What can eBay teach us about web design?

Added 03.06.11

If I could find some way of blocking my internet connection from loading any online stores at all, I would probably be a millionaire right now! There's just something so addictive and satisfying about being able to shop products from all over the world from the comfort of your armchair with a mug of hot cocoa in one hand and credit card in the other. There's basically nothing that can't be bought online these days, with some of the main-players like Amazon getting stronger every day. Amazon is great, but eBay is my main problem – and judging by the popularity of the site, it’s the retail therapy website of choice for tens of millions of other people all over the world. Don't you wish your business website or eCommerce store had even a fraction of the sway of eBay? Well, you can't guarantee world wide popularity over night, but there are some tips that you can take from eBay, not least on the level of web design.

When you think about eBay web design, what's the first thing you are likely to visualise? It's the logo, right? The eBay logo is an essential part of the site's web design and business presence and it makes very good use of striking primary colours and whimsical letters that are memorable in their alternating yellow, blue, red and green. This logo is undeniably fun! The web design of the home page also favours clarity – there are no fancy fonts or patterned backdrops, the sign in and registration buttons are clearly found and, best of all, you don't need to register in order to browse to your heart's content. When it comes to the web design of browsing pages, search boxes are easily found and results can be sorted according to clearly outlined categories. Add to that, the addition of inspirational articles and shopping pieces, linked features of the home page web design, and the shopping experience is complete. Ebay also offers a separate URL and web design for each country in which the store operates, offering a truly personalised site.

So what tips can you take from eBay for your own website design?
First of all, a well designed and memorable logo is the first step in business success. Think simple and industry-appropriate, and make sure it heads up your web design. Secondly, make strategic use of colour in your web design. Note how on eBay there are no messy background patterns or multiple fonts – the main page is white, with red reserved for the sign in, sign up and purchase buttons. Text is mainly a calming blue or light grey in a uniform typeface. Use bold colours such as red sparingly in your website design and make them serve a specific purpose, to highlight or emphasise important content or direct the site visitor to a particular action.

If your website offers a large amount of products, services or information, make sure you include a search option that is clearly located on your website. Your web design must be all about streamlining and simplifying user experience. Another eBay feature that should be observed is the clear location of links leading to privacy policies and security information. These are essential features of any web design in order to make sure that customers and clients are confident and assured of the trustworthy nature of your company. Finally, fun and interactive features and regularly updated content, alongside a user-friendly web design such as that of eBay will make your website an exciting experience and one that has the feel of a community.