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
  • David Heinemeier Hansson Code

    David Heinemeier Hansson, Ruby on Rails Creator

    August 25, 2008 •

    David Heinemeier Hansson created the Ruby on Rails software framework. He’s also a partner in 37signals, producers of the popular Basecamp suite of online collaboration tools. In this excerpt from a longer audio interview, Heinemeier Hansson discusses the state of ecommerce. PeC: What...

  • Design & Development

    Interview: Comodo Exec On Extended Validation SSL Certificates

    August 22, 2008 •

    Like its SSL precursor, EV SSL certification encrypts customer inputted information and marks the page with a yellow padlock icon. Unlike SSL, this new form of certification comes with much more vetting and a bonus “green bar” in the URL area of most web browsers that clearly indicates ...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Cart Of The Week: Shopify

    August 13, 2008 •

    Practical eCommerce counts over 300 different shopping cart platforms. This includes licensed carts, hosted carts and open-source carts. In this, our new "Cart of the Week" feature, we’ll profile a specific shopping cart and ask personnel of that cart about its strengths and weaknesses....

  • Design & Development

    Safe Ways To Accept International Payments

    August 13, 2008 •

    Many ecommerce businesses receive international orders for both single items as well as large quantities. These businesses usually take credit card payments for the orders, which puts them at great risk of incurring chargebacks, especially for large ticket items and large transactions. ...

  • User Experience

    Customer Service For The Hearing Impaired

    July 15, 2008 •

    In an era of Internet commerce, it’s an unsurprising phenomenon that we expect the vast majority of our interactions with customers to happen in an online environment. The expectation is that people will send an email, contact us through support forms or simply place an order. But it’s ...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Shopping Cart Functionality Can Increase Sales

    June 25, 2008 •

    The tenet of customer service in the online shopping process is simple: the more you engage potential customers, and provide links relevant to their needs, the more they’ll buy and the longer they’ll remain a customer. As it turns out, the solution to that challenge may be as simple as ...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Third-Party Integrations Make Shopping Carts Easier To Use

    June 23, 2008 •

    By day Sean Dupuis is a courier for FedEx. By night, he sends out packages of his own: boxes of boots and moccasins and sheepskin bags for his bustling website business called Sheepskin and Things. Stretched thin, he’s able to get it all done because his shopping cart and its third-part...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Shopping Carts And Search Engines

    June 18, 2008 •

    When searching for “educational toys” on Google, at No. 5 on the list you’ll find—up from No. 78 a year ago. Michael Stebbins, co-founder of the business, employed a series of search engine optimization (SEO) strategies within his cart to achieve this result. “A lot ...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Magento Shopping Cart And 20,000 Friends

    June 18, 2008 •

    Roy Rubin held the cyber equivalent of a barn raising and had several thousand of his closest friends over for the event. Of course, everyone actually stayed home and did the work from their own little cubicles, kitchen tables, laptops on airplanes and Blackberrys on bar tops. That’s ho...

  • Design & Development

    Programmers: Web 2.0 Forms

    June 3, 2008 •

    Online forms have become much more elegant and usable in the last couple of years as developers take advantage of “Web 2.0” technologies like visual effects and “behind-the-scenes” calls to the server. In fact, I have seen forms that are just downright fun to fill out, which is somethin...

  • Design & Development

    Quick Query: Credit Card Expert Stresses Integrity

    June 2, 2008 •

    Virtually every ecommerce merchant processes credit card payments. We asked Michael Shatz, publisher of The Merchant’s Guide, a resource to help merchants understand credit card processing issues (at, to share his views on choices merchants must face when deciding...

  • Platforms & Apps

    Field Test: Shopping Carts, Part Three Of Three

    May 28, 2008 •

    In Field Test, Practical eCommerce has gathered twelve seasoned ecommerce merchants and asked each of them the same questions around a given topic. This month’s topic is shopping carts. The participating ecommerce merchants are: Dave Norris, House of Antique Hardware; Justin Hertz, Mut...

  • Design & Development

    Internet Security: The Seatbelt Is In The Trunk

    April 30, 2008 •

    Suppose you took delivery on your new car and the salesman told you, as you signed the order, that the seatbelt, antilock brakes, and the airbags were in a box in the trunk and that if you want to be safer you might want to have an expensive expert install them. That would be about the ...

  • Design & Development

    PCI Compliance Is “Industry Self-Regulation”

    April 28, 2008 •

    The major credit card companies, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express, have collaborated on minimum payment-processing security requirements. These requirements make up the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Merchants and merchant account providers who wo...

  • Design & Development

    Interview: Ex-hacker Mitnick On Avoiding Fraudsters

    March 31, 2008 •

    You know that hidden bomb shtick in the movies? There's a bomb that's going to go off and kill a gazillion people. First, the good guys have to find it. Then they have to figure how to get into to it to disarm it. Then they almost have it disarmed when they discover a booby trap they ...

  • Code

    Frameworks For Web Designers

    March 26, 2008 •

    I've written previously about frameworks and how they help developers build web applications. For the most part, my praise of frameworks has been directed at those of us who develop web applications, such as coding up the Ruby, Perl, PHP or .Net scripts that make applications work. Howe...

  • Design & Development

    Tech Support: Application Programming Interfaces

    March 19, 2008 •

    One of the most exciting trends on the Internet today is interconnectedness. Application programming interfaces (APIs) help make this possible. For example, if I have created a blog at WordPress, I can get a free key to use the API at Akismet, a comment-spam-prevention service. Addition...

  • Design & Development

    Pay-per-click Spyware and Other Scams

    March 3, 2008 •

    If you thought click fraud was bad, consider this: your Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing ads and Microsoft adCenter accounts are new targets for spyware applications, hackers and scam artists. If thieves obtain access to your pay-per-click account, they are in complete control o...

  • Design & Development

    Tech Support: Passwords And Avatars

    February 4, 2008 •

    Can ecommerce merchants help their customers manage multiple user names and passwords? Many websites require users to create an account to participate. This applies to social networking sites, ecommerce sites, news sites and others. For the site owner, the strategy of requiring a user ...

  • Design & Development

    Programming Notes: Linking To Payment Gateways

    January 28, 2008 •

    Payment gateways can be intimidating for many web developers. I have always found a certain amount of anxiety associated with them, particularly because of security requirements and presumed liability issues that could arise from insecure transactions. However, the actual integration wi...

  • Schools & Resources

    Booklist: Brulant CEO Len Pagon

    January 28, 2008 •

    In Booklist, we ask ecommerce professionals to name some of their favorite books. For this list, we asked Len Pagon, CEO and president of Brulant, a company that combines technology, interactive marketing and creative design. The Fifth Discipline By Peter M. Senge A great source fo...

  • Design & Development

    Get Organized With Advanced Searchbar

    January 23, 2008 •

    If you are like me, you enjoy organization. Everything needs to be in order so you can work efficiently and get to things you need quickly. Most likely you spend time on the Internet doing research to enhance your business, reading interesting blogs, or watching videos that spark creati...

  • Design & Development

    Determine Analytics Questions In Advance

    January 23, 2008 •

Once a web analytics solution is installed, the most common initial use is to validate some past event.  User testing shows that 80 percent of marketers focus on charts that go up and to the right, thus validating the success of the website or an advertising campaign.  I call this “web...

  • Schools & Resources

    Booklist: Juice Media CEO Rick Enrico

    January 21, 2008 •

    In Booklist, we ask ecommerce professionals to name a few of their favorite books. For this list, we asked Rick Enrico, President and CEO of Juice Media Worldwide, a media and marketing technology company. 
 Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die By Chip and Dan Heath

  • Design & Development

    Testing Site Accessibility

    January 18, 2008 •

    Here's how to perform a standard test to see if your website and store are accessible to the vision impaired. Let It Be Seen By All First, for PC users, open the Narrator program. For Mac users, use the APPLE+F5 keystroke to turn on VoiceOver. Do this before you open your browser. O...

  • Schools & Resources

    Booklist: Mercado CEO Corey Leibow

    January 14, 2008 •

    In Booklist, we ask ecommerce professionals to name books they are currently reading. For this list, we asked Corey Leibow, CEO and President of Mercado, an ecommerce search and merchandising provider for small-to-mid sized business. Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping By Paco Under...

  • Design & Development

    What Makes A Site Effective?

    January 14, 2008 •

    A client recently asked me to do a quick-and-dirty analysis of a half dozen competitor websites. I decided to look at each competitor site and then give it a good/fair/poor rating for certain criteria. I thought that these criteria, and some explanation of what I was looking for, coul...

  • Design & Development

    Programming Notes: Importance of Hand Coding

    December 19, 2007 •

    Let's be honest. Most people do not go into website design because they enjoy writing code, or because they want to root through hundreds of lines of seemingly nonsensical expressions. That comes later. Most people start with a visual idea and work from there, usually taking advantage o...

  • Design & Development

    What Is PCI Compliance And Should Merchants Be Concerned About It?

    December 12, 2007 •

    The major credit card issuers created PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliance standards to protect personal information and ensure security when transactions are processed using a payment card. All members of the payment card industry (financial institutions, credit card companies and me...

  • Design & Development

    Personalized Search: Coming For Search Engines?

    October 24, 2007 •

    Personalized search could be the next big thing in search engine marketing. In fact, we are beginning to see the shift from homogeneous search results to personalized results already, and all major search engines have tools in place that are collecting such data. A good example is Googl...