Top 5 mistakes in ecommerce design

Sorry about the lack of posts. I am going to try and write a bunch of articles myself about web design and different tools available on the web.

1. Splash Page

A splash page is the landing page of your site where it has a flash animation or just text that says “Enter”. A simple google search will show you tons of articles about why you shouldn’t have a splash page. There are two main reasons why a splash page sucks, it annoys customers and it is bad SEO.

Why does it annoy customers?
It’s basically another step users have to go through to get to the website they actually want to go to. They don’t want to watch your intro every time they go to your site. If you annoy a user enough they will just leave your site.

Why is it bad SEO?
Your landing page will probably have your highest page rank so having little content like text that says enter or an intro video will do little to get you hits from search engines.

Here is some more info

2. Header is to big

There is a term called “above the fold” which they use in the newspaper industry. It refers to the location of an important news story or a visually appealing photograph on the upper half of the front page of a newspaper. Most papers are delivered and displayed to customers folded up, meaning that only the top half of the front page is visible. Thus, an item that is “above the fold” may be one that the editors feel will entice people to buy the paper.

In web design we use a similar term called above the scroll. This refers to all the information the user can see without scrolling down. You want to use this area for your important content. When you have a huge header it makes the user scroll down every page to get to the content they are looking for. Use your space wisely and make sure your important content is above the scroll.

3. Product pictures are too small.

There are a lot of e-commerce systems out there and default themes for shops that make the product pics so small. If you are selling a shirt the images are more important than your description and should take up most of the space on the product page. Make your product pics big!

4. Typography

There are tons of problems I see with typography on the web but I am just going to comment on readability. Your text must be easy to read if you want someone to read it. One problem I see a lot is the text color doesn’t have enough contrast with the background. By the way the most readable text is black text on a white background. I have left many sites that have white text on a black background because it hurt my eyes after a while. If you only have a couple lines of text its not a big deal.

Another readability issue I see is there are too many characters on a line. According to a classic rule of Web typography, 55 to 75 is an optimal number of characters per line. Research done on smashing magazine showed that the average on websites is 88.74 characters per line (maximum). Having too many characters makes the user forget what line they are one when they go to the next line of type. If you have a 900px website and your content goes all the way across the 900px this text is going to be hard to read. Have a sidebar or break up your text into 2 columns.

There are tons more typography rules for the web in this article.

5. Music auto playing on site

Don’t do it! I have left so many websites and never returned because I couldn’t figure out where to turn off the music. Don’t annoy the customer and make them listen to something they don’t want to. If you want music make it so the user has to click the play button.

Thanks for reading my article I do web design for clothing companies at Double Dragon Studios and if you need any work done check out our site and fill out a our contact form.

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  • Jeff Sartain

    Good article…I feel that with the industry we are dealing with here (clothing) that another thing should be mentioned since I see it so much.


    That kills SEO, and they usually have too much going on…slideshows, music etc.

    If you want to populate on the search engines, use HTML.

    I know very large brands will use flash, but guess what? They have enough traffic and money put into other avenues that it doesn't matter, they will rank.

  • Steve

    Great advice! Particularly the “splash page” I can't stand it!

  • jonkruse

    I agree all flash websites usually are bad with too much going on and kills SEO. I have been using slideshowpro which is a flash slideshow just because it is so easy for the client to update their slideshow. I have seen slide deck also which looks promising but the price tag is pretty high $300 or something like that.

  • Jeff Sartain

    A better route, would be to implement a JQuery slideshow. And eliminating flash altogether. If using JQuery you can add HTML into the slideshow itself, only helping the SEO. Might be slightly more difficult if you have not used JQuery before, but will be just as easy to update. Best part is, they are free!

  • jonkruse

    I really need something that requires very little work at all from the client. Like I said slide deck looks good but the price tag is pretty high. With slide show pro users just have to upload pics to a gallery and everything else is done for them when i set it up. I know I should be using jquery but for right now I am going to stick with slide show pro.

  • Budionohey

    you right dude!

  • BeneathRejection

    Great article, seems simple enough but these are all things that p*** me off when I visit a webpage and make me never come back.
    Hit the nail on the head.

  • Hammy Havoc

    What amazes me is how many people still make these mistakes. As somebody primarily in web development, you would be amazed at how often these things are requested.

  • Marjoriescloset

    Hello there, 

    I was told many things about my banner. On my old blogspot website it was too big. 

    On my new wordpress site, I did manage to ask the graphic designer to reduce the size. The issue is that I have an annoying blank space left on top of my banner. 

    My graphic designer is too busy to fix it. Perhaps you can tell me how I can fix that… Other than that GREAT POST !!!

    Bisou de Montreal, 

    Marjorie xo

  • Stephane

    How about silverlight?

  • Stephane

    Keep up the good work

  • oddattributes

    Great article. Everything you pointed out, are things that have annoyed me when visiting website. ESPECIALLY the music. Super annoying. Also, I think displaying all of your products on the home page, as “featured products” should have been included. It’s pointless. Some web stores have designs like it, it annoys me because if defeats the purpose of the “shop” tab.

  • http://TechGadgetsRepair.Com/ Nico

    Great article, these are some very simple techniques to keep your visitors from bouncing away from your page. Most of these things are a nuisance in general and keep possible customers from purchasing. I completely agree with all these mistakes, I also believe that the quality of pictures on your site can make or break you as well. A white sheet and a couple of edited photos is not going to cut it, if you display your product in a unique but simple way you have a better chance of selling that product.

    Group shots is another way to avoid an oversized header, you can have a collaboration of shots that you have taken of people in your clothing at events or having fun in general. People want something to relate to if you show them how your clothing relates to them they have more of a chance of buying.

    Music is a big one, if you insist on putting music on your clothing site (don’t know why you would) but if you insist create a playlist page or widget where users control the media. There’s nothing more annoying then blaring music as soon as you hit the webpage.

    Another huge one for me is the amount of clutter on the sidebar. If your sidebar is cluttered with advertisements and your an e-commerce site this may stray people away. Blogs make good use of utilizing a diverse and plentiful sidebars, but e-commerce sites do better when the widgets help the users make purchases. Such as related items, hot sellers, and new and trending. You can also filter your shop by price, category, and season. This will also greatly impact the user experience by not having to browse 50 pages to find an item. Keep pages simple and descriptions even simpler. People simply do not like to read, keep the description to exactly what it should be a description. The customer can see the product no need to elaborate more than materials used, washing instructions, and telling them that this product might be pre-order only.

    These are the changes that I made to my site with much success and it has greatly improved my bounce rate as well as my visitors total page views. This tells me that users are now spending more time on my website which means more opportunity to sell as well as people are finding the site easy to navigate.

    Again great article I just wanted to add my two cents on a few other things that may draw potential sales away from your new site. Hope this helps!