What Is JavaScript and Why Is It Important to Your E-Commerce Website?


Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported, which means we earn commissions from links on Digital. Commissions do not affect our editorial evaluations or opinions.

JavaScript is a programming language used extensively throughout the Internet. It has been an essential web developer tool since 1995 and dramatically helped improve website functionality upon its inception. TechJury estimates that 98.7% of all currently active websites use client-side JavaScript programming.

If you’re running an e-commerce website, you will likely need some JavaScript coding to make your site work in an ideal way for you and your visitors.

Key takeaways:

  • You don’t need to know how to code in JavaScript to use it to enhance your website and include some features to improve the overall user experience. It always helps, but it isn’t a critical skill.
  • Most website builders include JavaScript functionality directly into their templates and creation tools, so you can use them as is or — if you want to practice — as a starting point for custom coding.
  • JavaScript is one of the most common building blocks of the internet and is almost a necessity for e-commerce websites to streamline the way your customers order products and services.

What Is JavaScript?

JavaScript was initially developed for the Netscape Navigator web browser, which at the time was one of the most popular browsers in the world. This innovative programming language allowed websites a much higher degree of interactivity than ever before. Before JavaScript, websites were generally little more than blocks of text with a few images added in to add some visual interest.

In the early years, many popular web browsers, including Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, didn’t support JavaScript. Microsoft even tried to develop a competing language called Jscript.

By 1999, JavaScript became the standard, and was supported by most of the popular browsers. Today, JavaScript can be found on most websites worldwide and continues to be extremely popular among web developers of all types.

How Does JavaScript Work?

JavaScript is a client-side scripting language. Unlike many website functionalities, those that use JavaScript occur entirely on the client’s (or user’s) browser. There’s no need for communication between your web browser and the website’s server for this code to execute properly.

Not only does this make JavaScript more reliable than many other coding, scripting, or programming languages, but it also speeds up the loading time. Since the code that has to be sent from the server to the browser is just JavaScript, which is usually of quite small size, it also requires much less bandwidth.

The functionality is built into the web browser so that the desired actions can occur.

Do You Need To Know How to Code in JavaScript To Use It?

While understanding how JavaScript works and how to code with it will always be helpful, it isn’t a strict requirement to learn it for your website. Almost all site creation tools incorporate JavaScript directly into their functionality for you.

This way, you get all the benefits of the JavaScript language without picking it up. You can accomplish everything you need with any of the best website builders available or use plug-ins for hosts like WordPress.

Many people start by exclusively using website builders and then learning to code slowly with JavaScript over time. Such an approach allows them to use this language while still practicing.

Why Is JavaScript Important to Your E-Commerce Website?

E-commerce websites are designed to help you sell your products or services to visitors. This generally means that each page has many items that need to load and can be interacted with. JavaScript is the industry standard language used in web development for creating these features and functionalities.

In addition to its ubiquity, most of your website’s visitors will have some familiarity with JavaScript. Even though many internet denizens don’t know the actual code in and out, the language’s functions are found on millions of websites. Users at least understand the end result, even if they can’t write or read JavaScript.

Incorporating JavaScript is important no matter what type of website you run. With e-commerce sites, though, it’s even more critical. You always want to ensure that your users are as comfortable as possible each time they access your page and can make their purchases efficiently.

How Can You Implement JavaScript on Your E-Commerce Website?

There are two main options when it comes to implementing JavaScript on your website. You can choose to use either one or both in tandem, depending on your particular preference and the needs of your website.

Use premade JavaScript functionality

Plug-ins, website builders, and other precoded tools are probably the most common ways that JavaScript gets implemented into websites.

When an individual developer or a company creates tools, templates, or other resources that people use to create websites, they almost always include some type of JavaScript.

As soon as you install those things onto your page, you automatically have the language as part of your site.

Manually code the JavaScript functionality

The other option is to program JavaScript functions into your page manually. You can either do this by coding the entire page from scratch or by editing existing pages and adding in whatever JavaScript functions you desire.

Either way, this gives you full control over what you want your website to do and how you want your visitors to interact with the page.

Combining premade and custom JavaScript code

For most people who want to learn to code with JavaScript, the easiest option is going to be to take existing pre-made pages and then edit them to better meet your needs. You can find a plug-in for a WordPress site, for example, that uses JavaScript to complete some type of image transitions on the page.

From there, you code in some additional functionality that enlarges an image when the user passes their cursor over it. This lets you create a unique page with minimal custom coding on your end.

What Is an Example of JavaScript on an E-Commerce Website?

There are many different things that JavaScript is used for on different types of websites. Take a look at the following common examples of how the language gets deployed on e-commerce and similar websites:

  • Autocomplete: If you have a search box on your e-commerce site, JavaScript can autocomplete to suggest various products or services as the user is typing in their search request.
  • Loading new content: You can use JavaScript to load new content on a page without the user having to manually refresh. This is especially great for e-commerce sites, as inventory levels and available products may change regularly throughout the day.
  • Rollover effects: When a user moves their cursor over a particular section of the page, JavaScript can trigger a rollover effect. E-commerce sites often use this feature to display images of a product when the visitor wants to see more details.
  • Validating input: If your users need to fill out forms, particularly when ordering a product or service off your site, JavaScript can verify that the input your users enter is valid. This way, they can only hit submit once they properly complete the form.

What Should You Do Next?

If you want to make a website that takes advantage of JavaScript’s most powerful features, you will probably want to use one of the many popular website builders available. You can also take some time to learn how to code in JavaScript yourself.

This programming language is surprisingly easy to learn. Whether you already know how to code in other languages, or this would be your first, you can start lessons right away.

A great place to start is our simple programming languages guide.

FAQs About JavaScript and E-commerce

What other languages can be used to create e-commerce websites?

While JavaScript is one of the most common codes on the internet, regardless of whether or not a website includes an e-commerce component, you or your web developers may also incorporate other languages into the mix. HTML (hypertext markup language), CSS (cascading style sheets), Python, PHP (hypertext preprocessor), and Ruby on Rails don’t always offer the same functionalities as JavaScript, but they can be used in conjunction with it to optimize your visitors’ experience with your website.

Is JavaScript easy to learn?

Most web developers consider JavaScript one of the simpler coding languages to learn, along with HTML and CSS. If you plan to work on your website yourself, starting with JavaScript-enabled templates and adding bits of custom code here and there can provide you with valuable practice as you grow your skills.

Can an entire e-commerce website be made without JavaScript?

Yes, you can build an entire e-commerce website without any JavaScript coding involved, but it isn’t advised. JavaScript’s role in crafting a satisfying user experience can’t be understated. The language makes your site much easier for your potential customers to browse your real-time inventory, look at the finer details of any photos, input their payment and shipping information, and more.

Not taking advantage of what JavaScript offers is to your detriment. Your visitors have gotten used to a certain level of smooth, painless e-commerce. Making it harder for them to place an order with you will likely send them off to shop with one of your competitors instead.

Michael Levanduski Avatar
Scroll to Top