688 0 April 15, 2013

Designing a website that sells – an easy checklist

Selling online is not an easy job today, with millions of websites, a huge competition in almost every field, and thousands of new websites appearing every day. Website owners make everything they can to get noticed. This includes hiring seo companies (or doing it themselves, if they are on a low budget), buying paid links, advertising, investing in social media – and whatever else you can think of.

The problem with driving traffic to your website is that it is expensive. So, if you’ve invested your money, effort and time to drive people to your website, they will buy your product, isn’t it? Not necessarily, I’m afraid…

People are doing their shopping online, but they are (rightfully!) careful about how they spend their money. The more expensive product you are selling, the more secure they should feel on your website (at least this is how it works for me – I am not really picky if I buy cup cake liners for $3, but I would check security twice if I were buying a TV set for $1000).

To avoid the disappointment caused by visitors leaving your website without buying anything, you should check your website BEFORE spending your money on traffic and advertising. This is where my handy checklist will be helpful (I think I might create an infographic out of that).

1. Is your proposition unique? What is your product?

Well, whatever is your product, chances are, it already is being sold somewhere. You should think and write down why internet user should buy from you, and not from your competitor. Is your product better? Are you faster? Do you have a better customer service? Maybe you offer a widest choice of specific product? If you know the answers, everything is ok, and you can mark this point done, if you are not sure, you should learn how to create a unique selling proposition.

2. What about your website copy?

How well it is written? Do you remember the saying: “Content is king”. Well, it is true, and it should be also applied here. You should be able to answer yourself to the following questions: Does my visitor know what he can buy on my website instantly after arriving here? Does he know what is the value he will get for his money? Finally, will he know that my product will solve his problem / gratify his desire? Remember, it’s always about your customer needs. Try to jump into his shoes and tell him, in simple words, why does he need your product.

3. How easy and intuitive your website interface is?

This is quite simple question to answer – the website should be clean and easy to navigate, even for the first time visitor. Today, with internet technologies rapidly┬ádeveloping, the rise of HTML5 and CSS3 we are tempted to add all kinds of bells and whistles to our websites, sliders, animations, hover effects, flipping cards (well, I use them on my website). Please examine your website, and check if all these small effects serve to simplify the interface (sliders are helpful if you have a lot of one product photos to show). But beware of too many animations, too fast or too rapid effects, because they may also confuse your visitors.

4. How easy is to buy your product?

This, again, is a simple one – you should check if your call to actions are easy to find and understandable. No one will buy your product if he will have to search the “buy now” button (yes, it happens!)

5. How easy is to find additional info – how much is the shipping and how long will it take?

If you are selling tangible goods, most people will want to know how much they will need to pay for the shipping and how soon they will get their ordered goods. Make sure this info is evident. If you are selling digital downloads, the best option is an instant download, just after receiving the payment. In case of services – make sure your customers will be assured about the way they will get what they paid for.

Also, if you are offering any kind of a guarantee, it’s a good idea to find out a nice place to expose it, and give some suitable info about the deal.

6. How secure is the website.

Are you able to provide anything to assure your visitors about the security? All trust seals, paypal verfification seal, bbb accreditation and any other trust seals should be noticeable.

6. How does your checkout process look like?

The easier checkout process the less opportunities for buyer to back off. Of course, sometimes filling forms is necessary, but try to simplify the task. If your forms are lengthy, split them into reasonable chunks, and use step navigation, to make it a simple and logical process for the user.

7. What happens after the checkout?

Oh, it seems it’s not relevant, does it? After all, they’ve already bought your product, didn’t they? If you think so, you are very, very wrong. Follow up your customers. Ask, if they like your product. Offer support. Add a bonus free item. Offer a discount for next items. They will come back for more, and recommend to their friends (you can also ask for a testimonial or for liking your page on facebook).

8. Compelling graphics and clean modern design will help too.

Yes, they do. In fact, I didn’t intend to talk about the design in this post, but creating a clear process needs a good design. Also, if I am buying something online, and I find more than one shop offering the same product at the similar price, I will choose the one that looks better. It’s that simple.

Ok, that’s my checklist for e-commerce websites. To make it work, it’s best to print it (you can download a printable copy here), and fill it. Believe me, it works!

Ok, and this text paragraph is just for testing purposes – forgive me this, but I need to test something online. test-doc

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