Ecommerce Design

The Results Are In: The 22 Best Ecommerce Website Designs of 2018

/ 19 min read

Your owned online site experience is your one chance to prove your brand value to your customers.

And to give those customers a reason to keep buying from your ecommerce website channel, and not from your Amazon channel (where you lose out on brand equity and customer lifetime value).

Add to that the fact that 48% of online product searches in the U.S. begin on Amazon, and that you aren’t the only store selling in your vertical – and you begin to understand just competitive the visibility market is.

Amazon is best-in-class at convenience and price. CrazyEgg recently outlined exactly what it is about Amazon beyond price and convenience (though convenience cuts through the entire Amazon experience) that keeps customers the engaged.

Those reasons include:

  • Amazon gets personal.
  • Checkout is easy.
  • Social proof – lots of it.
  • Products images, videos, and descriptions.
  • Upselling and cross-selling.
  • Convenient filtering, navigation, and search.

But tons of people forgo Amazon to shop ion branded website channels.

In a Digital Commerce 360 study, consumer reported the following reasons for why they shop on branded websites over Amazon:

  • They want a sense of belonging.
  • They seek knowledgeable staff members.
  • They want easy return policies.

It’s clear:

If you want users to visit and buy from your site – where you can control the post-sale user experience, unlike on Amazon – you need a conversion driven design that makes your visitors feel like they are part of a community and can trust you.

To guide and inspire you to do just this, we’ve gathered 22 best-of-the-best online site designs by both traditional retailers and digital native retailers alike.

These sites capture a visitors’ attention, provide a sense of belonging and community, and drive increased sales MoM.

These stores were judged by a panel of judges, including:

The winning sites and finalists fell into the following 4 categories:

  1. Best Overall Ecommerce Website Design.
  2. Best New Ecommerce Website Design.
  3. Best Ecommerce Homepage Design.
  4. Best Customer Experience Design.

Let’s dive in.

Best Ecommerce Site Designs of 2018
  1. New Chapter.
  2. Bliss World.
  3. BonBonBon.
  4. Crossrope.
  5. The Mountain.
  6. Skullcandy.
  7. TRUE linkswear.
  8. Decibullz.
  9. Cutter & Buck.
  10. Cruisemaster.
  11. JeepPeople.
  12. Azteca Soccer.
  13. Fronks.
  14. Zugu Case.
  15. Signal Boosters.
  16. Physiq Apparel.
  17. Scentos.
  18. Rusty Surfboards.
  19. Home Science Tools.
  20. Customer Barres.
  21. KOI Computers.
  22. Renogy.

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Best Overall Ecommerce Website Design

The best overall ecommerce website design is awarded to sites that succeed in creating a great user experience, branding consistency, mobile responsive and friendly UX, and quick checkout.

1. New Chapter.

  • Best Overall Design Winner

ecommerce design awards New Chapter

New Chapter, a P&G brand, mimics digital native brand functionality in terms of innovation and consumer engagement on their site.

From quizzes to bundles and everything in between, New Chapter provides a personalized, choose-your-own-adventure experience for its customers and prospects.

They’ve also employed rigourous A/B testing to create the best possible user experience.

According to the New Chapter team:

In less than one year, our store has gone from a $0 brand website to a thriving, seven-figure channel, due to our extraordinary site design.

Conversion optimizations have increased from a launch state of approximately 0.4% to almost 2% through our use of iterative testing.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on New Chapter’s Winning Overall Design

Richard Lazazzera

New Chapter’s content and education focused approach really helps visitors understand the benefits of their products.

Plus, they’ve employed a great use of categorization, allowing the visitor to select supplements based on health needs or ingredients.

2. Bliss

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Blissworld

Bliss has taken its fun, youthful and energizing in-spa and product feel to their online channel.

Using bright colors, fun graphics and even gifs, the site encourages you to explore, engage and buy.

Judge Kelly Wenzel on Bliss World’s Overall Design

Kelly Wenzel

This site has a fresh, beautiful and engaging overall design. My favorite attribute is the color pallet and photography.

From the layout to the color pallet and imagery, the design complements the brand promise that inner happiness leads to outward beauty.

3. Bon Bon Bon.

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Bon Bon Bon

Bon Bon Bon is an artisan chocolate company based out of Detroit that is full of spirit and swagger.

When looking to expand their brick-and-mortar presence online, Bon Bon Bon needed complete customization and flexibility to showcase their creativity and engage online consumers.

An original Shopify site failed to allow for necessary customizations and thus revenue goals. A platform switch and redesign by BigCommerce partner Brand Labs helped the Bon Bon Bon team attain their visual and UX goals.

According to the Bon Bon Bon team:

Brand Labs, working with Skidmore Studios in Detroit, created a funky, user friendly BigCommerce site that captures the spirit of the BonBonBon product, the Babes Babes Babes (a rad group of ladies, keeping hand-u-facturing alive in Detroit), and of course the chocolate.

The team also created a great custom option called: Build a Box Box Box.

This feature allows customers to select their favorite confections, add them to the corrugated cardboard box, and deliver them wherever they want.

They can even Add one Random Bon! for fun.

The ability to create and design a website experience unique for their clientele is what keeps this fun-loving brand top of mind for chocolate aficionados.

From the Bon Bon Bon team:

Launching in November 2017 in the nick of time for the holiday season, Bon Bon Bon saw an astounding 415% increase in year over year sales from launch through the holiday season.

The next big test came with Valentine’s day where Bonbonbon.com saw almost a 6% conversion rate resulting in a 74% increase in year over year sales.

Judge Tom Berno on Bon Bon Bon’s Overall Design

Tom Berno

This is an energetic and personable site that does an excellent job of going beyond a template feel.

It tells a great story of a Detroit DIY company!

 

4. Crossrope.

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards CrossRope

Crossrope is one of several fitness online retailers under the MadDogg Athletics umbrella, which has a presence in 89 countries and selling products to 169 distributors across the globe.

It’s a complex commerce network that has been in the making for more than two decades.

This kind of workout phenomenon is more culture than simply product –– and the Crossrope website aims to tell that story throughout the site.

The Crossrope team describes their process:

We don’t just sell jump ropes. We provide our community with a fun and unique jump rope experience that they’ve never seen before – one that is designed to help them achieve their fitness results.

Over the past year, we’ve leveraged a tremendous amount of resources to design a website that is inviting, fun, and different than what most fitness shoppers are accustomed to.

We’ve been meticulous with every word of copy, every image, every page, and every design element because we know that each is a touch point that that plays a crucial part in the experience we are trying to deliver to our customers.

The goal was to create a website that allows fitness enthusiast to find a community of support as they work toward their health goals.

Judge Chris Coyier on Crossrope’s Overall Design

Chris Coyier

They really have me interested in buying one of these things!

The site couldn’t be more clear what the product is and how to buy it.

 

 

5. The Mountain.

  • Best Overall Design Finalist

The Mountain found initial success on Amazon but realized it would need a place where it could cultivate and engage with its audience online, and build brand equity.

They needed their own website.

“In 2008, one of our t-shirt designs, the ‘Three Wolf Moon’ shirt, skyrocketed in popularity and its Amazon review went viral.” Said Lindsey Reis, Marketing Manager at The Mountain

“It became clear that we needed a website.”

The Mountain does a great job providing customers an easy way to navigate their site, and provides a sense of urgency by including key coupon codes for certain customer segments.

According to Lindsey Reis:

Our customers love to save money, but we try to be strategic about our offers, what items we’re discounting, to whom, and how often – all while prioritizing our most loyal shoppers. Because of this, we need specific tools to successfully execute our promotions.

With BigCommerce, we can easily create unique coupon codes, which we are using to instill urgency and drive our customers more quickly to the point of purchase.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on The Mountain’s Overall Design

Richard Lazazzera

It’s always a challenge organizing large numbers of products, but The Mountain does a great job with this, allowing visitors to quick drill down and find what they are looking for.

 

The Mountain increases month-over-month conversion rate by 33%.

In 30 days after launch on BigCommerce, The Mountain saw a jump in conversions! Read more about their story.

Best New Ecommerce Website Design

Some of the ecommerce sites below are brand new, online launches for the companies. Other of these sites are net new launches after a tedious experience with former platforms.

All of these brands launched on BigCommerce in the past 12 months – showcathsing the prowess of their design and UX in combination with complex ecommerce needs and functionality.

1. Skullcandy.

  • Best New Site Winner

ecommerce design awards skullcandy

Skullcandy’s site comes to life with great colors and product photography.

The design process and consideration of their audience was key to making a site that would stand out among the competition.

According to the Skullcandy team:

Skullcandy pushes the limits in everything they do from their products, their music, corporate culture and with no exception, the BigCommerce platform for their digital ecommerce channel.

A recent replatform effort launched in February. The design was also elevated to take advantage of more freedom within the BigCommerce platform.

Exploring the skullcandy.com site, the ease and frictionless flow of the customer journey engages the user at every turn. Blending product with brand and brand with product, you gain a sense of the brand and quality of their products without effort.

Designed as a mobile-first experience in line with Skullcandy’s typical customer, the design is unmatched in delivering engaging imagery at lightning speed.

Judge Tom Berno on Skullcandy’s Winning Site Design

Tom Berno

This is a superior design that emulates an established brand.

The Backstage Pass stories are an excellent content feature that is engaging without a hard sell. Excellent photography and product presentation.

Overall, an excellent case study for what the BigCommerce platform offers at its best.

2. TRUE linkswear.

  • Best New SIte Finalist

ecommerce design awards TRUE LinksWear

TRUE linkswear saw a revenue increase of just under 700% YoY after they switched to BigCommerce and improved their site design.

According to Justin from TRUE linkswear:

In May of last year, we transitioned our site from Magento to BigCommerce.

We worked with a development firm to build a custom theme that allowed us to have all of specific functionality features we were looking for.

Our in house design team developed the look and feel of the site based on the design aesthetics that we were using to re-launch our brand

We couldn’t have achieved this without the backend toolkit that BigCommerce provides us.

Judge Chris Coyier on TRUE linkswear Site Design

Chris Coyier

I love a homepage that makes it 100% clear what the product is and why I should care.

This does it great.

Product pages are really nice, too. That’s a place where a carousel actually works.

Also, the blog posts are very well done and seem worth reading, which is rare for this kind of site! Kudos!

3. Decibullz.

  • Best New Site Finalist

Decibullz, with the help of design agency DigitalHaus, was able to take their website to the next level over the past year after switching to BigCommerce.

According to the Decibullz team:

As a manufacturer and brand, it is important that our website converts at a high rate as well as display education and information on our products and brand for possible resellers.

Our new website uses a balance of lifestyle, product photography, and video to help educate our customers.

After 1 month on BigCommerce, we have seen an increase of 35% in average order value and our conversion rate is up 6%.

One important factor when we switched was having a fast and reliable website while still being able to display large images and videos.

With the new website, our average page load time is down 21% and we are actually using more images and videos than we had on our old site.

We have not only increased sales on our site, we have made it easier for our customers to find our products in-store at retail locations.

Judge Kelly Wenzel on Decibullz Site Design

Kelly Wenzel

I appreciated the data-driven metrics linked to the design, like the consistent two buttons on each page.

The UX is simple and the photography is great, especially since it is persona-driven.

This is both a high function and a high aesthetic website design.

4. Cutter & Buck.

  • Best New Site Finalist

ecommerce design awards cutter and buck

Cutter & Buck created a shopping experience that:

  • Offers an easy navigation, shopping, and checkout.
  • Highlights the diversity of their collections.
  • Includess Fan Shop, Pro Shop, and other specialty collections.

This allows consumers to browse their site in a choose-your-own-adventure type way.

And gives their merchandising, social and campaigns teams plenty to work with in terms of branded campaigns across channels.

Judge Chris Coyier on Cutter & Buck Site Design

Chris Coyier

The homepage CTAs getting you to self-select men’s or women’s is smart.

Layering as a category is clever, too. The mega menus are good for a site with a lot of categories – and for good reason!

Overall, this is a great example of a strong, simple design and everything you’d want out of an ecommerce clothes shop (search, filtering, recommendations, etc).

5. Cruisemaster.

  • Best New Site Finalist

ecommerce design awards cruisemaster

Cruisemasters wanted to relaunch their brand and site with the goal of being more informative, rather than just showing a product with a price and add-to-cart.

This is most evident in the custom setup on the site’s suspensions page and other category pages.

According to Damien from Above and Beyond Web Design on behalf of the Cruise Masters team:

This site is quite complex, with a lot of moving parts and the customer wanted a much more information focussed product page. We also had a timeframe of only 5 weeks for completion.

The site is fully custom and responsive!

The product page is completely custom with multiple banners, captions and tabs but is able to be updated by the client using the Custom Fields section in BigCommerce.

We also set up a store locator and did store training as well.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on CruiseMaster Site Design

Richard Lazazzera

This is a great looking site and brand.

The product pages do a great job of highlighting benefits through feature banners/boxes.

 

 

6. JeepPeople.

  • Best New Site Finalist

ecommerce design awards jeeppeople

JeepPeople is a brand for Jeep enthusiasts and their site was designed with their customers in mind.

They are providing state of the art shopping features that help guide their customers through a personalized buying experience to ensure the parts they get fit with their Jeep.

This tactic has paid dividends for JeepPeople.

According to the JeepPeople team:

Designed and developed by Cart Designers, JeepPeople has moved from a broken shopping experience on the Shopify platform and increased their month over month conversion rate and sales revenue by 10.92% and 27.05% respectively.

The customer experience is also a big part of the personalized shopping experience.

A custom ‘Fits your Jeep’ indicator lets the customer see parts that work with their make / model throughout the website, and the ‘Install Difficulty’ rankings built into the product cards let the customer sort and understand the post-buy requirements to get their parts installed easily.

A custom ‘Timed Deals’ feature was built right into the Theme Editor of the site allowing for special flash sales to be generated for one or more products.

Reviewing results and building new customer-centric features is the primary growth strategy for JeepPeople as they implement a continuous improvement process via Cart Designers’ Growth-Driven Design process.

Judge Jimmy Duvall on JeepPeople’s Site Design

Jimmy Duval

I really like the “install difficulty” scale.

This site showcases solid featured products and brands, making it easy to find the right fit for your Jeep.

 

 

Best Ecommerce Homepage Design

Stuart McMillan, Deputy Head of Ecommerce at Schuh, says the average ecommerce site’s homepage generates about 30% of sessions.

This means you need to clearly convey your brand’s expertise, trustworthiness, and community quickly to this large cohort.

Optimizely provides a list of elements a great homepage should include, such as:

  1. A storytelling element.
  2. A Keep It Simple mentality (i.e. you don’t need to include *everything*).
  3. A video, if possible, to describe who you are and what your brand purpose is.
  4. Social proof from customers and publications.
  5. Merchandising options.

The following brands have done a great job of implementing these and other conversion optimization tactics on their homepages.

1. Azteca.

  • Best Homepage Design Winner

ecommerce design awards Azteca Soccer

Azteca Soccer’s homepage is alive with color and great product photography.

They allow users to browse by various categories or their top products quickly and easily on the homepage.

According to the Azteca team:

I decided to stay away from the norm ecommerce feel and provide a specialty/boutique feel. I focused on having .svg elements and maintaining high-res quality images.

Users will be able to navigate smoothly and find what they are looking for quicker.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on Azteca Winning Homepage Design

Richard Lazazzera

This site showcases great use of bright product photos combined with lifestyle shots encourages visitors to explore and click around.

 

 

2. Fronks.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards FRONKS

Fronks has a unique homepage that clearly shares who they are and the products they offer.

According to the Fronks team:

We used Stencil and partnered with a local Austin design Studio, Foda, to create a super simple, clean and modern site that exhibits the feel of the product and packaging.

Also, we have some fun interactive bits that give it a textile feel for the customer.

Judge Chris Coyier on Fronks Homepage Design

Chris Coyier

Intriguing! This is such a clean design. Them not showing me the whole bottle REALLY makes me want to click and see them.

The copy is wonderfully clear and explains exactly what the product/service is. They make nut milks and deliver them.

Perfect simple message.

3. Zugu Case.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards ZUGU CASE

Zugu Case uses a long format style homepage to share important product features, key value propositions, social proof, and more to encourage visitors to buy it’s product.

According to the Zugu Case team:

This is a unique design site built to showcase a small number of products in a big way.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on Zugu Case Homepage Design

Richard Lazazzera

Zugu Case’s homepage has all the elements of a great landing page.

The homepage showcases their products, features & benefits and provides social proof to help nudge visitors to become buyers.

4. Signal Boosters.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Signal Boosters

Signal Boosters designed their homepage with its target audience in mind, aiming to answer their key questions as quickly as possible.

According to the Signal Boosters team:

We decided to redesign the website with the focus on business (instead of consumer) and service (instead of products).

The new site benefits from the new Stencil theme from BigCommerce which is more responsive than the old theme.

We saw a faster page loading time and a higher grade on Google Page Speed Insight.

The new design and development of SignalBoosters.com are right on time for our business to grow and offer our customers better experience and information, backed by our analytics of data and business trends.

Judge Tom Berno on Signal Boosters Homepage Design

Tom Berno

Of all the finalists in this category, this is the only one that really clearly and effectively communicates who they are and what they do.

Strong use of illustration adds personality to a fairly technical product offering.

5. Physiq Apparel.

  • Best Homepage Design Finalist

ecommerce design awards Physiq Apparel

Physiq Apparel creates a homepage that guides visitors to the right shopping experience, and uses great lifestyle and product photography to convey its brand style.

According to the Physiq Apparel team:

We excel at what our customers really need.

A smooth customer experience, review backed products, social media implementations and innovative features such as bundled products and free chocolate at the shopping cart.

A lot of the work has involved building custom applications utilising the Bigcommerce API to achieve the functionality we want to offer our customers.

Judge Chris Coyier on Physiq Apparel Homepage Design

Chris Coyier

This site gets right into a product grid which is clean and makes it very obvious what I can do here: buy some athletic clothes.

Very little gets in the way.

 

 

Best Customer Experience

The customer experience includes the main ideas touched on earlier regarding non-amazon shoppers.

This is important for store owners to consider because a unique, great customer experience is what will help keep yours visitors and customers coming back.

Improving the customer experience was the driving factor in increasing more wins according to 42% of CEOs, from Gartner data.

There are several ways to improve the customers experience by using consumer data, and a few of our merchants have achieved this in some innovative ways.

1. Scentos.

  • Best Customer Experience Winner

ecommerce design awards scentos

Scentos’s UX finds balance between selling the product and cultivating the community.

According to the Scentos team:

We had never sold a single item online, but had a large retail presence globally.

Once joining BigCommerce we have started developing our ecommerce presence, including Amazon.

I believe that BigCommerce is allowing our site to grow into a landing page for children of all ages to have fun and feel creative!

Judge Chris Coyier on Scentos Customer Experience Winning Design

Chris CoyierThis site is wonderfully colorful in a way you don’t see often. Fits the brand!

I like the amount of content that isn’t just products, but stuff like projects you can do, which really sparks the imagination.

There’s lots of fun detail like the shaky and bulgy navigation, and it’s nicely tucked up top. It’s big and bold, but without taking up a ton of room.

2. Rusty Surfboards.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards rusty surfboards

Rusty Surfboards has a hard task: bridging beautiful imagery with the necessary details professional surfers want and need about their boards.

According to the Rusty Surfboards team:

We created a consistent branding experience throughout the website, using the bigcommerce platform and have seen an upward trajectory on all fronts, but more importantly, on the sales front.

Bigcommerce has given us great flexibility to work on the front-end and customer experience.

Judge Tom Berno on Rusty Surfboards Customer Experience Design

Tom Berno

Great photography and bold messaging make this an extremely well-designed site.

 

 

3. Home Science Tools.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards home science tools

Home Science Tools does a great job of guiding users to their desired projects/products based on their needs.

They also enable their customers to discover various science projects they can do with their families and students.

Both tactics have made a huge impact on their bottom-line.

According to the Home Science Tools team:

As a Magento Community customer, Home Science Tools enlisted Groove’s help to improve website performance and overall design.

After evaluating other mid-market ecommerce platforms and ways to reduce technical debt, Home Science Tools decided on a BigCommerce redesign.

Groove created a responsive and engaging site to showcase product categories and content, and introduced custom elements like Shop by Age and Gift Selector to help users quickly navigate to products that meet their needs.

Since launch, Home Science Tools has experienced a 50% increase in conversion rate, a 98% increase in mobile revenue, and a 20% increase in overall revenue year-over-year.

Judge Richard Lazazzera on Home Science Tools Customer Experience Design

Richard Lazazzera

Love the huge selection of products and concept.

Well organized categories make it easy to discover new projects and learn about different areas of science.

 

4. Custom Barres.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards custom barres

A beautiful homepage design is just the beginning. Custom Barres’ product page is a long-form landing page asset with a table of contents all its own.

From specs to imagery and beyond, this site showcases the best of dance and tool beauty.

Judge Tom Berno on Custom Barres Customer Experience Design

Tom BernoGood content with photos and a cool comparison tool!

 

 

5. KOI Computers.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards koi computer

KOI Computers wanted to improve their site experience for a technically driven target audience. This meant improving their site architecture and how they shared their value proposition.

According to the KOI Computers team:

The basic complaint was the high bounce rate and subsequent low calls and leads from the website.

Our designers took on the challenge to redesign the whole website and add helpful elements to overcome these issues.

We added a video on the homepage, a new style of accordion slider, and highlighted the solutions KOI Computers provided. These changes made a huge impact for us.

Judge Tom Berno on KOI Computers Customer Experience Design

Tom Berno

A well organized, consistent, and easy to navigate website.

While some aspects of visual design seem a bit familiar, the overall aesthetic does seem to be a good fit for its targeted audience.

6. Renogy.

  • Best Customer Experience Finalist

ecommerce design awards renogy

Renogy wants any visitor – whether new or returning, solar energy expert or novice – to find what they are looking for easily on their site.

To do that, they made sure to include key product information like:

  • Product photos that feature different angles and positions of their solar products.
  • Customer product reviews.
  • The option to view or download the product specifications, warrant, and instruction manuals.

This is done to provide customers with a 360 degree view of the product and drive conversions.

According to the Renogy team:

Renogy has used BigCommerce to provide customers with an engaging and attention-grabbing online shopping experience since 2016.

The homepage of the store showcases various products and offers that we believe customers would be most interested in.

Our online shoppers can find real customer photographs and reviews for our products.

Our visitors can immediately lock on a category of products, without having to search through the entire website. And, we have a more extensive product toolbar which is meant to assist customers who really know what they are looking for.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

16 Experts on Ecommerce Site Design

Andy Sowards, Founder + CEO, AndySowards.com

It may sound cliche at this point, but the best approach is to keep it simple. Minimal interface design and streamlined calls to action are what make conversion happen.

In this day and age especially, people are strapped for time and mental real estate. Make it clear and simple for people to get the message you are trying to get across.

What are you selling? It should be apparent, and tantalizing, and most of all – EASY for them to say “YES” when it comes to your product or service.

Stick to the bare essentials and design accordingly with less. It sounds simple but striking the perfect balance between call to action, design, and product details can be quite difficult – but achievable.

Yates Jarvis, Managing Director, Client Solutions & Strategy, eHouse Studio

Conversion is really about satisfaction. Assuming usability is accounted for in your storefront, the key is to triple check with customers that your value prop is as relevant today as it was yesterday, and then use design and content to spotlight the celebration of that story.

Zach Bluett, Director of Design & Development, Intuit Solutions

Ecommerce design is not ‘one-size-fits-all’. Create a user experience that focuses on your specific product dffering by asking yourself, “What information does my customer need in order to make a purchase, and at what step in the process?”

Kevin Richards, Founder & CEO, Ventura Web Design

Successful store owners create long term growth and success by creating a unique buying experience that cannot be replicated. Customizing your store creates a barrier to entry that protects you from your competitors. Store owners that invest in their own webstore today will own the future of ecommerce.

Joe Chilson, Head Writer + Account Manager, 1 Digital Agency

Great user experience should always come first –– before an old logo, or a well-worn font,  before any gimmick, or design trend of the week. The first focus of your design should be to communicate with your customer as clearly and simply as possible.

Stav Sarandiev, Chief Growth Officer, Digitawise 

My favorite expression is, “We are in the business of rain making. Are you thirsty?”

In my opinion it describes everything.

Be a smart ass, be creative, think out of the box, but make it simple, make it understandable for the wider audience.

The UX is the most important factor. It is a complex, but the design comes first. Then everything follows. The customer buys with his eyes. Happy customer, happy business owner. At the end of the day, only this matters.

Dane Downer, President, Brand Labs

First, embrace flat design and use Google’s Material Design philosophy as your guide. It’s a solid framework for designing a great ecommerce site experience.

Second, know that design is an evolutionary and iterative process that never truly ends. There is always room for improvement.

Jeff Dyksen, CEO, Diztinct

Be distinct: find ways to be memorable and separate your business from your competition through design, unique selling proposition, branding, and features. If you don’t differentiate yourself from others you’ll be competing solely on the price of your products, which tends to be a race to the bottom where no one wins.

Corey Susin, Creative Director, Designer at DIGITLHAUS

Increase conversions with what’s pleasing to the eye.

In today’s market, consumers have the attention span of a goldfish, 8 seconds, which means we need to attract and engage the audience as soon as the are landed on your storefront.

We no longer buy according to quality, size or descriptions, we simply buy what looks good.

The number #1 piece of design advice we give our clients is to showcase beautiful and luxurious photography. This includes product, lifestyle and general stock photos. You could take apple.com for example, take away all the product and lifestyle photos, and what do you have? You have a really great UI with a poor visual appearance.

When consumers can relate to a high quality visual of a product being used, or a scenario shot, the chances of them pursuing further into purchasing is promising.

We recommend to showcase beautiful, luxurious photography through home page elements, this can include marketing banners (hero), interactive tile hover-overs, social feeds or product and category call outs.

If you lose your buyer on the homepage within that 8 seconds, you can guarantee that they will be purchasing elsewhere.

James Brown, Senior Digital Solutions Manager, RANDEM

Steer clear of blindly implementing ecommerce received wisdom, and constantly seek first-hand, verifiable and repeatable customer data and feedback to fuel your decisions around customer experience and design.

Brandon Kirkland, CEO, epicShops

Think Conversion Rate Optimization first when designing a website.

It’s not want you want or what the business owner wants to see in a design. In fact, 99% of the time, you and the business owner aren’t even the target market, so those opinions are moot and you’re left lying to yourself. The answer to great design that converts is to create what the customer wants.

My advice is to use data to understand the customer and design around that, with CRO in mind.

Hannah Griffin, Designer, Groove

Successful ecommerce design always comes back to differentiating your brand’s lifestyle. Without a brick and mortar storefront, every pixel of your site should reflect your personality. Invest in owned creative assets, follow a dedicated style guide and leverage product and lifestyle imagery for a consistent and engaging user journey.

Jared Alexander, Graphic Designer, NewLeaf Innovations Inc.

My #1 piece of design advice for increasing conversions for online businesses, is getting the customer to the product page in the least amount of time and clicks possible. This can be achieved by having clear and concise categories on your homepage with minimal text.

Catherine Erath, Graphic Designer, NewLeaf Innovations Inc.

A well designed website will lead to higher conversions because it demonstrates to your customers that you have high quality products or that you are a knowledgeable leader in your industry through showing not telling.

Paul Rogers, Ecommerce Consultant

I think that the functional aspects of eCommerce design / UX is something that is often compromised – with core functionality being hidden away or not as prominent as it should be. The search box is a good example of this, as are things like related product recommendation blocks and filters, particularly on very design-orientated sites (such as luxury or fashion stores).

Search in particular would generally drive better results for a merchant than a category-led user journey, however lots of retailers choose to hide it behind a small icon.

I would say that the same applies for layered navigation more recently as well – with lots of modern-day fashion stores hiding it by default now.

This would be my general advice in this area – basically just not to overlook the aspects of the store that drive the most value from a customer experience / user journey perspective.

JT Hamman, Senior Designer, EYStudios

Don’t make your customers think! In a sea of hungry competition, it is vital customers are presented with clear navigation, well-merchandised products and an easy flow to checkout. These factors add up to create an intuitive, visual shopping experience that leads to higher conversions and lower cart abandonment. Additionally, customers will remember a positive experience and are more likely to return in the future.

Executive Summary

All in all, the sites above work within their own brand standards to attract their target audience, provide a unique experience and ultimately prove brand value on this channel rather than their others.

This helps these brands to build brand equity and customer lifetime value. High customer lifetime value increases how much you can spend on acquisition, and thus determines if you can beat out other competitors in market.

Ecommerce Website Design Best Practices 2018

The following best practices were consistently called out by our judges and were incredibly implemented within the sites featured.

As you think through your own site redesign, keep these concepts and functionalities in mind.

  1. Ease of site search and navigation – faceted search if you have a large catalog
  2. Brand consistency across pages from PDP to checkout
  3. Mobile responsiveness – and oftentimes, mobile first design

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