You're excited about your new business, but you need a website to make things happen. And here's where things get tricky. There are a lot of ways to screw up a website. You can make the design too complicated – driving users away. You can use the wrong colours, fail to give users the right visual queues for links, and you can fail to take advantage of user engagement at the right time. Worst of all, you could unwittingly drive users away with common marketing tactics.
Make Your Links Obvious
According to Jakob Nielson, head of Nielson Norman Group, most new websites make the mistake of hiding links in complex navigation menu schemes or making the entire header look like an advertisement. Selective attention is extremely powerful, and users have developed something called “ad blindness” over the years. You're not putting advertising on your website?
That's fine, but if your design, in any way, looks like an advertisement, users will likely ignore it – bad news if your links are embedded in a fancy-looking header or navigation menu. Users tend to avoid animations and pop-ups as well.
Look at sites like www.lenstore.co.uk. The links are pretty obvious. It's easy to find what you're looking for. Everything is neatly categorised on the left with important products taking centre stage.
Answer User Questions On The Landing Page
Users are, for the most part, goal-driven. They come to your site to solve a problem. If they can't figure out how you help them within a few seconds, they leave. It's as simple as that. When people land on your page, what do you do for them? You have to be able to answer this question almost immediately. If you can't, you'll never get the sale.
Of course, sometimes, the answer is just not there, and you end up losing the sale because of it. Other times, the facts users need are buried deep in your site – that's the information that needs to be brought forward to the landing page.
The worst offenders in business are those that don't list pricing right on the product page. If users have to click through to find prices, they'll quickly become annoyed or confused and leave. Mostly this happens in the B2B market, but it occasionally happens in the B2C market too. Don't confuse people. Tell them how much you charge.
Make The Search Bar Highly Visible
Place the search bar in the upper right or left-hand corner. Make it easy to find. Most websites use this placement, and it's a good idea to follow suit. Why? Because users have learned that the search bar goes in the upper left or right corner. If you put it somewhere else, you simply confuse people.
It's inevitable that people will want something that they can't immediately find on your landing page. They have two choices: search for it or leave. Make it easy for them. Put the search bar in a dead-obvious position on the page. Also, make the text area at least 27 characters wide. Why? This is the length of an average search query.
If you get just these three things right, you'll have a much higher conversion rate than your competitors – all other things being equal. With e-commerce getting fiercely competitive, being creative or “different” with your web design could cost you your business.
This guest post is from Guy Ascher. He is a website marketing consultant. He enjoys sharing his insights online through blogging.