It is often said in sales that it is easier to sell more things to existing customers than to find more new customers. This can also be applied to online sales – rather than concentrating solely on getting new visitors to your site (which is still a good thing), consider getting more business out of the people who are already landing on your site.
By improving the usability of your site you can help your customers do the things you want them to do – guide them towards your purchase funnel, your contact form, your quote engine or your download. Remove the obstacles that make it confusing or difficult for them – basically, don’t make them think too hard.
Despite all the hard work that goes in to webdesign, visitors are not usually on your site to enjoy the design, rather they are on your site to do something or get some information. Often they are impatient, they scan, they ‘satisfice’ – they click quickly trying to find what they want.
What can you do to help customers on their way, allay their concerns and convince them to convert?
– Make the navigation obvious and simple
– Where possible, try and copy OS navigations – these are well known and familiar
– Link back to the home page from your site-wide logo
– Make it easy for people to find critical pages like Contact Us and About Us
– Use Breadcrumbs in your navigation
– Utilise site search to help people find what they want – you can also use the statistics from your site search to implement changes that will improve your user experience.
– Make sure critical content is above the fold on each page
– I don’t like to say never, but I might say – never use horizontal scroll
– Use consistent styles and colours – nothing jarring
– Use headings, sub headings and paragraphs – makes it easier for people to scan
– Don’t distract people with unnecessary highlighting, bold or coloured text
Reconsider Your Design
It is sad but true, sometimes design gets in the way of usability. That can be understandable, because the most beautiful, interesting or shocking design, isn’t necessarily going to be the easiest to use. However, there are some things which you really should consider about your design;
– How much value does that Splash Page add? They are sometimes slow to load and distracting from the intent of the user.
– If you use icons in place of words – don’t use ones which may be ambiguous – check with many people that they all understand it to have the same meaning
– Informative product pages – if people are on a product page, they are likely considering a purchase, and you probably want to give them all the information they need on this page to know that this is the product they are after. Include specs, colour options, whatever you need – this is the place to put a comprehensive product description.
– Ad blindness is increasing – consider whether you have any sidebar elements which look like ‘ads’ and which could be better integrated into the page to prevent ad blindness.
Ask Your Developer
There are a few technical things you should check with your design before you make it live as well
– It should have a useful, branded 404 page, to help get people back on track (not to hit back to Google)