(Finally, How To Design an Online Shop that Sells!)
From: Andrew Minalto eBay PowerSeller
Registered TWF Seller
CEO of SpicyAuctionTemplates.com Contact Me | FAQ
Hello & Welcome to the Easy Auction Business video
Well, well, well – today is the day when the curtain falls and I’m revealing the biggest
secret of getting rich online in no time! The secret is…. —– Sorry, just kidding 🙂
Today’s newsletter is dedicated to all those people owning an online shop or just thinking of
having one in near future. Today, I’m going to show you how to build an online shop that sells more stuff, in less time, for higher prices than
your average competitor! So without further ado, let’s get straight to the point!
(How To Fail From Day One)
Now, this may sound like an old song to you but you really have to forget DIY approach when
building an online shop. Ok, if you have graduated as a web-designer or a coder you could take some tasks on you but still, it may not be the
best way to go simply because there are always better professionals out there.
No offence meant, but those of you thinking that you’re Photoshop Guru’s,
simply because you have the software and know how to put some layers together and put some shadows, think twice before designing anything for
your businesses. I was in the same boat and tried to design web-designs in the beginning just to realize how bad I was!
So, to put it simply – DO NOT design & code your websites! Let professionals do it and
you’ll see the HUGE difference it makes! Even if you’re on a very, very low budget – still, you’ll be better off by investing
that money into professional work. Start small! Get the logo done this month, then save money for 2 months and order the rest of the design, then
get it coded, and so on!
Believe me, it makes so much more sense to wait a little bit longer but get a pleasant result
and most importantly – a finished product that will make you money!
My last online shop took more than 9 months to complete for instance. And it wasn’t due to
financing issues; the whole process was just really complex – and I’m very happy that I didn’t rush the things and waited all that time,
sculpting a perfect website I can be proud of!
To sum it all up – you definitely want to hire
professional freelancers who can build your online shop. There are many websites out there where you can find individuals and companies offering
these services but my favourite one is Elance.com – and I warmly recommend you to use it!
Elance also offers feedback system where you can check the provider’s past projects. Another
great feature is Escrow system, which gives you peace of mind when dealing with new service providers. Posting a project doesn’t cost you
anything and you’ll receive bids within couple of hours so there’s really no excuse to not use Elance.com as your main platform for
The Secret of Two
Ohh, before we move onto the actual design, layout and functionality of your online store,
there’s one important thing you have to know when hiring someone out – the 3 in 1 thing we’re kind of used to hear on TV ads doesn’t work quite
well in the real life… To build a really good e-commerce shop you have to separate two things:
Why? Because finding a good designer who is also
very good at programming is very rare – and vice versa. And those who also offer SEO, PPC and Copywriting services are real scammers! You want to
avoid these people by all means as they’ll provide you with very mediocre or even worse service! What you want is only top quality work done on
something that will make you money in long term and don’t even consider such Jacks-of-all-trades as your online business building
So always avoid “average” type of person when hiring out – look for bright professionals who
are very good at one thing – be it designing, programming, SEO consulting or video production.
To build an online shop you’ll most likely need to post 2 projects and hire 2
A designer to create a visual look of your site. This will include the outer frame, home page graphics and
product page design. We’ll talk about each individual element later on but for now you just have to know that designer will
provide you with graphical files – PSD and JPEG format which then need to be coded into shopping cart of your choice.
So the 2nd project will be turning those graphical
files into an actual working website based on the shopping cart system you work with. Last time we covered various shopping cart systems so you should have a pretty good understanding on what’s
Speaking in money terms, coding itself may be a little bit more expensive than designing
process although this may not be true for some specific shopping carts or simple designs where integration takes less time.
Overall, keep in mind that you want to separate designing process from
programming side of things and hire two different people or a team of two people who work together. In any case, always try to avoid
“multi-task”, “I can handle everything” type of person for ANY outsourcing project you manage!
Ok, great! Now you know the basics of outsourcing and how to make sure you
get best possible results by hiring different people for different tasks. Now, let’s take a closer look at the most important elements any
e-commerce shop should have and how to structure your website for maximum usability and profitability!
Well, the newbies usually do not look at design in this way but it’s important to understand
how shop is built from day one to properly organize your work. The most important part of any modern, template based online shop is “The Frame”.
Frame is like a skeleton for your shop – it keeps all the other parts together and won’t change from page to page.
In many cases, design of the frame is very simple – there are not much fancy
graphics, animated effects or flashy banners going on! Frame should be functional, friendly for the eye and HELP your visitors to navigate
throughout your shop with an ease!
Here’s a good starting formula on how you should structure and design the header part of the
On the top left corner goes your company’s logo. I wouldn’t recommend really any other
place for this as it’s basically a standard now and if you place your logo anywhere else, it may only confuse the visitor. If you have a
slogan, place it right below the logo part.
Next to the logo in the header section go the Main Menu buttons. Now, there may be some
variations but I am a firm believer that this place should be used for “System Buttons”, such as “My Account”, “FAQ”, “About Us”, “Contact
Us” and so on. Again, this model is used in majority of websites and people expect to find those buttons there.
The rest of the header space can be used in different ways but I personally include full
contacts details (email and phone) and Live Chat button. Now, Live Chat is a very powerful feature every e-commerce store owner should have
and we’ll probably cover it in the next newsletters.
Also, if the space allows, search box can be included in the header section of your website.
If not, the next best spot for it would be the top part of the left navigation sector.
So the main purpose of the header section is to give an easy navigation to essential pages of
your shop as well as to boost the credibility by displaying contact details. Live Chat acts like a SUPER TROOPER
credibility booster as it clearly shows that there’s a live person behind the front door of your shop. This is very, very
Next comes the right and left navigation sections – well, personally I’m not a huge fan of 3
column shops, with navigation bars on both – right and left sides of the shop but if it helps you bring in more money, use
For my own shops, I have always stuck with 2 column layout with just left navigation bar and
main section to the right. Yes, Amazon uses 3 column layout as well as other giant retailers but on the other hand – many others doesn’t, so…
If you can get it look & function good, use the right navigation bar but unfortunately I haven’t seen that many successful
While the right-hand side nav bar usually displays special offers, sale items
or up-sells, main purpose of the left nav bar is to navigate customers through the products & categories, so it should
Main categories and sub-categories if you have lots of products. If you sell small number
of different products, say less than 20, you can categorize them in 3-5 categories and include direct product links on the nav bar. This will
also help you achieve better search results.
The main thing you have to realize when creating categories and sub-categories is to make
them look good (visually) and at the same time, make them very functional and easy to use. I have seen so many bad examples of this, like
putting just one link to one main category and then sub-categories are displayed in the main block. This is wrong! You want to give as few
steps to product pages as possible!
Sure, without going into the other extreme – having 100 links in the left-hand side navbar, without any sub-categories or menus! This will
simply confuse visitors as they will not be able to find items they’re looking for! The easiest recipe to get this right is to look at good
examples, yes, maybe even competitors and just copy what they’re doing! I don’t mean copying the exact same category & product names but
the main structure.
Right below the category and product links you can put some additional information, like
links to the terms & Conditions, Shipping, Affiliate Program, Blog or any other important pages on your site that doesn’t quite deserve
to be on the Main Menu in the header section but still need to get solid attention. This is also a great place to have a newsletter sign-up
box or FREE shipping banner.
With the growing popularity of social networks, lower part of the left navigation bar can also
be used to insert links or banners to your Facebook profile, YouTube page or Twitter account! Make it easy for the people to join your networks
and they’ll follow!
So we have the footer section remaining at that’s the easiest part of the
frame as the rules are pretty simple here:
Make sure to include graphical icons of payment methods you accept – this will usually
include credit card logos, PayPal logo and similar information.
Footer is also a suitable place for displaying security seals, such as SSL certificates
or Hacker Safe logos. Depending on your business, you may also want to show reference of business organizations you’re part of, this will
boost your credibility as well as make you look as a serious business and not “one man band kind of operation”.
Finally, depending on your SEO strategy, footer can be used for improving your site’s
Page Rank distribution and general search result rankings. But be careful with this strategy – don’t overdo this by having too many links all
over the first page of your website. As a general rule of thumb any page of your website shouldn’t have more than 100
As a final element, don’t forget to add copyright information to seal the
Ok, that’s it for today – I hope you found this newsletter interesting enough to stay
connected for another one! Next time we’ll continue with the basics on how to design a website that sells and we’ll also cover the Home Page and
Product Page layout and design.
Andrew Minalto is founder and CEO of the Web’s largest auction
templates company SpicyAuctionTemplates.com. Andrew runs successful information publishing business as
well as an eBay store and an online retail store.
At the age of just 23 he has achieved a phenomenal success in selling both physical and information products online. Hard work and
belief in his dreams enabled him to leave a dusty Dublin warehouse in winter 2006 to go full-time online.
The recently launched EasyAuctionBusiness.com website is dedicated for all people trying to achieve
financial freedom or just to make some extra money by selling on eBay.co.uk