With the cost of setting up an online store being low, it has become very simple for anyone to setup an online presence. Even though it has become easy to build a website with ecommerce capability, a site that has not been designed properly would not be able to drive sales effectively and may even cause revenue losses. It is important to have your site professionally designed. Here are the top 10 deadly sins of web design that can kill sales.
1. Using small fonts
One common mistake made by several websites is to use small fonts. In the early part of the web’s evolution, most sites used to employ small fonts in the 10-12 pt. range. In the current environment, 14 -18 pt. is most common. Media websites in particular are well known for excellent usage of fonts. See ESPN Cricinfo for instance.
At all times, bear in mind that a cluttered looking website is a big sales killer. Suppose you have a site like Amazon, then the site should be able to display large volumes of varied data. But that does not have to automatically mean clutter. By following some good design principles, you can avoid clutter. These include:
- Having an elegant two or three colour scheme for the site
- Not having too many links at the highest level
- Using a mouse over style for displaying lists
- Using large clickable images for products
See Amazon’s site for a good example of clutter free design.
3. Bad search functionality
Good search functionality is the bread and butter of a successful website. While clickable images, categories and lists are what users depend on by and large, it is important to have quality search since that is the backup option that users look for when they are unable to locate an item.
Many sites make a mistake in either of two ways with regards to search. One, sites provide a search function that is too basic and consequently generates 100s of results with very little differentiation. The other way is to provide a search function that requires you to understand how to use Boolean operators and quotes correctly, in order to run a quality search. Always look to provide a search function that is advanced yet user friendly. Look at the search provided by Target for instance. As soon as you type jeans, you immediately have a list populated right below with items like mens jeans and jeans sale, making it very convenient for the user.
4. Page titles and content not optimized for search engines
SEO got a bad rap from many quarters initially because somehow the urban legend spread that simply stuffing keywords into page titles and content could help a site rank high in Google. This was only partly true anyways. Things have long changed and search engines now place an absolute premium on the quality and relevance of the content.
The bottom line, SEO is as important as ever although today’s SEO strategy and implementation needs to be completely different. It is extremely important to implement SEO properly with regards to your website content and page titles. Not doing so can be a fatal error.
5. Not having a mobile friendly website
The majority of Google searches in the US now happen on mobile phones. It is critical to ensure that your mobile version of the website is designed as well as the desktop version.You can’t afford letting users who browse your content on mobile down, because mobile eCommerce has shown continuous surge and is the way ahead for many businesses.
6. Not designing the site based on web standards
It is important to ensure that your site is designed with full compliance all the existing web standards. Without this, it cannot be ensured that your site would render well on all technology platforms. Accessibility is another dimension that is important.
7. Not testing on all browsers
One aspect that many websites miss out is that they are not tested on browser platforms. For example, even today we have several websites that properly execute a certain function in Google chrome but not in Internet Explorer or Mozilla. Your website needs to be fully tested on all the leading browser platforms being released to production.
8. Not having local country sites
There are many benefits with a site having separate domains for all their leading markets. Users have better connect with the site, can be delivered a better experience and it can be fully ensured that the site is compliant with all local laws and regulations. Huffington Post for instance has a .com site for the US and delivers a .in site for Indian users. Increasingly it has become almost a norm for all leading companies including Google, Microsoft and Amazon deliver content to users with a country-specific server. If you are player in several markets, you simply cannot afford to serve content from one .com domain to all countries.
9. Requiring too many click throughs to reach content
Although website development is well advanced, even today, we can see that several websites are poorly designed in this aspect. Any high traffic microsite must be reachable in not more than 3 click throughs from the main site, as a rough guideline. Requiring too many click throughs to reach content causes enormous amount of user frustration, user drop outs and lost revenue.
10. Building the site on outdated technology
Given the rate at which web technology is progressing, it would be no understatement to say that a wrong choice of technology platform can give you grief for years to come. You should always have a design firm choose a technology platform that is as current as possible, which is well supported in the marketplace. Website updates happen often and several major upgrades can occur in a span of a couple of years. Without having the site hosted on a cutting edge technology platform, you can find yourself severely constrained if you hit budget constraints at the time of the upgrade.