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Foundations of a Profitable Website

What to consider when designing a new web site to ensure you have the foundations of a profitable website?

When you set out to build a brand new website for your business then you fall into 3 general categories:

  • Know exactly what you want in terms of web design and functionality
  • Have no clue what you want or how it should function
  • You have some ideas in your head, you’ve seen a few sites you like but would like some feedback and advice from experts

Urban Attic Design can help you no matter your level of expertise. Even those that know exactly what they want always walk away with more ideas than they had when they started out.

There are 2 fundamental principles to work from when you set out to have a web site professionally designed:

  • Design
  • Functionality

These are the basics; let’s go on to discuss the other main factors.

Usability is the base for all design decisions that you will make! You would think that usability refers to how your web site will function and that is correct, however, have you considered how someone with a sight problem would access and use your site? Or how easy the site is to navigate?

When you are planning your new web site design then try to consider every visitor type that may land on it. Although you won’t be able to cater for everyone, you can make sure that most people can use your site easily.

Think clean and crisp, and although you will want to use a branded colour scheme, you may have to think outside the box to make sure your website loads quickly, and has instant appeal.

After colour scheme, navigation is the next area to focus on. Web sites live and die on how easy visitors find it to get from landing on your site, to achieving their goal – whether information or purchase.

We would assume that any business that has a web site has it for the purposes of a revenue stream. This may be the linchpin of the business, or be in addition to your existing bricks and mortar shop. In either case you need to ensure your website is quick, clear and easy to explore.

With e-commerce you are selling products to visitors. Whether through a unique 1st visit or to a repeat customer, you must ensure the path to checkout is clutter free and completed in the minimal amount of clicks.

In the worst case a customer should:

  • Land on the site
  • Navigate to the product through an easy to use and read navigation path
  • View the product and read the product information on the same page
  • Add the product to the basket
  • Create an account whether as a sign up or a visitor checkout the minimum of an e-mail address and name will be required at this point.
  • Enter billing, shipping and payment information
  • (Or go to PayPal to make payment)
  • Confirm the order and be presented confirmation.

Already you have approximately 10 clicks in order for them to complete the transaction, and that’s assuming that the navigation system is clean, clear and simple to use.

To push people beyond that amount of clicks severely reduces the chances of them converting into a sale – and conversions are key in any business.

Navigation on an e-commerce web site usually consists of categories and products. Depending on the nature of your product, you may also need to present your visitor with options (such as colour, size or configuration), which would also need to be considered.

After working on the colour scheme, layout and navigation, you now need to pay attention to the “small print”. This is information such as Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, Delivery and Returns, and other related information that your customers either need to know or needs to be there in order to comply with legislation.

Images

It’s true that image is everything, and if you are promoting products then you need to make sure that you use the best quality images possible. This can be time consuming, but in the long term is an invaluable use of your time.

You have taken the time to create an easy to use web site, you will have put money and time into making sure people find your web site through either investing in SEO or Adwords, visitors have easily navigated through the site to get to the product they want to buy, so the worst thing you can do is disappoint them with a poor or unrealistic image.

There are normally 2 scenarios that come into play here:

  • You manufacture your products
  • You buy them from a supplier

If you sell non unique products then the chances are that you and other sellers will use images from the supplier’s catalogue. If that’s the case, then you can either take the time to unpack each product and take your own unique images or you can use the stock images supplied to you.

If you choose to take your own images then that’s fantastic, not only will you be able to demonstrate the features each product has, or present the visitor with a different angle of the product you will be differentiating yourself from the competition.

If taking your own product shots is not an option, then make sure you have a good quality extra large image – size normally 800 x 600. This will allow visitors to expand the product image. High quality pictures have a strong impact on conversions. A good image creates the desire for the product – online retail psychology studies have proven this.

If you produce your own products, then this becomes a lot easier to take care of. You will be in a perfect position to showcase your products with unique, interesting photographs.

Another way to think about your product images is to look at them as part of your mainstream marketing. They represent what you sell or offer to people.

B2B sales can be slightly forgiven in this case – e.g. if you are selling paper towels, people are going to be more interested in price and quantity than a photo, however well lit. But you can still make sure it’s a crisp non-blurred image.

Delivery

Delivery is always a huge decision and can make or break the conversion success of your e-commerce website.

Always look at direct competition, see what they are offering but if you can’t match it without losing money then don’t try. Look at your content and what added value you have, that will far outweigh the delivery you need to charge.

Create a delivery page and use this to explain why you charge what you charge. If your products are specialist, such as perishable foods, then tell people you have to use specialist packaging. If your products are expensive then explain to people that you have to use a fully insured service. It might be the case that you are a small business, not yet fully established with volume shipments with your courier company, if that’s the case then again, tell people this, at least that way they can understand and make a more informed decision about completing the sale with you.

You can also consider looking at an average cost of shipping, where you lose a little on some shipments, but gain on other smaller packages.

Try to avoid reducing the headline figure of your shipping by adding it to your products! This is a false economy and will decrease customer satisfaction.

So by now, you should have a really good understanding of how your web site is going to look – how people will navigate round it – that the legal information required is in process and that delivery methods and shipping charges are accurately explained and competitive.

We still need to discuss your web site’s content. This is a subject in its own right and can be accessed by visiting our content page.

By taking the time to work through the above, not only will you have excellent site architecture, you will also save money and time by avoiding having to fix early mistakes.

This basic structure also helps us to deliver your website quicker, meaning reduced costs and faster promotion of your products.