It’s tough to keep up with web design best practices these days. It seems like the trends change every year, sometimes reversing and doubling back on themselves. Often the best practices simply depend on who you ask. Some might say, for example, that hamburger menus are a good way to provide navigation options on a site, while some say the drop-down menu is dead. Folks might tell you that responsive web design is effective because it creates a consistent browsing experience across platforms, but others will tell you that responsive design doesn’t appropriately encapsulate the mobile experience.
In the competitive world of e-commerce, it’s especially important to make sure you do your best to keep up with the latest design trends; a poorly designed site could be the difference between converting customers and losing out to your competition.
While design should always be tailored to your specific product and cannot thus be applied on a one-size-fits-all basis, there are nonetheless certain trends that seem to be especially popular amongst design experts, especially when it comes to drawing users’ attention to the call to action (CTA). Here are four of those design trends useful for optimizing conversions on your e-commerce site:
1. Embrace white space. The best way to draw attention to your CTA is to make it the focal point of your site. Don’t clutter your homepage with all sorts of unnecessary info. Often the only things people really need are a picture of a given product, a technical description, and a short bullet list of features and technical specs. People have come to your site to browse, maybe to buy, and in all likelihood, a wordy rundown of the company’s mission and other such information may just be distracting. Give visitors the information they need to know as soon as they come to your site. Cut down on the clutter and point all design emphases to the CTA.
One tried-and-true method of drawing attention to your CTA is through the use of white space. In many cases, especially in today’s minimal design favoring world, less is more. The presence of white space on a page makes the information of note easier to comprehend. Leaving space empty to draw attention to your CTA and leave users free of distraction will cut to the chase and increase the likelihood of conversion.
2. Use the power of the card. Whether or not you use Pinterest, you're almost certainly familiar with one of its most influential contributions to internet and design culture: the card format. The layout of the site, where you can see all the “pins,” looks like a wall of little cards hung up on a landing page, featuring a picture and perhaps a small caption or description underneath. The card layout is very effective at helping increase CTA conversions. The reason? They force the design to be economical. A card layout is great because it allows you to get your message across with an image as the predominant eye catcher and a clear CTA right below it. You can use a little text under the card to help describe the image if you need, but again, less is more. The message to users in the card format is simple: Do you want the thing pictured here? Then click. Card format is also a useful and aesthetically pleasing way to get a lot of products on one page — a good alternative to making shoppers navigate to a bunch of different pages on your site.
3. Pop-ups are back (sort of). If you grew up in the early days of internet advertising, you probably know one thing for certain: you hate pop-ups. That’s a fair perspective because, when overused, pop-ups are one of the most annoying interruptions possible to a browsing experience. That said, they’re also very effective at grabbing a user’s attention — and they’re making a bit of a comeback. How many websites nowadays offer a pop-up as soon as you try to leave the site? A lot, right? It’s because the company is trying to keep you around to turn you into a converting customer, and the way they often do that is by using pop-ups to offer an exclusive incentive to stick around. For example, an online store might display a pop-up that offers a discount at checkout if you sign up for its email list. Whatever it is, pop-ups can be a good conversion tool because they immediately draw attention to a certain CTA, but be careful: use them in moderation, and only when they benefit the customer.
4. Stick it to ’em. There are instances in which you can be a little too obnoxious with your CTAs. A new pop-up every time a user goes to a new page, for example, might be a little excessive. That said, there are ways of being both subtle and persistent with your CTAs. Sticky CTAs, for example, will show up as a small tab or button on every page on your site. They’ll follow users around in a discreet way, giving them the option to convert at a moment’s notice. If you can find the right balance of establishing a presence while being very subtle and unobtrusive, sticky CTAs can be especially useful for mobile shoppers, as navigating from page to page can be a little trickier on a smaller screen on which you type with your thumbs. Using a sticky CTA to follow users from page to page gives them the option to convert whenever it suits them.
What other design trends have led to high conversions for your e-commerce site? Share them in the comments below!
Ellie Martin is a freelance writer that regularly writes about business, technology and startups for a variety of publications.
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