Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 20

Thread: What Are The Things A Good E-Commerce Site Needs

  1. #1
    Queen of the Forum
    Array
    KristineS's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Traverse City, MI
    Posts
    4,734
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default What Are The Things A Good E-Commerce Site Needs

    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.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Array
    Wozcreative's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Toronto, On
    Posts
    952

    Default

    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.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Array
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Boardman, OH
    Posts
    298
    http://www.pack-secure.com
    Packaging and Shipping Supply Specialists

  4. #4

    Default

    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.

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Array
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Location
    Lansdale, PA
    Posts
    67

    Default

    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
    Jim Roberts
    Web programmer
    www.robertswebforge.com

  6. #6
    Queen of the Forum
    Array
    KristineS's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Traverse City, MI
    Posts
    4,734
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Wozcreative View Post
    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.

  7. #7
    Queen of the Forum
    Array
    KristineS's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Traverse City, MI
    Posts
    4,734
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Pack-Secure View Post
    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.

  8. #8
    Queen of the Forum
    Array
    KristineS's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Traverse City, MI
    Posts
    4,734
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by billbenson View Post
    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.

  9. #9
    Queen of the Forum
    Array
    KristineS's Avatar

    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Traverse City, MI
    Posts
    4,734
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jimr451 View Post
    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.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Array
    MostHeather's Avatar

    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Northeast Ohio
    Posts
    172

    Default

    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!

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •