Customer-Centered Website Design StrategyA crowded siteUsing an outdated color paletteYour website design doesn’t reflect your brand identityStep 1: Create a Plan Based on UX ResearchHow To Provide Easy Navigation?Mobile OptimizationProvide the Right Content for UXStep 2: Make Your Website User-Friendly With a UI DesignHow Can You Provide Usability Through Website Design?Information ArchitectureLayouts and ColorsStep 3: Get Creative With Your Website FeaturesShow Transparency Through Reviews and TestimonialsFocus on Inbound MethodsTry Third-Party ServicesDesign your business your way
When starting a business, one of the main challenges entrepreneurs encounter is the website design barrier. We have been taught that creating an online store is an extremely complicated, time-consuming, and expensive process.
However, this guide will debunk this myth.
This guide will prove that designing your Shopify store can be an enjoyable, stress-free experience that you can do yourself without having to spend money on hiring an expensive designer.
Now, you might wonder how is this even possible? Before we get into the actual to-do’s, it’s important to mention that this strategy requires thorough research on your desired market, your target persona, and website trends.
That being said, we’re addressing this guide to:
Small and medium business owners who want to build their online store without the need of hiring an expensive programmer or a designer.People who want to explore other possibilities in terms of web development.Business owners that want to build beneficial relationships with their clients by developing a strong customer-centered web design strategy.
Customer-Centered Website Design Strategy
Mixing the right colors and choosing the right layout shouldn’t be done out of impulse. It should be done after a thorough research leading to a result that truly speaks to your audience. That’s why a customer-centered web design strategy is the core of a leads-generating website.
Why is this the key to a successful eCommerce store? Because it’s a long-term method that can help a business owner achieve both financial and PR goals. This is done so by maintaining a beneficial relationship with a potential customer.
And the most important thing, these goals go hand in hand. That means, it’s hard, if not impossible, to achieve a positive reputation if your customers are not satisfied with your brand. Hence why your website is more important than you think.
WebFx shows us that in 94% of cases, just a glance at a brand’s website is enough to generate a first impression and, even more frightening, 89% of visitors shop with a competitor if they didn’t have a positive experience with a brand.
Let’s think about it this way - during the onboarding stage, when customers first interact with your online store, they are highly influenced by your website loading time, integrations, accessibility, and usability.
Whenever there’s an issue regarding these features, your website visitor might decide to abandon their customer journey, which signals a lack of conversion and a potential revenue loss. So, taking into consideration every little detail for your online store will be worth it.
Creating a strong, customer-friendly strategy starts with 3 clear steps:
Step 1: Create a Plan Based on UX Research
Step 2: Make Your Website User-Friendly With a UI Design
Step 3: Get Creative Your Website Features
Each of them presents a different stage of the website development process - from research, to creating and improving - while focusing on customer experience.
Before we actually start discussing each step in detail, it’s important to be aware of some common issues that might arise when designing your website.
A crowded site
Wanting to have a high amount of features and multimedia on your website is more common than you think. A survey by GoodFirms shows that almost 85% of designers consider a crowded website as the top mistake small businesses make.
The solution? Aim for the basics - do some research to find out what type of content your target audience prefers, so you won’t overcrowd your website with unnecessary features.
Using an outdated color palette
There’s no such thing as an old color. Using saturated tones is actually trendy if you want your website to have a vintage appearance. However, it’s all about how you choose to mix and match the colors, so your online store will look up to date. Using pastels, earthy tones, or even bold colors can all look great if you know how to mix them together.
Your website design doesn’t reflect your brand identity
When you’re just starting a business it’s common to feel overwhelmed. However, building a brand identity might make it easier for you to establish your main marketing goals. Personalize your brand and even imagine what it would look like if it was a human being, from personality traits and hobbies, to physical appearance and clothes.
Make sure your website reflects your brand identity. For example, if you want to promote joy, well-being and a positive approach to life, it’s not ideal to use a dark color palette for your online store. Or, on the contrary, if you want your business to be this mysterious, quiet entity, using bright, bold colors isn’t the best choice.
Now that we also know what not to do, let’s see how to make the most out of your online store.
Step 1: Create a Plan Based on UX Research
User experience (UX) is one of the main concepts when it comes to developing a website. It represents the base of the project.
UX starts with thorough research on the target audience, market, and competition. According to this criteria, you understand what elements you can add on your website to be suitable with your target persona. In short, UX means outlining the foundation and establishing the main features of your website.
So, what makes a website user-friendly? First of all, focusing on user experience means providing accessibility and usability. Your potential customers won’t waste any time trying to figure out your website, so it’s important to make sure they can easily find the information they are looking for.
How To Provide Easy Navigation?
Your visitors won’t get to what they are looking for through the same door. How they reach your landing page can differ. That means, while some might use the search bar to get directly to their interest, some might go section-by-section until they reach their destination. That’s why, providing multiple ways to navigate through the website is crucial for user experience.
This is specifically important when it comes to e-commerce stores. Your users enter your website in order to find a product they would like to buy, but their attitude towards this journey might differ.
Some of them are visiting your online store with a clear purpose, knowing exactly what they are looking for and where to find a specific product page. They know you have that specific product either from advertising, social media, or a reference. They will most likely go directly to their desired product by typing it in the search bar.
Others are not so sure of what they want to buy. Maybe they are looking for a gift and they want to explore your offering. Anyway, this type of user will most likely visit different sections of your website in order to discover something they would like to purchase.
Aside from multiple ways of navigation, it’s also important to understand how your users interact with your site. Eye tracking research created the concept of heatmaps. They analyze a user’s scanning pattern and what content captures their attention the most.
According to these studies, it’s common for website visitors to present an F-shaped pattern, paying more attention to the content placed at the top and the left portion of the page. However, text structured by using different fonts, or bullet points for the most important information, determined users to focus more on them and even completely skip the rest of the text.
That being said, the search box and the menu should be placed strategically, ideally at the top of the page, so they can easily catch the eye of the visitor.
We can take Flourist as an example, which is an e-commerce Shopify store that sells natural, organic flour. As you can see, the menu, as well as the search bar, are located at the top of the page. The product page is simple and minimalistic, representing products with images, not just text.
Aside from accessibility, you need to make sure your website is optimized to work on mobile. According to Statista, smartphones generated more than 50% of global website traffic during 2021, so having a non-adaptive website is definitely an important cause for an increased bounce rate.
Make sure your website is responsive, so accessing it from different gadgets with different screens won’t be a problem. Moreover, pay attention to navigation on mobile. Keep your website clean, without overcrowding it with sections and unnecessary information, as it might be harder to surf through it from a smaller screen.
Provide the Right Content for UX
Different audience, different goals, different content. Providing engaging, unique content for your users is key when it comes to user experience.
Images continue to be an important type of content, as people are more drawn to them than they are to blocks of text. Moreover, pictures are more explanatory, and, especially in e-commerce, they can provide a better understanding of the product. According to Google, 85% of shoppers agree that images play an important factor when they choose a certain brand.
However, in the last couple years, videos have become more popular than static images. This type of content definitely took over social media, especially on Instagram and TikTok. However, this concept also applies when it comes to website design, so, if you are wondering how to drive traffic to your ecommerce store, including videos in your strategy might be a good idea.
A study by Aberdeen Group proves that implementing videos had a positive result in every stage of the customer journey - awareness, consideration and conversion. A descriptive video helps visitors better understand the purpose of the product or service, it shows expertise and it can easily generate conversions.
The image above shows the home page of Cheekbone Beauty, a Shopify store that sells sustainable cosmetics. Their products and their mission are described through video, so an explanatory chunk of text is not necessary. By doing that, potential customers get to understand the brand better and they know what to expect if they decide to proceed with the purchase.
Moreover, having actual people in their explanatory video makes the whole experience even more personal.
However, this strategy should be used carefully. A video might load slower than other types of content, which can have a boomerang effect to your user experience. Loading time is important and, ideally, your website should load in about 2 seconds. However, a study by Backlinko shows that a page can take more than 10 seconds to fully load on web and almost 28 seconds on mobile.
What is the lesson here? Reduce unnecessary content. Use video only when you know it will have a positive effect — like an explanatory video of your brand and your general products and services.
Step 2: Make Your Website User-Friendly With a UI Design
If UX is the foundation, user interface (UI) means actually getting to work and creating your website. This should be based on what you learned during the UX research stage. So, if you established that one core feature of your website is accessibility, now it’s the time to actually implement it.
In the last section we talked about usability and how the main purpose of a user-friendly website is to provide easy navigation so the customer will know exactly where to go to find their desired product.
How Can You Provide Usability Through Website Design?
Usability ranks high in the top design characteristics of an online store capturing 60% of votes. As such, providing the expected is key. That means, website visitors have learned a series of mechanisms — they know that by clicking on the cart icon they can proceed with paying for their products, or that the company logo usually brings them to the “home” page.
Respecting these symbols helps your visitors navigate easier through your website. Even if you want to build a unique product page, keep it simple when it comes to icons. Moreover, it’s important to come up with different sections for your products.
Let’s say you have a clothing store — you can organize your sections by products, like “dresses and skirts”, “shirts” and “trousers”, but you can also add different categories like “most wanted”, “best prices”, “trendy now” and so on. This can help your visitor discover more of your items and become more interested in your brand.
It’s not enough to organize your products into different categories. These sections also need organization. This is also called information architecture (IA), and it plays an important role in the overall website interface. IA means how your content will be arranged to provide easy navigation and accessibility and it’s a great way to learn what makes a website user-friendly.
The main goal is to make sure your website visitor reaches the desired product page in about 3 clicks, or less. Providing too many sections might be overwhelming for users. On the contrary, not having enough might lead to overly-general categories which might confuse the visitor. An easy, intuitive interface is required in order to provide a positive user experience.
Layouts and Colors
Choosing the right color palette is a strategy that involves creativity, a well-defined brand identity and a great knowledge of color and layout functionality. As we pointed out at the beginning of the guide, one common mistake is designing a website that doesn’t reflect the brand identity. That’s the first thing you need to have in mind when you’re choosing your color palette.
Then, you need to be aware of your target audience. A study by Top Design Firms shows that preferences differ with age, but also gender. However, 39% of respondents agreed that color is the core of a website.
It’s important to make the most out of your page editor and provide a balance between white space and pops of color. By doing this, you can emphasize certain elements, like CTA buttons, icons and sections. It’s not a good idea to use only bold, bright colors, as it can be extremely hard for your users to choose what part to focus on first, leading to the absence of a center of interest.
Let’s test this!
The difference between the first and the second image is the background and text color. In the second picture there is no white space available, the colors are bright so the eyes don’t know what to focus on, even if the text is still in the center of the image.
Speaking of readability, pay attention to your text. For example, it’s exhausting to read a white text on a bright yellow background and vice versa.
Step 3: Get Creative With Your Website Features
There are certain features your visitors expect to find on your website. This includes certain products according to your specific business, multiple ways of navigation, a logo that brings them to the “home page” and website security for risk-free payments. Your website should meet all this criteria in order to ensure a positive onboarding experience.
However, if you want to make a good long-term impression and learn how to drive traffic to your ecommerce store, it’s important to exceed these expectations.
Show Transparency Through Reviews and Testimonials
Positive feedback works wonders on conversion rates, and especially in e-commerce, where decision-making is highly influenced by external opinions and customer experience. According to Spiegel Research Center, 95% of website visitors take into consideration reviews before buying a product. Moreover, Fatbit shows that 63% of shoppers are more likely to complete their purchase just because product reviews are available, so it’s extremely important to be transparent about your buyer’s experience.
Feedback can also help you understand your target audience better and to optimize your product or services in order to always deliver great value. Uber is a great example of a company that uses reviews as a big part of their strategy. You can cancel your drive if you are not satisfied with your driver’s reviews, and, at the same time, a driver has the option to refuse clients for their low score.
Focus on Inbound Methods
Work on building a beneficial relationship with your client as much as you focus on selling your product. Providing quality content designed for your target audience is the core of a revenue-generating website. In this case, “content” doesn’t refer to pictures of your products or descriptive videos of your business. It means, creating meaningful work that can teach your customers more about your market.
For example, if you are selling natural beauty products, you can have a separate section where you can add informative blog articles. You can teach people how to choose the best products according to their skin type or write a piece about the most harmful ingredients found in beauty kits.
If you want to add more to that, you can have a form on your website that allows potential customers to book a call with you or one of your team members and receive a personalized product plan.
Don’t forget to have a “contact” page on your website where you can add your email address, a phone number and external links to your brand’s social media accounts. That way, visitors can stay in touch with you and be informed about sales, promotions or contests - all these are great ways to promote user generated content as well.
Try Third-Party Services
With so many third-party features available, gone are the days when web developers had to do everything from scratch. Third-party services are easy to use and they can have multiple advantages, for customers and for the online store.
Google, for example, has a variety of services that can help you customize your website, but also be in charge of your online store. Google Analytics allows business owners to see important traffic data, like page visitors, number of clicks, the pages that are getting the most leads, and the list goes on. On the other hand, Google Fonts acts as a text visual editor and allows you to use different styles.
There are also different features available that can help your online store stand out. In the image above you can see the home page of Zeno, a page builder that can help you design your online store, and its main built-in add-ons. They work as mini-apps inside Zeno in order to ensure a positive user-experience.
The announcement bar at the top of the page is a great way to let your visitors know about the latest sales or offers, while the Lazy Loading add-on makes sure that your visitor won’t leave your website because of slow loading time. This feature will make the page only load low quality images at the time of page load and replace them with high-quality pictures only after visitors scroll down the page.
Design your business your way
As we’ve discovered throughout this guide, building a powerful, lead-generating website means adopting a customer-centered strategy. But did you know you can do all this without spending money on hiring a web developer?
Avoid spending a lot of time and money on website design Have access to a visual editor and a well-developed page builder, that offers pre-made, creative templates, sections and drag and drop optionsAasily add third-party apps for your user-friendly interface