Let’s Talk About User-centered Design for Ecommerce Sites

It used to be that web design was about creating the coolest, most visually appealing site that represented everything that the company or project stood for. And yet, as web design has developed into a marketing and brand development tool, it still represents a company or project, but its primary goal is to engage visitors on the site and less about making the company look incredibly cool. Put simply, websites are designed for functionality now, not fluff.

While it is always going to be good to keep track of the latest trends, since your clients are indeed going to ask for some of these features, you have to design with general functionality in mind. How the site is laid out and how easy it is for the user to navigate is extremely important.

If you are designing an e-commerce site, for example, this means designing it in a way that optimizes the shopping experience, making navigating through the products easy and efficient. This can include designing a shopping cart that is visible and accessible at all times. A cart that also prompts a pop-up window whenever a new item is added, asking the customer whether he or she would like to “continue to check out” or to “keep shopping”, can be extremely effective. This type of design feature not only makes the process easy for the shopper, but it helps to direct the client’s end goal – to convert the browsing customer into a paying customer. Ultimately, this process needs to be simple because if the customer is confused or overwhelmed at any point (with too many visuals crowding the page for example), they will most likely abandon their cart.

Another design element that would benefit from being implemented on the checkout page should be visual representation of payment forms, including the major credit card companies, as well as other new online payment methods like this that the company may offer. Customers need to be able to see that they can pay with their preferred method of payment before they even begin the process. You also need to graphically include safety guarantees or trusted badges, to ease any concerns the customer may have on whether giving payment information to this site is safe.