Website design for online sales success

As an online retailer, it should come as no surprise that the design of your web-shop matters a lot. You can run the perfect advertising campaign, but when it brings potential customers to an off-putting website, it won’t lead to sales. And not only that, a flawed website design will have a big influence on your SEO efforts. It’s key to provide an excellent user experience.

First of all, what makes a website’s design bad? There are many reasons why people abandon a website, and when it comes down to the website itself, it’s often out of frustration.

Some examples include:

  • The navigation is poor; the user can’t easily find what they’re looking for. This goes for anything from company policies to specific product features
  • It’s hard to scan the text, due to overcrowding or clashing fonts and colours
  • The website is slow and taking too long to load.

This is in line with a study by Gartner: 64% of people find the customer experience to be more important than price when it comes to making a purchasing decision. Not only is every leaving user a loss in potential sales, it also increases your bounce rate, which in turn lowers your ranking in search engines. How to avoid this? Here are some steps in the right direction.

Web-shop frameworks and themes

To give yourself a head-start – and to save the costs of building a website from scratch – invest some time into finding a web-shop theme. Companies like WordPress, Wix and Weebly offer them, sometimes even for free. There are also third parties that build themes for those platforms that seamlessly integrate. Follow the structure of your chosen theme and you’re halfway there when it comes to a good website flow. In addition, a modern theme will have a responsive design built in and deliver a good experience for mobile users. The structure is usually solid, which makes for fast loading times.

The downside of using a theme is that there are fewer customisation options. When you have the resources, you could consider using a framework instead, which gives you more possibilities.

The importance of a good flow is not only for users to be quickly able to find what they’re looking for; it also allows for you to guide them through the steps you want them to take. With every page you build, ask yourself what you want their next step to be. Have a clear call-to-action with obvious buttons and reduce the noise around it.

Earn the trust of users

Even though buying online is now part of our daily lives, users still have trust issues; especially when it comes to buying from websites they don’t know. Consider including the following elements on your website to show you’re trustworthy partner:

  • Testimonials or product reviews with tools like Trustpilot; social proof goes a long way
  • A clear FAQ page that can be easily found
  • Multiple ways to contact your company and a swift response to inquiries; consider a chatbox

Make it even easier

In addition to providing a logical navigation, there are more ways to make your customer’s journey even easier. A simple feature to include would be to have multiple payment options. It might be worth considering local preferences, especially when you have international clients.

Personalisation is another trend that makes for a smoother buying experience. Machine learning allows for smart product suggestions, increasing chances to upsell. In addition, according to, more and more retail websites also have a ‘continue where you left off’-function, ensuring your digital shopping cart can still be filled with the products you chose during your last visit.

Text vs visuals

It’s no news that people’s attention span is often extremely limited when they’re browsing the web. For this reason, beautiful visuals combined with short and sweet copy is usually the way to spark your user’s interest. Yet on the other hand, product descriptions are essential. Not only can they inform and even convince people to buy the product, they are also important factors in your SEO strategy. It’s key to find the balance between enough and too much text.

Track your data

Even though there are best practices, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to designing your website. After all, every web shop, and with that every audience is different and will respond in a different way. Look at other web shops, notice what you do and do not like, and then find a theme that matches those functionalities and layouts. Ask an initial test group for their honest opinion on their user experience. After that, track your data relentlessly. Make changes based upon that data, and then check your data again to see the effects.

Google Analytics is of course a great tool to track data, and many platforms also offer their own data overview. Another great tool to assess your website’s design are heatmaps. These visuals show you exactly how far people scroll down your page and where they click. It can be a big help in deciding where to place your buttons and other important elements.

Final thoughts

When you’re excited about your product, it may be tempting to just quickly create a website and launch it as soon as it looks good to you and your team. However, in order to optimise sales now and in the future, it is important to take a step back and truly consider the structure of your online shop. Your customers – and your wallet! – will thank you.

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