Trying to cram a store’s worth of material onto a few virtual pages is hard enough, with some established e-stores offering as much as 500 or more products. If you add a cornucopia of unimportant information that you think is cool, think how many precious minutes your customers will waste digging around your pages for stuff that are really important. That’s bad business.
In fact, customers are beginning to complain that sites are much too complicated. This is the result of a study done by the Chicago-based Information Resources, Inc. in its survey of 7,900 shoppers. They found that most packaged goods manufacturers are providing features that visitors don’t want. In attempting to do too much and be everything to the customer, the marketing and sales objectives fail.
The study also showed that top brand marketers in beauty care, food and household supplies are wasting money on such features as games and chat. Of the sites included in the sample, 38% featured games, yet just 12% of shoppers say they want them. In a reverse situation, 74% of the shoppers say that they are willing to provide feedback online, but only 38% of sites ask for it.
Many site owners and webmasters forget the main reason why people are drawn online to shop – and that is convenience. So if your store is inconvenient and doesn’t provide them with what they need, rest assured that they will be out of your site faster than you can say “Hello.”
So how do you incorporate efficiency and simplicity in your site? Here are some tips in creating sites that don’t waste a customer’s precious time:
1. When in doubt, leave it out!
Simplicity and clarity helps visitors find things with a minimum of fuss; they also help emphasize the information that you do provide. Be minimalist. Unless there is “present and clear necessity” for one element, don’t include it in your page. If you can’t explain to yourself why that graphic is important, then probably it’s not. Chuck it.
2. Use the three-click rule as the guiding formula of your web site’s overall structure.
If you can’t decide whether the site is self-explanatory enough, use the “three click rule.” All customers should be able to find the data they need within three clicks of having entered the site. Customers should be able to dash in, grab what they need, and dash away again without becoming hopelessly lost. Although four necessary clicks for some links would hardly be a disaster, you still want to be as close to the ideal as possible.
3. Have a clear structure.
Unless you provide some kind of organization to your site users, they can become lost in a tangle of disconnected screens. Chaos is certainly not the path to success! Everything should be arranged in an orderly manner, and it should always provide enough information to answer these three questions: What type of site is this? What kinds of information can I find here? How do I contact this company?
4. Build an interactive store.
Don’t treat your web site as a standard catalog or brochure that wastes your singular opportunity to build an interactive store. Without exception, the best web sites are those that allow a certain degree of interaction between the merchant and the customer. Even if the complexity of mass customization is currently beyond your capacity, be sure to include at least some opportunity for customer involvement – even if it’s only an email address for feedback.
5. Use the power of social
Be where your customers are — and many of them may be in social media. For online businesses today, social media has become an important medium to reach potential customers, engage those who currently purchase from you, and showcase the products you offer. Thus, it is critical when thinking of web site design for your online store to make your content shareable. Make it easy for your visitors and customers to share your products on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media sites.
6. Emphasize your call to action.
You want your visitors to buy from you? Then be sure to make that “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” button prominent. Make it scream and noticeable! Considering all the elements of your web pages, it is important to make your call to action stand out. Test placement: is putting it on the right side better or are users more likely to click on it if placed after the product description? Test even the colors that work well: is red better than orange?