Too often a website is designed by marketing/business development people and only then is handed over to a content manager around the time of the launch. The content manager is then left to develop content processes to fit around the site that has been designed, compounding any errors made in the site design.
I have been working on a retail site and the issue of how to label the Buy button cam e up. Different possibilities have different connotations:
- Buy – blunt
- Add to cart – impersonal
- Purchase – too formal
- Buy now – too bossy
To complicate matters the site is not traditional in that it sells high-ticket items that people are unlikely to buy more than one of. That makes the concept of a virtual shopping basket less appropriate than it might be on other sites.
I wanted to check out the labelling that big retailers use to get a pointer on this.
- Wiggle – add to basket
- Asos – add to bag
- Amazon – add to basket
- Fashionphile – add to bag
- Chain reaction Cycles – add to basket
- Yoogis closet – add to shopping bag
- Harvey Norman – add to cart
- Pixmania – add to basket
We have 4 “Add to basket”, 2 “Add to bag”, 1 “Ad to cart” and 1 “Add to shopping bag”.
I want my terminology to be consistent with what people are use to, so I will use the phrase “Add to…” on the button. But add to what? I don’t want to use “bag,” as handbags are what the site primarily sells. If they were one of twenty product types it would be ok, but they are the primary one. So that’s out. That leaves “basket”or “cart”.
I think “basket” is the less harsh and more modern of the two, so that’s the one to go for. We can test it at a later point if we don’t like the conversion rates.
In recent times there has been an increase in website footers that are packed with links that take you all over the site. They have so many links that it becomes very difficult to actually find the one that you want.
You can have 40, 50 links or even more across several columns. Some people don’t recognize when they reach the point of diminishing returns. The footer is not a dump. It is a place to show miscellaneous but necessary links. The exact links to show will depend on the type of site that you run.
As a rule, if the link would only be required by a specific type of user (as opposed to general users), it is a good candidate for the footer.
Keep it simple. Combine pages where it makes sense. If you do have a lot of links, keep the names of them as short as possible to save your users’ time while they scan the footer looking for the one that they want.
Your homepage web content is most likely the most important web content on your site. Naturally it is the part of the site that you should spend the most time on. A good exercise is to determine the calls of action that you most want to direct users to, such as:
- buy a product
- contact you with questions/complains
- sign up to a mailing list
- follow you on facebook/twitter/pinterest
- read your content
Once you have written them down, put them in the order of most to least important. Now take the first one. That is what should be the first thing on your homepage. All the others must fit around it, whether in navigation bars, sidebars, headers, footers or in a different part of the main content area.
Too often homepages look like a junkyard, with every possible action to be found there, and complete confusion as to where you intended journey through the site is meant to be.
Look at your homepage and see if you can simplify it. Make the most important thing that visitors can do clear to both them and to you. Other things should be findable and placed where people would expect them to be.
You may end up with something very different and very fresh.
This is a pretty good way to save spave on your site when you have only one set of contact details. It is particularly useful when you have a long homepage. Your contact details should be on your footer without your visitor having to click in to another page, but if you have a lot of blogposts on your homepage you don’t want them to have to scroll all the way down to view them.
It is very easy to think that there are exceptions, but if you truly believe that, you should test out your beliefs. I like the points made in the post about sliders diluting the focus of a site.
Read the post in the link. If you couldn’t have a slider, what would you replace it with? Why?
Then why not test that out and see where you get?
So you want to redesign your website. It’s exciting. But before you jump into what could be a gamechanger for your business or a nightmare that sucks time and money out of it, why do you want a new website?
There are good and bad reasons for doing this and it is important to understand which are prompting the change that you are making.
5 good reasons for a website redesign
You want to change CMS
If you feel that your content management system is not serving your needs as well as another option can, you face a significant job to transfer your site. Redesigning the site can kill two birds with one stone and minimise disruption.
I have been spending a lot of time on small business websites recently, and the quality of them in general is fairly disappointing. And since there seems to be some confusion over what a small business website should contain, here is a handy checklist:
The small business website checklist
- Photos (outside and inside)
- Opening hours
- Active social feeds
- About the business
- About the owners
Let’s go through each of these one-by-one:
- Name is obvious – I include it here merely to have a complete list
- Photos – As a user, I need an outside photo to see more easily where I am going (particularly true for accommodation) and I need photos of the inside so that I can try and judge the quality of the place.
- Location – I need the exact location. Ensure that is right on your map. Draw a map with nearby landmarks if it makes it clearer where you are (e.g if you are off a main road).
- Opening hours – Don’t make me call up for these. Just don’t. If you have ‘normal’ opening hours you still need to tell me that.
- Services – You cannot put down too much detail about what you do. For example, most bicycle shops can carry out a bicycle service. Not many go to the trouble of detailing exactly what the service entails, along with a pricing for it. This sort of thing really drives home the value that the customer is getting.
- Active social feeds. Don’t spread yourself too thin. Keep these reasonably up-to-date (postings within a week in slow times). If it is too much work for you, focus on fewer outlets and remove links to dead feeds from your site.
- About the business – how long you are going, how you have changed, future plans perhaps – be concise but tell as much of your story as will interest others.
- About the owners – this is a follow-on from the previous point. What drove you to start the business? How do you differentiate yourself from others? Why do you like doing this work? What makes you qualified to do it?
- Testimonials – don’t go overboard with these, just try having two or three. The line of business that you are in will determine how credible they are. Aim for testimonials from people whose identity can be verified.
- Pricing – somehow this seems to get left out of websites. It is absolutely vital that you include this. If your service is bespoke then include examples. But don’t just leave it out or tell people to call you. The internet exists so that people don’t have to call you.
- FAQs – Frequently asked questions should be as extensive as possible while remaining relevant. Put in every question about your business that you can think of.
Get your small business website right and convert prospects to customers quickly and effectively. All of the above apply to you. Put in the work and your rewards will come.
Decide your approach
The 404 error message is a small thing in the bigger picture, but you want to make sure that it fits with the tone of your site. You have several options for how you approach this:
Contact forms are simple. They are a relic of the old days when people used email clients such as Microsoft Outlook. The idea was to save the user the hassle of opening up a separate program.
That day is gone. Now most people use web-based mail, and more of them have their email open more of the time. Contact forms are misused in two main ways.
Contact form abuses
1) Content managers ask for too much information. Look, you don’t need my telephone number ,and you aren’t getting it. So if this is the only way you are allowing people to write to you, I’m not doing business with you.
2) The user is left without the ability to send a copy to themselves. The more complex the typical query, the more important this feature is. If they send an email, after getting a reply they can instantly check the original message if they need to.
The most important thing about using contact forms is to include your email address as well. When someone emails you they don’t have to write out their name and email address, or risk spelling their email address wrong. Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you.
Oh, and once the form is on your site, do test it.