Successful website design can play a vital role in the success of your ecommerce business. Your great product and wonderful idea will not matter if your website is a relic from 1989, with clunky images and a terrible design.
No customer will want to navigate a website that still uses coding from the 1990s. No customer will even stay on the website long enough to go through your products. The average customer spends but a few seconds on a website before they click away if they dislike what they see. So how do you get them to stay?
- Put in a flash introduction. Flash intros are a thing of the past, something most customers tend to skip over. Why do you think most flash intros have a nifty link that says "skip intro?" Save your money and put it into something more constructive, like building a better shopping cart. Not only that, but they can kill your chances of ranking well on Google.
- Fill it with fluff. Many first time ecommerce owners just overload their websites with fluff - such as an about page that says absolutely nothing about the company, but everything about your three Labradors. If necessary, find an excellent web copywriter who can give you great articles and reduce your about page to about three sentences. Fluff can also mean black hat search engine optimization or the tendency to stuff your site full of keywords. This can serisously hurt your chances of ranking well. Talk to us if you need copywriting services.
- Put white text on a black background. Or make it dance. Or put cute graphics that look like Windows clipart. Seriously, is this 1992? You are not Homer Simpson.
- Overlay a subscribe pop-up ad that is coded to appear when the customer clicks to the website. Many browsers will block this and many customers will simply close it. A neat subscribe/sign up now link on the page is often enough. It annoys us, I'm sure it will annoy your customers too.
- Make it hard for customers to find your contact information. Make sure your FAQs and contact info are easily visible.
- Assume that your customer has no other choices. Many eCommerce sites underestimate the power of multiple tabs - a customer often has several open and is simply making a decision. It is the online equivalent of trying on all the shoes before buying them.
- Put up parts of your site that are not ready yet. Nothing frustrates a customer more than Sorry! 404 Not Found, except maybe sites that do not load at all.
- Keep a structure that is easy to follow - recent trends indicate grid and Tumblog structures are still immensely popular because they are pleasing to the eye and easy to scan. This allows the customers to find what they need, when they need it.
- Focus on ease of navigation. How fast can your customer find your shopping cart or get from your product order to the credit card information page? How easy is it for your customer to find what they need? Studies show that customers who cannot find what they need within a 45-60 second timeframe will close the window and go back to Google. Look at your favourite eCommerce sites and take note of the features you enjoy. Is it an easy to use shopping cart?
- Make your checkout easy to find!
- Use large, pleasing pictures that load easily. Pictures say a thousand words, but you are saying a whole lot of nothing if your pictures do not load.
- Focus on your strong selling points: present the product near the middle of the page, where the eye is often normally drawn. Clear up clutter - if it feels like clutter, it probably is clutter on your webpage
- Ask people to look at it - and by people, people you do not know, who can give an honest opinion about how to navigate it. Many web designers offer beta-testing services, which can help you work out the kinks before the site goes live.
- Add links to your best-selling items. Customers who liked this also bought...or you may like...are wonderful ways to alert your customers to what else is available on your ecommerce site. Just make sure to limit it to two or three items.
- Make it easy to buy your products. Give them access to PayPal, secure credit card payment systems and easy shipping options that benefit you and your customer. Make it easy for them to input discount or coupon codes - do not force them to search for it like Neolithic hunters. They are not Neanderthals.
Following these common sense rules translates to a better website. A well built website means more sales and higher turnover.