A well-designed website is similar to a high-end retail store. Items for sale are neatly displayed and easily reached and employees are ready and able to help confused shoppers. A poor website, on the other hand, is like a store overrun by bad management. The floor is dirty and cluttered, thus customers can't find what they're looking for and leave in frustration. Be sure to avoid the following mistakes when designing your e-commerce website:

Little or no product information
Consumers want to be sure they're purchasing an item that suits their needs. This is easy to do in a store – shoppers head straight to the item, pick it up, read any labels and compare it to other products and what they already have. Such a luxury isn't available online, Smashing Magazine pointed out. Instead, shoppers must rely on product descriptions. They'll head elsewhere if they can't find answers to their questions, so provide as much information as you can. This includes size or dimensions, colors and brand information.

Too many options
According to Practical Ecommerce, excess choice is more annoying than enjoyable for Web users. They either look at only the first few options or leave the page altogether. Designers should keep this notion in mind when placing additional elements such as social media links and related products on pages within the site. Giving users the option to share their favorite items online is a great marketing technique, but it's important to stick with a handful of the most popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Similarly, while showing related products on an item's page  increases sales, too many choices deter viewers from picking one at all. Stores should suggest only the most popular or relevant products.

Ignoring site security
"Studies show that up to 25 percent of users have actually stopped an online purchase because of website security concerns," Flavio Martins, vice president of operations at SSL certificate provider DigiCert, told Cio.com.

He said too many Internet stores fail to inform their customers that online payments across their site are encrypted and secured. He also mentioned business owners demand top security from any third-party providers they work with.

Putting too much content at the top
As Practical Ecommerce mentioned, many site designers are under the impression that the top of a Web page is the only part viewers are interested in. Thus, that area should contain as much information as possible. It's certainly true the area above the fold – that is, the part of a page visible before scrolling – should contain important content. However, filling the area with too many elements bloats the page and results in an unattractive design. Users aren't reluctant to scroll down for information. In fact, they're now conditioned to expect at least some important content below the fold. Practical Ecommerce cited a study that found almost 75 percent of online users start scrolling down a page before it fully loads. 

Information above the fold should provide a brief overview of what comes below, including a brief product description, the price of the item and images. Actionable steps like adding the item to a cart or wish list, sharing it on social media and logging into accounts should also sit above the fold. Designers can then put detailed product information, related items and customer reviews below.

Vandelay Design listed some elements not related to the product in question that should sit above the fold, including primary navigation, email subscription options and category links.

Not providing contact information
Consumers are less inclined to trust a business that hides its contact information, said Smashing Magazine. Providing easy methods of contact makes your business appear credible, and the more ways you provide, the better. Every site page should include a link to a form where viewers can enter their name, email and a message with their questions or concerns. Other information such as your business address, phone number and customer service hours should appear in either the header, footer or sidebar of every page.

A well-constructed e-commerce store keeps shoppers from taking their business elsewhere. While a beautifully designed site is important, consumers want easy access to the information they need and to be sure their transactions are secure.

Brought to you by PacNet Services, your one-stop global payment processing solution.