As the holiday season grows closer, and my shopping intensifies, I can’t help but notice how many online retailers don’t seem to be paying attention to the usability of their sites. With the time, money and effort put in to establishing yourself in the online marketplace, it doesn’t make any sense to drive customers away from your site. Whether it is poor design, confusing navigation or any of the other annoyances that can drive potential customers away; not focusing on the user’s experience within your site is going to cost money and undermine your overall marketing efforts.
There are a number of things an Internet retailer can do to increase their presence in the search engines. Accomplishing this should in turn increase the traffic to the site, which in turn should increase conversions. When this increase in traffic does not correlate with an increase in sales, one reason could be usability.
More and more, people are using the Internet as a tool for making purchasing decisions. Whether they complete their purchases online, or just use the web to compare products and prices before ultimately making their purchase in a brick and mortar store, they are integrating the Internet into their shopping habits. I don’t think there are many marketing professionals that would dispute the role that the storefront plays in creating identity in the minds of consumers. Why then don’t many of them seem to be translating this to a company’s online storefront? The Internet is a fierce marketplace and it seems the level of competitiveness keeps growing. As anyone working in search marketing knows, just getting customers to your site is hard enough. A business can’t afford to drive the customers that do find their site away.
There are many reasons why potential customers might leave a site. Many users will leave a site if they are required to download additional software, complete lengthy forms (other than at check-out) or simply due to the frustration that confusing navigation can cause. Making sure your site is user friendly on even the most basic levels can dramatically increase your customer retention. Avoiding basic annoyances like distracting pop-ups, broken links, flashing text and colors or slow page load times will also help keep potential customers on your site – and off your competitors’.
By incorporating good web usability practices, you can be on your way to establishing yourself as a dominant force in the online marketplace.