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Every type of product we make has a set of design and function rules we need to abide by. The same kinds of parameters exist when venturing into the wonderful world of E-commerce apps. With that in mind, it’s in our best interest to identify such foundational guidelines and blueprint any design process in alignment with these. Creating an app can cost anywhere from $18,000 to $28,000, and that’s just an estimate. Thus, diving blindly into app-making is not something we recommend, and considering Rootstrap’s core business proposition is centered on development (be it mobile or web apps), you can take our advice with a high degree of confidence.

Let’s take a step back. Back to the question of what does an app cost? First, let’s make sure that we’ve answered the question of why do you need an app? What is the purpose of your app? What is the goal of your app? Is there something in existence like a third party solution that can be sufficient for what you’re trying to do in the digital space, like a Mobile Roadie or Square, Squarespace or Etsy, or something that wouldn’t require you to build a custom app?” – What Does An App Cost?

First, though, we have to answer the fundamental question about any mobile app development project: should you or shouldn’t you? We firmly stand behind the notion that any e-commerce business serious about scaling up growth and revenue needs to seriously consider making a move into the app space.

In order to do so, however, you’ll need to go back to those rules and regulations mentioned earlier. Luckily enough, we have all the insider info on the best ways to go about the designing process, and Rootstrap is all about the power of communication. From the innovative minds of our agile ninjas to you and yours, here is a specialty-made guide for e-commerce app design, complete with all the top tips you’ll need on your way to a stellar app.

Tip #1: The Interface

Ah, the user interface. Easily the aspect of an e-commerce app that demands the most careful consideration and planning. After all, the end user will be the one to decide if your app succeeds or not, and it is unlikely to make it against the endless competition if the user experience isn’t top of the line. Clean, accessible, and a pleasure to use are the primary descriptive goals you need to be aiming for when designing that e-commerce app. Best way to get your users to concur with all three? A basic interface.

Ignore that front-end design tendency to overcompensate with heaps of nifty pop-outs and to fill all the white space with cutting-edge icons and the like. Instead, design with the ambition to make the chance of your customers buying something as high as physically possible. Look to emphasize your business’s latest sales or reductions on the home screen, and overall work to make that interface inviting for a shopper.

Take a cue from Apple, which has outsold PC competitors in the consumer tech market for years: while most PC companies have dozens or hundreds of products, Apple rarely features more than 3 core products in a given product line. Simplicity sells – it’s as simple as that.

Tip #2: Navigation

Another important thing to consider when designing a mobile e-commerce app is screen size. Compared to a web application on a desktop, mobile app space is small. This automatically means that there are limits to how much-shown content is possible at one given time. So, concerning e-commerce, this means that there are limits to how much can be displayed within the app navigation. It won’t have the same impact as a desktop, full-screen e-commerce experience which can put all promotions and categories up at once.

Hence, you need to choose wisely what content or promotions to display, and ensure that the discovery process to get to all your other lists or categories is as explicit as can be. Place the most significant of your categories in that navigation so that high traffic to those areas of the app is guaranteed. Another top tip here is to make each menu item one word, only. Less is more, friends.

Tip #3: Process

Let’s get real for a second here. Who in their right mind has patience while online shopping? In today’s day and time, speed is optimized for e-commerce shopping, and that applies times ten for mobile e-commerce apps. As a result of this, it’s only logical that the checkout process of your app needs to be as swift as can be. Not only is it essential to make the end-game fast and easy, but this rule also goes for that first step – the user sign-up.

Our top tip here is one that you’ll find universally in almost all mobile e-commerce apps out there today – the use of social media for that signup stage. Yep, it’s as straightforward as allowing a user to link a choice social media account; typical offerings include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Tumblr in some rare cases. That little step is absolutely going to have a positive effect on the number of shoppers on your app, and you’re almost guaranteed to see an uptick in overall purchases, too.

Throw in an auto-complete in the mix so they can spend even less time with registering if they decide not to do it via social, and case closed.

Tip #4: Speed Shop

Ever been on an E-commerce app that didn’t have a little cart icon above every commercial product? The answer to that question is (hopefully!) no. That’s because an “Add to Cart” option is a sheer must have for any e-commerce venture. Don’t risk losing out on a successful sale because the user interested isn’t able to pop a product in their cart faster than the speed of light (or, as relatively close to that aim as humanly possible).

Tip #5: Less is More

You’ll find that any e-commerce app that’s overloaded with images and pop-ups will inevitably performing worse than it’s competitors who minimize those aspects in a user’s shopping experience. Not only is an excessive amount of images distracting to a customer, but too much design or content slows down the performance and speed of the app. Keep the number of high-res photos to as few as possible per screen, and you’ll avoid irritating or missing out on a sale because of speed or information overload.

Tip #6: Patience

We’ve brought up a customer’s patience – or lack of it, really – a few times already in this piece, for a really excellent reason. Expectations are everything in the e-commerce industry, and if your app doesn’t meet the base ones, you can forget about building a base of loyal customers.

Perhaps the most significant expectation a user can have on an e-commerce app is that a purchase will take little to no time. One brilliant way to let a shopper feel confident and in control of their progress in a sale is to pop in a handy progress bar. This enables the person on the other end of the screen to know how many more steps are left, which really helps in growing customer confidence.

Tip #7: Power of Favorites

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes: when you are looking through the products of an online store, what type of options do you prefer having available to you? Definitely, a favorite in the e-commerce process is the ability to “favorite” items. You’ll see it on the huge e-commerce platforms in varying forms; Amazon, for example, makes use of this concept with a personalized Wish List you can add or remove items to for a later date. You can also use this list to personalize marketing emails, letting customers know when an item on their favorites list is on sale. Even better – make it so these favorited products can be compiled into a shareable list, so that come holiday time, your customers can send these to relatives or friends. Sold!

Tip #8: Science

Ever heard of the “thumb zone?” It’s a concept coined by Steven Hoober that more and more mobile developers are adopting into their app design processes. The idea is that apps should be designed with the consideration of how users use their thumbs in mind along the way. Quite frankly, it’s a bit of added genius that only works to improve the customer experience further. According to Fluid, the best way to design a “thumb-friendly experience” is to follow three key UX principles:


Hidden menus, dropdowns, and sticky footnotes are the big winners here. These are innovative ways to sneak in content but keep that “thumb zone” optimized.

Gesture controls

Think of the gestures a user makes with their thumbs to navigate an app on a mobile device. Locking and unlocking of screens, opening, sliding from page view to page view are all requirements for a customer to use an app. These steps will ask for thumb tapping, pinching, zoom control, etc. Make sure to experiment with these and test the number of gestures needed for the use of your app from start to finish of a purchase. Minimize the number of gestures a person may need.


Going back to navigation here, the developer in charge of creating your e-commerce app needs to be super conscious about limiting the navigation points to be within the “thumb zone.” Studies have concluded that most of the world (70 – 90% even!) are right-handed, so it’s worth designing user navigation with this right-hand thumb zone at the forefront of your mind.

Tip #9: Safety

Keep that user data safe! This is the best thing you can do for your user, considering they are providing you with not only personal data but financial data, too. You need your user to feel secure about entrusting your app and business with their information, so do everything possible regarding security and verification to be able to provide them with those assurances.

Tip #10: Make it Yours

Our last essential tip for you today is the most fun of them all: invest the time and resources into making your e-commerce app stand out in the fray. Whatever personal spin you can put on that design that works within these guidelines, do it!