The widespread availability of high-speed Internet access has resulted in ever-greater numbers of consumers making online purchases. This means that business owners of all stripes - from individuals working from home to big box mass merchandisers - can reach more buyers and can generate exponentially greater revenue than ever before.
There are many theories about and tips for marketing and advertising your online store, and marketing and advertising is certainly a consideration. But in focusing so much attention on marketing, many business owners neglect a fundamental aspect of successful e-commerce: web page design.
If you don't have a professional webpage design, it doesn't matter how much traffic you generate to your site because those visitors won't convert to customers. It's crucial to have a website that is compelling and that makes visitors want to stay long enough to buy. Here, then, are six tips to help your web design transform visitors into customers:
1. Keep it Clean. A professional web page designer will tell you that to keep your virtual storefront clean and free of clutter. It should be immediately clear to the visitor the types of items you sell without overwhelming them with dozens of hyperlinks, fonts, and flashing buttons and words. You can certainly incorporate a flash introduction in your web design, but if you do, give the visitor control. He or she should be able to bypass or pause the flash so that the annoyance factor is kept to a minimum.
2. Intuitive Navigation. Your website designer should think like your customer and design a navigation system that easily takes your customer from your home page to the product or products of interest. The fewer number of clicks it takes to get from point A to point B, the more likely it is that your visitor will make a purchase.
3. Search Functionality. Customers need to be able to find what they need quickly and easily. Allowing customers to search by keyword or product number is a great start. Going one step further and allowing "fuzzy" searches that will also return matches for common misspellings is even better.
4. Seamless Shopping Cart. Many e-commerce sites lose customers at the critical juncture between selecting items and committing to buy them. An intuitive and easy-to-use shopping cart is essential to the online shopping experience. Again, your web page designer should think like your customer and utilize a shopping cart that makes checkout a breeze.
5. SSL Certificate. If you're an online merchant, there's simply no getting around the need for an SSL certificate. With the problems associated with identity theft, your customers need to have confidence that your website is secure.
6. Leave it to the Professionals. When it comes to web page design, don't succumb to the temptation to do it yourself. Even if you have a web design program, you should hire a business web page designer to create your web site. Professionals have a variety of tools that will help your business succeed online, and will act as your partner in developing e-commerce solutions that will encourage visitors to stick around and purchase your products.