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The retail industry has been a very competitive environment ever since its beginning. Times have changed, trends have come and gone, and now the online is the new playground for retailers. Statistics predict that the global online shopping market size will reach 4 trillion dollars by the end of 2020. It’s easy to see where this is going. Online shopping is slowly but surely taking over the world. But this shift to digital didn’t erase the age-old question that hunts retailers: how to sell more and increase their profits.

Even if you have the best products and services on the market, they can easily be overlooked in the sea of ecommerce players that emerge every day and swell the ranks of competitors. So, what can you do to make your online store stand out, show the world what you have to offer and attract customers? It all starts with good website design. The way your site looks greatly influences consumer perception and can make the difference between a successful ecommerce venture and a terrible failure. If you want to create a profitable ecommerce website, you’ve got to learn the golden rules of web design.

These 6 tips will help you brush up on your web design best practices and take your ecommerce business to the next level.

Smooth navigation

When customers enter a brick-and-mortar store they want to find what they’re looking for fast and easy and enjoy the experience every step of the way. Same goes for online shopping. When a potential customer visits your website, he’ll expect a smooth and seamless navigation from beginning to end. One minor inconvenience and he’ll click out of your virtual store without looking back. Besides, it doesn’t take long for a customer to form an opinion about a website and decide if he wants to purchase from it.

From the moment a customer lands on your website until the final checkout stages, you must strive to make his life easier and ensure the whole shopping experience flows easily. Make sure all the elements on the website are presented in a logical order, from menu, to product description and checkout steps, and the customer will be able to find his way through the website with ease.

High-quality images

Few things are more annoying than looking at a website where you can actually count the pixels in the photos. Needless to say, this is a big turnoff for customers who will probably get sidetracked by the low-quality images and forget why they were there in the first place. The visual appeal of a website can go a long way. A customer might even forgive other shortcomings if he likes what he sees. When building a website, imagery must come as a priority. Use only high-quality images and videos that can catch customers’ attention and lure him to click some more through your pages. The quality of the visual elements on a website is seen as an indicator of the overall quality and reliability of a brand.

Get organized

Keeping everything neat and organized on a website it’s equally important and goes hand in hand with the smooth-navigation mentioned above. However, it can be difficult to achieve a clean and clear look, especially for larger companies who offer a great range of products and services. On top of that, customers will have higher expectations from larger retailers. When running an extensive website, you must organize all elements carefully in a logical and natural hierarchy and choose your platform carefully. For enterprise-level brands the Shopify Plus Vs Magento Enterprise debate is still going strong, so if you want to find out which platform better serves your needs, you should do a thorough research beforehand.

Keep it simple

In the world of web design, simplicity is often the best policy. That is not to say all retail sites have to embrace minimalism, but you must avoid overcrowding your pages with countless elements that bring no real value to your website and hinder the navigation process. Offer only the necessary information and learn how to use white space. White space is not wasted space, it’s the less is more approach put into practice. Look at all major retail brands websites and you’ll see a lot of it. You can rest assured it’s not because they didn’t know how to fill it, but because they knew how important it is to have an airy design that allows the eye to focus on the central elements of a website.

Consistency is key

Another important web design aspect to consider is the overall image of your website. If jumping from page to page makes the visitor feel like he’s looking at completely different websites, you’ve done it wrong. Creativity is much welcomed as you don’t want your site to look like million others, but you have to draw the line somewhere. Refrain from using different colors, fonts, logos and other elements on different pages. It will look like your company lacks personality and this will just confuse the viewer. If you want to create a unique identity, keep the design consistent across the website and match it with your products. Consistency is what will make your website memorable and establish your business as a recognizable brand.

Focus on responsive design

Nowadays, everyone browses the internet on their mobile devices and a lot of people shop online using either a smartphone or a tablet. If your website looks terrible on these devices, you’ll lose valuable customers. No customer will want to waste his time trying to decipher an illegible page on a website that wasn’t optimized for mobile gadgets. There are many competing ecommerce websites who are smart enough not to cut corners and offer users the responsive versions they expect, so your visitors have plenty of other choices. It’s more than clear that taking the time to optimize your site for mobile devices is non-negotiable.