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On The Table Read, “the best creativity magazine in the UK“, discover the dos and don’ts of a successful e-Commerce website, from security and SEO to choice fatigue and overpromising.

Gone are the days of your hobby being just that – a hobby. You’ve thought hard and have decided it might be the time you’ve turned it into a business, or rather, an online shop. Your creativity speaks volumes, and your products truly are one-of-a-kind. Still, that might not be enough. You could have the best products out there, but if you fail to acknowledge the dos and don’t of a successful e-commerce website, your ideas could fall victim to inadequate practices.

A miniature shopping cart on a pink surface next to a laptop.
Photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/silver-shopping-cart-on-pink-surface-6214452/

With that in mind, let us discuss what could make or break your online shop.

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Grounding the Dos and Don’ts of a Successful E-commerce Website

Before delving into both, let us briefly ground them into three distinct categories. Both best practices and ill-advised ones will typically hinge on at least one of the following:

  • What do customers want? Any business’s primary pursuit should invariably be to benefit its customers. Identifying what satisfies and displeases them and adjusting accordingly always holds immense value.
  • What does Google want? Similarly, Google algorithms need to be pleased as well. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)-adjacent practices will help ensure continued digital growth.
  • How does your business benefit? Finally, there are business-specific practices, such as planning, resource allocation, testing, and more, that one must account for as well.

So, the following dos and don’ts of a successful e-Commerce website will seek to cater to at least one of those categories.

Building a Successful E-commerce Website: The Dos

With those in mind, we may now delve into specifics. First, let us cover five imperative practices that will help ensure success.

#1 Ensure Security

As with all industries, e-Commerce websites reap massive benefits from outstanding security. There are ample reasons for this across all three of the above – so bolstering your security should always come first. Should you need to hire someone to take care of the security of your e-Commerce website, the market thankfully delivers with many professionals in the field.

For one, the inherent personal benefit of security comes with a lesser risk of malicious attacks, data breaches, and more. Customers also value it very highly, as it inspires shopping confidence in them, thus allowing more of your outstanding, creative products to reach them. Finally, Google values it, too; it’s both an SEO ranking factor and a Page Experience signal:

#2 Prioritize Mobile Users

On the subject of Page Experience and SEO, it’s equally notable that Google heavily emphasizes mobile-friendliness. It has already been indexing mobile versions of websites first since 2018, and adhering to this can only benefit websites.

That said, there are also other notable benefits to prioritizing mobile users. For one, mobile-first website designs offer more responsiveness and easier navigation, enhancing user experience. After all, it’s much easier to design for mobile and then adjust to desktop than vice-versa. Second, mobile traffic already surpasses desktop traffic, according to Statista. This trend will likely continue in the following years, so catering to this customer segment should be on your list.

#3 Leverage Social Proof

Those universal practices aside, let us delve into the dos of a successful e-Commerce website specifically – starting with social proof. Across all industries, studies show that social proof pays off if leveraged correctly.

For e-Commerce, the primary vehicle for social proof lies in plain reviews. Much like book reviews, for instance, reviews of your website reassure existing and potential customers, help cultivate trust and ultimately incite purchases. Reviews effectively serve as endorsements by other customers, not marketing pitches of questionable honesty. So, prominently featuring reviews on your product pages can offer massive benefits with minimal effort.

#4 List Your Products Clearly

Regarding product pages, it is equally important to list your products as clearly as possible. Customers value transparency and clarity, especially in recent years.

In this regard, you may first give every single one of your creative products clear titles, descriptions, and specifications. Whether it’s e-books, digital art, crafts, or something else entirely that you’re selling, make sure to attach photos, too. A visual representation of what something looks like will help customers feel comfortable with making a purchase.

You’ll also want to examine and de-clutter your language as needed to keep everything highly readable and concise. Finally, remember to use your keywords if you can do so organically. This will help human visitors and appease search engines, ultimately creating a successful e-Commerce website.

#5 Shorten and Clarify the Checkout Process

Finally, regarding the checkout process itself, one cannot overstate the need for a short and crystal-clear checkout process. For e-Commerce, lengthy processes and hidden fees are still the primary reason for cart abandonment, according to Sleeknote.

A graph on reasons for cart abandonments during checkout by Sleeknote
To minimize your website’s cart abandonment, make the checkout process as simple and transparent as possible. Source: https://n7nqziuw1z4b1r6k2adhav10-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Reasons-for-Abandonments-During-Checkout.jpg

To address this factor, you may first consider offering free shipping wherever possible. This alone will help keep costs clear from the start and assure customers you’re being transparent. In turn, you may shorten your checkout steps as much as makes sense for your business and entertain visitor purchases. In combination, such steps will substantially reduce cart abandonment rates and satisfy your customers in the process.

Building a Successful e-Commerce website: the Don’ts

With the main dos out of the way, we may next cover the don’ts of a successful e-Commerce website. While the dos above seek to satisfy customers and search engines, the don’ts seek to maintain favor with both.

#1 Don’t Overwhelm your Visitors with Choices

First and foremost, as this oversight remains all too common, remember to avoid eCommerce choice fatigue at all costs. Providing your customers with choices is, by all means, desirable, but overwhelming them very often has visible adverse effects.

To do so, you may start by minimizing your Calls to Action (CTAs) on each page. Especially for landing pages outside of your main website, you may opt for laser-focused CTAs with little clutter. Regarding product pages, too, you may examine your available courses of action and limit them as needed. You may even extend to search filters with some due care; too many filters may discourage visitors.

#2 Don’t Neglect SEO and Social Media

Moreover, it’s crucial to integrate SEO and social media into your marketing campaigns. Both will ultimately satisfy your customers more and expand your reach, while SEO will also appease search engines. Should you need a starting point for the latter, you may find our SEO checklist of use.

Regarding SEO, you may start with organically adding your keywords in titles and descriptions, as we covered above, and optimizing visuals – as we’ll cover next. Should your website offer additional content, you may also expand such practices to it to help fine-tune your customer journey. Similarly, you may strengthen your social media presence to enhance your lead generation and acquisition rates – and build social proof to leverage in the process. Furthermore, you may want to take your marketing to Instagram – it’s proven to be quite a powerful tool as far as the selling part goes.

#3 Don’t Overdo it With Unoptimized Visuals

On the matter of visuals, ample don’ts of a successful e-Commerce website can fit into this front. The two main ones are, without a doubt, overdoing it and not optimizing them.

As regards the latter, remember that slow speeds increase bounce rates, according to Google’s research:

You may begin by compressing your images to under 100kB to help ensure fast loading speeds. As you do, you may add your keywords to their titles and descriptions for more SEO benefits. Finally, setting their dimensions will help ensure visual stability and enhance your Page Experience.

As regards overdoing it with visuals, this too deserves mention. Indeed, strategic, valuable visuals can enhance the user experience. However, sporadic, misplaced, or irrelevant stock images may actually diminish it. For example, visuals near CTAs can distract visitors and effectively cost you final sales. Should your business software tools include heat maps, you may employ them to identify such issues early.

#4 Never Overpromise and Underdeliver

You may also consider avoiding such general practices as overpromising and underdelivering. As naturally as this might occur, it can still irreparably damage customer trust and hamper your website’s success.

The inverse certainly holds value; you may underpromise and then overdeliver, pleasantly surprising your customers. This is a relatively common tactic that does pay off, despite some basic risks. However, customers don’t take lightly to unmet expectations. To address this, you may simply avoid making promises you’re not entirely sure you can deliver on. Should you otherwise offer an excellent customer experience, you won’t have to.

#5 Never Forget to Test and Optimize

Finally, as with all industries, e-Commerce benefits immensely from continuous testing and optimizations. What worked in the past may not work in the future, and unyielding testing will ensure you adapt swiftly.

A/B testing, Google Analytics insights, heat maps, CRM analytics, and more such tools can all help reveal the optimal route for your website. Your niche and focus or your most valuable customer segments may require unique approaches that general-use guides won’t cover. What works for your competitors may not work for you. Ultimately, your insights and tests should inform your course and optimizations – so test, test, test.

Conclusion

In brief, building a successful e-Commerce website hinges on satisfying your customers and search engines alike. It requires considerable effort, a keen eye for detail, and strategic use of your resources and insights. It spans across SEO and social media and requires consistent testing and swift, decisive optimizations. However, the effort is well worth it – and, hopefully, the above dos and don’ts helped make this lengthy process just a bit clearer.

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