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View Full Version : What Are The Things A Good E-Commerce Site Needs



KristineS
10-04-2012, 01:31 PM
I post on a couple of forums for start up businesses in the industry that the company I work for is in. A lot of the people will post their websites for review and they're usually pretty bad. Often, they forget what I think are pretty basic things, but then I started wondering if everyone else thinks these things are as basic as I do. So I thought I'd ask.

What do you think are the main things a "good" e-commerce site needs? My definition of a "good" site is one that is visually appealing, easy to navigate, and converts a reasonable percentage of visitors to buyers. Yours definition may be different and, if so, please include that as well.

This is purely unscientific, but I'm just interested to see if patterns as to what "good" sites should have will appear.

Wozcreative
10-04-2012, 01:58 PM
The problem with e-commerce websites is they generally take a lot more work than a stand alone brochure website, which means the budget needs to be there. Most small businesses will not invest 10+K on a website designer so they usually try to go with the cheapest possible solutions available.

Sometimes they will buy a template and get a developer to design it based on what the client thinks looks good, which is why you see so many bad e-commerce websites. The site then generally looks like a botched up template, and it shouldnt look like a template at all.

In an ideal world you need to hire one person who is great at design & development, but these people are usually very pricey, and it's difficult to find. Some clients may choose to get a designer to design the website and then have a developer put it together, however.. the developer is often color, spacially and font-blind. So the key here is to have the designer manage the developer's progress and follow through with any corrections that need to be made. The designer needs to be involved at every step of the way. Clients often fail to do this as well because it also costs more.

A worse scenario is when a client finishes a website that a developer botched up aesthetically, or even in the programming because they didn't choose the right developer or have the right amount of cash to put into the site.. and the client then decides to hire a designer to "fix it up". I see huge issues here. How do you tell a client, that their new online business is built with old technology, isn't mobile ready, design is broken, and everything is a complete mess? I recently had a client who knows nothing about the internet and marketing, decided to have a website built really cheaply using a template the developer had. He then asked me how he can market it. When I saw it.. my heart sank for the poor guy. He had wasted 6 months on a half assed website with a lot of technical issues. There was many design flaws, the branding was all off and wouldn't work on smaller scales, too many elements and too many colors. Not to mention the font on the logo wasn't legible at all. The other issue is that the website was NOT AT ALL put together to work on mobile! His concept would have mainly worked on mobile... but because he hired someone on the cheap.. the developer wasn't going to waste time educating the client what is best to do, what hes missing, they just want the money quick and run. How do you tell a guy he just wasted time, money, resources etc on something so garbage?

In any case.. what makes a good design... that is all subjective but I will put a list:

• Branding is #1. Have all the elements, fonts, colors, any design flairs, even the style of messaging/tone—down BEFORE anything else.
• Be consistent with navigation.. top navigation is standard now.
• Footers need to have a lot more information to make it easier
• Website NEEDS to be mobile friendly!
• Typography... typography... typography! A bad design is clear when proper typographic rules haven't been followed
• Pick 2 - 3 colors and stick to them!
• Photography — Don't use boxed photos.. those are hideous! Spend the money to properly photoshop each product
• Don't use photoshop effects that date back to early 2000's (a good designer would know which ones to use and which ones not to.)
• Buttons need to be consistent, important ones can be larger than the not so important ones.
• The products in a shopping cart need to be big and clear. I want to know all the details of this product being sold.
• Searches.. proper hierarchy of products
• I also personally don't like black text on sites (personal preference).. black text makes things look too stark and unfinished
• 16pt font! Don't make me squint.
• Use visual hierarchy on every page. What's the most important thing? Don't let my eye fly around the screen.


And there is a ton more.. but I think that is enough for now.

Pack-Secure
10-04-2012, 03:49 PM
I read a good article yesterday The 25 Questions Your Site Must Answer | Small Business Trends (http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/09/25-questions-your-site-must-answer.html)

billbenson
10-04-2012, 03:52 PM
I'll just touch on one thing. "Search". Some ecommerce programs use the text in the short product description to find products. This means that your short descriptions need to contain your site search keywords. Other's such as the Shopp plugin for WordPress have a table dedicated to search. That would allow you to be far more creative.

Some people come to my site knowing a product part number. Some have a description. Some just want to look around.

I'll give you an example. Tigerdirect.com is one of the larger computer and electronics online stores. If I look for a monitor, I can use the site navigation. I have to go one level down and search through a laundry list of items until I find monitors. Then when I click on that link, I have to further select a category of monitors to look through. Sometimes pages long.

If I type monitor into their search bar I get all the monitors. If I type 27 inch monitor I get all the 27 inch monitors.

If you are talking to a customer on the phone and want to take them to a page, would your rather give them some dynamic URL or tell them to type product number xyz into the search bar.

There are many sites that have lousy searches. With a fairly simple script you can make a pretty effective site search function.

I think it's something that is frequently overlooked.

jimr451
10-05-2012, 09:13 AM
I think first and foremost the site must be "functional" - this means that when a user gets to the store, they can find what they need, and go through the checkout process. Nowadays that also means that the site functions on a mobile device reasonably well.

I've seen many clients fixate on small design issues (that most users would never notice), but overlook basics like having products organized coherantly, good descriptions, and a smooth checkout process. That's the primary purpose of the site, after all.

Design is nice, but with the mobile web, I think sites will be getting a little plainer in design, focusing on usability as the top priority.

-Jim

KristineS
10-05-2012, 01:41 PM
The problem with e-commerce websites is they generally take a lot more work than a stand alone brochure website, which means the budget needs to be there. Most small businesses will not invest 10+K on a website designer so they usually try to go with the cheapest possible solutions available.

Sometimes they will buy a template and get a developer to design it based on what the client thinks looks good, which is why you see so many bad e-commerce websites. The site then generally looks like a botched up template, and it shouldnt look like a template at all.

In an ideal world you need to hire one person who is great at design & development, but these people are usually very pricey, and it's difficult to find. Some clients may choose to get a designer to design the website and then have a developer put it together, however.. the developer is often color, spacially and font-blind. So the key here is to have the designer manage the developer's progress and follow through with any corrections that need to be made. The designer needs to be involved at every step of the way. Clients often fail to do this as well because it also costs more.

A worse scenario is when a client finishes a website that a developer botched up aesthetically, or even in the programming because they didn't choose the right developer or have the right amount of cash to put into the site.. and the client then decides to hire a designer to "fix it up". I see huge issues here. How do you tell a client, that their new online business is built with old technology, isn't mobile ready, design is broken, and everything is a complete mess? I recently had a client who knows nothing about the internet and marketing, decided to have a website built really cheaply using a template the developer had. He then asked me how he can market it. When I saw it.. my heart sank for the poor guy. He had wasted 6 months on a half assed website with a lot of technical issues. There was many design flaws, the branding was all off and wouldn't work on smaller scales, too many elements and too many colors. Not to mention the font on the logo wasn't legible at all. The other issue is that the website was NOT AT ALL put together to work on mobile! His concept would have mainly worked on mobile... but because he hired someone on the cheap.. the developer wasn't going to waste time educating the client what is best to do, what hes missing, they just want the money quick and run. How do you tell a guy he just wasted time, money, resources etc on something so garbage?

In any case.. what makes a good design... that is all subjective but I will put a list:

• Branding is #1. Have all the elements, fonts, colors, any design flairs, even the style of messaging/tone—down BEFORE anything else.
• Be consistent with navigation.. top navigation is standard now.
• Footers need to have a lot more information to make it easier
• Website NEEDS to be mobile friendly!
• Typography... typography... typography! A bad design is clear when proper typographic rules haven't been followed
• Pick 2 - 3 colors and stick to them!
• Photography — Don't use boxed photos.. those are hideous! Spend the money to properly photoshop each product
• Don't use photoshop effects that date back to early 2000's (a good designer would know which ones to use and which ones not to.)
• Buttons need to be consistent, important ones can be larger than the not so important ones.
• The products in a shopping cart need to be big and clear. I want to know all the details of this product being sold.
• Searches.. proper hierarchy of products
• I also personally don't like black text on sites (personal preference).. black text makes things look too stark and unfinished
• 16pt font! Don't make me squint.
• Use visual hierarchy on every page. What's the most important thing? Don't let my eye fly around the screen.


And there is a ton more.. but I think that is enough for now.

Great analysis and great question - how do you tell someone the thing they've spent a ton of money on and are so proud of isn't going to do what they think it will do. I struggle with that one a lot.

Interesting point about the black text. I'm just the opposite, I hate white text on black pages. I find that combo is really hard for me to read.

I like your list very much. You've hit on a lot of the same things I tend to hit on when I critique sites.

KristineS
10-05-2012, 01:42 PM
I read a good article yesterday The 25 Questions Your Site Must Answer | Small Business Trends (http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/09/25-questions-your-site-must-answer.html)

Great article and right in line with what's being said here. Creating a website that works requires a lot of thought. Checklists like the one in the article can be very helpful.

KristineS
10-05-2012, 01:43 PM
I'll just touch on one thing. "Search". Some ecommerce programs use the text in the short product description to find products. This means that your short descriptions need to contain your site search keywords. Other's such as the Shopp plugin for WordPress have a table dedicated to search. That would allow you to be far more creative.

Some people come to my site knowing a product part number. Some have a description. Some just want to look around.

I'll give you an example. Tigerdirect.com is one of the larger computer and electronics online stores. If I look for a monitor, I can use the site navigation. I have to go one level down and search through a laundry list of items until I find monitors. Then when I click on that link, I have to further select a category of monitors to look through. Sometimes pages long.

If I type monitor into their search bar I get all the monitors. If I type 27 inch monitor I get all the 27 inch monitors.

If you are talking to a customer on the phone and want to take them to a page, would your rather give them some dynamic URL or tell them to type product number xyz into the search bar.

There are many sites that have lousy searches. With a fairly simple script you can make a pretty effective site search function.

I think it's something that is frequently overlooked.

SEARCH! Bill you mentioned something I tend to overlook at times. I think we all take search for granted, but I've been like you in trying to search for a product on a site with crappy search capabilities and being frustrated. If you have a lot of products, good search capability is vital.

KristineS
10-05-2012, 01:44 PM
I think first and foremost the site must be "functional" - this means that when a user gets to the store, they can find what they need, and go through the checkout process. Nowadays that also means that the site functions on a mobile device reasonably well.

I've seen many clients fixate on small design issues (that most users would never notice), but overlook basics like having products organized coherantly, good descriptions, and a smooth checkout process. That's the primary purpose of the site, after all.

Design is nice, but with the mobile web, I think sites will be getting a little plainer in design, focusing on usability as the top priority.

-Jim

I've seen the fixation thing too, Jim. People get so obsessed with the window dressing items that they forget to make sure their site is working properly. It can be a big danger and lead to a site that doesn't perform well at all.

MostHeather
10-05-2012, 03:39 PM
I would say ease of use, affordability and ease of use! I found a great ECommerce solution that has increased my conversion rate 10 fold since changing over from an 'old style' shopping cart system. I'm VERY pleased with the form, functionality and most of all - the sales!

Harold Mansfield
10-05-2012, 04:38 PM
I'll tackle it from the other side. Many times people who do some investigation have a laundry list of functionality and add-ons that they want to make the site "cool", but time and time again they overlook the most basic things all together and get thrown for a loop when they don't have them:

Detailed Product Descriptions, and sales copy for each - For some reason people think that they are going to wing it at the last minute. It takes time to come up with this stuff. Enticing someone to place an order is a skill. You can't half ass it. Each needs to be thought out carefully and tweaked for maximum effect. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I have all of that stuff in my head. When the time comes, I'll jut bang it out"

Professional Product images - Again. Everyone thinks that they can take their own images just because the have an 8mpx camera on their smart phone, and their site is going to look just like Amazon. Instead it usually comes out looking like Craig's List. On Ebay you can get away with that. But on your own website? You had better be, or hire a professional. Preferably one that specializes in taking product or catalog images (yes there is such a thing).

Some idea of branding and colors- The worst industry that I have seen for this are dog breeders. I don't know if that industry is stuck in a space time vortex or they all just copy off of each other, but for the most part, it's early 90's bad.

Shipping - Small Businesses NEVER consider shipping when they are planning their eCommerce site. They all think they'll just grab Fed Ex or UPS and they will somehow magically be shipping at the same low rates as New Egg or Amazon. You will not even get close to those rates. I've seen failure to understand and configure shopping costs properly KILL a website and a business.

A close friend of mine started an eCommerce site last year and she's already out of business. She never investigated shipping while planning everything else and never got it down to a manageable rate. Buyers would order one $20 product and pay $12 shipping. And for some reason she never asked me for help. :(

So in my experience and opinion, it's not the bells and whistles that people neglect. It's the basic building blocks of online sales.

KristineS
10-05-2012, 05:33 PM
I would say ease of use, affordability and ease of use! I found a great ECommerce solution that has increased my conversion rate 10 fold since changing over from an 'old style' shopping cart system. I'm VERY pleased with the form, functionality and most of all - the sales!

Heather, I'm curious - what's the Ecommerce solution you found?

KristineS
10-05-2012, 05:35 PM
I'll tackle it from the other side. Many times people who do some investigation have a laundry list of functionality and add-ons that they want to make the site "cool", but time and time again they overlook the most basic things all together and get thrown for a loop when they don't have them:

Detailed Product Descriptions, and sales copy for each - For some reason people think that they are going to wing it at the last minute. It takes time to come up with this stuff. Enticing someone to place an order is a skill. You can't half ass it. Each needs to be thought out carefully and tweaked for maximum effect. I can't tell you how many times I've heard, "I have all of that stuff in my head. When the time comes, I'll jut bang it out"

Professional Product images - Again. Everyone thinks that they can take their own images just because the have an 8mpx camera on their smart phone, and their site is going to look just like Amazon. Instead it usually comes out looking like Craig's List. On Ebay you can get away with that. But on your own website? You had better be, or hire a professional. Preferably one that specializes in taking product or catalog images (yes there is such a thing).

Some idea of branding and colors- The worst industry that I have seen for this are dog breeders. I don't know if that industry is stuck in a space time vortex or they all just copy off of each other, but for the most part, it's early 90's bad.

Shipping - Small Businesses NEVER consider shipping when they are planning their eCommerce site. They all think they'll just grab Fed Ex or UPS and they will somehow magically be shipping at the same low rates as New Egg or Amazon. You will not even get close to those rates. I've seen failure to understand and configure shopping costs properly KILL a website and a business.

A close friend of mine started an eCommerce site last year and she's already out of business. She never investigated shipping while planning everything else and never got it down to a manageable rate. Buyers would order one $20 product and pay $12 shipping. And for some reason she never asked me for help. :(

So in my experience and opinion, it's not the bells and whistles that people neglect. It's the basic building blocks of online sales.

I just did a blog post for Stitches Magazine about the importance of good product photography, so that point really hit home with me, Harold. I hate bad product photography. It annoys me.

Figuring out shipping before you set up the site is a good point and one I hadn't really considered. If you're a smaller company that can be very important.

MostHeather
10-05-2012, 08:12 PM
Please check your PM, Kristine :)

Pack-Secure
10-05-2012, 09:51 PM
Do share Heather :)

KristineS
10-08-2012, 01:29 PM
Please check your PM, Kristine :)

I did Heather, thanks.

Getkart
05-05-2020, 03:39 AM
Good Experience for mobile users that mean’s your site should be responsive
Checkout process should be easy
Good quality images
Have a clear return policy means what’s your return policy
Product description should be in detailed
Where is your search box so that users can find more
Social media presence should be more important like on twitter, Facebook, Instagram and more.
Your ecommerce site should be secure
About us and contact us page should be available on your ecommerce site.


These are the most important things that ecommerce site really needs.
Getkart is an - online ecommerce site in the USA (https://www.getkart.com/) that provides the best experience to their users with these features so that users can get the best services from us.

robbie
05-26-2020, 09:52 AM
i will recommenced getting a business phone number and putting it on your website it help you to close lead faster and saves your time.

6 Google Voice Number Alternatives You Should Consider this 2020 (https://callhippo.com/alternative/google-voice-number-alternatives)

Anthony Constantinou CEO
05-30-2020, 07:39 AM
Anthony Constantinou says, "Easy functionality, good customer support, affordability and timely services, if all these things are provided by any e-commerce website, the success is sure."

Clifford Buda
06-24-2020, 11:54 AM
I first check out the price, way of presenting the products, and responsiveness.