7 Biggest Mistakes in eCommerce Website Design

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I was just asked to review an eCommerce website design that a colleague was in the process of launching. Thankfully, I pointed out the 7 biggest mistakes that were made, preventing them from bringing their revenue to a halt. Read more to make sure you’re not making these mistakes.

1. Not redirecting the old pages to the new site

Forget this step when launching a new website and you could be out of business. I’ve had so many people call me to tell me they just launched a new website and their business just dried up. When I hear this I don’t even have to look, I can guess what happened. The URL’s of the new site are different from the old site and no one took the time to do proper 301 redirects from the old site to the new one. Each and every page needs to be redirected. This is because your customers might have the old pages in their “favorites” in their browser and will get a 404 page not found when you move your site. Also, Google and other search engines already have indexed your site and cataloged inbound links and ranked your pages. If you don’t tell the search engines your page has moved, it’s like starting from zero again. 301 redirects are critical.

2. Not thinking through category pages

Category pages are where most people a likely to land on your site. For example, imagine you’re selling cars and you decide to group your categories by colour. Red cars, blue cars, silver cars, etc. This is completely wrong. No one who’s interested in buying a car searches for cars by colour. Better categories would be “nissans” or “minivans” or “economical cars”, anything that people are likely to search on. This is typically where searchers will land so make these pages count.

3. No consistency in product names and page content.

If your customer has any hope of finding your page about “super blue widgets”, you better make sure the keyword is included in:

  • Page Title
  • <h1> title
  • <h2> subtitle
  • bolded/italic
  • content 2-3 times
  • photo alt tags

4. Dynamic URL’s

Having plain english and relevant URL’s is critical to your pages getting found on search engines. If your URL to any critical page or category has a question mark in it, an equal sign, or any other strange character, you don’t have a static URL. This means your page never has the same address twice. Search engines will not know where to direct people. You must have a static URL with your keywords prominently in the URL structure

5. Poor URL structure

Keywords in your URL are considered a ranking factor in search engines. You should have the keywords as close to the left of the URL as possible. I see URL’s like”


it should be:


6. No policy pages

Not only because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s also because if you ever want to advertise on the Google Shopping Network, then you need to have:

  • A privacy policy
  • A shipping policy
  • A clear returns policy
  • A contact us page – with an address

7. Lack of an SSL

An SSL or Secure Socket Layer tells visitors to your site that it’s secure. It means that your site is verified and it also means that traffic between the browser and the server is secure. You know you are on and SSL secured site when your URL is “https:” instead of “http:”

An eCommerce website design is not a work of art!

Not to be critical of graphic designers (I’m sure they are critical of me when I try to be artistic 🙂 ), but I typically see this when a graphic designers who build websites start building eCommerce websites. eCommerce websites are a different animal! Graphic designers make beautiful looking websites, that’s what they do. You need more of a architect to plan out an eCommerce website. By all means, bring the graphic designers in later to make it look great. With eCommerce websites it’s really much more important what’s going on behind the scenes than what the customer sees when he/she visits.

If you’d like me to take a look at your eCommerce website design, please contact me.

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