I've been fortunate enough to lead some great teams and work with some amazing brands to give their existing e-commerce stores a refresh. In building these online stores, the single biggest issue that comes up time and time again is the notion that a redesign is simply taking what existed and updating the look and feel of the web store. While you could do this (we have), the results will be less than stellar. 

Why's that?

A chance to learn what isn't working

A redesign provides the perfect opportunity to learn (and fix) whatever your current website is doing poorly at. Inherit in the name "re-design", think about re-imagining what your website could be and do.

The answers to these and similar questions are all in an attempt to make sure your shiny new web store does what it should exist to do, and that is to make sales. While making design decisions based on how we feel is more natural to us, it doesn't always make the best approach to redesigning an e-commerce store. 

So how do you know you're making the right decision for your web store's new look and feel?

Kill good ideas for great ideas

The hardest part about redesigns is you're going to have to focus on a handful of great ideas instead of many good ideas.

Great ideas are the very reason why you're in the position you're in. Unless you're Walmart, your business is thriving because you do a few things better than anyone else. Whether that's your expertise, your customer service, or your unique product, great ideas (and execution) are what define your business.

Your web store is no different. This may require the difficult task of getting rid of good ideas for great ideas.

Perhaps it's saying 'no' to the flashy banner image because it slows down your page and your customers are impatient. It could also mean having a more simple design approach to ensure your mobile shoppers have an easy means of navigating your website. Whatever it is, be prepared to make sacrifices for your paying customers. 

The "right decision" question that was presented earlier depends on what your goals are. Which is why a focus on outcomes should be your initial step. 

  • What results would make your redesign a "success"?
  • What is your motivating factor for the redesign?
  • Are your expectations realistic?
  • What level of risk are you comfortable with your web store redesign?

Only after these questions are defined should you begin to answer that question.

Focus on your customers

Lastly, the old saying "the customer is always right" still rings true today. If you want the best results (more sales), make sure your customer experience is the best in your industry.

The reason? Consumers now have an ever-growing number of options when shopping online. This increase in shopping options means that your customers won't forever be loyal because they are your fan today. 

Companies who continually invest in improving their customers' experiences continue to grow. Imagine if Toys R Us had put as much focus into their customers' experiences as Amazon does? Instead, the once toy juggernaut is no more.

So before you begin your next online store redesign

  1. Determine where your current website is underperforming.
  2. Define what "success" looks like.
  3. Focus on creating the best customer experience in your industry.
  4. Choose the right partners to ensure quality.
  5. Test your design through tools like Hotjar and Google Analytics

There are no hard and fast rules in the e-commerce space for website design. What may appear to ugly or bad for one company may be very lucrative for another. The overall "look and feel" should only be one component of your website redesign. By focusing on data and intended outcomes, personal opinions won't bog get in the way of what you're truly after–more sales.