Guide

Common e-commerce pitfalls

E-commerce pitfalls - design and usability concerns

One of the key factors in the success of your e-commerce site will be how easy it is to use. Make sure you consider these important issues.

Don't over-design the site

Use effective, simple design:

  • Create a common theme of colours, fonts, graphics and page layouts. This can be achieved without the need for spectacular graphics.
  • Keep the screen uncluttered - make good use of space. Only use effects that add value for the user.

Consider download speeds

Avoid slowing your site down:

  • Download times are key - users expect pages to load in less than two seconds. The slower the load time, the less completed sales you can expect. If your site is running slowly, consider upgrading it.
  • Remove large images, graphics or animation from key pages, if download speeds are slow.

Support multiple browsers

Check your site will work across various browsers:

  • Design web pages that can be displayed by different browsers. The more common browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Opera and Safari.
  • Test your web pages with different browsers to ensure they display properly.

Be mobile-friendly

More than half of online traffic come from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Make sure your site works on mobile:

  • Designing a responsive site or separate mobile version ensures your customers can easily navigate and use your site on mobile devices. See designing for the mobile web.
  • Mobile-friendliness also impacts on how search engines rank your site. Check for any issues with Google’s mobile-friendly test

Don't underestimate the importance of usability

User experience is key to good website design: 

  • Ensure navigation buttons are clearly presented and the words or images behind these links are clear, concise and relevant to the information they are leading to.
  • Include a site map and a search facility to help users locate the required information.
  • Take account of the 'three-click rule' so users starting at your home page can get to the required information in three mouse clicks.

Get feedback on usability

Many e-commerce operators don't get usability feedback from anyone beyond the development team. Consider getting an outside perspective - employees not involved in the design, a focus group, or your spouses or friends. This can be crucial to the site's development and performance.

Ensure you get feedback before the full launch of the site. Once it is launched any problems will be highly visible to both your customers and competitors.