The psychology of e-commerce website design: Hacks to boost your sales

e-commerce website design post
By , UI/UX Designer at Solvd

Imagine walking into a store that’s cluttered with mismatched furniture, overflowing shelves, and dim lighting. Would you stay and browse, or head straight for the exit? That’s the difference a well-designed e-commerce website can make. In today’s competitive world of online sales, e-commerce website design is your storefront. Get it right, and customers will walk in (virtually), browse, and buy.

In the world of e-commerce websites, where competition is constantly growing, it's crucial to meet industry standards and satisfy consumer expectations. E-commerce is an ever-evolving landscape because it adapts to new technologies and consumer preferences with each passing day.

Within this context, certain elements become integral parts of any successful online store. However, beyond standards such as global navigation, breadcrumb trails, and product descriptions, it's important to understand that e-commerce website design itself is more than just a collection of elements. It's a complex psychological mechanism that can influence visitors' emotions, behaviors, and decisions.

This article dives into the essential elements you need to consider to craft an e-commerce website design that not only looks great but also converts visitors into loyal customers.

E-commerce Website Design Best Practices

Pay Attention to the Specifics

Before delving into the intricacies of e-commerce website design, it's paramount to grasp the nuances of your product and your target audience’s preferences. This understanding is the cornerstone for crafting a user experience that resonates with potential customers.

Every product has its unique features, benefits, and selling points. Likewise, every target audience possesses distinct preferences, behaviors, and pain points. By thoroughly understanding these aspects, e-commerce businesses can tailor their website design to meet the specific needs and expectations of their customers.

Moreover, drawing insights from the broader e-commerce landscape can provide valuable guidance.

In the realm of online shopping, analyzing industry trends, studying competitors' strategies, and learning from successful case studies can offer valuable insights into what works and what doesn't.

Consider the scenario of a customer who is shopping for a television on an e-commerce website. With numerous brands offering similar-looking TVs, the key decision-making factor for the customer often lies in the specifications and features of the product. In this case, a crucial feature aiding the customer in their decision-making process is a comparative table that showcases several TV models. This feature allows users to compare and evaluate the differences quickly and easily.

bestbuy web design This comparison table displays the attributes of 2 different TVs sold by Best Buy.

The sales strategy for some products is based less on technical details and more on the emotional aspect of the purchase process and the atmosphere the buyer immerses themselves in while purchasing on an e-commerce website. This approach captures the attention of those customers who value more than just the quality of the product, but also its history and symbolic significance.

The luxury watch brand Rolex serves as a vivid example of this type of approach. Rolex’s e-commerce website design is aimed at creating an elegant and premium atmosphere that reflects the sophistication and status of the brand, as well as having a unique purchasing experience. Their product is sold mostly through its emotional component, and their site is aimed to satisfy that demand. Therefore, their website design helps create this emotional atmosphere while ensuring a comfortable shopping experience by incorporating the necessary functionality.

rolex web design The product configurator enables users to select individual equipment options.

Apple utilizes a combined approach on its website. Apple creates the desired emotional atmosphere for its users by showcasing numerous vibrant photographs, 3D product renderings, and other visual techniques that are all aimed at shaping the impression of innovation and technological advancement of their products. However, a large amount of technical detail is also included for those customers who rely on these factors when making a purchase.

apple web design The comparison table showcases the technical specifications of various iPhone models.

You can enhance the overall user experience and refine your website design by combining a deep understanding of your product and target audience with insights gleaned from the e-commerce industry. This holistic approach acknowledges the diverse needs and preferences of your customer base because it caters to both the emotional and practical considerations in the purchasing process.

Build Personalized Shopping Journeys

Now that we understand the specifics of the product and the desires of the customers, it's time to focus on personalizing the experience for each individual customer. The goals are to streamline and simplify the purchasing process, address any doubts they might have, and ideally create a positive impression not only of the outcome – the purchased product – but also of the feelings about the process itself.

The key to such personalization lies in collecting, analyzing, and utilizing user data and the actions made during the purchasing process. Here are a few suggestions for features that can help.

  • Create Personalized Content

Personalized content based on customer data allows websites to tailor to users’ individual needs. Websites can provide personalized recommendations, offers, and content that align with their preferences and requirements. Airbnb’s website serves as a good example of successful content personalization. When a user searches for accommodations on Airbnb’s website, they receive personalized recommendations that take their location into account. For example, a user from the USA who visits the site immediately sees a list of options that are close to their location. This simplifies the search process and it provides a more personalized experience.

airbnb web design Homepage with geo-based recommendations.

Recommendations based on user search behavior help expand choices and streamline the purchasing process. By analyzing which products interest the audience, a website can provide personalized recommendations that align more with their preferences and needs. Amazon, for example, offers users the option to explore products based on their search history as well as items that were viewed by other users who have similar interests. This way users can quickly find an alternative recommendation if a particular item doesn't suit them for whatever reason.

amazon web design Product recommendations tailored to the buyer's search history.

  • Personalize Offers based on Purchase History

Purchase history personalization is particularly useful for websites where customers buy certain products regularly. Examples include pet supplies, sports nutrition products, and business supplies. If a product is consumable and requires regular replenishment, it’s essential to think about how to simplify this process for the user to ensure convenience and foster repeat business.

Mechanisms to implement can include:

  1. Saved Shopping Lists. Allow users to create and save lists of frequently purchased items. This helps make the reordering process quick and convenient.
  2. Favorite Items. Enable a feature for users to save their favorite items. This makes it easy for them to find and repurchase the same products.
  3. Automatic Reminders. Send reminders to users when it’s time to replenish their stock of frequently bought items. This helps them remember to make a purchase.
  4. Recommendations. Based on their purchase history, offer users new products or alternatives they might like.

Walmart allows its customers to create lists of favorite items that generate reorder lists that are based on previous purchases. This is especially useful for customers who regularly buy the same products because these features make the reordering process simpler, quicker, and more convenient.

walmart web design Products reorder list.

  • Provide Additional Information about the Products

Along with personalized product recommendations, an essential step for ensuring an optimal user experience is providing additional information about the product and the purchasing process. This helps users get answers to their questions and it eliminates any doubts they might have about the product. To achieve this, several communication channels can be implemented:

  1. Q&A Section. Users can browse questions posed by other shoppers and ask their own questions.
  2. Customer Reviews. Previous buyers share their experiences and insights about the product which can help new customers make more informed decisions.
  3. Customer Support. Real-time support through live chat, chatbots, and phone calls provides immediate assistance and guidance.

AT&T provides such capabilities on its website. During the purchasing process, in addition to a detailed description of the product and information on purchasing and delivery methods, the company offers customers the opportunity to view and add their questions and reviews. The site also features online assistance that can provide further information if needed.

att web design Products cards with Customer Q&A and Reviews sections.

  • Offer Immersive Personalized Experiences

Immersive product experiences can significantly enhance the personalization of the shopping experience. Modern technologies enable the implementation of innovative techniques that allow customers to evaluate product features before making a purchase. Incorporating these elements into e-commerce website design can help your brand stand out from the competition and leave customers with a memorable shopping experience. By leveraging such immersive experiences, you not only provide a highly personalized shopping journey but also increase the likelihood of customer satisfaction and conversion.

For instance, the eyewear brand Ray-Ban offers a virtual try-on feature using augmented reality on its website. This allows customers to see how different sunglasses look on their faces by using their device’s camera. This cutting-edge technology helps customers choose the most suitable product based on appearance, which can be a decisive factor for many when selecting eyewear.

ray ban web design Try On Feature uses face scanning to analyze face shape, size, and features.

In summary, creating a personalized shopping experience is a crucial factor for both enhancing customer satisfaction and driving sales. Personalized shopping experiences increase conversion rates because they make it easier for customers to find and purchase the products they want by reducing decision-making friction.

Incorporating personalized elements into an e-commerce website design strategy is not only about meeting immediate sales goals. It’s about creating a user-centric approach that respects and responds to the customers’ individual needs. This approach not only enhances the user experience but also builds a loyal customer base, which ultimately drives sustainable growth and success for businesses.

Focus on Brand Perception and Design Influence

The overall impression a user gets from interacting with a company also plays an important role in their decision to make a purchase. This impression is formed through multiple touchpoints with the brand, from the first visit to the website to the receipt of the order. Every aspect of interaction influences the perception of the brand and it can either attract or repel potential customers. It's important because a brand is the product’s reputation which fosters certain customer expectations about the product.

Visual design plays a key role in brand perception because it creates a first impression and it forms an emotional connection with consumers. According to web credibility research from Stanford, 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design.

Four Steps to Develop a Brand that Conveys Emotions and Builds Connections with Your Audience

Step 1. Define Desired EmotionsIdentify the specific emotions you want your brand to evoke from consumers (e.g., trust, excitement, nostalgia). Consider the specific emotions that align with your brand’s values and target audience.
Step 2. Formalize GoalsTranslate the desired emotions into clear and measurable goals for your visual identity. For example, "Evoke a sense of trust" could translate to a goal of using clean, simple fonts and a blue color palette.
Step 3. Design with Emotions in Mind

Using the defined goals, create visual elements that convey the desired emotions. Consider: 

  • Fonts. Elegant script fonts can suggest sophistication, while bold, blocky fonts could imply strength. 
  • Colors. Warm colors evoke feelings of comfort and joy, while cool colors can suggest calmness or professionalism. 
  • Shapes. Rounded shapes feel more inviting, while sharp angles can project power or precision.
  • Imagery. Use photos and illustrations that visually represent the emotions you want to convey.
Step 4. Analyze and AdaptRegularly monitor how consumers react to your brand's visual style. Analyze feedback and market trends to see if your brand is effectively conveying your intended emotions. Be prepared to make adjustments to your visual elements based on your findings.

As we’ve noted above, Apple’s website exemplifies the successful use of visual design. Apple is known for its minimalist design that reflects simplicity, innovation, and high-quality standards. Their products and marketing materials have a clear, clean, and modern appearance that conveys the mood that’s desired by their customers.

apple website design Example of a header banner on the Apple website.

Therefore, while the visual style of a brand may not impact the purchase process directly, it remains a crucial part of how customers perceive their interaction experience on a website.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, e-commerce website design isn’t only about aesthetics; it’s about understanding the psychology of your customers. By incorporating the best practices we’ve mentioned in this article, you can create a website that not only looks appealing but also builds trust, reduces friction, and compels visitors to convert and return.

Remember, a user-friendly experience with clear value propositions and persuasive elements is essential for turning your e-commerce website into a sales success story. By focusing on the psychological aspects of design, you can ensure your site meets the needs and desires of your customers- all of which lead to increased satisfaction and loyalty.

Solvd’s experience in e-commerce web design services

Your website is a magnet, but are you attracting lookers or buyers? Solvd’s services don’t deliver empty carts and abandoned checkouts. We’re a UX/UI design SWAT team that’s about turning clicks into conversions. Solvd can help you to:

  • Unleash the Buyer Persona. We dissect your target audience by understanding their desires and anxieties. We’re not into generic one-size-fits-all interfaces, we craft experiences that resonate instead.
  • Reach Frictionless Funnels. We streamline the path to purchase. No more confusing layouts or hidden costs. Our designs make buying a breeze.
  • Make Data-Driven Decisions. A/B testing and analytics are our secret weapons. We measure what works and then we optimize them for maximum ROI.
  • Convert. Our team doesn’t just design, they convert. We’ve got a diverse and proven track record of boosting sales for e-commerce businesses.

Are you still, trying to figure out where to start? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to finding the perfect UI/UX design partner for your e-commerce project. Stop waiting for sales to happen. Solvd will design an e-commerce website that compels action. Let’s chat!

Oleg Volovnyk
UI/UX Designer at Solvd
Oleg Volovnyk is a UI/UX designer at Solvd who has over six years of experience. He's passionate about creating user-friendly interfaces and has tackled projects for startups and established companies across various industries. Oleg brings a user-centered approach and strong design standards to every challenge he faces.

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