Ecommerce Website Design: Top Components of Your Online Store

What your ecommerce website design should look like from the first page to the thank-you page

Publishers sometimes forget that they are retailers; publishers do sell subscriptions, memberships, books, ancillary products, events, etc.

It’s smart for a publisher to think like a retailer: Get people into your store, where they can become your customers. And when they become your customers, get them to come back for more.

Many Mequoda System Publishers offer a large amount of free content, and also offer subscription options that include premium content. At the Mequoda Daily, we offer free content in the form of articles, podcasts and reports, and incorporate a subscription product, Mequoda Pro, that offers live educational webinars and on-demand access to our archived database.

Paywalls have been put up by some large publishers, most notably The New York Times. Operating a subscription website offers online publishers a sustainable source of income that’s gaining in popularity due to the tablet revolution. Currently, the circulation of the newspaper’s digital edition has increased by 20%.

As far as online stores go, mobile’s reach is enormous and has aided significantly in sales for retailers. The iPad and subscription websites have also aided in creating better experiences for audiences which makes them more likely to buy impulsively.

The design of your online store is crucial to selling products. It needs to be clean and easy to navigate or potential customers are likely to get frustrated and leave.

Beyond a clean, manageable design, there are different ways of creating your online store. For instance, some retailers incorporate search engine optimized content to help rank in search engines. Others allow for on-page comments, typically about the products on page, to also help in ranking.

Beyond those options, your products should be clearly listed and defined. Numerous tests should be conducted in your online store to assure all sales can be conducted and your payment service works properly.

In our recent Designing Media Websites that Work webinar presentation, we dug into the architecture behind an effective online store:

Unknown User Homepage – This is the page that the general public sees, anyone who isn’t already a website subscriber or existing customer.

Known User Homepage – This is a version of your homepage that shows a user that they’re logged in and includes access to products that they’ve purchased, or a portal to their online subscription.

Products Page: This page displays your products and typically has a “featured” and “best-selling” section. It may also have a “clearance” section and is typically sorted by categories that are similar to your blog or publication.

Search Results Page: This is the page of results that a user hits when they search for items in your online store.

Category Page(s): This page includes an organized list of your product types (CDs, books, etc.) and/or the categories that they serve (crafts, cooking, etc.).

Product Page: The product page is possibly the most important page of your online store. It includes the price (the first thing a user looks for), the product image, a detailed product description, and a way to add the product to their shopping cart.


Cart Page: This page gives the user a list of all the products they’ve opted to buy and a subtotal of their final purchase price.

Login/Signup Page: Before the user buys a product, this page asks the user to either log-in or create an account. This way you can stay in touch with customers long after their purchase, and they’ll be able to keep track of what they’ve bought in the past (as can you).

Review Order / Payment Page: This page simply gives the customer a view of their final order tally and a final price before they commit to buying.

Thank You / Confirmation Page: The final page with your gracious “thank-you” for their purchase. This is a great page to ask them to “like” you on Facebook or “follow” you on Twitter because they’re at a peak of interest with you.

From the thank-you page, an email confirmation is sent out to finalize the transaction. This may include a link to their purchased digital product or simply give them a paid invoice for their order total of physical goods.

Things to consider when designing an online store

Publishers struggle with the decision between a single-product order flow and a shopping cart. A single order flow is great for high-end (pricey) business products that are most likely to be sold one at a time.

As a generate rule, publishers should avoid using shopping carts unless they have more than 20 or 25 products.

But here’s some food for thought, too, about building out “too big” of an online store.

When you’ve invested a lot of time and money in building out a retail store that allows you to sell both physical and digital products, it’s easy to become delusional and decide you’re an online retailer.

Companies like Amazon and Apple are state-of-the-art online retailers. They know how to sell their own merchandise, and how to source merchandise from other manufacturers and publishers.

Our CEO Don Nicholas says, “I’ve watched more than one publisher with a successful online store venture into the realm of selling other people’s stuff with disastrous results. Sourcing, merchandising, and shipping other people’s stuff is different than selling your own; being good at one does not automatically make you good at the other.”

A good point. Just because you’re great at selling your own products, and an online store makes it easy to sell everyone else’s products, try to stick with your brand.

“Perhaps the biggest reason to not start selling other people’s stuff is the sucking sound you will hear on the resources that should be used to maximize the performance of your own retail and subscription websites at selling your own branded information products and services,” says Nicholas.

More sales are taking place online than ever before. The management associated with ecommerce needs to offer a high degree of customization and flexibility so brands can get exactly what they need to please their customers.

And if you’d like to discuss the redesign of your website, contact Ann-Marie Sullivan, our member services manager, and she’ll schedule an opportunity for you to chat with Don Nicholas, our CEO and lead consultant.


    iv’e been looking at various blogs and sites containing some tips and info into ecommerce web design, and this is the best yet! really great in detail, clear and concise info, thanks so much for sharing! Mike

    Ecommerce W.

    Awesome post. Thanks for sharing such a nice post on “Ecommerce Website Design”.


    A great post without doubt.The information shared is of top quality which has to get appreciated at all levels,you have given many more information about online store.


Leave a Reply