A well designed user interface makes a world of a difference for eCommerce sites. It can improve the conversion rate, make it easier for users to find what they are looking for, builds trust and credibility, and makes browsing through the site a breeze. Because eCommerce sites are some of the most complex types of sites you can build, you need to put in a lot of thought, planning and effort into creating a UI design that facilitates and prompts action.

Of course, the fundamentals of great UI design are simple. You create a well designed header with your company or brand name for the very top part of your site, set up important top of the fold navigation links underneath your header, and lay out a left hand navigation menu for more targeted navigation links. But if it’s so simple, why are so many online merchants still experiencing high abandon rates, incomplete shopping carts, and inquiries from their visitors?

The not so apparent answer is that there is a lot more that goes into the UI, especially factors that your eyes can’t explain. Building a great UI always starts with great research. You need to know who your market is. There are probably multiple segments of your customers in your broader group of potential customers. For example, there are people looking to buy BMX bikes and people looking to mountain bikes. The people that are looking for BMX bikes may also have a subcategory of people seeking looking for light bikes and people looking for heavy duty bikes.

The point here is that UI design transcends the exterior web design. You’ll need identify the various groups in your audience and cater to them with your UI. You’ll need to understand the psychology of each of these groups so that you know what pages, organization structure and content to provide them once they land on your site. The process of gathering the data, testing the data and optimizing it based on your numbers can be time intensive and challenging.

One usability tip to add to that is to make sure that you make it easy to go back to the previous pages or category pages the user was browsing. There are so many examples of web stores that leave you stranded on a page. This forces users to go try to frantically browse back to where they were or start from the beginning to find the desired page. Another tip is to make your shopping cart easily visible and accessible so that customers can check their status and make a purchase without any obstacles.

That’s not to say that your web design isn’t that important because it is. You will still need to create an attractive layout, use distinguishable (unique but clear) font, and graphic buttons that entice users to click. But this is the aspect of UI that many online merchants often DO get right. And on that note, it does help immensely to make your brand a big part of the design because online merchants are a dime a dozen these days. You want to stand out from the competition and create an identity that people will remember.

The bottom line is that there are so many things you can do to improve the UI. Even if it looks great from the outside perspective, there are probably many things that you can do better. The difference between a great UI and a mediocre one is often subtle, so you often have to be able to read between the lines to make the right adjustments.