eCommerce Web Design: 6 Steps to Optimize Your Online Store

Candace Bozek | December 4, 2020

Candace Bozek
eCommerce website design

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many brick-and-mortar stores were forced to expand their operations online. But managing an online store comes with many different challenges than a physical store. You need to account for search engine optimization (SEO) and your site’s user experience to maximize online sales.

While this might sound scary at first, fret not. We’ll break down the process into six easy-to-follow steps. Whether you’re new to eCommerce or your online store is already well-established, optimizing your web content is essential to getting found online.

1. Ensure it’s mobile-friendly

M-commerce or mobile commerce is on the rise. In 2019, 33% of online sales were purchased through a mobile device. By 2021, m-commerce sales are expected to account for 54% of all online sales.

Mobile-friendly ecommerce website

Users who have a negative experience on your mobile store are 62% less likely to purchase from you in the future. It can also hurt the amount of foot traffic coming to your physical store. Shoppers are not only buying more through their mobile devices, but they’re also using them to research products before making a purchase in person. If they can’t find the information they’re looking for, they may choose to shop elsewhere.

These days having a mobile responsive website is an expectation. Having a user-friendly, attractive and mobile-optimized website can set your brand apart from the crowd.

2. Use high-quality images

When it comes to online shopping, customers don’t get to examine or try on items like they would at a physical store. They have to rely on the photos you provide to get an accurate idea of what they’re purchasing. A survey by Etsy found that 90% of shoppers said the quality of images was an important factor in their purchase. According to a Shopify study, only 0.52% want to see a single product photo, 33.16% prefer to see multiple photos and about 60% prefer images that give them a 360º view of the product.

ecommerce website design with beautiful photos

In this day and age, outdated or low-grade images aren’t going to cut it. Keeping your online store up-to-date with professional product images is a worthwhile investment.

How you upload images to your store is crucial as well. Large file sizes can significantly slow your page load speed. Make sure to resize your images and name them according to SEO best practices. Using raw camera files will cause your web pages to load slowly.

3. Incorporate SEO best practices

Search engine optimization (SEO) is what helps visitors find your website through search engine results. There’s a number of factors that search engines use to determine the rank of your web pages including;

  • Domain age and authority
  • Site security
  • Page speed
  • Content
  • Meta tags
  • Mobile-friendliness
  • User interface design
  • Backlinks
  • Image optimization
  • And more

The first step to optimize your website for search engines is to make a keyword strategy. Identify what words or phrases are important to your page content and be sure to incorporate them into your text and meta tags. Meta tags provide information about the contents of the page in the HTML of the document. Two important meta tags are the title tag and meta description.

  • Meta title: This title is what displays in search engine results, web browsers, and social media shares. For an eCommerce website, the meta title should include the name of the product and possibly the category or brand. The optimal length is less than 60 characters long.
  • Meta description: This is a small paragraph that describes the contents of your page to be displayed in search engine results. eCommerce websites should have a unique meta description for each product. The optimal length is between 100 and 160 characters long.

Another element of SEO is image optimization. Images with descriptive file names and alt-text can help your web pages rank higher for those keywords.

SEO is complex and everchanging as search engines are constantly updating their algorithms. The best strategy is to provide quality content in a user-friendly design.

4. Reduce the page load speed

Online shoppers value speed and efficiency. 40% of users will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. You can test the load speed of your website with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Next, apply the following tips to reduce your page load speed:

  • Resize and compress images: Follow this guide for sizing images for the web. Use a free compression tool to further reduce the file size.
  • Minimize redirects: Redirects hurt loading times because it prolongs the HTTP request to the server. Minimize the amount of redirects to only the necessities and clean up temporary redirects on a regular basis.
  • Reduce multimedia elements: Multimedia elements include images, audio, videos and animations. Try not to overcrowd your pages with too many multimedia elements as it will slow down your web pages and overwhelm users.
  • Remove unnecessary plugins: Third-party plugins can slow down your website and cause pose a security threat if they are poorly maintained. Remove any unused plugins and make sure to keep current ones updated.
  • Minify JavaScript, CSS and HTML: This will require the help of a professional web developer to remove unused code and redundant data.

5. Follow web accessibility guidelines

The World Wide Web Consortium released their Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1 on June 5, 2018. Most of the guidelines will need to be completed by a web developer but there are some that can be added to the front end of your website.

Review your eCommerce website and apply these guidelines today:

  • Use high contrast colours
  • Choose easy-to-read fonts
  • Write alt-text for images and graphics
  • Use descriptive text for in-text links and buttons
  • Follow correct header sequence: h1 followed by h2, h3 etc.
  • Offer media alternatives such as captions or transcripts
  • Link important pages in your footer
  • Offer audio controls for audio and video files
  • Remove any flashing elements

Once you completed your web accessibility improvements, use the WAVE Web Accessibility Tool to test your site. Additionally, adding a web accessibility widget to your site will give site visitors extra viewing options such as increasing the font size, highlighting links, changing the font type and converting content to grayscale.

Give visitors a reason to come back!

The last step to optimizing your eCommerce site is to encourage repeat visitors. Offer a discount coupon for signing up for your newsletter and allow visitors to create an account on your website. This will allow shoppers to review their orders and create a wishlist of their favourite items.

ecommerce website newsletter sign-up

Offering visitors a way to stay connected will enable you to nurture leads and foster customer loyalty.

The Gist

As consumers are relying more and more on the web to make purchases, having a strong eCommerce store is key in capturing this market. It’s not enough just to list products online, having an eCommerce website that is beautiful, mobile-friendly, SEO-optimized and fast-loading will help you grow a loyal customer base.

Want a professional review of your eCommerce website? Book a free website consultation.

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