Web Development Guidelines for an E-Commerce Website

Whether it’s due to tight schedules, conditions that leave them homebound or disastrous weather conditions, more and more people are doing their shopping online. In order to really reach the audience and provide an optimal experience, follow these web development guidelines for an e-commerce website.

Easy to Navigate

One of the reasons that people pick online shops over traditional stores is that the former can be easier to navigate. Shoppers do not expect to have to scour through aisle upon aisle to find what they need. Instead, they want to type an item into a search box and have it appear, or they want to see a neatly organized list of categories and subcategories through which to browse. Evaluate how user-friendly your website is and if a shopper can quickly and easily get from one place to another.

Check-out Process

Smashing Magazine’s article “Fundamental Guidelines of E-Commerce Checkout Design” by Christian Holst discusses one of the major problems with the checkout system on many websites. Holst writes, “In this case, a sub-step such as “Account creation” should never redirect to a previous step in the checkout process, but instead direct the customer to the next step in the checkout process.” Essentially, Holst is advocating for a linear checkout process in which each step flows smoothly and logically into the next one.

Descriptive Input Boxes

Holst also discusses the importance of having a note or description next to the boxes that people need to fill out when they input their credit card information. For example, many individuals do not know what the security card is on their credit cards, but a lot of websites request this information in order to make a purchase. If people do not put in the right details, they might continue to receive an error message. This experience is an unpleasant one for your customers, and it almost ensures that they are going to go to another website to purchase the products that they need.

Clear Shipping Choices

Sometimes, customers will click nearly all the way through the purchasing process and not see any shipping choices along the way. It’s important that this information is expressed very early on in the checkout process. For example, let’s say that a customer needs an item that has two-day shipping; however, that type of shipping is not available on the item. If he or she does not find out that information until the very end of the shipping process, frustration is certainly to occur. Not only will the individual scout out a different site from which to purchase that particular product, but he or she might never shop from your site again.

Clearly, one of the major reasons to have excellent web development on your site is to create a more enjoyable experience for the customers. These types of websites also benefit you, the business, too. If customers are not pleased with the service they are seeking on your site or cannot place an order at all, you are likely to lose their business.

Author Jason Harter is a web designer who consults with businesses to make the best choices for their websites. He obtained one of the best Web Design Degrees in the country.

View all contributions by

Search Engine Veteran - Enterprise SEO & Small Business Entrepreneurs. Advisor to startups for pre-launch optimization SEO Audits & consulting.