So you put your own website together – congratulations! That’s a lot of hard work. How is it looking? How is it working? Does it all make sense, or does it only make sense to you? How many visitors turn into customers? Do you feel like you’re losing people along the way to checkout?
It can be difficult to get outside of your own head (where everything makes perfect sense about your business and website) and into the head of a customer, to see where you’re losing them.
Improving website design, improving website content, and improving website functionality
Here are some things you can scan your website for right now and correct, to help a few more people make it all the way through checkout:
Offer free shipping
This is the easiest change to make, and should be quite effective. I personally have abandoned many a cart when seeing the shipping rates, because I’ve juuuuust decided it’s worth paying the price I see on the page, and when shipping is added to that, it’s no longer worth it. Your shopper will assign a value to an item while shopping (suggested by you!) and then changing that value at the cart can be a deal-breaker.
You don’t necessarily have to take a loss on shipping, if you can roll an extra fee into your product price to offset the change. Note that this strategy won’t work if you sell something that people are price-checking on multiple sites, but should be fairly simple for handcrafters or artisans to do.
You can do this the old school way – grab a friend or neighbor or your grandma and sit her down at a computer with your website. Assign her a task, such as “find and purchase some earrings” and have your tester talk out loud about her thought process as she shops. You can uncover some interesting things doing this. Maybe something that makes perfect sense to you can be confusing to people new to your site.
Is the “add to cart” button nice and big? Can customers find their cart after they add something to it? Are choices during checkout clear?
Pay attention during the cart and checkout steps, as here is where you can see what may be making customers abandon their cart. Go through the full shopping and checkout process on your site yourself. This way, you’ll be able to catch anything that is confusing, surprising, or (gasp!) broken. Don’t rely on your cart software blindly.
You can also do this on a larger scale with sites like UserTesting.
If your audience is pretty engaged with you, you may want to add a survey to your site, or send a survey to your newsletter subscribers (perhaps with a reward for answering). Be sure each question on your survey is written so that the answers will reveal to you what action step you could take to improve your user experience. Avoid filler questions which will waste peoples’ time (and yours!).
Make adjustments to your categories and product info
Make your shop categories boringly obvious. No “cute” category names, please! Do you have a jewelry category? Call it “jewelry,” not “baubles.” Have a section for children? Call it “children” or “kids,” not “minis.” Adding personality to your site is good, but having the personality hide simple information is bad.
Make your product descriptions interesting and informative. People want to know what size things are, what they’re made of, and what colors you offer, sure, but you also need to be sure you’re telling the customer a story that will help her picture owning your product, and make her feel like she needs to have it. If you’re stuck on this, you’ll be amazed by what our copywriter can do with your information – turning dry descriptions into sweet little blurbs that will sell.
Work on your photos. You need clear, detailed, and beautiful pictures. Don’t skimp on this! Make sure photos make your customer picture the item in her life, make the size of the item understandable, and are the true colors. Unless you’re able to take well-lit, in-focus, and interesting pictures of your own products, hire some help. Dark, small, blurry pictures will be the death of your online business. That’s why we have offer product photography to our clients – and would be happy to do this for you as a standalone project.
Make it easy for customers to shop, find info, and ask questions
Make the shopping cart/checkout link easy to find: People are expecting this in the top right corner, possibly with an icon of a cart. Don’t hide it, move it, name it something else, or give it a confusing icon.
Make your shipping and returns policies easy to find: Particularly for small businesses, your customer may feel anxious ordering from you. Will you really ship the product? On time? What if they don’t like it when they get it? Make sure that your policies are easy to find (usually a link in the footer) and easy to read (cut out the jargon and be straightforward about how things work). Answer questions before they’re asked, with sizing charts, secure checkout padlocks and a space to answer common questions.
Make sure your checkout process isn’t difficult. Is there anything you can do to make checkout easy and understandable? Do you ship internationally? Do you offer a reasonable assortment of payment methods? Is it simple to change quantities or remove things from the cart? Your keyword here should be, “foolproof.”
Social proof: add some customer reviews or testimonials to your site. This is a fantastic way to build trust, and customers have come to expect reviews on ecommerce websites. You can also find ways to show how many fans you have or how devoted they are on your site.
Make sure all your news or dated content is up to date: I have left shops before, because I see the blog stopped updating five months ago, and I wonder if the shop is still in business. Make sure any blog posts, news, social media feeds that are integrated into your site, lists of events and sales, etc. are current, so people don’t see virtual cobwebs and leave.
Add functionality to your site
One of the things that we like about Shopify is that you can add functionality to your site through their app store. Shopping cart abandonment apps may be a good way to get someone who dropped off of your site with products in their cart to come back and finish checkout. Adding cross-sells, up-sells, promotions, or bribes may be a way to get more value out of a single customer.
Make sure everything is up to speed
Don’t let slow web hosting drive your customers away. Is your site loading quickly? If not, time for a new web host (or to have a developer check your site to be sure the problem isn’t in the code or the content).
This giveaway is now over.
Today we have a valuable prize (we charge about $500 for this).
We will be giving one lucky duck winner free website consulting, with a written evaluation. We review websites as one of our services for clients.
Just because you’re familiar with your website and you know where everything is, that doesn’t mean it’s intuitive or user-friendly for someone new to your business and/or website. It can be hard to step out of your “insider” role to view the site as a potential customer or lead would, but that’s exactly what you’ve got to do (or hire a pro to do) if you want your site to work for you the way it should.
–Zoe Rooney, Aeolidia developer
With this service, we will give you our best recommendation for specific changes you can make to your site to improve usability, traffic flow, and sales. These are thorough, detailed, actionable, and we will begin by getting to know your business and your goals, so we can focus on what you’re trying to achieve as we look through your site.
You can read an example review here: Website Review: Telling a Story and Simplifying
To enter our giveaway, you must have a website that you set up yourself (using a pre-made template is legit, but please don’t enter if you paid a designer to create your site), and be willing to let us share our review of your site on our blog. Please fill out the form below, and we will choose one winner to be notified next week.
Enter the free website consultation giveaway
This giveaway is over, but if you’d like to pay us to review your website, please contact me.
Other active giveaways
Monday: A celebration of the new site, and an adorable merman swag giveaway.
This giveaway is over.
Tuesday: A celebration of our clients, and free wallpapers and a manifesto you can print out and put on your desk.
Make your computer or phone pretty »
Wednesday: A huge list of tips for improving sales on your website, and a free website evaluation.
That’s this post!
Thursday: We help as many businesses as we can plan their next best step.
Ask us your burning questions »
Friday: We help as many business as we can set up a Shopify website.
Learn more about Shopify and let us do the setup for free »