Design & Development

The nuts and bolts of an ecommerce site are design and development. We address design innovation and trends — including layouts, colors, photography, logos, video, and more. We explain the basics of code — HTML, CSS, JavaScript — as well as platforms, themes, plugins, open source, and related topics.

Code | Design & Dev Tools | Platforms & Apps | Schools & Resources | Typography & Fonts | User Experience
  • Design & Development

    Mobile Strategy: Use Same Content, But Optimize Its Appearance

    April 29, 2010 •

    Merchants have options when it comes to mobile optimization. Although W3C has released a list of best practices for the mobile web, there are many different ways to implement them. Experts sometimes recommend developing a separate mobile-optimized site with different content and servi...

  • Design & Development

    How to Identify Most-Used Browsers, Operating Systems, Screen Resolutions

    April 28, 2010 •

    In "Website Compatibility Testing Made Simple," published last week here at Practical eCommerce, I explained the process for site operators, such as ecommerce merchants, to continually ensure their websites render properly across all common browsers, operating systems and screen resolut...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: osCMax

    April 23, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from Michael Sasek, founder and lead developer of osCMax shopping cart software. The company’s main offices are in Phoenix, Ariz., with development teams in both the U.S. and the U.K. Sasek estimates that osCMax software currently has 10,000 to 12,000 users, as well as many more privately labeled carts that use osCMax as a base. We'll also hear from an osCMax customer, Mark Fleeson, technical director

  • Design & Development

    Website Compatibility Testing Made Simple

    April 21, 2010 •

    A frequently overlooked aspect of managing an ecommerce website is testing the appearance of that site across different browsers and screen resolutions. For example, your website might render beautifully in Internet Explorer 7, but what does it look like in Safari on the Mac? What about Firefox, or in 1024 x 768 resolution?

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: GravityMarket

    April 16, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from Jody K. Hartwig, director of e-business for Acumium LLC. The company is based in Madison, Wis., and it produces GravityMarket, an ecommerce platform. According to Hartwig, more than 100 websites have been built on GravityMarket since the cart was first developed. We'll also hear from a GravityMarket customer, Michael Feiman

  • Design & Development

    Image Formats: What’s the Difference Between JPG, GIF, PNG?

    April 15, 2010 •

    Editor's Note: Ecommerce merchants use complex technologies in their businesses. Merchants do not always need an expert's knowledge of these technologies, but a working, "need to know" understanding can help. To address this need, we've launched our "Need to Know" series, whereby we'll ...

  • Design & Development

    Payment Provider Seeks Simplification

    April 14, 2010 •

    The process of collecting and processing online payments is confusing. There are many parties involved and the fees can be difficult to decipher. Adyen is one company that hopes to clear up the process and to simplify payments from international customers, too. Peter Caparso is presiden...

  • Design & Development

    Tutorial: Create Multiple Product Views with SimpleViewer

    April 14, 2010 •

    Ecommerce merchants frequently want to display multiple photo views of their products. Many services are available that allow merchants to do this, but often at a price. In this tutorial, I will walk you through setting up and customizing SimpleViewer, a free alternative for creating a...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: ozEcommerce Pro

    April 9, 2010 •

    There are more than 500 online shopping carts. And each week we feature one, interviewing both the cart's developer and a customer. "Cart of the Week" is not a review or an evaluation, but rather an opportunity to learn about a shopping cart from the people who build it and use it. Thi...

  • Design & Dev Tools

    Demandware Launches Marketplace to Speed Integrations

    April 8, 2010 •

    Connecting and integrating an ecommerce platform with third-party services and solutions can be one of the most costly and time consuming parts of any ecommerce site development. This week, ecommerce platform maker Demandware launched a new marketplace called LINK, which gives develope...

  • Design & Development

    March Survey Results: Ecommerce Merchants Not Prepared for Mobile

    April 7, 2010 •

    The use of mobile devices for Internet access is growing rapidly. This got us wondering how our readers are responding to the mobile boom, and how many ecommerce firms are truly prepared to meet the challenges of mobile commerce. Survey results indicate that practically everyone uses mo...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: CompleteCart by Thin Air Media

    April 2, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from Marc Terrien, owner and president of Thin Air Media Solutions. The company is based in Crested Butte, Colo., and offers web development and design services and software, including its CompleteSite content management system and the online shopping cart module known as CompleteCart. Terrien estimates that the cart currently has around 30 users.

  • Design & Development

    NetSuite’s View of Mobile Commerce

    March 30, 2010 •

    Mobile commerce will likely affect most every ecommerce merchant in one way or another. NetSuite is a leading ecommerce platform with many ecommerce customers. Malin Huffman is a principal product manager at NetSuite in charge of the company's mobile efforts, and he discusses NetSuite'...

  • Design & Development

    Tutorial: Removing the Background from Product Photos

    March 29, 2010 •

    If you are an online merchant who manages your own product images, knowing the simplest way to remove the background from an image can be helpful. In this video tutorial, I will show you how to quickly and easily isolate a product image from its background using both Adobe Photoshop CS...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: 1AutomationWiz

    March 26, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from Don Schnure, president of The company is located in St. Louis, Mo., and it provides online shopping cart software called 1AutomationWiz. According to Schnure, roughly 7,000 merchants currently use the cart. We'll also hear from a 1AutomationWiz customer, Kim Wilson.

  • Business

    What Is a Denial-of-Service Attack?

    March 25, 2010 •

    Nothing is more frustrating for ecommerce merchants than website downtime. Untold sales may be lost while customers are unable access the merchant's website. But, occasionally it is not the fault of a hosting company, but of hackers who have perpetrated a distributed denial of service a...

  • Code

    Five Handy HTML Tags To Help Your Ecommerce Business

    March 24, 2010 •

    There is an analogy between driving a car and operating an ecommerce business. With a car, you need to know a few basic things, like how to steer, accelerate, and brake. Likewise, the manager or owner of an online retail business really only needs to know how to process orders, manage customer service, and keep up with the accounting.

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: BigCommerce

    March 19, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from Mitchell Harper, co-founder and product marketing manager for Interspire, the company behind BigCommerce online shopping cart. Interspire's North American headquarters are in Austin, Texas, with engineering teams located in Sydney, Australia and London, England. "BigCommerce is the SaaS [software as a service] version of our licensed ecommerce platform

  • Schools & Resources

    Mobile Commerce: Four Good Examples

    March 18, 2010 •

    Deciding what to do about the explosive growth of mobile traffic can be difficult. That’s why we’re bringing you some of our picks for the best of the mobile web, with mobile-optimized sites that bring a unique and useful experience for users. Some of these sites are from large retailer...

  • Design & Development

    Take the Survey: Is Your Website Mobile Optimized?

    March 17, 2010 •

    Many experts predict that mobile commerce will eventually exceed traditional website sales. We wonder how many ecommerce sites are already optimized for mobile devices; and we're curious what your view of mobile commerce really is. The goal of this month's Practical eCommerce survey is ...

  • Design & Development

    To Tap Mobile Buyers, First Determine Their Needs

    March 16, 2010 •

    As the mobile user base swells, it is becoming easier to classify mobile users based on their attitudes towards their phones and the features they use most often. Merchants should consider how mobile customers will prefer to access web content. From that, merchants can decide what kind ...

  • Design & Dev Tools

    The PEC Review: LABjs for Better Site Performance

    March 15, 2010 •

    Many small- to medium-sized online retailers are entrepreneurial companies. Their owners and employees often have diverse responsibilities, and it is common for a single person to handle multiple tasks, such as customer service, email marketing, order processing and website design. Unf...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: VevoCart

    March 12, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from John Panyavorachart, co-founder and CEO of Vevo Systems, developers of VevoCart. The company is located in Bangkok, Thailand, and its shopping cart currently serves around 6,000 users. We'll also hear from a VevoCart customer, Stephen Bowden, director of marketing and operations for Tres Beau, a site that sells wedding accessories.

  • User Experience

    Accessibility Review:

    March 11, 2010 • is well known in the world of web accessibility. It was sued in 2006 by the National Federation of the Blind, Bruce F. Sexton, Jr., and the National Federation of the Blind of California because its website was not accessible to visually impaired shoppers. The lawsuit was ult...

  • Platforms & Apps

    The PEC Review: Chimpified Connects Two Powerful Platforms

    March 8, 2010 •

    There are thousands of ecommerce-related products and services that small- to mid-sized merchants can use to improve their businesses. But often the challenge to engaging these products and services is not funding, or even the products' capabilities. Instead, it is the difficulty associ...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: BV Commerce

    March 5, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from Marcus C. McConnell, founder and president of BV Software, the developers of the hosted BV Commerce shopping cart and a licensed ecommerce package called BV Commerce Toolkit. The company is based in Richmond, Va. and its ecommerce software currently has around 5,000 active users. We'll also hear from a BV Commerce customer

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart of the Week: CoreCommerce

    February 26, 2010 •

    This week, we'll hear from Matt DeLong, president and CEO of CoreCommerce, developers of CoreCommerce shopping cart software. The company is based in Franklin Tenn., and its software has been used to create between 12,000 and 13,000 web stores, according to DeLong.

  • Design & Development

    Mobile Commerce Appeals to Young Adults

    February 25, 2010 •

    While it is true mobile devices are generating more web traffic, merchants should be aware of the demographics of mobile users and the products they are buying. Surveys taken in early 2010 have similar results in the age breakdown of mobile users. One survey by Retrevo, a shopping com...

  • Design & Development

    Five Web Design Concepts Ecommerce Merchants Need to Know

    February 23, 2010 •

    Editor's Note: Ecommerce merchants operate businesses using complex technologies. We launched our "Need to Know" series to help merchants obtain a basic understanding of these technologies, recognizing that most merchants are not web developers or programmers. In this installment, contr...

  • Design & Development

    SEO Expert on Mobile Commerce Strategies

    February 23, 2010 •

    An increasing number of consumers access the Internet via mobile devices. This has looming implications for ecommerce merchants who must decide what platforms their customers will use in the future.