What is Ecommerce Design?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Ecommerce means the transaction of business through using the Internet. A business that conducts ecommerce may have a storefront presence as well or may only do business online. Ecommerce design refers to the design of websites specifically made for web businesses. Often, these websites are access point for customers to order products or services, learn company news, and check on, return, or amend previous orders.

A business that conducts ecommerce may have a storefront presence or may only do business online.
A business that conducts ecommerce may have a storefront presence or may only do business online.

Ecommerce design can be divided into two categories. The first category consists of general elements of web design that are considered appropriate to any website of any sort. The second category involves elements of web design that specifically work to fulfill the needs of the ecommerce business.

In the first category of elements for ecommerce design are a number of time-tested elements. One is using a consistent navigation system on every page of the website, allowing the user to know exactly where to find it in all cases. Another is to optimize images and multimedia so they will load quickly and the user won’t have to wait. Too small a font can be difficult to read, while all capitals is considered to be shouting and bad netiquette. Page content should be of reasonable length, and not scroll endlessly, and accessibility guidelines from the Alliance for Technology Access should be followed. The site should be tested on the most popular browsers to ensure that it renders well.

Another aspect of the first category of ecommerce design is the realm of white hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization). White hat SEO means using only approved and aboveboard ways of bringing traffic to one’s site. It avoids what are known as black hat methods, such as keyword stuffing, link farming, and other practices, which— if caught — may actually doom search engine ranking.

In the second category of ecommerce design are elements that specifically speak to the business portion of the site. A well-designed search engine that has enough, but not too many, results, can deal with minor misspellings, and can anticipate the customer’s needs. Large enough photos that show products from a variety of angles help customers make judgments that they won’t regret later. A good shopping cart design — one that allows shoppers to add items without having to leave the current page, for example—is another boon to ecommerce design: not every shopping cart allows this. Customers often appreciate a variety of payment options, such as Google® Checkout and PayPal®, rather than just one or the other.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth

Mary Elizabeth is passionate about reading, writing, and research, and has a penchant for correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to contributing articles to wiseGEEK about art, literature, and music, Mary Elizabeth is a teacher, composer, and author. She has a B.A. from the University of Chicago’s writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont, and she has written books, study guides, and teacher materials on language and literature, as well as music composition content for Sibelius Software.

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