Ecommerce Web Design: Common Mistakes You Must Avoid

Ecommerce web design is becoming increasingly important for the success of an online store. Now that customers are shopping on a multitude of devices wherever they may be, there’s simply no excuse for a poor ecommerce web design that lacks features customers not only require, but have come to expect from any business.

Customers are not concerned about how big your brand is, and how much you can spend on keeping up with ecommerce web design trends and functionality. Customers want to easily and quickly find and purchase the products they want. If your ecommerce web design allows for this, then it’s a win-win for both the business and the customer.

But time and time again, brands are missing out on vital ecommerce web design features that can improve the shopping experience, and in turn convince customers to spend their money elsewhere. So what exactly are the common mistakes ecommerce stores are making, and how can you avoid making these same mistakes?

Amazon ecommerce web design

Short and generic product descriptions

Brick-and-mortar stores allow for customers to see the product in real life, and learn more details from the in-store staff. That’s what ecommerce cannot directly provide. And so, it’s pretty important that you provide descriptive product descriptions that answer any queries a customer may have before they hit the purchase button. Customers need some form of product experience, and familiarise themselves with what it is they’re considering buying.

However, many ecommerce websites out there don’t make the space for detailed product descriptions, and can damage the SEO of product pages as there is simply not enough information for Google to rank it highly.

Another common mistake is ecommerce stores using generic product descriptions they have copied from the manufacturer or elsewhere. If you want your product to be found organically on Google, then it is very important to come up with your own unique content for Google to crawl and index.

Overall, short or generic product descriptions generally make it difficult for customers to differentiate your store from the competition, whilst search engines also see little reason to rank your product highly.

What you need to do, is write your own product descriptions, or hire someone to do it for you. At the very least, create unique writing for the most important lines in the description, and then provide all the other details a customer may need.

Not opting for a responsive web design

It’s official: visits to ecommerce websites via mobile devices account for 45% of all UK ecommerce traffic. So that means having a mobile responsive web design is a no-brainer.

Many businesses still fail to have a website that loads quickly on mobile devices. If you slow the loading on mobile devices, customers will be hitting the back button and choosing a competitor with a more streamlined web design. Mobile users are the most impatient of all, and want to quickly navigate and shop on the go. In fact, 40% of customers will go to a competitor’s website if they can’t find what they want on your mobile website.

More and more shoppers are using their mobiles to not only research their purchases, but actually convert via their tablet or mobile rather than on their laptop or PC. It’s becoming simpler and faster, and more people are confident to do so. For many people, a tablet or mobile has become their sole device for browsing the web, and have long ago rid themselves of their more cumbersome PC.

Page sizes and content should load quickly, including any images, text, or buttons. The design should have content in different tabs if necessary, ensuring all important information is viewable on a small screen and loads as quickly as possible.

Below you can see how Xanthos built a responsive website for IT Governance, allowing for shopping on whatever sized screen the customer is using:

responsive ecommerce web design example

Inhibiting mobile website features

To make websites more usable on mobile devices, it makes sense to scale down the website. But in the process, many businesses may completely disable certain key features for mobile devices; which can cause frustration and annoyance for the customer, who will ultimately end up not converting.

Any mobile website should be fully functional, rather than accessible in the simplest way. Instead, ensuring the page dynamically alters to show the website in the best way possible can really help encourage mobile users to shop online.

If a customer is using multiple devices during their shopping process, then it will confuse them further. Google have stated that 90% of internet shoppers are using multiple devices; and you will need to cater for their choices in device, whether it’s an Android phone, tablet, iPad, iPhone, PC, or anything else in-between. In the future, no doubt people will be able to shop from wearable tech and smart TVs.

Not being upfront with shipping rates

One of the biggest causes for shopping cart abandonment is that when a customer goes to checkout, they finally see the shipping rates and don’t like what they find.

If you are upfront about this from the start, then you are sure to see a decrease in shopping cart abandonment, as customers will know where they stand, and what you offer.

Increasingly, many ecommerce stores are offering free shipping, and paid options in order for faster shipping times; which at least gives the customer some control and choice about how much they spend and when they want it.

Forcing users to have an account

Whilst there’s nothing wrong with encouraging users to sign-up to on your website, having a guest check-out option can be a very good choice.

If a customer doesn’t want to spend their time created an account, they’re more than likely to abandon the cart and then find a competitor who offers guest check-out options to save them their precious time.

At least offering a guest check-out option is the way to go, and sadly many ecommerce retailers still don’t understand why someone may not want to spend 10 minutes giving away their personal details to purchase a single item.

Lacking related products

When you shop in an actual store, you tend to browse the products within a certain area or range. So why should shopping online not offer this experience?

On ecommeerce stores, displaying related product is the closest thing you can do to provide a similar experience. It offers customers a choice of a range of items, meaning they’re much more likely to find someone they want. Also, related products could display items which complement the one they are buying; which encourages extra sales, and satisfaction for the customer.

Displaying the related products in an enticing web design is also half the battle; as if it is unclear what the related items are, or features poor imagery which does not tempt the customer, then it’s more likely to fall flat.

Peopla also bought web design

Long checkout process

Similarly, making the checkout process unnecessarily long is an easy way to enrage potential customers. If they can’t buy something in a few clicks with a few key pieces of information, then they may be tempted to jump ship.

Ecommerce retailers should ensure that it is as easy as possible for potential customers to convert. Why put unnecessary barriers between entering the site and making a purchase? It simply leaves the customer with more opportunities to leave if it’s overly long and complicated.

What goes into a long checkout process? For a start, think about the necessary information, and remove any fields which are deemed unnecessary. Also, the checkout design itself is a key feature. If it’s across multiple screens with more than the needed clicks, then you may want to reconsider how a customer would navigate the checkout. More clicks and more fields to enter is more effort for a customer. As a rule of thumb, it should not take longer for a customer to purchase an item than it took them to find it in the first place.

Xanthos have implemented a one-page checkout feature for ecommerce sites, which ensures that customers can quickly and efficiently purchase their desired products.

Poor search features

If a customer knows what they want, chances are they will directly search for their desired product within the search feature on the website. If that doesn’t work properly, then you could be missing out on sales. Ensure your search feature works, and it brings up the correct results for any potential keywords.

Variety can be confusing and become an inconvenience, so it’s also important to ensure a user can filter and refine any results they have, and find exactly what they want.

Xanthos has created and implemented our own predictive on-site search feature with instant display on many ecommerce sites, in order to allow customers to find their item as quickly as possible, and have it in their basket in seconds.

Offering few payment options

These days, there are more ways to pay than you probably realise. And that means, customers may be put off if they cannot pay using their preferred choice.

Here at Xanthos, we can implement a range of different payment gateway integrations, including PayPal, Sage Pay, Worldpay, and others.

payment gateway integration

Hidden or unclear contact information

If you do one thing right on an ecommerce store, it’s that you need to have contact information that is not only easily found, but visible at pretty much all times. Wherever a customer is on your website, it’s a great idea for a telephone number, email address, or some form of contact detail to be visible.

Another trick is to not only make your email address clickable for users to quickly open it in their email client, but also to make the telephone number clickable. This is especially useful for customers on mobile devices, as they don’t have to enter the telephone number themselves, and can quickly get in touch.


If you’re looking to enhance your ecommerce website, or get started in selling online, then do not hesitate to get in touch with the experienced team here at Xanthos.