Whenever we start an e-commerce project for a client, we always being with the end purpose in mind. What does the client want to see, what are the features buyers would want to use, and ultimately, how can we make the experience as frictionless as possible for both the business and customers? As part of that, we have to look at the elements that help make a good WordPress e-commerce website.
Future-Proof Your WordPress E-Commerce Website
Firstly, I think it’s important to explain why we mostly recommend WordPress to our clients for their new website. One, it’s really flexible. WordPress has plugins and bolt-ons for almost every conceivable thing you would want to do with your website. The second thing is, it’s scalable. There are WordPress websites getting millions of hits per month and they work just fine. That might not seem important now as you’re getting started, but it will be once your business gets really popular.
There are other alternatives out there, and some of them are great. At least, if you have a technical team around you to help you out. If you’re hoping to run your new website in-house, you want something that’s powerful enough and simple enough for you to be able to make changes.
Make it Look Pretty
There are tens of thousands of WordPress themes available for your website. This is a great way to get you started. Finding a theme that you like, and that works for your business, will save you thousands of pounds on design. You can easily customise themes and, without much development work, make them unrecognisable from the original theme. There’s no need to worry about looking like a clipart website, themes are incredibly flexible.
Once you’ve found a theme that you like, and you’ve added it to your new WordPress e-commerce website, you can start to customise the layout. When you have a theme, keep the original as is. Create a child theme so as you can make edits to that instead of the original main theme. Why? Updates will overwrite the original, so a child theme will keep your customisations. (Here are more tips for easier WordPress website maintenance.)
A WordPress E-Commerce Site Still Needs Good Content
A good looking website is one thing, but a good looking website that reads well reaches a whole new level. Make all the content on your website engaging. Don’t use fad-ish terms for the sake of it. Make it really sound like you and your business. There’s nothing worse than giving one impression online and then delivering a completely different experience in person.
If you don’t think of yourself as a wordsmith, you might want to consider hiring a copywriter or a content marketing agency to help you with this. If you expect people to take the time to read your website and buy, you should be prepared to invest in the content they’ll be reading, right?
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words
Choose the right imagery for your website. What fits well with you and your brand? If you’re selling products, take the time to get the photos of each product done properly. Again, just like the words, if you’re struggling to do it yourself, bring someone in that can help you with that.
You would be amazed at the power imagery has when on a website. Between slideshows, examples, product photography, it all starts to add up. Again, if you’re looking for people to invest in you and buy your product, you should be prepared to do the same too.
Make People Proud to Share
We’re amazed every time we see a website link shared on social media and the link previews don’t work. You’ve probably seen this before too, with a cropped and out of shape logo instead of a nice image, or simply the title “HOME” for the page, instead of who they are or what they do as a business.
This is all part of the metadata that is held in the header of all your website pages and blog posts. Good news, there are some great plugins that can help you manage these on your WordPress e-commerce website. You want to look great when you or anyone else shares your website.
Here’s a look at why your link previews are broken and how to fix it.
In Ratings We Trust
Like it or not, the ratings are a huge asset to any e-commerce website. You can decide to run these as part of your website, or choose a platform, like TrustPilot. All good e-commerce platforms have a ratings system, and it’s there to help build confidence and trust for your potential customer as they browse.
A lot of people will say they’re worried about have ratings. They say things like “what if we get negative comments?” or “what if people don’t like our products?”. That’s something that you need to be aware of and not be afraid of dealing with. Be prepared for it and tackle it head-on. As they say, you can’t please everyone. But if you listen to this feedback, you may well learn and better your business, with advice straight “from the horse’s mouth” as it were.
Do you know what’s worse than bad ratings? Getting no feedback at all. And not understanding why people aren’t ordering again and aren’t recommending you to friends.
Search Engine Optimisation for WordPress E-Commerce
SEO, as it is often referred to, is an integral part of any website project you might be creating online. The good news is, again, with a WordPress e-commerce website, you can add plugins. These plugins, such as Yoast, will help you with this part of your site. The first thing to do is to identify what keywords you want to rank for, and then start to build your web pages around that.
A simple plugin like Yoast can help you once you know what keywords you want to target. Then, you can make sure that all your pages, posts and products, have a title, a full description and a keyword focus to try to help it be found by your potential customers on the search engines.
Make It Social
Any website today should make it easy for potential customers to find out more about you. There’s a couple of things you want to do for this:
- Set up a button for people to share your content on their favourite social media network. Share buttons can be easily added to a WordPress e-commerce website, with, you guessed it – a plugin.
- Make it easy to find your social media profiles. Add icons or links in your header or footer so as they are on all pages. (Do NOT have an infinitely scrolling page with the social media links at the bottom, as that just asks for frustration when someone wants to click the links but has to load hundreds of products first!)
- Allow comments on your website. If you’re writing blog posts, or have products for sale, it is important to give customers the opportunity to either ask questions or leave feedback.
Build Your Newsletter Mailing List
For all our customers, we use MailChimp as our standard go-to newsletter mail list platform. It easily integrates with your WordPress e-commerce website, will auto-manage your list of subscribers, add unsubscribe links to all your emails and even link to add-ons on your site like WooCommerce to allow you to see spend by subscribers. Neat, right?
Unlike your social media audiences, a mail list is truly yours. It’s a one-on-one relationship that doesn’t rely on a third party. Imagine what would happen if you built your entire business on your Facebook profile for example and suddenly Facebook was no longer an option. That can’t happen with your mail list. That’s yours, even if you decide to change mailing list platform.
DIY or Outsourcing Your WordPress E-Commerce Website
I hope you will find these points useful to help you build the best possible website for your business. But here’s something to consider just before you leave. If you’re not technically minded or if you don’t have much experience with websites or WordPress, how long will it take you to try to get all these things right for yourself?
Everything in business, and in life, is a choice and an exchange of resources. You can clean your house and lose a couple of hours every week, or you can exchange money to reclaim that time and use it doing something else. When it comes to your website, the same is true. How many hours could you spend on other important tasks in your business, instead of trying to learn how to build a website?