From the very beginnings of the internet, web design has had a crucial role, and not just technologically, but also aesthetically as well. The changing face of the internet can be linked to the changing trends within the web design community. What was fashionable three years ago, can look outdated today and nowhere is that more prominent than in the world of e-commerce.
Buying goods online has become the standard for many people, so much so that many high street brands, such as Peter Millar or Cutter & Buck, having been seeing a real increase in their customer base over the last few years. The web designer is possibly the most important figure within the creation of e- commerce. Encompassing many roles, from aesthetics to developing how the website will look; the designer must be proficient in the technology, and with so many developments coming out, must also constantly keep up to date with the current advances. The overall look and aesthetic of a webpage cannot be overlooked either. It can be the difference between what is professional and what is not. A sleek, well made site instantly puts the customer at ease, with the internet still being a primarily faceless entity, professionalism and reassurance to the customer must be a priority.
The web designer must have a good understanding of how people interact with webpages. E-commerce, by its nature, must be user friendly. People can become frustrated very quickly, if basic functions are not obviously placed. The web designer must both be creative and groundbreaking. Innovating the look and interface of the website, without alienating the customer base by over complicating the layout. One innovation that has come about in the last few years is the drop down menu. A simple way of creating more space on the page and streamlining the options for the customer. But this could easily go wrong. For instance, if the menu is situated in a place that is not associated with menus, within the general online consciousness, and is not obviously signed as a menu, then that potential customer could easily become frustrated and take their business elsewhere.
As with all business, the customer dictates the market, and within e-commerce, the customer expects a high level of professionalism. They expect smooth and secure transactions, they expect easy to find menus and they also expect a visually pleasing website. This is the main way web design is changing online retail, through creating innovative designs that keep with fashion trends, while showing the customer something they have never seen before, to set them apart from other websites.
Interactivity is possibly the future, with technology getting faster and more powerful, it is easier than ever to include video or animation within your webpage. The more the customer can interact with the products, then the more likely they are to make a purchase. With web designers currently being able to utilize the technology for this, it is only a matter of time before the design aspect comes into play and we’ll be seeing new and interesting ways web design is changing the face of online retail.