Designing an interface for an e-commerce business

When designing an interface for an e-commerce business, it’s good practice to research existing successful e-commerce websites and your competition in order to find out what trends and patterns exist between the sites.

We’ve gone in to detail previously on how to plan an e-commerce strategy and before thinking about designing an interface for an e-commerce business, it’s important there is a more general e-commerce strategy in place. This helps you to understand what the business goals are, what the products / services are, who the target customer is etc… Once a comprehensive plan is in place, it then becomes easier to focus on specific areas of the plan such as the interface design for the website.

Navigation & Menus
Creating a sitemap (a list of all pages need for the website) is necessary before the design process can begin. This helps to create a basic structure and can be used to group information in to pages, sub-pages, categories and sub-categories.

Display of Products

Products need to be displayed with titles, descriptions, photos, prices and technical data at a minimum. Reviews, testimonials, comparisons are some other bits of information that may help customers to learn more about the products.

Depending on how many products are on the website, categories and filters can play an important role in helping people to find what they’re looking for. Related products (showing products similar to each other on the same page) can also help increase sales in a process known as ‘upselling’.

Ease of Use

It’s important an e-commerce website is easy to use and attractive to look at. The longer it takes a customer to find a product, the more likely they are to leave the website and get frustrated with the website. Adhering to website design guidelines and best practices (such as the guidelines provided by the World Wide Web consortium a.k.a W3C) is a good way of ensuring customers will at the very least be able to navigate through the website with ease.

Style & Branding

An e-commerce website should be considered an extension of the business and brand. It’s therefore important that the logo, imagery and colour scheme are consistent with the company’s existing brand identity guidelines.

If the website looks generic and bares no resemblance to what the customer experiences in a physical store, the customer is more likely to have doubts as to whether they can trust the website.

Payments & Personal Information

The payment process needs to be quick and painless for the customer. Most customers are used to paying with their credit or debit cards along with paypal. If these payment methods are not accepted, then it will result in customers not being able to pay for products and having to abandon the sale which is a businesses worst nightmare.

Using dedicated payment solution providers such as Stripe, Braintree, Paypal, Realex etc.. is generally a good idea to reduce costs, reduce security risks and improve the customer experience. Developing a custom designed and built solution to handle and store payment data is expensive and requires expertise in both security and legal best practices when it comes to e-commerce.