If you have taken the big step towards setting up an online business, it’s important to remember that the main objectives of your site are to develop your business and generate profit. In theory developing an Ecommerce site may seem like a fairly straightforward operation, Ecommerce sites by their very nature have a pre-defined set of criteria – a usable shopping cart/basket, secure payment processes and a place to display product information.. The danger of such pre-defined criteria is that they are based purely on functionality. As the online marketplace grows and competition increases, it is no longer possible to just provide consumers with a purely functional website.
The buying habits of consumers – how they choose what to buy – is a key subject to consider before developing your Ecommerce website. Generally consumers like to think that they make rational purchasing decisions based on the usability of a product, however the reality is that aesthetics play a very big part in influencing purchases.
Much research has been carried out on the effects that aesthetics have on consumer perceptions of a product, including its usefulness and usability. The results of this research show that many consumers believe that products which are aesthetically presented are the most useful and usable. Of course the long term benefits of a particular product are important to consumers, but in the early stages of the buying process how customers can interact with products is one of the first major influences.
Despite its possibilities, Ecommerce prevents you from physically presenting your products to your customers. You aren’t able to explain face to face how your product can benefit or improve their lives, so it is vital to present your products and information about your products online in a visually appealing and engaging way. Aesthetics can also play a major role in whether a consumer trusts on online retailer enough to make a purchase and give away highly sensitive payment information. No doubt you yourself have also experienced similar feelings, preferring to trust the well-designed site which represents a brand over a site which appears to have been built overnight in a teenager’s bedroom!
So what does this mean to you now that you are set developing your online business? Essentially, aesthetically appealing design – Form – needs to be integrated with usability – Functionality – to create an inspirational Ecommerce website. Regardless of the nature of your product if it is presented badly consumers won’t purchase it. Presenting a negative online brand effectively turns your customers away from your site, forcing them to give their valuable business to your competition.
Although on opposite ends of the scale, form and functionality can work together and boost the appeal of your Ecommerce site when integrated properly. Think of the care which your site designer takes to implement the best and most functional shopping cart onto your site. Ask them to take 3 steps backwards down the buying process and get them to apply the same care while designing the site. Think carefully about how consumers will interact with your site as well as how you want the presentation of your products to differentiate from those of your competitors. To succeed now and in the future, Ecommerce needs to become inspirational through a combination of carefully conceived design and high levels of usability.
To get you started, a few examples of inspirational Ecommerce sites can be found below:
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