The Essentials of eCommerce Website Design


After several years of working in eCommerce and at some pretty big brands like Culture Kings, I’ve picked up on some important essentials that every eCommerce store needs to convert. Here’s a few of my learnings 🔥👇

Keep it simple

It’s tempting to fill a site with pop-ups, fly-outs, multiple old collections and wordage. Instead, start with the end in mind and eliminate as many obstacles between the user and their destination as you can. Focus on giving them helpful (unpushy 😏) pushes in the right direction.

Consistent branding

This step supports the first. With consistent branding—colours, typography, skimmable copy, photography style and media—you create a seamless brand experience. This leaves space for the products to shine and for your UX to guide the user intuitively through the site.

Trust badges

Did you know, 17% of carts are abandoned due to users’ security concerns? Trust badges seem like an incredibly simple solution. And yet, simple seems to be the reigning strategy. There are safe checkout, accepted payment, third-party endorsement, money-back guarantee and free shipping/returns badges—all of which can be highly recognisable and reassuring to the user.

Customer reviews

There’s nothing more convincing than social proof. Adding in a customer review section takes the pressure off trying to ‘sell’ the benefits and features of products. Even more powerful, the voice of customers authentically does the hard work for the brand.

Product categories 👕👖

It’s got to be one of the most underrated tasks. Group products intuitively! Stop what you’re doing, take a walk and think about how customers actually navigate the site to find what they need. And then put in the extra effort by making those category pages super engaging and beautiful. For starters, write snappy category summaries with keywords and use relevant campaign images to tell a story.

The search function on the site should be the most straightforward experience for customers. But… sometimes, it lets us down. 😖 And there’s nothing worse than turning what should be a convenience into a roadblock. Great search on your site starts with great navigation. You need to ace both—not just one or the other!

Professional photos

Best way to show you’re a pro? Use professional photography. No, not everyone can take a good shot. Photographers are trained to bring out the best in products. Imagine trying to market a brand with a scrappy, poorly lit photo of a product with weird paraphernalia in the background. Cringeworthy! To be taken seriously, you need to get serious about visuals.

Product information, and lots of it

There are different types of customers—some love details, others just need to know a few things in order to purchase. By creating skimmable product descriptions, you cater to all customer types. Break up your copy with bulleted lists. Write short descriptions but don’t be afraid to tell the customer about all the product’s wonderful features and benefits.

Social proof

I know, I get it. Sometimes social proof can be tacky and cringey but for most eCommerce stores it's an absolute must. Can you really tell me that you don't look at the reviews of a product on Amazon before you commit to buying it?

It's absolutely vital to show reviews on your website as it is a vital step in the trust-building process and another one of those incremental steps toward pushing a visitor to become a customer.

When a customer is feeling shoppy, why not help them out? 🛍 ✨ Upselling is a common sales technique that also has an established presence in eCommerce. By positioning a related or recommended product section in strategic parts of your customer journeys, you might increase the site’s average order value. Think product pages and cart > checkout pages.

Simple checkout process

Congrats, you did it! Well—almost. They’re at the checkout… but then… they disappeared? The abandoned cart is as sad as it sounds. You did everything to get your customer there, but it wasn’t enough to get the sale. Look at your cart > checkout journey critically.

  • Do you use strong calls to action?
  • Can customers clearly see what’s in their cart?
  • Does the experience work well on mobile?
  • Are the buttons and text big enough?
  • Is the checkout flow intuitive and clear?
  • Can they checkout as a guest?
  • Are you asking for invasive or unnecessary information?
  • Are you showing all payment options at checkout?
  • Are you showing that your site is secure?


That’s all for now, folks! Question: Did I miss anything? I’d love to hear your thoughts on what makes eCommerce design really excellent. Head over to my Twitter and let me know! Or subscribe for more content below.