Some "must haves" for a good ecommerce website design
Most basic websites are now being converted to ecommerce websites.
Ecommerce website design is slightly more complicated than a simple brochure website design, and the focus of this article is to discuss some of the must-haves of design when designing an ecommerce website. Mature website designers have their own sets of rules by which they develop an ecommerce website. They create this list during years of experience.
Steps we make
A high level of usability is a must for ecommerce website design. Your first question at this stage might be, "What is usability?"
An ecommerce website design must provide for a high level of ease so that even a five year old could navigate around it. Users are likely to leave an ecommerce site if they find it difficult or unpleasant to use, and thus all website design must be simple and direct.
Detailed product information is another important area to consider for ecommerce website design. The ecommerce website design should have the ability to display all the information about the products in an easy-to-find way.
The website design for ecommerce sites should also provide enough space and pop-up windows with close-up images of products so that online buyers can get a good idea of what the product is.
Seamless integration with various systems such as payment gateway system, the shipping and handling company and user’s account is also important to ensure that the ecommerce website design is of the highest standard, and that the ecommerce website manages to attract buyers.
Though there might be a cost involved in integrating with third party components, it is advisable the ecommerce website design accommodates them from the start.
Ecommerce website design should also be an uncluttered design.
Any graphic object which does not serve a practical purpose should not be present in the ecommerce website design. The designer must keep in mind that ecommerce website design is serious business and there is no room for any kind of fluff on such a website.
Though this sounds easy to achieve, you will be surprise to notice that many ecommerce website design have cluttered interfaces which can be detrimental to their main objective of selling online.
Scripts for your website: How to choose them
What’s a script?
A script is the application that handles information in our site so that our visitors interact with our pages. We use scripts to manage a forum, a news system, a blog or any other web element. One of the biggest collection of scripts on the web is Hotscripts, where we can find free and paid applications.
Looking for a script
For example, if we need to add news to our website, we'll try to find one with a dynamic interface. We must get one that fulfils this function and that is flexible enough to fit our needs. Most of the scripts we'll find are in PHP, some others in ASP. It may also need to use databases to work, so we have to know the application requirements and our hosting resources. We cannot install a script if it’s not compatible, and we would have wasted our time if we find it out at the last minute. Also, we should be able to adapt our server at least to make some basic changes for the script to run smoothly.
Choosing an application
For the basic functions for our site, there are many options to choose from. Forums, chats, guest books, polls, everything can be found on the net. Remember that a paid script doesn't necessarily guarantee it's good. When we find a script we want, it's important that we check if the site has a demo to see that it is exactly what we're looking for. It's also important that the site has a troubleshooting section or forum, as no system is completely flawless and we may require help when we encounter any problem.
Usually to make downloading faster, scripts come zipped in files .zip, .rar, .tar and .tar-gz, but there are also other compression systems. To unpack them, we must have certain programs like Winzip, Winrar or Gzip. Winrar unpacks most of these files and runs them in Windows. Gzip opens .tar and .tar-gz and runs under Linux.
Scripts for your website: How to install them
Now that we have downloaded and unpacked our script, we need to find the installation instructions. Generally they come in a Readme file or a doc(s) folder. We should read all steps very carefully, because many of us have taken less time than necessary when we think we know it all, only to find out we've messed it all up.
If we don't understand some definitions or procedures, we do not have enough knowledge to start the installation process. We'll have to do some research first. We should visit the site and look around in the forums, some problems encountered by previous users might give us an idea of what we might find. It's a good thing to learn from others' mistakes. We should ask for advice if we need to, a silly question is better than a stupid mistake.
When we're working on a Linux platform, a common installation mistake is not taking care of CHMOD permissions for our files. These privileges allow the programs to run properly, as they configure the access to them. When setting up web pages, the main thing you'll be concerned with is making sure people can read the file while not letting them overwrite it. There may be some things that you don't want people to have access to. CHMOD permissions are a combination of three numbers and represent the different access levels, ranging from 777 (anyone can write, run, and see the application) to 400(only the administrator can read it). CHMOD command can be run from a FTP client or sometimes via web on some types of hosting. If you don't have an ftp client, a good one is SmartFTP.
Running the install script
Once we don't have any questions about it, let's proceed to the installation. Generally there is an installation file that configures the system so that the script can work on the server. If we have a good script, have followed instructions correctly and have good hosting, we have succeeded.
Sometimes a script we have chosen is forbidden in our hosting. This is due to security problems similar scripts have generated. We must know this so that we do not infringe our Terms Of Service from the hosting company, and waste time installing and uninstalling the software. A good piece of advice is to find out what others say about our chosen script in security aspects.
We know that behind an application there is a programmer or a team of programmers who made it possible. If, apart form this, you didn't have to pay for it, the least you can do is to say thanks. On the script website there should be a space for comments or a forum. Saying thanks won't cost you a dime!