Probably, because your eCommerce site looks horrible!  Worse, it makes your potential customers wonder if they can even trust you. They take one look and POOF, your bounce rate just went up another point.

Maybe this doesn’t apply to you. Your eCommerce site has no design issues. It’s perfect. You don’t lie awake at night wondering if your customer’s shopping experience is the best it can be or if they’ll recommend your site or return and buy more. You’re positive eh? Well, that’s great! You and Jeff Bezos have a lot in common. Move along, there’s nothing more to see here.

OK, I guess my website probably could look and function a little better.  Design strategy?

Yes! The answer lies in your Design Strategy.  What is “Design Strategy?”

We all know that the first impression your landing page projects is key to keeping a potential shopper engaged. That’s website design 101. But, what’s not always obvious is how that initial, millisecond impression affects your customer from that point on. The image your site projects, from its logo to checkout should always be assuring your customers that doing business with your company is a first-rate, reliable and aesthetically pleasing experience.  If not, start counting the abandoned shopping carts then ask yourself, “why is this happening?”

Are you overly reliant on a cookie-cutter theme or eCommerce template?

Themes are great. Those live demos always look so good right? They can get you up and running quickly when starting a new eCommerce or drop shipping site;  there’s nothing wrong with that kind of startup thinking.

But, you have to realize that most of these templates are just giant blocks of cheese.  You buy the cheese and then it is up to you or someone you hire to slice and serve this block of cheese in a way that appeals to your customers.  You swap the theme content and graphics for your own then cross your fingers, hoping it was $80.00 well-spent.  

So, why do you assume that your cheese is, um, how should I put this, “not cheesy?”


Design Strategy: Taking the “cheesy” out of it!

Design strategy, along with content strategy, are two of the secret weapons behind a successful eCommerce or digital product business in 2013.  Deciding upon, and adhering to, a comprehensive design strategy is critical to building successful web-based businesses today. Without it, you’re just another small fish in the ocean. An ugly small fish at that.

Your site design is more than nice colors and pretty buttons.  Design has become a psychological maxim in today’s web-based world. It is part of our evolutionary mind-set.  It’s not something you buy, it’s the feeling you sparkle with! It’s not a thing; it’s the ethereal soul of our communication with each other! It’s what your customers feel when they arrive at your site. 

You’re not only an entrepreneur, you are a Design Strategist!

Here’s where you say, “But I can’t design the exit route out of a teepee! I’m no designer!”

Stop it. Quit talking like that. You sound  ignorant and out of touch. You don’t have to be (nor do you have any desire to be) a card-carrying Designer. Don’t go out and buy a new Mac Book Pro and a bunch of checkered flannel shirts and several pairs of Warby Parker glasses. NO. NO. NO.  You need to understand a simple fact now: A Design Strategist has nothing to do with being a Designer.  Or, vise versa…

To become a Design Strategist, you only have to understand a simple idea: Design sells products.

“Duh… that’s obvious. Is this where you spew a TED talk about Apple at me?”

Forget Apple. You are not building Apple. You’re building YOUR business. Get that straight right now!

Think about it; what do YOU feel when you visit an eCommerce site that you like or use regularly? Is it the way the page is laid out? A color scheme? The wording and copy?  Is it the way the site makes you intrinsically trust that you’re doing business with a reputable company?  Is it the nice photos of the products they sell? It may be a combination of all of these things…

“Sure, but those sites spent huge budgets on all that. You can tell.”

Do we need a quick review? Did you already forget what I told you? Design is not something you buy!

OK, let’s break it down.


Stop hurting yourself with lazy design thinking. 

Here’s what we know:

You’ve worked hard on your eCommerce concept and it’s time to start playing in the big-leagues.
You’re getting some traction. Your marketing and promotions within your network are working.
Your product is good. People need it. Hell, they may even want to buy it!
You’ve solved the payment and fulfillment issues.
But, you still see abandoned carts or visitors who simply never get past that first page! What’s going on?


The reason for this is that you’ve overlooked the fact that your site’s design experience is turning customers off. They see it in the tiny details that you thought didn’t really matter. You see a “good enough” website, they see a huckster selling a bunch of crap that may or may not show up in the mail after they’ve given you their credit card number. I know, it hurts doesn’t it?

They saw this:

  • The fuzzy logo at the top of your page
  • No favicon (Yes, this is a detail you should be paying attention to.)
  • The Magento favicon instead of your custom favicon
  • The typo in your main introduction
  • That overused stock image of the smiling customer service rep wearing a headset
  • An animated GIF
  • The GIANT, pill-shaped Pay Pal checkout button, completely out of scale with the rest of the page
  • The “Contact Our Hotline!!” button. Hotline? Really?
  • The 1” square product photo that can’t be enlarged
  • The overuse of italics and CAPITALIZATION EVERYWHERE
  • The ridiculous, scrolling product slide show that runs too fast and can’t be stopped.
  • Your customer “forum” with a grand total of 40 posts in 5 topics, most of them yours.
  •  LIVE CHAT! that is “Currently offline.”
  • The cluster of worthless, irrelevant website security and virus scanning badges tossed in the footer
  • An SSL certificate name that doesn’t match the name of your business (Brand trust anyone?)
  • A different company logo on the checkout page than on the home page
  • The placeholders for product images that you just didn’t bother to replace
  • Script fonts
  • A “Sign Up for our Newsletter” widget in the top left column of the home page

Ask yourself: How much does fixing one or more of these design problems cost?

The answer is nothing! Nothing, besides some of your time and attention. It’s simply an attention to detail, and THAT is all design strategy is. Design strategy takes a laser-sight and focuses it squarely on the little things that matter. It pulls an entire business experience together, effectively holding your customer’s hand throughout their shopping experience, leading them through and beyond the checkout process.  Design strategy pushes you and your business to the next level – the big leagues – the profitable eCommerce sites you admire, and that now, you strive to be associated with.

Design Strategy: It’s free. It’s proven. It works.


The next step is learning how to become the Design Strategist your eCommerce business deserves!

Sign up for the free, weekly newsletterYour Design Strategy in 2013

It’s full of tips and inside knowledge needed to manage your design thinking by learning how to focus on the psychology of design, without focusing on the cost of paying a designer. It’s the best free investment you’ll make for the new year.


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