Magento Web Development: How to Build a Stunning Site That Converts

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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“If you think good design is expensive, you should look at the cost of bad design.” Dr. Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover

Any website that is not developed from a user experience perspective is bound to fail. In fact, when looking at the importance of user experience, 88 percent of consumers are less likely to visit a site a second time after a poor experience.

Things like complicated navigation menus, inadequate product information, lengthy checkout processes and the like are all on-site barriers that hinder conversions.

Given that Magento is one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the market today, hyper-focusing on Magento web development as a means of driving conversions is vital to the overall health of online retail brands.

Given the open-ended nature of Magento, it is easier to create a poorly designed website than it is for retailers to design a Magento site with a better user experience than competing brands.

Since Magento web development is a core component to succeeding in the eCommerce industry, today, we will explore how Magento merchants can create a stunning store that successfully converts consumers into customers.

With that, let’s get right to the heart of the matter.

Hire a Skilled Developer

Since Magento is an open-source, self-hosted eCommerce solution, the majority of retailers likely do not possess the technical acumen necessary to create a well-optimized store.

Therefore, finding and hiring a certified Magento developer is arguably the most critical task in the entire Magento web development process. Without a knowledgeable, skilled and experienced developer, sellers could quickly see their online store turn into a money pit.

Thankfully, Magento gives retailers access to an ever-expanding list of solution partners that can help merchants create an appealing and optimized site.

Additionally, since Magento awards developers with certificates for successfully completing Magento web development courses, sellers can be assured of the skill set that a developer possesses.

Magento has a panoply of potential certifications that developers can achieve as proof of their Magento web development related credentials.

When business owners go through the potential developer options provided by Magento, each will list their specific certifications, such as those indicated above.

However, if retailers wish to use an alternative source to procure a Magento web development professional, sites such as Toptal and others can serve as an excellent resource for finding talented technology professionals.

Procure a Premium Hosting Provider

Before going full bore into the Magento web development process, it is necessary to select a premium hosting service to support the store.

Part of the reason for this is that Magento 2 is a powerful platform and has certain server and resource requirements. Moreover, as a retailer scales their Magento-supported eCommerce business, even more resources will be necessary to maintain a smooth user experience.

highest rated hosting options for magento merchants graphic

Some of the highest-rated hosting options for Magento merchants include:

Any one of these options is likely to be a stellar pick for retailers utilizing Magento’s platform.

Make the Site Easily Searchable

Ensuring that a site can be easily searched for specific products is massively important for increasing eCommerce sales. Simply put, the faster visitors can find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to convert.

Therefore, equipping a Magento site with search functionality is vital. This is particularly true for retailers who feature a massive product catalog.

barber chair website search results

However, the mere presence of a search bar isn’t enough for developing the best Magento site. It is also necessary to:

Ensure Search Visibility

No matter if retailers feature a full-blown search bar or an expandable icon, it is critical that this element is as visible (i.e., accessible) as possible. When visitors land on one of a store’s pages, it should be immediately apparent how to search the site.

Outside of convenience, Google case studies on usability improvements to a retail website highlight performance increases related to search bar visibility, stating:

“Changing the search placement increased usage by 43 percent on desktop and 13 percent on mobile, while improving search results with an algorithm increased page views by 15 percent.”

In conjunction with the other alterations made to the store, Google notes that “these changes have led to a 25 percent increase in the overall conversion rate and a 41 percent increase in the mobile conversion rate.”

Auto-Suggestions

To aid shoppers in finding what they want more quickly, it is advisable for sellers to include auto-suggestions in search functionality.

Including this in the list of Magento web development to-dos will allow retailers to provide a more robust and pleasing user experience.

Spelling Corrections

By integrating a spelling correction algorithm, sellers can suggest the right word when consumers end up misspelling a search term and return product results even if searchers flub with their fingers.

This leads right into the next search functionality must-have.

Always Return Product Results

No matter if visitors misspell their search or searches for an item that is unavailable or that the store doesn’t carry, it is critical always to return product results.

That said, it is essential to return products that share similar characteristics or reside in the same category.

By showing similar product results, retailers can increase their page views and potentially get consumers to purchase something else that they find appealing.

Integrate Filtering Features

A critical component to optimizing eCommerce category pages is filtering or sorting options.

While this type of feature is typically referred to as faceted navigation, Magento has dubbed this functionality “layered navigation.”

Through layered navigation, consumers are capable of filtering and sorting products within a category by a variety of characteristics and attributes. The implementation of this feature follows the same logic as integrating a search bar into a store. The faster consumers can find what they are looking for, the more likely they are to convert.

Fortunately, the Magento web development community is a rich one, meaning that there are a multitude of layered navigation extensions that retailers can employ to achieve the desired effect.

Increase Store Load Times

Speed is a critical component of online success. Discussing how site speed is the new competitive battleground in eCommerce, Digital Commerce 360 reports:

“Winning at eCommerce is literally a race as of Google’s algorithm change in July that made site speed a ranking factor in mobile search… Sites that don’t load fast will slide down the ranks, giving lightning-fast sites a potential opportunity to rise through the ranks, leading to more visibility, traffic, conversions, and revenue. In fact, a study by digital marketing consulting firm Stone Temple revealed that while both publishers and eCommerce sites that optimize their mobile site speeds see SEO gains, eCommerce sites saw a stronger impact resulting in a 32.1 percent increase in organic traffic.”

While some types of sites can get away with a bit of a slower experience, this is not true for those in the eCommerce industry. For online retailers, speed must be a way of life to achieve the necessary visibility to drive traffic, generate sales and scale operations.

increase page speed magento sites graphic

Therefore, for retailers to leverage Magento web development principles to increase page speed for Magento sites, it is advisable for sellers to:

  • Procure a premier hosting service (as previously discussed)
  • Employ a content delivery network
  • Reduce redirects
  • Compress images and video content

Make Mobile a Priority

Given the information that was just covered about the mobile SERPs and website speeds, it is critical for retailers to generate stores that are optimized for small screen devices.

While it is true that Magento’s responsive designs help merchants to create mobile-friendly experiences, it is essential to note that friendliness and optimization are not the same things.

mobile optimized spanx page

If a site is slow to load on mobile, it might still be friendly, but it certainly is not optimized. Therefore, it is vital to implement Magento web development best practices related to mobile optimization.

Thankfully, many of these best practices are the same things that will result in higher conversion rates on desktops, including:

  • Fast load times
  • User-friendly navigations
  • Optimized images and videos

However, there are some other mobile optimization methods that retailers might consider. One of which is utilizing Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) on pages that have substantial content requirements.

Another thing that sellers might consider is using their Magento web development team to create a progressive web application (PWA).

In many ways, PWAs are a game-changer for eCommerce brands as they deliver an app-like experience, while still qualifying as a mobile website (meaning that they are discoverable through search engines).

Moreover, PWAs tend to deliver fast, more flexible experiences and increase eCommerce conversions, as many case studies have shown.

Yet, no matter how retailers opt to approach the task, mobile optimization and developing the site with mobile devices in mind is critical to online success.

Don’t Slack on Security

As it stands, internet security should be one of the top priorities of all internet retailers. Part of the reason for this (beyond the ever-looming threat of cybercriminals) is that Magecart attacks have been ramping up in recent years.

internet security priority graphic

In fact, in 2019, Magecart groups hit 80 major eCommerce sites including Newegg, Ticketmaster, British Airways and other prominent online destinations. As Threatpost details about the attacks:

“The research showed that the most common similarity across the 80 sites was the use of Magento, all of which are running old versions that are vulnerable to published exploits… In addition to the outdated software, none of the sites had tamper detection or code obfuscation implemented, either.”

This is a critical point given that Magento 1.0’s end life is just around the corner.

Retailers who are still operating on the antiquated form of Magento are putting their customers at significant risk by not having already migrated from Magento 1 to Magento 2.

Come June 2020, when the company discontinues support for 1.x, retailers will find themselves in an even more vulnerable situation. For those who have yet to make the switch, it is critical that they hire a developer and initiate the Magento web development process for creating a store under the 2.x banner before it’s too late.

Moreover, for those who have moved to Magento 2.x, it is vital to ensure that the site is always running the most current software available to help mitigate potential security risks.

Optimize the Checkout Flow

Optimizing a site’s checkout process is critical for increasing eCommerce sales. The fact of the matter is that lengthy, extraneous checkout flows are one of the main reasons that shoppers abandon their carts.

In fact, as the Baymard Institute’s cart abandonment research reflects, two percent of consumers fail to complete their purchase for this exact reason.

Moreover, as Baymard notes about checkout flows:

“The average checkout flow contains 23.48 form elements and 14.88 form fields (when purchasing as a new non-account customer). Yet a fully optimized checkout flow can be as short as 7 form fields, with a total of just 12 form elements.”

This research clearly shows that many eCommerce checkout processes are bloated and unnecessarily lengthy, thereby reducing the number of conversions.

spanx simple checkout page

To combat this bloat, retailers should aim to only ask for the information that is absolutely necessary for completing an order. This means that sellers really only need to ask for:

  • First and last name
  • Shipping address
  • Payment information
  • Email address (for order confirmation and shipping notifications)

Outside of this, everything else is extra. While merchants certainly want to collect more data on customers, everything else can be asked for after the order has been completed.

Once a shopper has finalized their transaction, retailers can ask if they would like to create an account. This is where all those extra goodies can be harvested.

Allow for Customer Wish Lists

It is inevitable. Sometimes, retailers will have to deal with out-of-stock product pages.

While this might spell lost sales for some, implementing wish lists enables retailers to notify customers when an item becomes available again. However, this isn’t the only benefit of wish list implementation.

Often, consumers see products that interest them or that they want to buy as a gift but don’t intend on purchasing immediately. By allowing customers to create wish lists, sellers effectively help to remind shoppers of those items, thereby increasing the chances of earning a sale.

Moreover, the ability to create a wish list incentivizes account creation, something that shoppers are often unwilling to perform (forced account creation is responsible for 20 percent of abandoned carts). However, by allowing shoppers to toss a bunch of items in a list to revisit at their leisure, they are more likely to provide their email in exchange for this convenience.

Fortunately, from a Magento web development standpoint, wish list implementation is quite simple. Therefore, it is something that all retailers should offer.

Final Thoughts

Using Magento web development principles to create the fastest, most secure, user-friendly store possible can require a considerable amount of time and effort.

However, by taking the time to create a satisfying user experience for shoppers, merchants are likely to see a significant increase in vital eCommerce metrics such as time-on-site, pages viewed, conversions and sales.

Moreover, employing Magento web development best practices to optimize these KPIs also provides sellers with the added benefit of greater SERP visibility, thereby potentially giving all of those metrics another boost.

That said, creating an aesthetically pleasing, friendly, conversion-optimized Magento store is a lot easier said than done.

If your brand wants to optimize its Magento store, migrate to Magento 2 or create an eCommerce store from scratch, reach out to Visiture’s Magento web development experts.

Our team of certified specialists can help you create a Magento store that drives the level of conversions that will enable substantial business growth.

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