The Simple Guide to Ecommerce Website Development (2024)

Ecommerce website development has gained increasing attention in recent years. After all, nearly 15% of all sales now take place online, and the demand for digital shopping is growing all the time. For virtually every business, an online presence is no longer an optional extra, but a necessity.

If customers can’t find your products and services online, they’re more likely to shop elsewhere. That means even the smallest businesses need to consider creating their own ecommerce store.

Fortunately, thanks to the development of hosted platforms and software tools, creating a digital store has never been easier. Here’s your introductory guide to ecommerce website development.

What is Ecommerce Website Development?

Ecommerce website development is the art and science of building, and managing a website capable of facilitating online transactions. It’s similar in a lot of ways to basic web development, and involves the creation of a domain name, pages, and digital content.

The main difference is that you also give customers a way to purchase products from your site.

Web development encompasses all of the aspects of making your store work for customers. It involves everything from the creation of checkout pages to the implementation of payment processing tools.

What are the Top Qualities of a Successful Ecommerce Website?

There’s no one-size-fits-all strategy to developing the perfect ecommerce website or ecommerce business. The right ecommerce solution for your business will depend on a number of factors, from the kind of store you’re running, to the target audience you want to reach.

However, most successful sites do share some common components, such as:

Good Ecommerce website Design

An attractive, professional-looking website can make or break your chances of converting a customer. Today’s consumers are unlikely to trust websites that look as though they’ve been built by an amateur.

Your site should reflect the core identity of your brand, include plenty of attractive images, and be structured in a way that makes sense for your customers. Ensure any template or theme you choose for your site works well on mobile devices too.

Amazing UI/UX

Successful ecommerce websites thrive because they put user experience first. UI/UX design revolves around thinking about how your customers will interact with your website, and removing any frictions from their purchasing journey.

Great user experiences require simple and intuitive navigation, fast-loading website pages, legible copy, and convenient features, like an ecommerce search bar. Web design companies can help you with boosting UI/UX experiences in some cases.

Excellent Security

Although customers are becoming more comfortable with the idea of shopping online, they’re still nervous about which companies they share their personal details with. The right ecommerce site will put customer minds at ease with an excellent approach to security.

Most platforms offer companies ways to secure their site using SSL certificates, HTTPS authentication, and secured payment processing tools.

You can also consider allowing customers to create secure profiles. Make sure any API or plugin components you add to your store are also secured.

Search Engine Optimization

While there are various ways to promote your store and boost your chances of attracting customers, few things are more valuable than good search engine optimization.

SEO improves the visibility of your products and brands, by allowing your site to rank higher in the search engine result pages.

Most ecommerce platforms will come with tools for SEO built-in, such as options for altering meta descriptions and URLs, and creating blog content. Check your content management system for tools to boost your search engine ranking.

Other Features of Successful Ecommerce Stores

While great design, experiences, and security are crucial to any ecommerce store, other factors can also influence your chances of success in the digital world, such as:

  • Marketing tools: Integrations with digital marketing tools help you promote your store and increase your conversion rate. Consider using email and social media tools.
  • Excellent mobile experiences: Responsive sites that work well on any device are more likely to convert customers and retain clients.
  • Payment methods: Multiple payment methods can make it easier to convert customers. Ensure all the payment gateways you use are secure and easy to use.
  • Seamless checkouts: Straightforward checkout experiences reduce the frictions of buying. You could even consider offering guest checkout options to potential customers.
  • Accessibility features: Accessibility features can make your site more appealing to a wider range of customers with specific needs.

The Key Steps in Ecommerce Website Development

The steps involved in building an ecommerce website can vary depending on the strategy you choose.

For instance, if you decide to build your website from scratch, you may need to experiment with code, choose a hosting provider, and implement apps and add-ons for security. If you opt to create a website using a SaaS solution like Shopify, Wix, or BigCommerce, the process is more straightforward.

For the average ecommerce store owner, some of the core steps involved in ecommerce website development will include:

Step 1: Choosing your domain name

Selecting and purchasing a domain name is one of the most important steps in ensuring customers can find your solutions online. In most cases, your domain name will be based on the name of your business, and will often feature a .com TLD.

However, you can experiment with other extensions depending on your target audience. Make sure your domain name is available before you start building, and avoid choosing anything too similar to another brand.

Step 2: Pick a platform

There are a few ways to develop an ecommerce website. If you already have developer knowledge, you can use an open-source platform to create your site from scratch. However, the easiest option will always be to use a SaaS platform.

These platforms offer everything you need to start building your site in one place, including hosting, payment processing tools, inventory management apps and more. Look for a platform that’s flexible, easy-to-use, and packed with the features you need to run your online company.

Step 3: Select your pricing plan

Most ecommerce website development platforms come with a range of pricing plans to suit different businesses. Some prices can vary depending on the number of customers you have, or the amount of revenue you plan on making each year.

Other plans vary based on the feature sets they offer. Examine each plan option carefully, and make sure you’re choosing a solution that delivers the best functionality for your budget.

Usually, you’ll be able to upgrade your plan as your business grows, so be ready to make a change when necessary.

Step 4: Develop your website components

Once you’ve chosen your ecommerce platform and picked the most appropriate pricing plan, the next step is developing the core elements of your website.

You’ll need to set up a payment processing solution for your store, design a custom shopping cart, and create core pages for your “About”, “Home”, and “Contact us” sections.

It’s worth making full use of the features available on your site to ensure you’re building a powerful and intuitive experience for your target audience.

Step 5: Customize Your Site

With the core elements of your online store built, you can begin to really think about how you’re going to make your branding shine through.

Customize the theme you’ve chosen for your store to match your brand colors, and include your logo. Consider implementing apps and add-ons that expand your store’s functionality with things like automated email marketing tools, and memberships. You can also create quality content for your pages that helps you to rank higher with Google.

Step 6: Add Your Products

Now it’s time to start listing your products on your store. Most ecommerce website builders will make it relatively easy to create new pages with high-quality product images, detailed product descriptions, and other valuable elements.

If you’re building a dropshipping company, you might even be able to use an app to automatically add product details to your shopping pages. Set fair prices for each of your products, and make sure your pages answer any questions customers might have about shipping costs, delivery, sizing, and so on.

Step 7: Test and Launch Your Store

Finally, give your store a quick test drive to ensure everything is working as it should be. Check the functionality of all your buttons and pages.

Make sure the checkout experience is straightforward, and examine your store for any errors with promo codes, tax settings, or links.

When you’re convinced everything is working as it should on the front-end and back-end of your site, launch your store and start promoting it on as many channels as possible, from social media, to Google.

Do You Need a Developer?

These days, building your own online shopping experience for customers is easier than ever. There are plenty of ecommerce solutions out there to help you with the development process, from WordPress and Magento, to Squarespace.

However, if you have specific goals for your online store, it may still be worth seeking out the help of website development services (see a breakdown of costs for hiring a Shopify expert).

A development company can manage your CRM on your behalf, and handle the more complicated parts of back-end development for your site.

They can also offer custom design services, to make your ecommerce project stand out in your current market, create a mobile app for your store, or help you integrate a wider range of payment options into the checkout process.

If you’re thinking of hiring web development services, ask yourself how complex or simple you want your store to be, how much you’re willing to pay for a service, and whether you could benefit from ongoing development support for your store.

Investing in Ecommerce Website Development

Hopefully, this straightforward guide has provided you with everything you need to know about the basics of ecommerce website development.

No matter what kind of business you run, creating a custom ecommerce website can improve your chances of conversions, and pave the way to success.

Remember, however, as your business evolves, and your customer base transforms, you’ll need to be willing to go back and optimize your website for the needs of your audience.

Regularly upgrading and enhancing your digital store will allow you to continue competing in today’s evolving ecommerce marketplace.

Further reading:

The Ultimate Website Design Checklist for 2024

The Best Web Design Software to Try in 2024

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