17 Product Detail Page Design Best Practices

By Jon MacDonald
13 minute read | Last Updated: July 2, 2016

First impressions are incredibly powerful. Many online brands focus on optimizing their homepage, but forget about the value of a effective product detail page.

An ecommerce product detail page design can often make or break a sale. Remember the last time you were shopping online? Did the product have a video? Did you look at the reviews? Or did you end up leaving for some reason? What made you leave?

Every point along the customer’s journey from research to purchase is important. There is one place, though, where the customer is called upon to make a choice of exceptional consequence. That special spot is your product detail page. It’s there that the prospect will determine whether to purchase your product or keep looking.

That means your product detail page design must do three things well:

  • It must give detailed, benefit-focused information about the product in question,
  • It must offer an easy and obvious way for buyers to take the next step towards ownership
  • It should provide a way for shoppers to be presented with alternative suggestions.

Numerous components enable the PDP to do its job. Some of these elements are primarily the concern of creatives, others will need help from IT, and some of the content will come from management. Our aim here is to provide a checklist you can use in either the creation of a new PDP or as an inspection sheet to make sure your current product detail pages are complete.

Score your site to find hidden revenue and other opportunities to grow your business online.

We mention SEO factors here, but there are numerous search engine tactics we don’t address. SEO can help attract visitors to your website. Conversion rate optimization (CRO) is concerned with turning those visits into sales.

Let’s look at how the product detail page can help you better serve those visitors by providing the information they need to make an informed decision.

PDP Elements for Ecommerce – Creative Concerns

1. Product Name

This is one place where longer is better. That’s because each word is a potential keyword for organic search. Long names also implicitly indicate more value and stand a better chance of attracting the visitor’s attention.

Notice how the product name (see below) for this set of cookware contains a variety of descriptive words and terms:

An example of a Kitchen Aid product name from an Amazon product detail page.

An example of a Kitchen Aid product name from an Amazon product detail page.

2. Product Description

Great copywriting begins with an understanding of the audience – their needs, their desires, their problems, and the words they use to describe them.

The copy should be presented in a scannable, jargon-free format, with benefits highlighted to spell out exactly what the product will do for the prospect.

The product description should provide critical information, it should short-circuit objections, and provide answers to the visitor’s most pressing questions.

Note how Nike copywriters (below) use minimum space for maximum result:

An great example from a Nike product detail page of a clear description with critical information.

An great example from a Nike product detail page of a clear description with critical information.

3. Call to Action

Once you’ve provided key benefits, squarely faced objections, and provided answers to the prospect’s questions, you’ve earned the right to present the call to action. This can be as simple as an “Add to Cart” button.

Once the prospect is convinced that your product is the perfect solution, all you need to do is provide a path to purchase.

Make the call to action (CTA) prominent, clear, and easy to perform. The checkout process should be seamless and smooth, with minimum friction.

4. Graphics

This is where your writers and designers join forces. High-quality photos or illustrations lend credence to the copywriter’s product description.

Show people wearing and using your products to give the prospect a glimpse of ownership.

Show people wearing and using your products to give the prospect a glimpse of ownership. Click To Tweet

Your headlines and graphics should work together to establish the product’s value and illustrate why the prospect would be wise to select it.

Bell (see below) uses a photo of pro cyclists wearing their helmets – an excellent way to say “You can trust Bell helmets”:

An example of Bell helmets using graphics on a product detail page.

An example of Bell helmets using graphics on a product detail page.

5. Videos

The practice of including video elements in the digital assets strategy has risen so dramatically that many ecommerce sites now consider videos essential. Some say videos can push conversions by 85% or more.

Does your product draw objections for being difficult to use? Video can disprove that preconception by demonstrating that the owner only needs to follow a few simple directions.

Do customers want to know more about the difference between certain features? Video can describe those differences quickly and accurately.

Graphic elements should join forces with the copy to perform the basic tasks: Highlight benefits, deflate objections, and answer the most frequently asked questions.

PDP Elements for Ecommerce – Technical Concerns

6. Social Proof

People trust their peers more than they trust advertisers and marketers.

An often heard statistic is that user reviews carry twelve times the punch of the manufacturer’s claims. Remember, though, to make sure the social proof supports your message and speaks to your audience.

Types of social proof include expert or celebrity recommendations, user reviews, testimonials, and social media buzz. Your customers want to know they’re making the right choice. Social proof can help by providing a higher level of assurance.

It will be up to technicians to embed social proof, but the creatives should be involved in the selection of messages to be shown and in the decision about where to place social proof on the page.

We love this review (below) for our book, Stop Marketing, Start Selling:

An example of reviews on an Amazon product detail page.

An example of reviews on an Amazon product detail page.

7. Product Recommendations and Comparisons

It may be that the product being viewed is not the best selection for the prospect. By providing similar recommendations and giving the visitor the option of comparing product features/benefits, you can often maintain the attention of a prospect who may otherwise have gone elsewhere.

This is an area where savvy ecommerce teams can also leverage historical data to provide personalized recommendations.

Note how Amazon deftly supplies comparisons and ratings (below) for their products:

An example of comparisons and ratings on an Amazon product detail page.

An example of comparisons and ratings on an Amazon product detail page.

8. Add To Wish List

The visitor may not be ready to buy now. This function provides the ability to add the product to a wishlist for later consideration. That can save shopping time and serve as a personal reminder.

Wish lists can be especially helpful for prospects purchasing via mobile. Their selections are saved and ready to place in the shopping cart.

Wish list data can also be used in your analytics work for things like surveying product demand, linking product affinity to buyer types, or providing personalized offers via email or onsite recommendations.

9. Customer Service

When you’re shopping in a local department store, it’s frustrating to need help and not be able to find a store employee to help.

The same thing happens online. Customer service should not be intrusive, but it should be readily available.

Options include phone-in support, email support, and chat support. Each comes with its own technical challenges. All options should be prominent on the page.

Customer service can save a sale, retain a customer, and reassure prospects that you’re looking out for them.

Customer service can save a sale, retain a customer, and reassure prospects. Click To Tweet

CenturyLink customers wanting to make a change to services are invited to chat with a representative:

An example from a CenturyLink product detail page with a customer service invitation.

An example from a CenturyLink product detail page with a customer service invitation.

10. Image Alternatives

The primary image is normally a hero shot, but other views can be helpful. Thumbnail images that can be enlarged give the prospect a store’s-eye view of the product.

Every bit of help you can add here increases the potential for a sale. Shots that show ingredients or components, color choice swatches, and other information help answer the customer’s questions and remove doubt.

Some ecommerce sites invite customers to share their own photographs. These aren’t normally professional quality, but shoppers tend to see them as trustworthy recommendations and social proof of desirability.

11. Product Associations

The strategic plan may call for cross-sell and upsell efforts.

Marketing will decide which items to propose. Developers will determine how to make it happen.

With the line between sales, marketing, and IT departments becoming increasingly narrow, it’s essential that those teams figure out how to work together efficiently for the good of the company.

12. Video Showcases

Videos are another area where customer-submitted content can be helpful.

Note how Melaleuca artfully embeds the video play button next to a glamour shot of their high-end skin crème:

An example of a product detail page video showcase from Melaleuca.

An example of a product detail page video showcase from Melaleuca.

By the way, we’re not talking about homepage carousels here. Those are seldom, if ever, a good idea.

13. Other Icons and Functions

The path from first meeting to first sale passes through, and is affected by, many seemingly small functions and features. None are insignificant, though. Little things can fuel a big order.

Auxiliary concerns include the following:

  • Add to cart confirmation – assures the customer the order was placed
  • Size charts and product choice selections – these should be accurate and simple
  • Currency and language conversions – depends on where you sell and to whom
  • Order by phone option – this can capture orders that would otherwise fail
  • Social sharing icons – can be detrimental and distract the prospect
  • Stock status – lets the customer know the item is in stock (or not)
  • Breadcrumb navigation – helps the customer shop by providing a trail
  • Store locator – some prospects will start online, but want to finish offline

PDP Elements for Ecommerce – Management Decisions

Some of the information on the product detail page must be developed by management, then passed on to the creative team for styling considerations, and finally to the IT team for implementation.

Consider the following:

14. Return Policy

The better you back your products, the more of them you’re likely to sell.

Companies that sell quality goods stand little to lose by offering liberal returns. If your return policy is strong, brag about it. This is one more place to bolster the prospect’s assurance that the absolute right choice is to buy from you.

15. Guarantees and Warranties

Similar to return policy, if you back your products with a strong guarantee, then bring it up and brag about it. Don’t hide it in fine print at the bottom of the page.

Online shoppers like to feel that buying from you is as safe and convenient as driving to the nearest retail outlet and getting what they need there.

In a way, ecommerce has the advantage. Consumers will know they don’t have to stand in line and face an angry returns clerk to send something back to you.

Notice how L.L. Bean doesn’t beat around the bush. If you don’t like it, you don’t have to keep it (see below). No wonder their goods are known for quality and the company enjoys a high customer satisfaction rating:

An example from LLBean of a guarantee on a product detail page.

An example from LLBean of a guarantee on a product detail page.

16. Shipping Details

The best shipping for ecommerce is always “free and fast.”

Of course, you must balance delivered price against your cost, so free shipping isn’t always feasible. Whatever you decide here, be upfront with it. Surprising customers with a low display price, then making it up with an oversized shipping and handling fee is a great way to lose business and get poor reviews.

The main thing is that you are reasonable and provide options. Online shoppers also like to know the expected date of delivery.

A huge plus is the ability to receive tracking notifications via text or email. That can reassure the shopper the order is underway.

17. The Price

Pricing is an integral part of marketing. Ecommerce gives you the ability to easily adjust prices, then observe the real-time effect on consumer behavior and the impact on sales.

You can run promotions, offer discounts, use e-coupons, and pull all the tricks from your marketing bag.

JCPenney loves to offer discounts and run weekly sales to draw shoppers. Note that these discounts apply both online and in store:

An example of online and in-store discounts on a JCPenney product detail page.

An example of online and in-store discounts on a JCPenney product detail page.

Best Practices for the Ecommerce Product Detail Page – Wrapping it Up

How elaborate should your product detail pages be? They should provide sufficient information: not too much and not too little. Some PDP functions are essential. Others are optional and may even hinder the sale, depending on your niche, your capabilities, and your policies.

That’s where A/B testing comes into the picture. You don’t really know what’s best for your website and your prospects until testing provides field-generated data. We normally don’t recommend using social share icons on the PDP, for instance. Testing, though, may prove otherwise for you and your particular audience.

Theory provides the starting point. Testing proves or disproves the theory.
Theory provides the starting point. Testing proves or disproves the theory. Click To Tweet

If you incorporate all these elements, it’s going to be tough to leave room for white space. That’s where the creative use of interactive tabs and drop-downs is invaluable.

Give your visitors adequate information. Highlight the product’s benefits, anticipate objections, and provide answers to frequently asked questions. Lead the prospect along the sales path.

If it turns out that another product is more suitable, walk prospects to it and emphasize/compare the benefits of that product.

In other words, be helpful!

Treat your prospects the way you want to be treated when you shop, and they will reward you for your efforts.

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17 Product Detail Page Best Practices

 

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About the author: Jon MacDonald is Founder and President of The Good, conversion rate experts who deliver more revenues, customers, and leads. Jon and the team at The Good have made a practice of advising brands on how to see online revenue double through their conversion rate optimization services. Connect with Jon on Twitter.

2 Comments

  1. This is a good overview of many of the important components for any product or service. Thank you for the clear and concise information, and also the many good examples.

  2. Jon nice list but you forgot one – live video chat is changing the way companies view an e-commerce presence by working in harmony with their digital marketing campaigns and creating better awareness for potential customers that it leads to strong sales conversions. An example of this is Whisbi.

  3. Very nice and comprehensive article for a product page to get more sales conversion. I just wanted to add that FAQ or question at the end of product page is also one element which gives customers ease to make a decision to purchase.

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