The 3 Principles of ecommerce design

My ecommerce website went through many visual changes in the 20 years I managed it, from 2000 to 2020. Sometimes I retained a designer, and sometimes I did it myself with all the ecommerce applications I was using right now. One of the worst layouts was by a professional in 2002 who persuaded me that my demographic of science-fiction geeks would love it.

I don’t know what I was thinking. The spaceship icons were on a starfield background (currently missing from the Wayback Machine screenshot, below) and blinked when the cursor passed over them. Sales plummeted. We quickly moved on.

This post is the third in a series on developing and starting an ecommerce company, after”Launching an ecommerce business: the first steps” and”Lessons from twenty years of ecommerce.”

Kulture Shock’s ecommerce site in 2002 as archived by Wayback Machine. The starfield background is missing.

The 2002 redesign and other similar processes were fruitful, though, as they taught me three fundamentals about ecommerce design.

Alright, see our merchandise:

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3 Design Rules

1. Focus on profits. First, effective web design for ecommerce is not what looks good. It’s what sells. Ecommerce sites have the ability to look amazing with all types of fancy graphics. None of it matters. What’s the most important thing.

Consider Amazon. The website was analyzed and re-tested. It appears boring and safe. It is not an artistic masterpiece. However, it is a ruthlessly efficient selling machine and generates a good deal of money.

So bear in mind that your site is there to sell products. It must look professional enough to convince people to invest money. It has to be simple enough to find things to buy. It needs to be easy to use. It’s vital to keep an eye on your sales conversions to be certain it keeps doing this. On occasion, you may need to alter the appearance to keep up with current trends. Let the numbers tell you when to do it.

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2. ) Content is vital. The following lesson is the value of amazing content. An ecommerce platform is a content management system. The products, their descriptions, and images are the content, that is the true value of your site. It’s possible to change platforms, menus, templates, and categories. However, what can’t be easily changed is the substance. Very very good product detail pages might take several hours to create. A site with 1,000 products might be brought about by thousands of hours of work.

Always be sure you can port this info as soon as you move to another platform. This typically involves exporting the data in a comma-delimited record or similar and then importing it into your new system. Take the opportunity to have this right so you don’t lose this investment.

Another consideration is whether to transfer customer data — names, addresses, and contact details. This may appear to be vital marketing information, but in my experience it isn’t necessarily worth porting. It’s dependent upon your business model.

For several years I ran an email mailing list at house. As time grew, it became harder to deal with. The very important tasks of updating and keeping it required much work. Eventually I moved to an external email service. This meant that crucial advertising content has been stored on another system as opposed to on the ecommerce platform. Thus the need to port the consumer data when changing carts diminished considerably.

3. Control and ownership. The final lesson — control and possession — is, in many ways, the main. I registered my domain names. This ensured that I was the owner and called admin and called contact. Nobody could take the domain away or prevent me from using it. I never used the web designer’s Password or hosting.

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When I had a dispute with designers or other experts, all I had to do was remove their accessibility. I never had to worry about being held ransom by a third party. When I used workers to produce my site and expand its content, I held the master key.







The Purpose

An ecommerce website should be ever-evolving and applicable. Its substance needs periodic refreshing. Old and dead stock should be eliminated. New stock should be highlighted, giving customers a reason to return — plan to this from the very start. But bear in mind that the purpose of the site is to make money, not to win design awards.

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