E-commerce That Works - Start With a Website That Works
October 4, 2011
Help me find your products !
Your e-commerce website should start with a website that works. Implement an easy navigation and follow the best practices. Help your visitors find immediately what they are looking for. You will earn their trust, and hopefully their business.
An easy navigation
Visitors must be able to easily find the most important pages of your website. Links to your product catalog, your news, your shopping cart and your contact page are absolute must haves. Those links must appear in your main navigation bar.
Follow the best practices
The e-commerce industry has developed over the years a multitude of best practices. Implementing them helps making your visitors feel right at home when they visit your website. Do not confuse them with an unusual navigation system.
Here are some of the key best practices:
- Your search engine must be at the top right hand side of the page.
- Your logo must be at the top left hand side of the page, and clicking your logo or your website banner must bring your visitors back to your home page.
- Your website theme (font, colors, background etc...) must be consistent from page to page.
- Avoid any horizontal scroll bar, nobody uses them.
- Do not use a splash page.
- Your web pages should not make sounds or play music.
- Underline text only to indicate a link, not for stressing the importance of your content.
- Make sure that your pages display as fast as possible.
Do not play the apprentice designer
Website design does not suffer approximations. Creating an e-commerce website is about using a software to publish your content (products), not about honing your web design skills. Use a standard theme and no logo if your budget does not allow for a custom design. Delegate the task to a competent web designer if you can spend the few hundred dollars, but do not do it yourself.
Avoid the gadgets
There is an ever growing list of features that you might be tempted to implement. Social sites buttons (Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus), "Tell a Friend" emails, wish lists, product ratings etc... Those tools have their place on the largest websites, not on yours. Too many features on a product page dilute the essential information you need to communicate to your visitors: your products specifications and descriptions.
Gain your visitors trust
Ordering online is a commitment for your customers, the Internet has a bad reputation. To gain the trust of your visitors make sure to have answers to the most commonly asked questions they ask themselves when considering placing an order. Make sure to have at least the following always readily available:
- The list of payment methods you accept.
- Your shipping policies and delays.
- Your return conditions.
- A phone number where they can reach you at for any question.