There are numerous reasons to redesign your e-commerce website. It might be full of five-year-old trends everyone has since moved on from, or the current layout may just look cluttered on smartphones and tablets. It could even be an issue of new company branding. Regardless, launching a new website is a huge undertaking requiring extensive planning and consideration for consumers.

Start with research 
Diving into a website redesign headfirst without any sort of plan is the start of a long, expensive and cumbersome process filled with setbacks and constant revisions. Businesses should use website analytics to understand their current site statistics, then consult A/B tests and market research to see what causes this performance. Does the current layout help or hinder the number of online payments the site receives? How can the new layout improve retention and conversions? After researching, Forbes noted, brands should come up with a list of goals the redesign should accomplish, such as increasing engagement or improve SEO rankings. This tells in-house designers or third-party agencies what direction to take the website in, guiding them on tones, color and font choices, layout, accessibility and more.

One product versus many 
As Web Design Report wrote, a website selling one product or service is very different from one selling several. The former generally only requires a few pages, sometimes as few as one. Customers need to see a description of the item in question, information about the company, a contact or customer service page in case they have questions, and an area to place their order. Larger stores, on the other hand, have a separate document for every item or service offered. These will each have the same layout, though the content within will change drastically.

Large websites are much harder to keep organized. Businesses and third-party designers should use best practices when creating a site, including having a separate style sheet and other attachments. This way, if the company wants to change one element across all pages – updating the font in their product descriptions, for example – the designer only has to change one piece of code as opposed to hunting down that specific element on every single page. Such a feat would be a time-consuming endeavor when dealing with thousands of products.

Sketches through development
Once the goals and pages of the redesign are generally established, it’s time to start the design process. As Forbes said, business leaders should have a hand in their site’s layout, but they must also listen to a designer’s expertise. These skilled individuals know the best methods to get the results leaders want.

While it may be tempting to proceed with the first idea in mind, companies should look at several different layout sketches before proceeding further. Once a design’s been chosen, they can create mockups and go through the design and testing phases. The latter is especially important. Launching a buggy website damages a business’ standing in the eyes of consumers, and e-commerce payments plummet due to checkout pages full of glitches. Similarly, if any URLs or hyperlinks have changed, these old pages should redirect users to the new website after a few moments.

Several consistent images
No one wants to purchase a product without knowing what it looks like. Since consumers don’t have the experience of seeing the item in question before them, they need as many images as possible to convince them to buy. These pictures must be the highest quality available without sacrificing a quick loading time. There should also be several different versions of the product from various angles – in multiple colors as well, if applicable.

If your business already has product images in place and doesn’t want to spend money on new ones, consider how these photos look when designing your new site. Minimalist pictures clash with an ornate page layout, Web Design Report noted. The backdrops in current product images can help set the tone for the rest of the site.

Bringing attention to certain items
There are times when a business wants to promote certain products. Most e-commerce retailers place important ads front and center on the home page, grabbing attention as soon as the site loads. Many also highlight when products are low in stock. Scarcity makes people more likely to buy impulsively and grab a sale from an otherwise reluctant consumer.

After the new site is live, analysts should check and see if it helps reach goals established during the research phase. Redesigning a website is a lengthy process with a lot of potential, and you’ll want proof that your efforts were successful.

A fresh look keeps pages looking up-to-date and consistent with a company’s branding. While businesses don’t need to launch a new site every year, they should check in periodically to see if their current design performs well or needs an overhaul.

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