Creating a Kick-Butt E-Commerce Site
In this growing world of eCommerce, your online store’s visual presentation is equally as important as the content you are selling. After all, a physical storefront must reflect the proper image to the passing customer, so why should your website be any different? Here are some simple ideas that will help keep your website traffic flowing downhill toward the shopping cart.
Keep it Simple – The last thing you want to do is distract your shoppers once they arrive at your site. Avoid unnecessary clutter, especially on the homepage. One easy way to do this is to minimize the amount of space the existing elements occupy.
For example, your header is the first thing people will see. It has your logo, your global navigation and your search bar. These buttons and fields don’t need a lot of space to communicate with the reader, and considering how common they are across most websites, they don’t even need to be very prominent as visitors will seek them out anyway. In a world where smaller means better with phones, cars and computers, incorporate a slim and sleek design, and it may subconsciously make a positive impact on the customer’s impression.
Prioritize for Mobile – Mobile surfing is on the rise with mobile devices now estimated to outnumber humans. This means that there is a good chance that users will be visiting your site from their phones, possibly exclusively. The on-screen real estate is much smaller on mobile phones and therefore you must adapt your site layout to fit certain standards.
Consider how effective a visit to your website on a mobile phone will be. Is it convenient or is it a hassle? If possible, you may want to look into designing a mobile version of your website to accommodate frequent mobile users. Ideally, your mobile design will be even sparser than your traditional layout stripped down to only the most necessary items. It’s safe to assume that if customers can’t wait for a computer to look something up, they’re in a hurry. Loading, zooming and pinpoint accuracy to press buttons will not sit well with customers. They will understand the lack of creative design on a mobile version; they usually only want to search for items and or purchase items.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com
Images – Humans can process images around 60,000 times faster than words, so rely on them to communicate the style and value of your products more than your physical descriptions. While you minimize content for mobile or simplicity’s sake, continue to feature your images. They are one of the most important factors in sales, and their proper display should be your priority. Unless you have a mobile version of your site, choose a slideshow type that is mobile friendly and allows the user to swipe rather than click (press) to navigate through the slideshow.
Intuitive Design – Regardless of how innovative your ideas are, you want to keep them lined up with people’s expectations. People expect elements to be clickable and scrollable, for example. If nothing happens when they click on your product because you have elected not to link the image to the product page, you’ll find that your site visitors are not patient enough to explore the depths and intricacies of your site. A large appeal of an intuitive design is how easy it is to navigate, complete transactions and gather desired information.
Incentivize Word-of-Mouth – One of your greatest marketing assets is giving your customer something positive to tell a friend. Obviously, the overall shopping experience goes a long way, but don’t forget to make it easy for them to share. Prominent social media buttons on the product and checkout pages, customer loyalty programs and subscribable new product feeds will keep them in your mind and give them an easy way to pass on your catalogue to a friend.
Call to Action – It doesn’t matter how beautiful your site is if actually completing a purchase is a chore. Place your “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” buttons close to the product and keep it obvious in both size and color, so that it doesn’t blend in to the rest of the page. You don’t want to overdo it by adding silly flashing animations or big arrows, but ensure that it is easy enough to find and stays in the same place on the page as the product. Adding point of sale software with a customer profile for repeat shopping can take a lot of the hassle out of purchasing, making them more likely to return in the future. Customers can get frustrated quite easily, and chances are that you exclusively are not selling the product that they desire, so don’t let the over-complexity of your website’s layout result in lost customer. At the end of the day your business is but a concept without the customer, which means ensuring convenience and simplicity for a productive visit to your website is paramount.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.com
Owen Andrew is a journalist and tech enthusiast who enjoys his morning black coffee while attempting the crossword puzzle. He has written for numerous publications, both in print and web format. He is based in Southern California, and is also versed in social media, video production, advertising, viral marketing, computer networking and cloud technologies. As of late, he’s enjoyed researching and writing on all-things eCommerce and entrepreneurship. He hopes that you enjoy this article and find it useful.