Website design for Ecommerce is completely different than design for web sites that only offer information or perhaps a personal website. While design theories and designers abound, it is imperative to choose a designer that specializes in ecommerce web site design - your site must SELL to justify the expenses of online commerce.
There are four (4) crucial components to profitable ecommerce web site design:
- Choosing the right design (layout, color scheme, navigation, etc.) for your industry or market.
- Contructing the site & chosen design with search engine friendly code & cross-browser compatibility.
- Making sure the site contains the right information, images, prices and "flow" to enable sales.
- Make sure to keep it fresh, up to date, and listen to customer feedback.
Now, let's briefly look at each of these points in closer detail:
Choosing the Right Design
Because our clients (and future clients) have such a wide array of needs when it comes to corporate image, web site design and interactive online features, MerchandiZer.com is proud to announce our support of the TemplateMonster.com Website Template Program. Our participation in this program not only supports the excellent designers on the Internet, but allows you the greatest choice of templates for your site with our expert customization and optimization skills.
featured web site design templates
Organized by feature and by industry, you can easily enter our template storefront and explore the wonderful options available to your company. Although we do not recommend purchasing and using any template "as is" (mainly to avoid the "canned website" feel), we do advocate selecting three or four strong candidates for discussion with our ecommerce website design specialists. For a very reasonable investment, a template of your choice can be customized, optimized and deployed in an efficient turn around time.
When selecting any template to work from or, gaining inspiration for a truly custom website design from a variety of templates or your own ideas, it is important to keep in mind that some colors have different impacts on consumers, and some designs are more appropriate to certain industries than others.
Basic rules of thumb: consumers are most comfortable on a website that is error free, loads quickly, has consistent and logical navigation features and isn't offensive or "visually assaulting" with loud, harsh colors, stripes or puzzling patters. Generally, menus appear vertically on left side of the page, and horizontally along the top and/or bottom of the page. While it's ok to "think outside the box" on your design, don't get crazy with a site that you want lots of consumers to purchase on, save your "break away" ideas for a personal gallery or website.
Browse Free Online Design Collection
Search Engine Friendly Coding
No matter which design you choose or create, there's always a right and a wrong way to build it. If you understand that websites have "DNA" just like we do (you can right click on this page and select "View Source" right now to see the "DNA" of this page), then you understand the relationship between website code and the web "page" itself as people see it.
The same webpage can be designed with sloppy, excessive code that can be designed by a knowledgable design er using clean, efficient code. Download a good HTML editor like NoteTab Pro to view source on the following example pages:
Code Sample A - this is the test page for sloppy code
Code Sample A is not optimal, yet renders the page just fine in most browsers. People may view this page or site just fine but search engines may turn their nose up at it. It is common to produce such a site (a site full of "bulky" code) using only WYSIWYG editors like Frontpage and even Dreamweaver can turn out excessive code if you don't go in and clean up by hand using a good HTML editor.
Code Sample B - this is the test page for clean code
Code Sample B is optimal (not SEO optimized but optimal in regards to the code). This page may have been generated using a WYSIWYG interface, but has been cleaned by hand to run "lean" on the server.
* Keep in mind also, there are MANY levels of what different developers consider clean code. Some developers are absolutely maniacle about it while others could care less, and that's not even mentioning BOBBY compliant code, code that have passed W3C validation, etc...for our purposes here, when we say "clean code" we mean most of the "decoration" code is off the page, neatly included via external cascading style sheets or CSS.
If you look at each page in your browser, and then at each page's "DNA" (on Windows machines in Microsoft Internet Explorer just right click and choose "View Source"), you can plainly see why search engine spiders & bots prefer clean code, it is simply less data for them to chew through. When you have to crawl the entire Internet, websites with clean code become "tasty treats" for spiders. Even though the pages look identical to you, the better site is the site with clean code.
So when choosing a designer, know what to look for. Also, be aware that very few online development professionals are really good in all areas of development. Most developers specialize in one area of website development or another, like a legal team or surgeon (you wouldn't hire an optimologist to do heart surgery, would you?). Some individuals are really excellent at designing logos and artwork, but may really struggle with programming interactive features. Other developers may really know database programming like their own backyard but be completely clueless when it comes to making a website appeal to consumers. Know ahead of time that you are most likely going to need a cohesive team of professionals working together to make your site a reality, and above all, don't hire your developer(s) based on cost. When choosing a designer, programmer, SEO or other online development professional, check his or her references, call their current and past client and truly look at their work.
The myth that it is cheaper and/or easier to develop an online company than a brick & mortar company is a MYTH - so be prepared to give full priority to your developer and get a good job the first time (it is much more expensive to pay a cheap developer and then have to hire people to fix that person's work after you've lost sales). If you're still not sure what to look for, give us a call and we'll be happy to give you a free analysis on a few pieces of work from the designer or developer you're considering (and we won't try to sell you our services, guaranteed).
Connecting With Your Consumers
Lastly, make SURE your consumers like what you've done with the place. A great way to do this is to employ feedback questionaires and/or polls on the site or attached in some way to the "thanks for your purchase" email.
Dynamic Changes for a Dynamic Market Place
Lastly, updates are king. Make sure your developer has a good grasp on both static or flat web page coding techniques (this is normally plain HTML) and dynamic data pages that interface with your database (common types of dynamic pages are PHP, ASP, JSP, and others).
If you would like more information on anything discussed here or if you are ready to contact our web design department to get your own site started, chat live with a website design specialist or request a callback from our website development director.