There are so many outstanding technologies and web development platforms available in the marketplace to help build great e-commerce websites today – it’s nearly impossible to keep up with all of them. For e-commerce sites, knowing how to leverage the technology to build a better “mouse trap” is key to success. Countless research has proven that customers are much more confident and likely to buy from websites that use some pretty straight forward design principles. Making your site’s visitors feel comfortable and confident with you site is key to selling online. Simple enough, right?
There are some basic guidelines for all those beginners out there looking to design a website, whether it be an e-commerce site, blog or any other website. Designing websites that will convert visitors into sales by selling more products more effectively, more efficiently is one of the primary objectives of any online entrepreneur.
There are some very specific site design and navigation elements that most users will expect to see though. If a customer doesn’t find your site fulfills those predetermined expectations, they won’t stay around for very long much less buy anything. You might have the greatest product in the world, selling it for the lowest price, but if your site is difficult to navigate and doesn’t swiftly reward the user with information that he’s looking for immediately, your ability to convert shoppers into buyers will be limited. Plain and simple.
Here are 6 proven web design tips to help you build more effective, conversion-oriented e-commerce websites:
- Make the Navigation of the Site User-Friendly:When a shopper hits your site, they want to be able to “look around” easily and not be confused or misdirected by complex navigation. Your customers need to quickly understand how to use the site and navigate it easily. Products and links should be clearly labeled so customers will know what to expect when they click for more information. The site needs to be predictable and the labels should be concise.
- Make Your Website Accessible for Everyone: Not every visitor to your site will be the same and often people with disabilities will need assistance through such things as Braille displays, screen readers, magnifiers, and other assisted devices. Your site should be easily navigated by all people and browsers. For more information about disabilities, please visit How People With Disabilities Use the Web to get a better idea of how you can modify your website.
- Light Up Your Buying Path: E-commerce site owners have to light the way for their customers. The path or route that consumers take when attempting to buy a product or service is sometimes referred to as a “buying path”. The buying path for your customer has to be clearly visible and well lit; so abundantly clear, in fact, that it’s virtually impossible for your customers to get lost or confused about where to go and how to buy. Web usability expert Steve Krug outlines the concept of lighting up the buying path in his book titled “Don’t Make Me Think”. If the buying path is not well lit or it’s overgrown with trees and brush and can’t be found, a lost, or worse yet, frustrated buyer will typically abandon their purchase attempt. Carving out well lit, clear buying paths should be one of the first orders of business for any e-commerce website.
- Make the Buy Buttons Prominent: The brighter that you make the lights on the way to the buying path for your customers’ the more likely they are to complete a purchase. Your product buttons should be VERY prominently featured that should have calls to action (“Buy Here!”), making them one of the first thing a site visitor sees in the customer’s buying path. Methods that work at brightening those lights include placing the buttons “above the fold” in the upper quadrant of the screen; varying the size, contrast, and color, distinguishing them from other links; and using a page design that makes it impossible to avoid seeing them.
- Make Product Pages with Attractive URL’s, Titles & Descriptions: Making your site convert better also means making all of the most important page elements as clickable as possible. You should build out each of your product pages with unique title tags and page descriptions and the URL should be built with keywords that are specific to the product. Above all, do not duplicate your product pages. Build one unique page per product. Each product page itself should contain descriptive information about the product above the fold that accurately describes the product and also motivates the buyer to buy it. The product page should include things like model/SKU numbers, data sheets, and pictures to support the buyer in his information gathering.
- Optimize Your Path: The easier that you make it for your prospective customer to find the information he’s looking for, the more likely it is that you will convert that buyer. Generally speaking, the longer the buying path, the more opportunities you’ll give your prospects to bail out on you. The key is not necessarily to minimize the number of clicks in the buying path though. Your goal should be to maximize the informational value per click along the path that supports the purchase behavior. If there are any pages in the buying path that don’t provide any real value, get rid of those pages or, at the very least, consolidate them into fewer pages. If you can provide the same amount of information in a reasonable manner on 3 pages instead of 5, increasing the informational value per click, you’ll improve your conversion substantially. So, give the shoppers in your buying path as much information as possible in as few clicks as possible.