5 Common Mistakes In E-Commerce Design

1) Use of color

Color usage can be of great importance for the usability of a online shop. First of all, colors are necessary to create a sense of hierarchy. Important items or titles can be highlighted to grab the visitor’s attention. Strong, vibrant colors can guide your visitors through your website and lead them to certain products.

There is also a psychological meaning behind colors. They are linked to certain feelings and situations. Red is the color of heat, rage and danger while green is linked to nature, growth and safety. Because of this psychological background it’s important to consider the meaning of colors whilst designing a website. This information might be useful when you’re creating banners, buttons or illustrations.

If you want to learn more about the usage of colors in web design, read this interesting article on Smashing Magazine.

2) The checkout process

One of the most important aspects of an e-commerce website is the checkout process. In the end you want your visitors to buy your products. Every inconvenience can disrupt this process which can lose you customers. That’s why it’s important to design a linear checkout process. Once the customer decides to checkout, there can’t be any distractions. Keep the checkout simple and to the point. Don’t let your customer visit any other pages that can potentially disrupt his/her purchase.

Don’t forget to include guest accounts. In this case the customer doesn’t need a time-consuming registration. There’s nothing more annoying than fulling in a huge form with useless information. Just ask the bare essentials such as payment details and shipping address.

3) Product page design

Product pages are the backbone of e-commerce. This is where you display your products and try to convince your customers. There are some key elements that can make or break a good product page:

  • Photos: customers pay a lot of attention to product photos. Add several photos from different perspectives and show some close-ups of product details.
  • Product description: a basic description is sufficient for most customers. Potential buyers on the other hand will want to see more product information. Show a full product description and specifications on demand.
  • Related products: consumers usually create a consideration set when they are shopping. This is a set of products that they consider buying. Help your customers with this process by showing related products. This will not only increase your sales figures but also increase your customer satisfaction.

There’s an interesting article about product page design on SixRevisions, with a more detailed discussion of this topic.

4) Contact

One of the biggest disadvantages of online shops is the absence of physical contact. That’s why a lot of shoppers don’t trust online shopping. In order to overcome this problem you have to convince your clients that a real company is behind the webshop. Add a physical address to the website, preferably via Google Maps. Be transparent about your contact information and don’t try to hide it. A great place for you telephone number, e-mail and social media links is the top right corner of your website.

5) Information architecture

As I’ve mentioned before; the hierarchy of an e-commerce website is vital to it’s usability. A lot of online shops have an overload of information. They try to cram a lot of information e.g. new products, related products, promotions… onto a single page. Organizing and structuring this information is essential for a good online shopping experience. Think about the most important information and remove everything that’s redundant. Prevent chaos and think about a logical structure and hierarchy for your content.

8 thoughts on “5 Common Mistakes In E-Commerce Design

  1. jason @ mobile website design on said:

    Along with Point 5 it should be an important point that, with the rise of mobile technology, that too many companies do not design for mobile sites

  2. Kvn on said:

    Good point, Jason. At the moment, mobile e-commerce isn’t very popular but I’m sure it will be in the future.

  3. Kenneth Pedersen - Golden Planet on said:

    Thank you for a great article. We’re in the process of researching for some updates to our e-commerce solution and will include your inputs into that process :)

  4. James on said:

    Hi Kevin,

    I’m curious as to what you’re basing some of these statements on as some of them (quality photos for example) seem to be ecommerce101 pure common sense and other things like allowing guest accounts are pretty subjective and there often isn’t a 100% right or wrong way of doing things like that.

    I was just wondering if you were basing feedback/suggestions on particular bits of data etc as you didn’t mention the post :)


  5. Kvn on said:

    @James: I wrote a thesis about e-commerce and I had lessons about e-commerce design in my university from people in the field.

  6. alex@freshpage web design on said:

    I think search engine optimization is the most important consideration. The key to online shops is getting product pages appearing for very specific search queries for example “duck shaped toilet roll holder”. If this is got right then it’s amazing how much traffic comes through product pages rather than through the homepage!

  7. Web Design Florida on said:

    Designing an ecommerce website requires some expertise in website designer, it is not an easy stuff, nice tips for avoiding mistakes while design an ecommerce website, in all this points “The checkout process” and “Product page design” these two are the most important aspects

  8. louis vuitton on said:

    Nice post. Thanks for sharing this post. You remind me of these mistakes. I can avoid when I design web in the future.