11 Key Web Design Tips to Sell Your Product Online
Selling your product online has never been easier…or harder, ironically. With today’s technology, creating a website to show off your wares can be both super easy and incredibly complex. Mind = Blown, amiright? Sure, with a few clicks of a button you can create an account on Shopify, slam some photos into a template, then kick back and watch that sweet sweet dinero start rolling in, right? Negative Ghostrider, the pattern is full.
The online landscape is uber competitive, so you need to have all your ducks in a row if you want to sell one of those ducks. Not only do you need a kick-ass idea with a unique selling proposition, you need to make sure your site and digital ads look and function flawlessly. Selling products online means you need to stand out amongst the sea of competitors—not to mention everyone else vying for your customers’ attention (we’re looking at you, Tik Tok).
Your site should have tight messaging, punchy visuals, and layouts that lead your customers where you want them to go (the checkout page, contacting you, whatever your goal is). Below you’ll find 11 tips to help you on this journey. Why 11? Because it’s 1 more than 10. Obviously.
1. Smart Goals For An Online Business
GOOOOOOAAAAAL! Just like soccer (or football to the rest of the world) you need a goal to succeed. In this case your goal will likely be to increase your communication with potential customers, or to simply get them to add your product to their carts. First come up with a SMART goal:
- Specific: Set a real number of sales to make, emails to gather, or consultations to book.
- Measurable: Make a plan to track your progress.
- Achievable: Don’t set yourself up for disappointment. Make the number realistic.
- Relevant: Make sure your goals support your values, mission, and long-term vision.
- Time-Bound: Set an end date, whether it’s one year or one month.
Next, think about your goal when you develop each part of your website:
- Writing your calls to action (CTAs) should persuade visitors to get closer to adding your product to their carts, scheduling a consultation, opting into your email, or however you want to interact with them.
- Should you include testimonials? A before-and-after gallery? An interactive quiz? What will convince your target audience to help you meet your goal?
When you have a firm goal in mind for your business, all other aspects of the design should be in service to that goal.
2. Write Descriptions That Sell
Just because you know how awesome your product is, don’t assume that your customers will know right off the bat.
A common mistake when selling products online is to rattle off a list of features without giving the context of what the product actually does or how it benefits the consumer. Build your site from the viewpoint of the customer and explain how it will benefit them, not just what it does. Really try to connect to your target consumer and tap into what they need to live a better life.
Use real world, natural language in your copy to explain how your product’s amazing features will make their lives better. Nothing turns off a potential client faster than a word salad of industry buzzwords. Synergistic scalable solutions!
3. Grid It Up: Make Friends With The Grid Layout Design
When it comes to keeping your site looking clean, grids are your friends. Designing in grids will create visual structure and order.
There are many different types of grids for web design, but the basic key here is to keep content aligned horizontally and vertically. Consider the margins and spaces around your content and keep them equal where possible. Employ columns to help users make their way through information (there is a reason why restaurant menus are designed in rows and columns).
You may be thinking of a slick website you’ve seen recently with no grids in sight, but don’t be tempted to try out something too complex or hard to navigate. Remember rule 1: Goals. Focus on building a clean design that will help you reach your goals (which means using grids).
4. Too Cool For School: Don’t Forget The Web Design Basics
“Make it cool” is a term we’ve all used before, and of course you’ll want your site to be cool, happening, groovy, lit, fire…whatever the kids are saying these days. But if you lean too hard into a hot web trend (like the spinning 3d logos we saw everywhere) your site will age quickly. Unless you are a fashion brand that requires you to be on the cutting edge of visual funkitude, it’s best to make your site classic, clean, and easy to follow (especially if you want people to buy your stuff).
When in doubt, lean on the most basic web design principles:
- Consistency (color, fonts, style)
- Visual Hierarchy (make the important stuff prominent)
- Hick’s Law: More choices mean it will take longer to choose.
- White Space Isn’t Blank Space (don’t cram everything together)
- Design For Your Goal
5. Make It Bounce: Micro-Animations
A few thoughtful micro-animations can go a long way to adding some life to your site. Making an icon shake when you roll over it. The colors of a background subtly changing as you move your mouse. Avoid anything loud or distracting, but including some micro-animations in your design can make your site look polished and memorable.
6. You Can Have Any Color So Long As It’s Black
Was famously said by Henry Ford in 1909 in regards to the Model T. While you have a few more choices than that, it’s still best to keep your color palette to a select few colors and shades/tones of those. Consistent use of color can improve the user’s experience, offering visual cues to direct them around the site and tying everything together. Consider your design elements and use the same color for each of them (for example, choose one color for all the buttons and one color for all headers of the same size).
7. SEO is Neato
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and can be hugely important for generating traffic to your site. Simply put, good SEO implementation helps your website rank higher in search engines (primarily Google, which accounts for 92% of web searches). Since no one goes past the first page of a Google search, appearing higher up will get your page clicked on more often and consequently sell more products. You can get super nerdy with this stuff (and we do) but here are a few golden nuggets of SEO awesomeness:
- Keep that content fresh, yo. Google loves new, current content.
- Use keywords in your content that people are searching for.
- Optimize the title, meta, heading and subheading tags.
- Optimize your URLs. Google wants them to be simple and readable.
- Include links throughout your site (this one is so important that we will cover it in the next section).
- Optimize your images. Include a short description in the alt text box on all images. Also make sure your images are not too large; a slow page load can kill your Google ranking.
8. Links Links Links
Deep links take users directly to content instead of a homepage, which is helpful when you want to lead users to where they can buy a specific product. For instance, if you are running an ad on Facebook for an item you are selling, make that link go directly to that item’s page, not just your homepage. Then watch the cash roll in. Hopefully.
9. Choosing The Right Fonts For Your Website
Gone are the days of only having access to the eight or so “browser safe” fonts of yesteryear. There are now thousands of fonts at the ready. Additionally, higher resolution screens are becoming more commonplace, so gone are some of the old typographic rules concerning readability at small sizes. But like so much we’ve discussed here, restraint is the way forward.
The typical recommendation is to choose just two or three fonts for your site. A general rule of thumb is using a serif and sans serif font for the body and headlines and perhaps a decorative (read: funky/fun) font for large headers or individual words and short headlines where you want to add some personality.
10. Best CTA Placement? Above The Fold
“Above the fold” is an old newspaper term for where the most important content should go so when it’s sitting at the newsstand folded in a stack, it grabs attention immediately. Today this means keeping your CTA on the top portion of the page so you can see it without having to scroll down.
For your Call To Action (CTA) you’ll want to guide viewers right to the good stuff on your site with a button sending them where you want them to go (“Buy Now”, “Learn More”, “Contact Us” etc.). Where do you send them? Well that goes back to your goals.
11. Photography And Video And Illustration, Oh My
Nothing screams “laaaame” more than a generic stock photo of business people shaking hands. Unless you are a stock photography agency specializing in hand shaking…in which case…go for it…I guess? While stock photography can serve its purpose on occasion, you’ll definitely want to have professionally produced, high-quality photography, video, and potentially illustrations specific to your product for your site. Selling products online requires crisp, clear, and effective visuals. Below is a sample product shot list we often use to get our clients started. Some of these may seem obvious, but it’s important to capture everything you may need while you have the photographer, videographer or illustrator at your disposal so you don’t have to set up a second shoot or spend time fixing what you missed:
- Product shot in packaging
- Product shot outside of packaging
- Studio product shots against a seamless background
- Instructional photography of how to use the product
- Lifestyle photos of product in use
- Shots that emphasize the top features
- Photos that prove the product works
- “Behind the scenes” style photos
- Photos of the production/manufacturing process
- Headshots and lifestyle shots of your team
Similarly, to prepare for a video shoot you’ll want to have all the shots, talent, props, and locations planned out to the letter to make sure you get everything you need during the shoot. Video shoots can be…a lot….but hey, we are here to help.
For custom illustrations, you’ll want to find an illustrator who has a style that you like and discuss with them what you are looking for. They should provide you with rough sketches before producing the final piece to make sure the designs are what you want. Also, you can often find stock illustrations that can provide a good base for what you are envisioning and edit them to make them your own.
These tips are just the beginning to creating a beautiful website and a unique online experience customized for your customers. Check out more about creating your business branding, building a hardworking website, or possibly redesigning your current website. Remember, creativity is intelligence having fun. Don’t forget to inject some of your brand’s unique personality into your web design.