Design to Sell
As multichannel merchants look to capitalize on the all-important holiday shopping season, particularly online, many are counting on increased Web traffic and the sales that follow. But for many, the sales don’t always follow, due to poor Web design. Jeff Schueler, president of Usability Sciences Corp., a testing and user research solutions provider, has composed a list of his top Web design tips for improving online sales. Listed below are some of his best.
1. Allow ‘guests’ to buy your products. Many customers avoid sites that force them to register to make a purchase. They see the registration process as an invitation to receive spam or junk e-mail, and will move on to another site to find the same item.
2. Provide users with a road map. Regardless of the process, users need to know where they are and how many steps remain. Ensure your site allows users to return to prior steps to make changes without losing all of their selections or previously entered data. Post a progress indicator somewhere within each page from the start to the end of the process.
3. Remind them what they’re purchasing. To help boost their comfort level before starting the actual checkout process, include a clickable image of the product(s) being purchased. Although most customers have more than likely viewed the product in detail before adding it to their cart, the clickable image reassures them that they have the desired item(s) in their cart.
4. Incorporate customer product reviews. Generally your customers prove to be your best salespeople. Their reviews add tremendous value to a potential customer researching your site. Reviews should be easy to locate on the product page and should offer a rating scale of various product attributes and open-text feedback. They should be ordered chronologically, with the most recent listed first.
5. Reel in your promotions. Don’t allow promotions to take over your site and obscure the primary content. Provide contextually specific promotions on key areas of the Web page while not interfering with the primary content. Promotions are in addition to your primary merchandise, so pull customers in with the merchandise, then make them aware of the promotions.
6. Identify yourself. Although most sites would rather have customers complete the checkout online, provide an 800 number and a mailing address for customers who need assistance with their purchase. Displaying this information enhances your credibility. Put this information in a visible and easily accessible area of your site.
7. Make search visitors a priority. Of all the visitors who come to your site, those who arrive via a search typically are the most difficult to convert. The keyword search field should be offered in a prominent location on every page. Search results should include both the specific results and additional ways to fine-tune a search or navigate into a broader category.