Website Design Assumptions can be Costly in E-commerce

Friday, November 5th, 2010

For e-commerce websites there are many factors to consider that can ultimately save the online presence of a business or could be costing a business in terms of customers and conversions. Website design is critical to the performance of an e-commerce website. The following assumptions will cost an e-commerce site tons of visitors, customers and can result in dramatically reduced conversions:

Thinking that someone will automatically know where to find a website. This is one of the most costly assumptions that an e-commerce business owner can make. People don’t always know how to find a website, they may not remember the URL or they may not always have a site bookmarked. Website design that focuses on optimization will help people to find a website, after all if a website can’t be found than nothing can be purchased from the site and therefore money is lost.

Everyone already knows what you sell. Sometimes, in designing a website, the business owner already believes that if a visitor makes it to the site then they must already know what is being sold. This is not true and therefore it’s important that any e-commerce website be filled with valuable content that explains the purpose of the site and what the product or service is that the e-commerce site offers. If visitors can not easily figure out what is being offered and make a determination that they have a need for that offering then bounce back rates will increase because visitors will not navigate any further.

The site design went smooth so the conversions will come. Unfortunately, even though a site may be well designed the conversion process may still have bugs. A website design company that specializes in e-commerce will work through the conversion funnel to determine if the site is truly up and running smoothly. Additionally, it’s important to determine how the website will respond to various errors such as when a visitor makes an improper choice, inputs the wrong shipping information or clicks on items that were not meant to be clicked on. Some websites will not respond well to errors and human error by a visitor can result in a conversion loss.

All people know how to make it back to the homepage. This is another website design assumption that could be costly in e-commerce. Not all people know how to make their way back to a websites homepage unless there is a specific button that says, “home.” While about 50% of users do know that they can click the company logo of most websites to return to the home page the majority of users report that they prefer a “home” button. If users make their way deeper into a site and then decide that they want to go to the homepage but can’t figure out how they may leave the site completely. User friendliness is important and vital to the success of a website, especially an e-commerce site.

People know how to purchase items from the site. Not all people know how to make a purchase if the ability to make a purchase is not placed in the most obvious of places on a site. For instance, an e-commerce site that does not feature a checkout button may lose sales just because some people look specifically for this type of button in order to make a purchase. Website design companies that specialize in e-commerce will make sure the ability to make a purchase is right in front of the face of the user so as not to lost any sales. This may mean adding a shopping cart page, a checkout button and a number of other options or instructions on the site for checkout depending on the type of sale being made.

Visitors will contact me if they have a question. This is one of the most costly assumptions that could ever be made in e-commerce. This is because when a visitor is searching for an item online and they have landed on your site they are ready to make a purchase. If they have difficulty making the purchase, cannot figure out how to make the purchase (quickly), or they have a question regarding the product or service that has not been answered in a visible spot on the site they are likely to leave the site and find a way to make their purchase elsewhere. Most customers who make online purchases do not want to contact customer service or anyone else for that matter in order to have their questions answered. In this day, the way of the internet has provoked a time of independence in which people, visitors to an e-commerce site, do not want to waste time making phone calls to have their questions answered.

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