Take the time to design your site so that it's pleasing to look at, attention grabbing, and easy to use. Make sure it looks professional. Even if you want whimsy and fun, you can achieve it without being cheesy. Stay away from a lot of silly animations and bright, flashing items. These tend to look unprofessional and will turn your customers off pretty quickly.
If you want to build your store into a real business, it'd be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the basics of brand building. This will help you establish the look and feel for your store, what makes you unique in the marketplace, what your corporate personality is, and how you should build your site so that it takes these points into consideration. The idea is to make your site look established and perhaps larger than it actually is.
Although people have gotten increasingly comfortable with making purchases online, awareness of identity theft has also grown, and shoppers are less likely to provide their credit card or other personal information to a site that doesn't look like it's been professionally put together. There's nothing wrong with being a small business or running a company from your home, but you still need to gain the trust of your shoppers if you expect them to pay you online, and you can't do that if your site design is poor.
Quality site design isn't as easy as you might think. Even after visiting a number of sites yourself, you might find it hard to design your site properly. By using the many online resources available for building your store (which I'll discuss in detail later in this part), you'll have access to a site template. This will make design easier, but you'll still need a bit of an artistic eye to get the best results. If that's not an area you excel in, consider hiring a freelance graphic designer to do the design and layout for you. (You can find plenty online.) It's not likely to cost a lot, and it will be well worth the expense.
Check your site on multiple browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc.), and on different versions of these browsers, to make sure it looks okay in as many as possible. To help with this, check out www.crossbrowsertesting.com ; it enables you to look at your site through multiple browsers and browser versions, even if you don't have them installed on your computer. Also, make sure that the design you choose (if you use a pre-fab storefront) provides either a responsive design or mobile-friendly version so shoppers can make purchases from mobile devices.
There is one exception to all of this—a site that does quite well, with arguably the worst design of any site on the Web. Instead of trying to describe it, I'll just let you check it out for yourself: Ling's Cars (www.lingscars.com ). Don't just take a quick look and leave; the brilliance is in the detail. The difference is that it's deliberately bad—so awful, in fact, that it's pure genius. I'm not sure many accomplished designers and programmers could duplicate it.