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The practice of selling goods and services online, often referred to as e-commerce, has become extremely popular in today's technologically-oriented world.  Those who are responsible for running e-commerce websites have very specific needs when it comes to design and usability, though, making it absolutely essential that they seek out web designers that have experience working on similar projects.  It may be tempting for business owners to cut corners and pay a freelance developer rather than a well-established company to design and create a website, but this would be a mistake; read on to find out why.


Content Management Systems

Content management systems constitute the core of just about any e-commerce site.  This software is designed to allow users to upload and edit content related to the products or services being sold.  Web developers that focus on designing and maintaining e-commerce sites have extensive experience using this kind of specialized software.


Custom Designs

Every e-commerce company is different, and each company's needs and specific requirements are different as well.  Any web designer worth his or her weight will begin the process of designing a new site or revamping an old one with a detailed discussion with his or her clients regarding their unique goals and site specifications.  This information will allow them to create a custom-designed site with all of the features required to accomplish these goals.


User Experience Design

Web designers know that their clients' websites must be accessible to end-users in addition t being attractive.  In the context of e-commerce stores, this means that users must be able to browse inventory, learn more about products and services offered, add goods to their online shopping carts, and easily check out and submit payment.  Keep in mind that e-commerce sites are more complex than simple blogs or company websites; while most designers who offer comprehensive services for e-commerce clients are capable of designing blogs and basic company sites, not all blog designers are capable of creating online stores complete with check-out and payment options.


Page Layout

The user interface design described above is directly impacted by a website's page layout.  Deciding on a layout may seem like a straightforward process, but in reality, it requires a good deal of experience to decide whether a fluid layout, a fixed-grade layout, a grid-based design, or a combination of these different layouts will be best suited to the site.  Many of today's browsers use cell phones as well as computers to access sites, which may place certain constraints on page layout and overall design.


Interactive Designer

Most e-commerce sites require a good deal of user interaction, including buttons designed to allow users to easily move products to their online carts and those that allow users to make online payments.  Most advanced interactive functions require advanced coding or the use of extensive plug-ins.  Some of these plug-ins can cause incompatibility issues with older browsers, so it's best to carefully consider whether or not the target audience will be likely to use older technology to determine whether the use of plug-ins is worth this risk.


Search Engine Optimization

In addition to being easy to use and easy for end-users to read, websites must also be easy to access.  In the context of web design, search engine optimization focuses on ensuring that a site's pages, and especially their homepages, are laid out in a way that makes them look better to search engine algorithms as well as actual end-users.  Choosing to work with a design firm that is able to provide this service in addition to basic web design can help to reduce costs and ensure that the final product is both easy to use and easy to find.


Quality Code

A well-designed website should conform to industry standards when it comes to coding, as failure to do so may lead to readability issues and even website errors.  Well-written code is organized and must be tested extensively prior to the site's launch.  Sites with coding errors, even subtle ones that are not obvious to end-users, are less likely to function as intended and more likely to cause issues further down the road if changes to their content must be made.


Knowing When to Enlist Professional Help

Readers who already have extensive backgrounds in web design, coding, search engine optimization, and other relevant marketing fields may find that they can save some money creating their own websites.  However, the vast majority of readers likely do not have the training and expertise required to perform this work effectively; anyone who does not should enlist the help of a marketing firm that focuses on Web Design & Ecommerce.  Hiring a professional designer or firm means guaranteed results, including increased traffic and improved conversion rates, which help to offset the cost of hiring a pro.