This is a guest post from Jessica Smith of Akeneo solution partner AmericanEagle.com.
While it may not be managed by human resources, your website is your hardest-working employee. It’s always on, always available, and often the chance any customer has to interact with your business — and we all know the value of a good first impression.
In recent years, online selling platforms have become more popular with sellers and customers alike, making it easier than ever to start selling online. But designing and developing an eCommerce store that performs well and properly reflects your brand can be difficult.
“Proper planning prevents poor performance.”
We’ve all heard the saying before, but it rings especially true when it comes to web design. Before embarking on any website project, set the tone for your team. Ask yourself what kind of site you want to have, who your audience is, and what you want your site to accomplish. These simple questions will act as a great starting point, and help make important decisions about your website such as what platform you will use and your site’s information architecture.
These decisions are crucial to your success in the eCommerce landscape — so how can you be sure you’re avoiding the pitfalls and bad decisions that lead to disaster?
Never fear — through the years, we at American Eagle have encountered many eCommerce website mishaps, both large and small. Take a look at some of the lessons we’ve learned along the way, and discover how to avoid these 7 Deadly Sins of eCommerce Site Design.
1. Not spending enough time planning the site
A successful eCommerce venture requires you to manage several new responsibilities, from product information to shipping providers and even site search. Decide early on what you want your site to do, and make sure you set aside more than enough time for planning. By setting measurable goals and tracking progress along the way you can ensure your site is successful.
2. Putting design ahead of functionality
An aesthetically pleasing site is certainly important, but too many companies place design ahead of usability. Web design is both art and science, meaning functionality is just as important as the look and feel of a website. A great eCommerce website should be navigable, your products should be easy to find, and it should be easy for customers to checkout and find support. Don’t make the mistake of muddying up your site with unnecessary animations and flashy graphics. Instead, give your customers what they want: features to extend your site’s functionality such as advanced search, live chat, and user-generated reviews.
3. Out-of-date product information
While it seems obvious, you may be surprised how many companies bring over old information during a redesign. If your company has made changes to its product catalog or other aspects of its business, it’s worth taking a deeper look at the content to make sure it’s all up to date. Outdated or inaccurate information can steer customers in the wrong direction and reflects poorly on your entire company.
4. Information overload
Be wary of providing too much information — it’s better to be concise and to the point with your content. When a customer shows up to a wall of text on your website, they will often become overwhelmed and avoid reading it. Make sure the information that you need to include is easy to read and well organized. Break up text by using content headers, and be sure to include digital assets like images and videos to give your customers a better product experience.
5. Ignoring mobile users
Mobile isn’t the future, it’s ‘now.’ Mobile web usage has already outpaced desktop usage and if shoppers can’t easily purchase through their smartphones, you could be turning away more than half of your customers. Moreover, search engines like Google tend to rank sites higher if they’re mobile friendly. Design with a mobile-first approach and make sure your site is responsive to ensure it works on all devices.
6. Not tracking analytics
Going through a redesign or new website build takes time, money, and energy. Make sure you are getting a return on your investment by tracking your progress. From Google analytics to more sophisticated analytics platforms, you can get a wealth of information on your customers and what pushes them to purchase. What you end up measuring depends on your own goals but some important data points for eCommerce sites are:
- Average Order Value
- Page Views
- Traffic Source
- Bounce Rate
7. Going it alone
When reimagining your eCommerce presence, remember that you don’t need to go at it alone. Partner with an experienced agency that has a proven track record of success.