Congratulations! By reading this short guide, you’re one of the few business owners who is on the right track to educating themselves about creating a beautiful, effective ecommerce website for their business – the right way!
So let’s get straight to it.
Here are the 10 most common mistakes people make when designing their ecommerce website.
Your existing website should be the best place you or your web designers start.
Because if you already have Google Analytics on your website, then it’s tracking key metrics such as:
and MUCH more…
This kind of data, from your existing site, is crucial to understand, so you’ll want to begin by doing an audit of your existing website to discover what content you can ditch, what content you absolutely must keep and identify where big wins could come from with your new site.
If you don’t do this, you run the risk of redesigning your website so that it looks better, but it will remain just as ineffective as your current site. A professional web designer can help here.
The platform you choose to build your ecommerce website on is critical to it’s longevity.
You need to do your research here to make sure that:
Your web designers should guide you here and we would also always recommend choosing a “self-hosted” platform, as opposed to a “hosted” platform. Here’s a quick comparison:
With self-hosted you’ll be investing more at the outset, but if you don’t want to go the DIY route and design is important to you, then this is the way to go to ensure long-term success.
Our “self-hosted” platform of choice is Woocommerce (a WordPress ecommerce extension). That’s because:
Site’s like ThemeForest sell a huge variety of cheap, great looking themes for Woocommerce, so you could just head over there and buy one for $40.
Sound too good to be true? It kind of is.
Unless you have a very limited budget for your new ecommerce website, we’d discourage you from buying an existing theme for the following reasons:
Investing in a custom designed ecommerce website should be a big priority for your business. Doing things the custom way means you can ensure your website looks exactly as you want it to look and you won’t have to compromise.
It’s exciting when you start working with your web designers on your new ecommerce site – everyone wants to hit the ground running and dive right in.
Before you get carried away though, you and your web designers should determine some “key performance indicators” for your new site. These KPI’s will prove whether your new website has been a success or not, as measuring them over time will show if you’re moving towards your goals.
Examples of KPI’s could be:
These are fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use your site or products in a similar way.
Creating personas before embarking on an ecommerce redesign is essential, because it will give you a list of all your different customer types, what their intentions are, and what motivates them to buy your product.
These personas then play an integral part of the redesign process, at the forefront of yours and your web designer’s mind at all stages of the project, so you can ensure that the website includes content that will make it easy for each persona to buy in their preferred way.
It may be obvious to you why people should choose you over your competitors, but you need to spell it out to your potential customers.
Creating a “Why choose us” page is a good way to make it crystal clear to your visitors why they should buy from you.
Making sure people see the page is the next issue, so you could add a simple graphic to the header of your new website next to your phone number (as the phone number gets lots of eyeballs), which clicks through to this page.
If you are super-confident in your product, offer a guarantee.
If you eliminate the risk of purchasing from you, people are much more likely to buy without fear.
What are your competitors are doing? Can you out-do them? Could it be the delivery times you can guarantee, lowest prices, or 100% satisfaction?
If you don’t take the opportunity to try and aggressively build your email list with your new ecommerce website then you are missing a big opportunity!
Your email list is probably one of THE most valuable things in your business because you can market your products and services to the people on it, and also provide them with highly valuable information straight to their inbox. It’s basically a big source of additional income to your business.
You need of course to capture your customers’ details when they checkout on your shop, asking them if they’d like to be signed up to receive your newsletter.
You can also create and offer downloadable guides on your site, in exchange for the user’s name and email address. The perfect place to offer these guides is in the blog area of your site.
You could even go a step further and create an “exit overlay” (a window that appears when a user goes to leave your site) asking them to
sign up to your newsletter to receive product discounts and exclusive information.
Many ecommerce website’s loose a lot of custom at the basket and checkout stages. People begin to have doubts or get distracted, click a link in the header and move to another page or move on to a new website altogether.
One way to prevent users getting distracted by other areas of your site is to remove everything that is unnecessary on the checkout page of your website.
A simple trick is to remove the navigation from the checkout process, and even remove the sidebar (if your checkout process has a two column layout).
Getting rid of the nav means these links don’t prove to be a distraction. But do remember to keep your phone number though, in case the visitor needs to call.
Another top tip is to just lay the content out in one single centrally aligned column, so that completing the checkout form is the only thing a visitor can do on the page.
This technique can dramatically improve your conversion rate and stop people abandoning your checkout process.
As mentioned in point #8 above, the cart (or basket) is another area where many visitors decide not to buy.
They’ll browse your site, start adding products, and then when it comes down to it, they’ll look at their cart and think:
With a cart abandonment contingency plan in place, you can potentially recover these lost sales by having a series of reminder emails sent out to these customers with content of your choice that attempts to reactivate them and encourage them to complete their order.
This is something all ecommerce websites should have in place, as the potential to earn from these partially completed orders is massive.
So your new ecommerce website is live. You’re done right? Think again!
You need to be continually looking to improve and renew your site to get the best out of it.
The most successful ecommerce website owners know this, and use a variety of tools in collaboration with their web designers to gather visitor data and make improvements to their sites based on what this data shows.
So what kind of data can you collect? We tend to use the following:
These allow you to see where visitors are and aren’t clicking on pages of your site. This insight is huge because you can use it to find out whether users are clicking / noticing things you intend them to notice. If not, you can make refinements in the design to improve clicks.
Another tool we use actually lets you record users as they navigate around and use your website. You can even see how they move their mouse. Data here can help you identify areas of your site that might be confusing so you can make improvements.
Adding a discreet pop up to the bottom right of your website (on carefully chosen pages) can allow you to get quick voice of visitor feedback. Open ended questions like “Did you find the product you were looking for today?” can elicit some interesting responses that you can learn from.
Going back to your analytics will show you what pages are your most popular, what pages most people abandon your site from, your bounce rate and more. Integrate Google Analytics with Google Webmaster Tools and you can also see what key phrases visitors use to find your site.
Now you’re armed with this information there’s no excuse to not redesign your ecommerce website with total peace of mind, knowing that if you avoid these 10 common mistakes, your online business will not only look beautiful and impressive, but will be extremely effective too.
If you’d like to discuss working together to design and develop a completely custom website for your online business, head back to our ecommerce page and book a free consultation with Will. Or alternatively (if now’s a good time), give Will a call on: 01747 852298