Your site design can make or break your ecommerce revenue. It’s not uncommon for site owners to change their design every few years, but deploying a new site with the right design is critical for your success and growth. Before you jump into any site design or technology, here are some things to consider.
What is the Scope?
This seems like an easy question to answer – the scope is to sell products. But some ecommerce sites are more than just selling product. Some sell services. Others sell products but with a heavy focus on content and information. A site design should support the full scope of your site.
For instance, WordPress supports content and selling products, but maybe you need a custom backend to support customer service and inventory. You need a developer for this type of programming, but he will have to integrate it with WordPress. This could limit your ability to fully customize an ecommerce store with a private customer service backend.
When you write a business plan or scope out your goals, make sure you cover all aspects of the site and then determine which site design is right for you.
Do You Have the Right Site Speed?
Whether it’s a WordPress theme or a custom design, it’s important to keep speed and performance in mind. There are some tricks to the developer trade that make your site appear fast even when you have slower components. Performance should be a major factor in your design and coding. Just a four second delay can severely increase your bounce rate.
A CDN helps alleviate much of the speed issues, but the wrong design can make your site slow for mobile users. When choosing a designer, go with one that understands the importance of performance and layout for mobile users.
Will Your Site Scale?
After the initial deployment, you probably have less traffic than most ecommerce sites. Performance won’t seem like an issue, but marketing and SEO will bring in more traffic as you continue business. Can your site scale with the increase in customers?
Site design must scale as you add more products, introduce new services, or add more content to your blog. Your site should be easy to navigate, and the wrong design can limit your ability to scale as you add more to business offerings. What happens when you add 1000 more products? Can your site handle the increase?
If you have any backend functionality, this must also be able to scale. Slow backend services affect your public-facing site but also your employees’ productivity.
Understand the Technology You Need
You don’t need to know everything under the hood of your application, but you should understand what you need for your IT budget. Linux and Windows offer widely different costs and technology. Once you choose a technology, you are locked to it. Changing the technology that supports your application is difficult and expensive, so talk with your developer before you decide.
For instance, WordPress natively works with MySQL, but you can customize it to work with SQL Server if you prefer to work with Windows. However, this can make WordPress much more difficult to support. You might be better with a .NET application if you prefer Windows. These concerns and questions can be answered by your developer.
What about Features?
You can have a standard ecommerce site with simple checkout solutions, but some sites require much more complex designs. In many cases, a template won’t work for a complex site and requires customizations.
These features affect performance, user engagement, navigation, and scalability. It’s important that you cover all features that you want in your design for present functionality and the future. You don’t have to deploy all features initially, but your site design should be scalable so that it supports future features without much refactoring.
Finally, Don’t Forget about Support
Any design you choose will need support. You might need help customizing it, or you might have bugs that need fixes. Your developer can help you, but the original designer should also help. This is what makes template designs difficult to work with for larger sites. A scalable business needs a scalable design, and that usually requires a developer.