E-commerce has, for the most part, evolved far beyond the late 1990's cliches of hair-wrenching, sanity-shattering slogs through yet another "clever" designer's take on how shopping on the web should be. Standards prevailed, usability won out, and we're now free to spend our collective $107 billion (Census.gov e-commerce stats) per annum.
That said... It can still get better. Online shopping is in, if not infancy, at least a toddler stage. The advances that brought us here have made the process simpler and easier than ever, but some sites still haven't caught on.
Since I've been doing an inordinate amount of online shopping recently (thanks to the theft last weekend and my upcoming lengthy trip to China), I feel uniquely qualified to share a few e-commerce site design tips - 17 tips, actually. Enjoy.
#1 - Tell Me Where I Am
Whenever a user is navigating inside a store with more than 1 sub-level of navigation, it's critical to show them where in the site structure they are. This should be accomplished with headlines, sub-headers (when necessary) and breadcrumbs (e.g. Home > Category > Sub-cat > Product).
#2 - Let Me Remove Narrowing Options
When a user starts to "narrow" their navigation inside a particular category (in this case by selecting the designer "Ted Baker"), it's only right to allow them to remove those navigation selections rather than forcing the use of repetitive "back button" clicks.