Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Website Usability–Three Main Rules for Your Website Search Box

Basic website usability - If you want to convert more visitors into customers on your website and achieve a higher over all conversion rate you need to pay attention to your Website Search Box;  where it is, how obvious it is, and the results it produces – in other words, does it find what your visitors are looking for?

It’s astounding how many e-commerce sites, from small to large (and I mean very large) do not pay enough attention to the importance of their website search box and the results it produces – I’m sure that you, like me, will have left a site in a hurry in frustration at the time it takes to find something, when it should have been immediately obvious.

Your website may have been found by natural search, or re-visited by a repeat customer but the reason that potential buyer is there is because they are looking for something.  Obviously, you may say, but take note that if they don’t find what they’re looking for fast they will leave in a flash and go somewhere else. 

Also note that on-site search beats website navigation every time – how much easier is it to put a search term into a website search box and be taken straight there, rather than take several steps to get there via navigation?

1.  The first rule about your website search box is that it should be at the top of your site – visible on every page, and preferably on or near the top right.  Anywhere else and it’s in the wrong place.

There’s a reason why it’s here…
Netaporter for site search
and here…………….

John Lewis for Site Search

2.  It should also be absolutely clear that it is the website search box, saying (strangely enough) ‘Search’ or ‘Search by Product’.  Or something similar.  Never imagine that your visitors will be able to read your mind.   They won’t.

3.  You need to make sure that your product titles and content copy match and/or contain the keywords and phrases that people are looking for when using natural search engines such as Google. 

This is where most of the mistakes are made, in that not enough attention is paid firstly to how people are searching for the products that you offer and secondly that you are making use of that information on your website.

None of this is rocket science but so many get it wrong and lose conversions accordingly. The conversion rate from a product found through your search box will be one of the highest on your website – so make it easy for your visitors to get straight to what they’re looking for.

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Saturday, 17 December 2011

Christmas Deliveries–How Clear Are You?

Some of the busiest Christmas shopping days are still coming up, with online retailers sending out newsletter after newsletter informing their subscribers that there’s still time to order before Christmas.  But hit the website and it’s not clear.  Why not?

I’m astonished at how many sites I look at right now that are not announcing loudly that there’s still time for customers to place orders.  Maybe you’ve already closed for Christmas orders, and I know some who have had to due to the sheer volume they’ve already received, however if you still want those orders you need to announce as clearly as possible on your home page when your Christmas delivery dates are.

Christmas Delivery Dates

At this time everyone’s in a hurry, and no one wants to a) search for your Christmas delivery information b) even worse, call you up.  They’ll simply go away and buy somewhere else, where the information is crystal clear.

To carry on selling up to the last moment make your Christmas delivery dates obvious.  Right now.  Or wonder why everyone else is selling and you’re not.

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Saturday, 3 December 2011

Website Security–Making it Obvious

It doesn’t matter how much you’ve spent on your beautifully designed, gorgeously stocked website, unless you’re obviously secure you’re going to lose orders.  Website security has always been an issue, and as the number of e-commerce sites grows like topsy one of the ways you can differentiate yourself from those who aren’t aware about just how important this issue is, is to make it as obvious as you possibly can that you are a trustworthy merchant. 

In essence, you may know that you are completely honest, but how do you expect the rest of the world to be assured of that as well?  The web has made it possible for every store, large and small, to open it’s virtual doors online, most honest, a few unscrupulous.  What are you doing to make sure that everyone knows you are safe to buy from?

This is an example from the home page of  Zappos in the US, well known, with an enormous range which started with shoes and has now branched out into fashion, beauty, accessories, kids – you name it, Zappos probably sells it.  If it’s important enough for them to display security and review badges, then it should be for you as well.
Zappos security links
Most online shoppers will have not problems in ordering from a household name, such as John Lewis, Selfridges or Debenhams.  These are huge, multi channel retailers they will almost certainly have shopped from offline, so there’s no reason not to do so online.  Then there are those with a large online presence (some of whom are now venturing into bricks and mortar) such as ASOS, Boden and The White Company, again we’ve all shopped from them enough to know that they are trustworthy.

The retailers I am talking about are usually small to medium sized, frequently with very attractive websites, and products that are different enough from the run of the mill that customers will be interested in buying from them.  These are the ones where, if they don’t demonstrate that they are secure, will lose out.  Here are two examples of smaller retailers who have done the right thing, Accessories Online, and The Wychwood Deli.

Accessories Online Website Security Wychwood Safety Banners

You need to display clearly, on your home page, the payment methods you take, plus accredited retailer security badges such as ISIS, by IMRG (Internet Shopping is Safe) which is without question the one I would go for first, and you can apply to join here.  As you grow you should also offer independent customer reviews.  Not those where anyone can put up a review, but where only customers can review the products and services they have purchased.  As Social grows swiftly alongside the web we listen more and more to what other customers have to say, and so showing customer reviews will become the standard, not the exception.

You should also give clear contact details in your ‘contact us’ section, not just offer a form for customers to fill in.  Address, Telephone number and email address are best practise. 

I suggest that you don’t waste any time in shouting out that you are a trustworthy place to shop from, and if you need any help you can contact me at
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