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Is Design the Most Important Factor in my E-commerce Store?

 by brian on 14 Jan 2013 |
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Design has a vital place in the structure of any online business or organisations store front, though most experts would certainly agree that it is not the most important element in the whole process. is a fantastic example of this. Their design is one of the simplest you can find, and yet they are one of the most popular website browsed by global users today.
Wikipedia is another fantastic example, as they are only a few steps more complex than craigslist, which isn't saying much. in fact, the biggest noticeable difference seems to be an image based logo! The design is all about content, and getting it to people as easily and as quickly as possible. 
There is a very good reason why simple sites like these, get so just as much or more traffic than websites with fancy cosmetic storefronts. It's a simple equation really:
Content = Traffic

In July 2012, one of our clients (who wanted to remain anonymous) decided to do a content push for their online store after six months of trading. Their search related traffic was fairly steady until early August when a serious boost occured and never stopped. Their stats graph was more than impressive as shown below in actual numbers. Content came from biweekly blog posts about their products and popular related topics they found online, as well as an archive about how to use their products or how to get the best from them.
In the world of SEO, your graphics have very little to do with your ability to bring in traffic. You do want your website to look professional and to be easy to use, though it is much more important to focus on the basic fundamentals of a strong ecommerce store:
  • - Providing detailed product descriptions
  • - Using consistent font sizes and colors
  • - Creating an attractive landing page
  • - Encouraging genuine peer reviews (You can activate the built in reviews and questions feature for this)
  • - Compiling engaging content (The blog is perfect for this. Don't forget to send out a weekly newsletter showcasing your latest blog posts)
  • - Having a working website without broken links
Having a beautiful, attractive and modern website is definitely important, as it can help you engage new visitors to your website. While many business owners understand this, a lack of experience with ecommerce websites can leave them without the knowledge that design will take you nowhere without the fundamentals in place first. Things like making sure your logo is aligned correctly, or having any cross-browser issues taken care of, are vital to the welfare of your storefront. Anyone can have a fancy website, but if firefox users are the only ones who can use your website, your business will be in trouble.
You're also looking at some extra challenges if your landing page doesn't give readers a reason to click through, as your visitors won't just give themselves a reason. The same can be said if some other simple thing isn't take care of, like having clear images throughout your website, with appropriate resolutions and sizes.

One of our previously mentioned popular stores does a great job in showcasing their products. Note the thumbnails are all the same size, same style, clean and clear.
All in all, one truth can be uttered when it comes to your design priorities: Content and Simplicity should always come first.
Once you've got your cornerstones in place, it will be easier to work on the cosmetic designs and improvements and you'll save yourself some money too, as many designers charge more if your website starts out as a mess.


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