different fonts or a jumble of colors, visitors will have trouble deciding where to go first. Use different-sized elements judiciously on the home page to direct viewers’ eyes where you most want them to go.

A study made by EyeQuant, a design analytics company, found that the cleaner a site is, the lower the bounce rate. It also noted that that visual clarity could be impacting about one-third of a person’s decision to stay or to bounce on an e-commerce store’s home page.

Pro Tip:  Andrew has this list of advice for you when it comes to website design:

  1. Make sure your colors follow the basics of color theory, like using analogous or complementary colors. Stick to three colors: a primary color, a secondary color, and an accent.
  2. Use a limited number of fonts. Choose two fonts at most to achieve a visual hierarchy.

Read more: Color Counts: 3 Tips for a Consistent Visual Identity

A woman is browsing a website on a laptop and on a mobile phone

2.     Not mobile friendly

More and more, consumers are browsing and shopping on their mobile devices, both tablets and smartphones. If your eCommerce website isn’t mobile-friendly, you’re going to lose sales. Designing a website to be “mobile-first” is a smart idea, because the elements that work on mobile devices generally translate well to desktops, while the opposite is not true.

Good to know: Based on desktop screen market share, Andrew advises that images need to have at least 1200 x 1500 pixels. If you want an image to stretch from end to end, then it should have at least 1800 x 2000 pixels. While it’s easy to make large images smaller, it’s hard to make small images larger without losing quality. So, it’s important that your images are large enough to scale without impacting quality.

Read more: Spotlight on Responsive Website Builders

3.    Not enough information about products

Customers can’t get enough when it comes to details about products. Don’t just use the manufacturer’s generic description — many are very basic. Elaborate where you can build an emotional connection with the product if it’s warranted (such as for clothing or toys). Don’t forget details such as dimensions, shipping size/weight, fabric content, materials and any information that can help potential buyers decide. How can you reconcile the need for detail with the need to avoid clutter? For good web design, keep the initial information minimal, but use dropdowns that customers can expand to get the full details if desired.

Pro Tip: To encourage online shoppers make that decision to buy, Andrew recommends having buttons instead of inline text links for your Call to Action (CTA), such as “Buy Now” or “Shop Here”. Links in button form either on the header panel or throughout the site draw greater attention than those embedded on text.

4.     Poor product photos

Product photos are a key part of an eCommerce website design, and one grainy photo just won’t cut it these days. Good website design includes multiple, high-quality photos of products from various angles, and provide the ability to zoom in to see detail. If relevant to the product, consider including videos.


Pro Tip: When you put videos on your website, Andrew states to make sure they are not on auto-play. Videos on auto-play give visitors a negative experience, especially those on a mobile phone or viewing your site in a public place.


Read more: How to Take The Best Product Photos for Your eCommerce Website

5.     Customer service information is hard to find

Don’t make eCommerce customers search your website for help. Your business’s phone number should be clearly visible on every page, especially on the homepage, along with chat tools and email addresses for customer service. Most customers also like to get an idea of shipping costs and return policies before placing an order, so links to that information should be prominently placed.

Pro Tip: Andrew advises to keep a simple horizontal navigation header. “Back in the day, there used to be a lot of vertical navigations or menus at the left-hand side of a website, but that has become outdated.” While you can continue to do this on your website, Potochnik clarifies that it’s important to not be super fancy with the navigation. Most visitors today expect the navigation to be simply listed up top horizontally so it’s best to not stray away from that.

Read more: How to Improve Your Customer Service

6.    Poor search feature

Make sure your search bar is easy to find and that your search feature works smoothly. There’s nothing more frustrating for customers than searching for a product they know exists on your site and not being able to find it. Beyond basic search, giving customers the ability to filter and sort products by factors such as price, size, ratings and color will improve your sales.

Read more: Website Design Best Practices: Make It Easy for Customers to Find Your Products and Services

 

Screenshot of the secure connection on Web.com

7.    No security certificates

According to Google’s Transparency Report, 89% of pages loaded in Chrome were served over HTTPS in January 2021. Websites that have HTTPS have secure communication over a computer network, and is encrypted using Transport Layer Security or, formerly, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). The same report also shows that 93.2% of the browsing time on Chrome is spent on HTTPS pages. Clearly, people are more likely to leave the site straight away if they find out it’s not secure.

Customers will be less likely to place an order if they don’t feel confident that your eCommerce website is keeping their data secure. Have your security certification symbols, such as your SSL Certificate, visible on the homepage and any page related to checkout.

Pro Tip: Andrew also suggests getting reCAPTCHA for your website. reCAPTCHA is a free service from Google that helps protect websites from spam and abuse. A “CAPTCHA” is a Turing test to tell human and bots apart. It is easy for humans to solve, but hard for “bots” and other malicious software to figure out. By adding reCAPTCHA to a site, you can block automated software while helping your welcome users to enter with ease. Try it out at https://www.google.com/recaptcha/api2/demo.

Read more: How Do SSL Certificates Work and How Do They Provide Security?

 

Get a Professional eCommerce site

A working and efficient eCommerce site is what every small business owner needs. However, not all business owners have the time to tend to every nook and cranny of their website. Professional eCommerce design services are most suitable for business owners who are too busy to work on their website themselves and want to leave it at the hands of the experts. With Web.com’s professional services, business owners can work on their other business needs while their website is being tended by eCommerce specialists. However, if small business owners still prefer to build their websites themselves, there are many ways to DIY yourself to the top. Just make sure you are following best practices for website design building and staying away from the design fails listed above.

Image Credits:

  • Header: Shutterstock
  • Image 1: Shutterstock
  • Image 2: Screenshot of Web.com