E-commerce: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Next-gen Web Design
Consider leveraging Web 2.0 technology to boost your Web site’s intuitive response to your customers, said Bridget Fahrland, executive director at Web design firm Fry Inc., and Kevin Messing, Fry’s creative director, in their session “Designing for Web 2.0: Questioning the Conventional Wisdom of Web Design,” at during the ACCM in Chicago. Messing defined Web 2.0 as being second-generation Internet technologies that drive a better user experience online. “Web 2.0 is a new approach to creating and distributing content online, characterized by open communication and decentralized sources of content,” he said.
Here are some practical do’s and don’ts for starting to use this next-generation set of Web design tools:
1. Break out of the page-by-page Web site structure. Provide a naturally intuitive experience similar to that of desktop applications. Sites such as Gap.com and buildyourown.circuitcity.com (Circuit City’s home theater configurator) use this site structure.
2. Give the details. Provide your customers with robust product descriptions that are available at the product detail level rather than just at the end of the checkout process or in an order confirmation e-mail. Blue Nile does an “amazing job” by providing detailed drawings in a pop-up window that explain how the clasp of a bracelet works or how a diamond is set, the panelists pointed out. Also, prominently place information about guarantees and privacy policies.
3. Engage the community. Allow site visitors to share information such as tags, ratings, reviews, playlists, etc. For examples of sites that use tags, check out etsy.com and flickr.com.
4. Re-evaluate e-commerce metaphors, i.e., shopping carts, wish lists, etc. For example, “deliver on the shopping cart metaphor by placing a bar along the top or side of the page that expands when the shopper wants to see what she’s placed inside,” Messing said. He cautioned retailers not to take customers to a separate shopping cart page to prevent them from getting lost. Retailers can also enable pop-up windows to provide shoppers with more information on a featured product so they don’t have to click through to a new page.