Improve Website Usability to Improve Your Website Sales

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While in a traditional store, bombarding shoppers with numerous products at once and placing essential products and services in the rear of the store in an effort to get shoppers to make additional, unplanned purchases is a viable tactic for converting shoppers to customers, replicating such a scenario in an online store could very well lead to losing customers and sales

With Internet sales booming and more and more retailers getting online to get in on the profits, the need for website design and Internet marketing services continues to grow steadily. However, a website or online store is not just a throwing together of pictures and text in a haphazard attempt at gaining the consumer’s attention and interest but is instead a fully thought out, time-consuming process, geared toward ensuring that the visitor/soon-to-be customer can easily maneuver the website and even more easily find the product/s she’s seeking.

While there are numerous Internet marketing strategies that exist to increase a website’s visitor traffic, many companies still don’t know how to deal with customers when they get them on their homepage. The features of an online store should closely resemble those of a traditional storefront; the homepage is representative of a store’s entrance point or front door, the top-bar and side-bar tabs categorize the different departments and services offered within that store, and the shopping cart or check-out feature obviously duplicates the check-out line in a traditional store. However, unlike a traditional store, many online stores do not allow the user to “walk” through the store as they would in a physical store. And while that might seem an impossible task even for the best website to achieve, if done right – as it sometimes is – a user-friendly website design can easily have the user feeling like she’s shopping in something reminiscent of a physical storefront.

A physical store’s goal is to get a customer in the door and keep them there as long as possible by making them have to pass numerous other products before getting to what they want. For instance, one would think a drug store’s primary goal is to sell prescription drugs but you wouldn’t know that by looking at the store layout of any major drug store chain primarily because the actual pharmacy is often located at the back of the store while other consumer goods occupy the prime space between the entrance and the pharmacy. The goal, and often the reality of this is that the customer ends up purchasing items she had probably not intended to upon initially entering the store. In a physical store, this methodology toward consumer purchase works mainly because of the fact that the consumer is physically in the store and finds it much easier to ask an attendant to direct her to the pharmacy or for help in finding a product because it is much more convenient to do so than to leave the store, get in her car and drive two miles to another store. Even in a shopping center or mall with numerous other stores in close proximity it is not always guaranteed that there will be a second store offering the same products or services that shopper is looking for. Thus, the fact that it would be a hassle to have to go someplace else to find what she needs combined with the convenience of finding everything from prescription drugs to macaroni and cheese all in one place often keeps a shopper in one story even if products are somewhat hard to find.

An online store does not have that luxury. According to Dr, Jakob Nielsen, the leading figure in the field of user-friendly website design, in “Site Design Tips to Improve Your Sales” on E-commerceGuide, when it comes to shopping online “things need to be where people expect to look for them …”. The methodology of bombarding a consumer with numerous item choices at once and making her search for the item she needs most certainly does not translate to that of the online store. Nielsen goes on to advise, “Don't offer people too many choices or you're just going to stun them and they'll go away without buying," And unlike in a physical store where the shopper is more inclined to stay due to the inconvenience of leaving, on the Internet the shopper is usually at home or other comfortable surroundings and can easily change location with the click of a mouse without the hassle of having to get in her car and drive to another store. Hundreds, and even thousands, of other stores offering the same products or services your marketing are only a click away making the user much more discriminating when it comes to deciding whether to continue browsing or to leave a website.

While there is no magic formula that will guarantee that a shopper will make a purchase on your website, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure that visitors to your website can easily maneuver their way through your website to access the products they want and make additional purchases along the way. First, and foremost, hiring a firm that is well-versed in building user-friendly ecommerce websites is probably the best plan of action. Although you may think you can save a few dollars by building the website yourself, you might actually cost your company money in the long-run by not having a website equipped with the user-friendly capabilities that can be much more easily installed by a professional website designer.

According to Chris Winfield, President of New York-based website design and Internet marketing firm 10e20, LLC, “You would be shocked at the number of online companies who’ve come to 10e20 for Ecommerce solutions and didn’t even have features, such as a shopping cart, account log-in, or rotating images of their products on their homepage that would alert a customer to the fact that the website was actually an online store where purchases could be made”. Second, work in tandem with your designer to create a website layout that caters specifically to your target group; website templates and frames will not do. Next, have your design team stay away from heavy flash images that do nothing for your website’s maneuverability or ease of use. While flash and heavy animation might be aesthetically pleasing, they can actually prevent prospective customers with slow modem speeds from accessing your website and that does nothing for your bottom line. Make sure that webpage layouts and designs are clean and uncluttered, and that product images, prices and descriptions are clear and distinct. The shopping cart features should be apparent on practically all pages and accessible at the click of a mouse, bringing the shopper straight to a page where she can view her products. Deals should be clearly displayed and given their own page. Up-sells can easily be made by installing a “Suggested Item” feature which tracks your shoppers’ selections and makes suggestions for similar items at the time of check-out. To gain even more of a rapport with your customers, an email list can be added which will automatically send out news on deals and special offers to shoppers current customers and shoppers who sign up for the program.

This is just the tip of the iceberg as far as creating a top-notch, sales-winning website Ecommerce goes. If it were this easy businesses all online stores would be seeing enormous profits, but the reality is that many don’t even start adhere to these basic principles. To start on the road to an effective website design for your online store, log on to, or call, (866) 921-4330 for a free Ecommerce consultation or proposal.

About 10e20, LLC

10e20 Website Design is THE global search marketing and web development company. Clients include Virgin, Ford, SoftwareCEO, and 350+ others. As seen in the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, the LA Times, CNET, Boston Globe and many more. 10e20 is headquartered in Brooklyn, NY and has a second office located in West Palm Beach, FL. Effective and affordable — 10e20!

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Checkey-Ann Beckford


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