by Sam Wheeler, Digital Business Consultant with Inseev Interactive
With more e-commerce websites popping up on the Internet than ever before, you might be thinking it’s time for your own company to strengthen its digital presence. While there’s never been a better time to start creating the website of your dreams, it’d be wise to get informed on some industry-leading tips and recommendations your new online marketplace should employ.
These strategies will help guide your website towards gaining, holding, and retaining more customers for a higher amount of time; resulting in greater overall business for you and a higher level of satisfaction for your customers.
K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Sam). An uncluttered, straight-forward website design will allow users to easily navigate through your website and utilize its full range of functionality.
Let’s face it – no one wants to have to consult an instruction book to figure out how to find and purchase a product from your website. A simple and easy experience will keep users happy and lead to repeat customers.
When wire framing your menu structure, consider the natural progression of your target audience. For a great, real life example, look to Gifts.com. Immediately as you enter their homepage, you can see how simple and easy it is to search for a gift by occasion, recipient, category, or personality.
Furthermore, keep in mind that it’s best practice to have the ability to search for products and items on the top right corner (red dotted box above) of every page of the site. There is little more frustrating than knowing exactly what you want but being unable to access it.
No one wants to feel like they are getting scammed, so make your website as legitimate as possible! There are a variety of ways to build instant rapport and trust with your customers:
Logo recognition. Nothing screams “trust me” like a naturally recognizable logo such as Coca-Cola:
Or the FTD Mercury Man:
The power of a recognizable logo will not only lead to an increased consumer base, but can pay off in millions, if not billions, of dollars.
Design Tip: Almost most every household brand has a colorful logo over a white background, with soft edges and a simplistic design.
Include customer reviews and testimonials. Having the confidence to share thoughts and experiences with your product will help garner the trust and acceptance needed for your newer users to make their own purchase. Using 99 Designs as an example, notice how users can read or watch testimonials.
99 Designs Testimonial Page
Provide product explanations and videos. Peace of mind is important in making an online purchasing decision. By having videos that highlight the essence of your product, you can establish a trustful connection and squash any qualms about the functionality or ease of use.
These demonstration videos should not necessarily be the first thing your visitor sees, but can be an available resource to leverage during the visit on your website.
With increased scrutiny surrounding the safety and security of electronic consumer data, especially after such events like the Target hack of 2014 where 40 million credit card numbers were stolen, consumers are more focused now than ever about their personal and sensitive information being online.
Users prefer to see HTTPS on their browsers
You should consider implementing a secure HTTPS protocol on your server to assure potential customers that their information is safe with you.
Bonus points: It even helps with SEO!
4. Design & Feedback.
The significance of having a responsive, usable site cannot be understated. Hubspot.com’s survey of consumers proves this point:
76% of all people surveyed said that the most important characteristic of a website starts with its ease of use.
Especially for websites that must obtain private information, ease of use is essential to converting the sale. Taking TransUnion SmartMove as an example, we see a homepage with only two options for the user:
The homepage of TransUnion SmartMove provides users with two options
A usable website can make the difference between gaining a competitive advantage and owning a failing website.
As a rule of thumb, it’s always important to gather feedback from your potential and future customers. You can collect feedback by using tools such as:
Both of these tools can help gather feedback from individual users so that you can understand how usable and friendly your site is. Keep in mind, however, that this is not just a onetime investment – user feedback is something that you should be constantly monitoring throughout the lifetime of your site.
Before you leverage any of the above tools, first set usability goals and success metrics. Set goals for metrics like homepage to checkout speed, user satisfaction, and cart abandonment.
A recent infographic shows that nearly half of all web users expect to see a site load in 2 seconds or less. At 4 seconds of loading time, webpages have an abandonment rate of 25%.
Page Abandonment and Loading Time (Source: Kissmetrics.com)
79% of users that experienced trouble with a website say they won’t return to buy again and about 44% would tell a friend if they had a bad experience using a specific site.
Within a few seconds, your site can go from hero to zero with a multitude of potential sales falling through the cracks, ending in a soured feeling for both you and your customers.
While building a robust website may seem like a daunting task at first, it’s important to remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your website.
Set yourself a checklist and timeline to ensure progress and never stop improving. The best websites are updated and tweaked on a consistent basis.
Sam Wheeler is a Digital Business Consultant with Inseev Interactive. He manages digital projects for Fortune 500 companies and small business alike, focusing on public relations and website management.