Website Design Guidelines

The success of an e-Commerce business depends on, amongst other things, the ease and practicality of its user interfaces. It is imperative that users are able to effortlessly browse through the pages of the website, and perform easy-to-follow step-by-step procedures in order to complete their transactions.

Excellent e-Commerce web designs successfully incorporate technologies and software which make purchases easier, such as the use of shopping carts and credit card transactions, whilst also incorporating safety and security features that safeguard against fraudulent transactions. E-Commerce web design is, in itself, an advertisement for a company’s products and services. Consumers will not want to use a poorly designed website, even if it houses high-quality products and services.

Below is a list of important guidelines for excellent website design:

Website Design
Communication & Promotion
  • Avoid misleading communication and promotion order
  • Avoid hidden costs and obligations
Pre-sale information
  • Present the main elements of the contract before purchasing (detailed product information, usage and delivery restrictions, price, delivery terms and costs, missed delivery, damage and return policy, warranty terms)
  • Give the customer the option to read the contract in full before ordering and accepting the conditions
  • In case there is limited space (e.g. smartphone) refer to another source of information (web link or ask for email)
  • ‘Purchase’ button should make it absolutely clear that there is an obligation to pay (e.g. Pay Now, instead of Subscribe or Confirm)
  • Express consent should be sought from the consumer for any additional payment – do not use pre-ticked boxes which result in a charge to the consumer.
Payment Authentication
  • Payment confirmation requires secure authentication for purchases (e.g. Verified by Visa, MasterCard SecureCode) or allow simple authentication for registered users from certified devices (see Fido alliance 2nd factor experience)
Data Privacy
  • Data protection policy must be communicated, and a clear reference to explicit consent must be sought to store a consumer’s information for further use (e.g. for research, marketing, third party marketing)
Post-sale information
  • Keep and send a copy of final contract in a durable medium (e.g. email)
  • Enable tracking of delivery and possibly estimation of time of arrival
  • Do not use premium rate telephone helplines for assistance
Post-sale assistance
  • Provide a form for returns, replacements and requests for refunds (allowing tracking of goods)
  • Provide channels for feedback, with the option to rate and comment on blogs