Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Usability Guidelines–6 ‘Hot Shops’ Home Page Rules

IMRG-Experian Hitwise Hot Shops List of the top 50 UK e-retailers

Unless you have a highly performing website in terms of both traffic generation and conversion to sales you’re likely to be asking yourself ‘what am I doing wrong’?

Frequently a combination of ‘design enthusiasm’ on the part of the client, who often thinks they know exactly what they want (and probably wants to ‘do something different’), and a developer who’s excited by the thought of doing something new results in a website that simply doesn’t work.  Much money is spent, little traffic is generated and what does get through doesn’t convert because the home page is not set up for best practice usability.

There really is no need to try and re-invent the wheel where home page design is concerned, you only have to look at the Hot Shops List from IMRG August 2012 to see that all of the top performing websites lead with a home page template that is very similar, whatever the product.

Header Area – Along with your logo (which should link through to your home page from anywhere on your website) and mission statement/tag line, this area is extremely important and needs to be deep enough to include the following; 

Search Box – centred or to the right
Cart/Trolley/Shopping Bag
Links to Login/Registration/Sign-up
Links to Help/Customer Service and Contact Us

Headline Area

Debenhams Headline Area

Should be underneath the header area and contain your main shopping categories plus ways to shop, such as ‘Brands’, ‘Offers’, ‘New In’.  More and more frequently these main headlines contain drop-down boxes where categories and sub categories can be selected, making the journey for the shopper to their desired product quicker than ever.

In some cases there is also static navigation in the left hand margin although this is now most often reached once a main category has been chosen and is not visible on the Home Page.

Main Image
More and more this  times takes up the full width of the site and fully reflects what the site and brand is about.  Very often rotating images are used, each linking through to a major area of the site.

Linked Area

Whether by use of optimised content, banners or simple column links (or a combination of all of these) there is always an area linking through to ‘hot’ areas of the site, in other words, where the retailer really wants you to go.  To Top 10 products, Best Selling Brands, Favourites, Special Offers – drawing you further into the site with every click, savvy retailers knowing that if they can get you hooked on something that has already proved to be successful, you're more likely a) to buy, and b) to come and visit them again.


The days of finding out delivery details within Terms and Conditions are well and truly over.  Now the footer contains clear links to all utilities including Delivery, Returns, How to Shop, Privacy Policy, Cookie information, Press etc.

Trust Building

The footer should also contain elements of trust building, accreditations and payment methods accepted although these can also be higher up the page. 

There’s no doubt that home page design is getting clearer, making it ever easier for customers and visitors to find what they’re looking for.  As Steve Krug says in the title of his excellent book on web usability ‘Don’t Make me Think’.  So just don't.

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