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10 Elements An Online Shopping Website Should Never Ignore

By Eva Barnes , Sep 22 2016
Online Shopping Website

Are you an entrepreneur trying to set up an online store, but don’t know what information to include? We realize that online stores are more complicated than a blog or personal website. You need to factor in functionality, payment methods, product categorization and really think about how the customer interacts with the website.

Interaction design, in particular, requires more attention. Check out web design tips for small businesses to learn ecommerce interaction design best practices.

Rise of Global Ecommerce

Pretty visuals are good but they won’t help your bottom line if the website doesn’t function properly. Here is a handy list of 10 essential ecommerce elements that form the crux of any profitable online store.

1. Clean And Simple Navigational Menu

This is probably the most important element of any ecommerce site. An organized menu guides your customers and helps them find the products they want. A neat and clean menu doesn’t mean a simple design, but also neat information display. When it comes to design, stay away from excessive icons, textures, fancy fonts, and gradients. Use solid colors, legible fonts, and take a minimalistic approach to menu design.


Nordstrom’s menu is a great example of clean design and a well-organized information hierarchy. Each menu option displays the related categories. The customer can easily find whatever they are looking for.


Displaying all product categories is also a good method, depending on the kind of product you offer. For example, Telegramme Paper Co. displays all card categories that also act as filters for the product grid. This is useful if you don’t want to place accordion style menus on the top.


Avoid confusing design choices, for example Factory 43, an otherwise excellent site, has a confusing navigational menu. The drop-down menu shifts the entire product listing down, and you can’t tell which drop-down is active once you click on one.

Factory 43
Factory 43

Ecommerce navigation should be clear, so we suggest you try to avoid icons. If you want to include them, use ones that clearly convey the meaning and definitely add the text.

2. Prominent Search Box

A search feature is necessary for any ecommerce website so your visitors won’t have to waste time browsing product pages. Online shoppers expect to find products in minimal time with minimal effort. Plus, customers that have a targeted purchase in mind are more likely to convert, so pay attention to search box design and placement. Also integrate auto-complete features into the search feature to make searching faster and easier.

Some brands even shift away focus from the main navigation menu and their logo to focus on the search box. Look at the clothing brand, Look Human’s website menu before and after clicking on the “Search” icon.

look human

look human

If you think this is a little too extreme, follow this example from Best Made Co



3. Featured Products

Display the best products you have to offer in a dedicated “Featured Products” or “Favorite Products” section. This section can also serve as a place to display latest products. This element can be placed on the landing page or at the top of the product page.

A kid’s stationery and candy store, Blippo highlights their favorite items  as shown below:


You can also incorporate this into your search filters like the So Worth Loving website does.


4. Show Related Products

A panel showing items that are related to the current item being viewed is helpful for boosting average sales per transaction. The specific criteria or formula used to define this connection depends on what you are selling.

For example, Amazon displays “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” panels. If you haven’t made any sales yet, try “Customers Who Viewed This Item Aslo Viewed” or something similar.

This is also a way to boost sales and show complementary products. For example, show customers what products tend to be purchased together, other items from the same category, a newer version of the product, etc.

Frequently Bought Together

5. Customer Registration And Login Feature

Allowing customers to register will save them time when it comes to repeat purchases, they won’t have to re-enter their payment information, shipping address, and any other personal information. This element also gives your business a chance to remain in touch with customers even after their buying journey ends. You can also include an option to subscribe to a monthly newsletter and create a powerful email marketing campaign.



6. User Feedback/ Review Panel

Display customer reviews below the fold of each product detail page. This acts as social proof and provides new visitors an objective way to judge the value of what you are selling.

Traditionally customer reviews are displayed at the end of the product detail page. The Cardinal Case website moves away from the standard review display method.


This works great if you want to display snippets of reviews, however link to the full review as well if you do this. Small business owners will find this handy because most people who make purchases usually leave a one-line review. We also liked the text-message style of the display, it makes it look more interactive. Don’t edit the words because no one want the seller misrepresenting their views.

7. Social Media Logos

This pretty much a no-brainer since social media has become a powerful marketing channel. A significant social media presence is necessary for any ecommerce business. A majority of customers these days will look for social proof before buying from a business, on an ecommerce website. Add social media icons and links so that customers can quickly communicate with your business. At the minimum, you need to include Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. If your marketing strategy is heavily focused on visuals, Instagram, and Pinterest can also help you reach more customers.

Social media icons should ideally be displayed somewhere above the fold. Try to use contrasting colors to make them stand out from the rest of the design elements. Tessemae’s website is a good example of this.


Social media icons are as important as your official business address; definitely add them to the footer section of the website  as well.

8. Mobile-Friendly And Responsive

Ecommerce trend reports show that shopping via smartphones is on the rise. Shoppers are also using multiple devices across a single buying journey. This means ecommerce businesses need to ensure that their online stores are optimized for mobile devices.

The 6 Most Important Things Online Shoppers want

Test out your website and check how it looks and works on a smartphone and tablet. Online store builders such as Shopify and Woocommerce usually have mobile-friendly store templates, but test them out to make sure your customizations didn’t create any design issues.

If you want to run a quick responsiveness check use the Google Webmasters Mobile-Friendly Test tool. We tested out the Ratio website and got these results:

This is the page on a standard laptop screen:


This is how the Google Mobile-Friendly Test showed rated it:

Google Mobile Friendly
Google Mobile-Friendly

9. Stunning Images And Crisp Graphic

The adage, show don’t tell, applies to all online stores. In a physical store, customers can see the product they are buying and make a decision based on direct observation, but online stores don’t have that level of interactivity. This can be mitigated by displaying professional images on your product pages. Add pictures taken from different angles, zoom-in capability, and well-designed graphics to increase your sales.




10. Standard Payment System And Security

It’s important to let your customers know their personal and payment information is secure. Make sure you use standard payment systems and communicate this to the customer by displaying icons and logos. Any site without these options always makes the customer think twice before placing orders. Your goal is to minimize risks for customers.

These are just the ten basic elements, if you are interested in learning more, leave a comment and we will create a more advanced list. Ecommerce is a booming industry and there is plenty of space for all kinds of products and services. Stick to this advice given here and you will be juggling tons of orders soon.

About The Author

Eva is a marketing major with a keen interest in web design. She is also an explorer and loves to dig into web trends from mobile apps to visual communication and everything in between. Feel free to send her your web design queries or blog related feedback in the comments below.

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