Starting your own online store is as simple as signing up to one of the best website builders—popular options include Wix and WordPress.com—and following the prompts. However, selling online isn’t anywhere near as easy.
Competition has grown immensely over the past decade or so, and it’s important to do whatever you can to gain a competitive edge. Here, we look at 10 common design mistakes that could be impacting your store’s profitability and success.
1. Trying to jam too much onto each page
It’s extremely common to see newbies without much design experience trying to cram as much information onto each page as they can. This is never a good idea as it almost always leads to a cluttered page that’s confusing and difficult to navigate.
Let’s say, for example, that someone has found your store through a specific Google search. But when they arrive on your site, they are confronted with a huge amount of information and are unable to find what they’re looking for. Because of this, they head back to Google and buy from one of your competitors instead.
Rather than cluttering information and eye-catching elements, we’d suggest using a minimalistic design. Take advantage of white space to draw the viewer’s eye to the relevant parts of your site and ensure they can find exactly what they’re looking for in no more than a couple of seconds.
2. Rushing your product descriptions
Product descriptions play a huge role in driving online sales. But a lot of online store owners get them wrong. They write generic, bland descriptions that do no more than describe the technical features of a product.
But this doesn’t really drive sales. With so many new stores popping up every day, you need to stand out from your competition. One of the best ways to do this is to write engaging, catchy product descriptions.
Spend time on them. And if you’re not confident that your writing skills are good enough, employ a master wordsmith to craft them for you. Your product descriptions are the most important pieces of sales copy on your website, and they need to be perfect.
3. Using poor-quality images
Like poor-quality descriptions, low-quality images will hamper your sales efforts. People aren’t nearly as likely to go through with a purchase if you use boring or blurry pictures that don’t capture a product in its full glory.
This is a particular problem for dropshippers. It can be super tempting to just rehash your suppliers’ product photos and use them on your own website. But this is usually a bad idea, as these product photos are often awful.
Instead, we’d suggest taking professional pictures of each of your products, using the right models and props and spending some time on the editing. Stay away from stock photos unless absolutely necessary, and consider contracting a professional photographer if you’re not too sure about your own skills.
4. Having a drawn-out sales funnel
A large sales funnel CAN work for certain types of products or services. But in general, it’s better to have the smallest number of steps possible between adding a product to your cart and completing a purchase. Otherwise, customers can get confused and frustrated, and you will lose sales.
If you’re selling a small number of products, you may benefit from adding a Buy It Now button to each product page. This lets your customers make a purchase without having to work through a drawn-out checkout process, and it will almost definitely improve your conversion rate.
5. Not including a search bar
Let’s say that someone has just landed on your store homepage. They’ve been an avid follower of your Facebook page for some time, and they’ve finally decided to have a look at your store to see if you have any of Product X—something they’ve been having trouble finding lately.
You do indeed stock Product X. But when this potential customer gets to your homepage, they click away almost instantly. Why? Because you didn’t have a search bar that they could use to find it.
This is a surprisingly common mistake considering how easy it is to add one to your design. Try it and see how much this reduces your bounce rate and boosts your sales.
6. Having inconsistent branding
Inconsistent branding can be extremely detrimental to the long-term success of your site. It can make your store appear unprofessional, which will cause some people to subconsciously trust you less. And of course, if your customers don’t trust you, you’re not going to sell many products.
To ensure you have consistent, attractive branding across your entire store, we’d suggest considering the following:
- Use the same font pairings and color schemes on every page of your site.
- Use the same layout for similar pages. For example, all product pages should appear similar, as should all category pages.
- Ensure that every page contains a functional navigation menu.
- Make sure you use the same logo and color schemes anywhere you have a digital presence, including across social media.
This may seem basic, but it’s amazing how often we see inconsistent branding on new (and usually unsuccessful) online stores.
7. Offering too few shipping options
To encourage as many people as possible to make a purchase, we’d recommend adding a range of shipping options. Different people are going to have different priorities when it comes to delivery, and it’s important to cater to all of them.
For example, one customer might be doing some last-minute present shopping and require their purchase to be delivered ASAP. By offering affordable express shipping, you will be catering to their needs.
But someone else could be on a tight budget and be happy to wait a little longer for delivery. If you don’t offer a budget “snail mail” postage option, people like this will be much less likely to become paying customers.
8. Placing ads in your store
If you’re running an online store, your number-one goal should be to make as many sales as possible. But many inexperienced developers place third-party ads throughout their store, a practice that is almost guaranteed to cost them sales.
Just think about this for a minute. You’ve done all the hard work and encouraged a person to visit your store. They obviously have some interest in your products, or they wouldn’t be there. But then, a funky ad catches their eye, and they head off to explore a different corner of the internet. You’ve just lost a potential sale for a couple of cents of ad revenue—if that.
In general, it’s never a good idea to place ads in your store. The exception is advertising for your own sales or promotions. But even this should only be done lightly.
9. Having a poor navigation hierarchy
If your store is difficult to navigate, your sales will suffer. In the world of eCommerce, this is one of the few facts that’s accepted across the board.
Luckily, though, it’s also a very easy problem to fix. Spend some time creating a menu hierarchy that’s intuitive and convenient. Group similar pages under the same sub-menu, and ensure you make important information about shipping and returns easy to find.
10. Not securing your site properly
Security is an essential consideration in the modern eCommerce world. Hackers are everywhere, and you will almost certainly suffer a data breach if you don’t follow the appropriate security measures.
With this in mind, it’s incredible how many people fail to add an SSL certificate to their site. These are crucial, as they encrypt sensitive data transmissions and protect payment and personal information. Basic SSL certificates are free and extremely straightforward to install, so there’s no excuse for making this mistake.
eCommerce can be fun and rewarding, and people across the world use it as a primary or secondary income source. But it’s also becoming more and more competitive every day, and sales can be quite difficult to come by.
In this article, we’ve outlined 10 of the most harmful store design mistakes you can make. Each of these will impact key metrics like your bounce rate, conversion rate, and returning customer rate. But they can all be fixed with a little work, and you could see your sales skyrocket in no time at all.
All of the mistakes we’ve outlined can be fixed by anyone with a little time and willingness to learn. But if you’re not comfortable dealing with them yourself, we’d suggest hiring a professional to help you out—it’s usually worth it in the long run!