Five laws of ecommerce web design

Discover the key five laws of ecommerce web design

Learn the valuable tips, tricks, and trends that help you craft your website for conversions

With your marketplaces in place, and your independent ecommerce domain purchased, the next question is “how should it look”?

Web design is an entire industry for good reason. Choosing they why and how behind where you put which links to which pages can be the difference between bountiful sales and bleak seasons. To give you some ideas of how best to put things together, here are five important laws of web design you should almost always be following.

Hick’s Law

Hick’s law – named for British psychologist William Edmund Hick, states that the more choices you give someone, the longer they will take to come to a decision. On the internet, it is often the case that a delayed decision means no decision, something that modern experimentation has often shown.

In 2000, behavioural psychologists found that when offering one group a display of jams with 24 varieties and a second group a display with only six varieties, the people in the first group were only one tenth as likely to buy anything at all than those in the second group.

The conclusion is clear. Unless your business can afford to lose as much as 90% of its online conversions, you need to take careful control of the number of obvious choices on any given specific page.

Fitt’s Law

Fitt’s law is the web design world’s clearest possible proof of the phrase “size matters”. American psychologist Paul Morris Fitts discovered that the time it takes someone to decide to press a button is largely dependent on two important factors.

  • The size of the button
  • The distance between their finger/pointer and the button

This has clear and important implications in web design. Implications that have been well tested. Test drive bookings and brochure downloads rose 62% for Hyundai when they dramatically increased the size of their buttons. London’s Vineyard hotel saw a jump of almost a third in bookings when they increased the size of their “Book Online” button. Obama for America Campaign saw a 22% drop in unsubscription to their email list in 2012, when they shrunk the link text and buried it in other words.

If you have important buttons that you want customers to see and press, make sure they are big, bold, and clear.

Law of thirds

Have you ever noticed that in a landscape photograph of a sunset or sunrise, very rarely will the horizon be in the dead centre of the image? Usually, it will be substantially closer to the top or bottom, despite perhaps being the most dramatic part of the image. Specifically, there will probably be only a third of the image between the horizon and the edge of the frame. This is the law of thirds, and it appears in so many different forms of visual composition. From nature documentaries to TV news to classical portraiture.

So why does it matter in web design? Because the rule of thirds states that elements of an image that must command particular focus should be found where the lines intersect. Where vertical thirds and horizontal third dividing lines meet, that is where the customer’s eye will naturally be drawn. Regardless of whether something interesting is to be found there.

Take advantage of this natural shifting of gaze. Place particular products, certain CTA, or inspiring imagery, into the very region of the page the eye will naturally find itself wandering. Without prompting, your customers will be reading what you want them to see, first and foremost.

The F law

While French, German, Italian, Spanish, English, and many other languages that use the Roman alphabet disagree on many different points, they all have one thing in common. Left to right, top to bottom. This is the rule of F.

Eye-tracking studies have repeatedly shown that on any given website, viewers are naturally drawn to start examining at the top left, gaze horizontally for a short while, then go slightly down, and again move horizontally.

This F-shaped pattern of eye movement must be incorporated into your web design. What is at the top left? What happens if you click it? Where will it take you? What will you find? These questions need answers that are all carefully calibrated into a marketing plan. All clearly optimised for the most conversions possible.

The law of faces

The precision placing of buttons is important, but it must not come at the expense of ambience. The overall feeling and impression a website provides is an important area to consider during the design process. Exactly how that is accomplished is a different matter for every business, but one key near-universal element is this – faces.

Human eyes naturally look for the eyes and mouth pattern of faces. When they find it, they feel happier and more likely to buy things. This has been found in everything from the smiling clocks of the 10:08 effect, to the positive reception given to the grins built into car headlamps design.

Noted website design expert Sabina Idler put it this way “When we see a face, we are automatically triggered to feel something or to empathize with that person. If we recognize content on a website — such as a problem, dilemma, habit or whatever else — we feel connected and understood.”

With the internet being the competitive and cutthroat place it is, every edge matters. When you are designing your independent ecommerce platform, make sure you make full use of every tool at your disposal. To learn more about how OrderWise can help you establish a powerful online store, maximised for every last conversion, talk to one of our customer success managers today.