When it comes to making sales and conversions, the best website is one that is easy to understand, easy to use, and quick to meet the needs of customers.
Perceived performance (how fast a user thinks a site is) highlights how people believe websites are faster if they are able to accomplish their objectives easily - even if that site is relatively slow.
In other words, a site that is easy to understand and use tends to create a positive experience and improves customer satisfaction levels - so that people think it is faster than it really is.
Happier customers means more sales and more repeat business. In fact, I would go as far as to say that, up to a point, customers will pay extra for products and services when it is more convenient and easy to obtain them.
Cost vs. usability
At lunch time, I wander down to a cluster of food shops that cater for people working in our area. Two of these businesses offer salad bars where customers can put together their own lunch by selecting from a variety of food stuffs on offer.
The one business (call it A) charges a flat rate at the most expensive price band, and allows you to pick and choose anything you like, and weigh the food after. The other (call it B) charges per food type, and things like veggies are much cheaper than meats and cheeses.
The problem is that, in shop B, you can't mix anything. It has to get weighed by an attendant (who is never available). The first time I went to shop B for lunch, I:
- couldn't find an attendant to weigh my food
- accidentally mixed foodstuffs before seeing the well hidden sign instructing me to weigh everything individually
- gave up and didn't make a purchase at all
The hassle of having to measure every individual item far outweighed the cost benefit off not being charged the maximum amount for all the food combined.
Website design is a lot like this...
Web design tips for usability
Converting customers online is a tricky business. People have exceedingly short attention spans, and are prone to abandoning their shopping cart or bouncing from a site altogether (if they don't immediately see what they want).
On aggregate, it is a far better to design a site that let's customers find the products and services they need quickly (and buy them easily) than to worry about undercutting competitors on price.
Excellent Web design (with a focus on maximizing sales) means that you need to:
- analyze and refine your sales funnel(s)
- improve speed and performance (download times)
- simplify checkout
- find and eliminate ambiguous or problematic language
- provide clear, concise, and easy to follow instructions
- offer great support
- have a clear value offering
- find and reduce shopping cart abandonment (or other bottlenecks in your sales funnels)
Ultimately, you should design your site around its main objectives.
If you are selling something, make sure that people are funnelled to the right landing page, and that the landing pages make it quick and easy to convert.
Conversions vs. custom Web design vs. website builders
If you are wondering how to go about building a site that will convert well, it is important to make note of a few things:
- development time: website builders are much faster to design and develop with, protecting you from wasting time and effort with complex programming
- quality: website builders incorporate the latest features (like responsive Web design, SEO, and good security) on an ongoing basis, helping you to avoid falling behind
- tools & services: popular website builders have communities numbering in the tens of millions, so whatever you need is likely available because other people have requested those features already
- cost: website builders are far cheaper to implement (in the range of a few tens of dollars) than customer Web design, which can sometimes be in the tens of thousands of dollars
Small businesses have migrated wholesale to online website builders because they are so much faster and cheaper to design with.
Not only that, but the end results are generally far more usable from the perspective of the clients and customers precisely because the underlying Web platform is faster, and better designed.
You can check out a list of the top website builders in 2014 to find the right one for your business.
The long and short of it is:
Work out quick and simple paths for customers to convert, and design them with a good quality website builder.
Now is the time to build a brand new site, or migrate to a better platform if your current website is not converting properly. What other design and usability tips to improve sales and conversions have you used? Share your ideas in the comments below.