Common myths for product website design

Montag, 24. August 2009

In our previous article we have discussed the Appearance, Usability and Search Engine Friendliness in Web Design. We have also discussed the importance and how crucial they are in terms of planning and designing a website. We will be covering a few myths and fallacies commonly believed while designing a website to sell a product or a service in this article. So let’s get started.


The Price List must be easily accessible to the Visitors

 

We have seen on some websites that they try to hide the price list for their products. In some websites the price of the product is only available when they hit the “Buy” or “Order” button and to make it even worse, only after you have created an account or registered on their site. Others do have a price list but that list is buried somewhere deep in their site which cannot be accessible from the main page or the products page.

 

Well, we fail to understand the logic behind this. Probably, they think that if the customer does not get to see the price he will in turn click on the “Buy” or “Order” button and most probably he will buy the item. This reasoning is fallacious.

 

There are different types of visitors coming to your site. Let’s consider the case of a window shopper arriving at your site. While browsing through your site if they find something noteworthy on your site, they may want to make a note of the price so that they can come back for that item in future. If the price of that item is not easily found then do you think they will try to search for that price tag? Or do you think they will either click on the “Buy” button, just to see if they can find the price tag at the end of the process somewhere or will they go through the tedious process of creating an account and revealing their personal information just to find the price of that item?

 

Like any other serious shopper, if they cannot find the price, they prefer to simply go onto another site. Mind you this is not a street shop we are talking about, where the shopper needs to take out time and put in an effort to travel. This is Internet and your competitor is only a click away and the search engine is also more than happy to churn out thousands of other sites selling the same type of products or services as you. Few street stores do think of this as an idea not to put the price tag so that they may walk to the representative and he will get a chance to persuade the customer to buy that item. Whether or not it is a good idea for the street store, but we are dealing with the web store and it is definitely a bad idea.

 

No matter how you look at it but every customer will need to know the price of a product. Even the corporate customer buying for her company will look through the price and works to a budget. Hiding the price behind few buttons or links is a quick way to drive the potential customer away from your site. It’s been observed by many usability experts that the average Internet user has the attention span of a flea. If they don’t get want they want within the first few seconds of glancing at your page, they will leave and as you know there are your competitors waiting anxiously to attend them in your place.

 

Provide Descriptions and Pictures for Your Products

 

We have seen that the new web designers get carried away with the contradictory advice about how the content should be brief and to-the-point so that they can catch the Internet visitors who will give only few seconds glance to your website and decide whether to stay or go elsewhere. On the contrary, it is important for you to describe your product in detail and place few pictures of your product or screenshots if required.

 

The best idea which comes to my mind as of now if to take a look at Amazon.com’s website. If you notice for every item they list on their search results for a query, a brief description along with the thumbnail picture appears with a link to buy the item. If this brief description interests you then you can click on the link to get a detailed description and more information about the product.

 

It is a must to have a product page for each product with a long description and pictures of the product. This becomes essential especially when the product is expensive and has lot of competition. Your long description and pictures of what you’re selling is what cinches the sale. Potential customers will use the information present on that page to decide whether to buy the item or not. They look at this page and compare it with the competitor’s product. So it becomes imperative for you to mention all the significant features of your product or service on that page. Consider yourself as a salesman who is trying to promote his product to a walk-in customer and then design the web page.

 

All you need is to provide complete and detailed information through your product page. You also need to place the “Buy” or “Order” button at the top as well as the bottom of the product page. If the provided information is too long then you can prefer placing additional buttons somewhere in the middle of the page. Do not pass the customer through the pain of reading the entire article before they can order your product. It is easy to convince some customers and they come to your product page after deciding to buy the product. Make it easy for them to get to where they want to go within your site.

 

Let your Customer to Browser Your Site in whichever Way They Want

 

Did you ever come across a live salesperson who goes on and on about his product and does not even give you a chance of telling him that you have already decided to buy the product? You want to shout but the guy insists on finishing his tome on the product. Such a person is rare to find in real life, however, when you come across a website many designers practice this very sales tactic.

 

One such characteristic of such websites is that the site has a poor navigational facility. The customer cannot access other pages on the site except through a sequence of chronologically arranged steps that the author has planned. It looks like a presentation which does not allow you to leave it in the midst and go to another page. First it gives you the description, and then the first page provides you with long detailed information about the product with a link to take you to another page. Again, you have to endure the sermon on the second page before you can move on. Even if the customer has already decided to buy the product the website forces him to go through the sequence of steps before you can buy the product.

 

Such websites are completely engrossed in such sales tactics employed by some salesmen and give visitors a bad taste. The usability of such sites become very poor and the design of the site will decrease the impulse of the purchaser.

 

One of the basic rules of selling something online is that you should not force your customer to click through many pages before they reach the “Buy” or “Download” button. It is not a good practice and leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of the visitor. You might be able to convince the customer to buy the product but they might not like to do business with you in future. Website is not like a live salesperson, on Internet the customer can leave your website anytime and they do. Some people are on the site because they want to buy that product and do not want to read long compositions. They are there to get the product. Delaying the purchase means losing the customer. You will only hurt your business by doing this.

 

When we say that you must provide a detailed product page, we don’t mean that you force your customer to read that detailed description before they buy the product. The link or the button must always be readily available for the customer to order that product.

 

Mandatory Items on the Site Navigation Bar

 

If you are working on a commercial site then there are certain links which should be accessible from every page of your website. The best way to do this is to provide those links in the form of a navigation bar. If you do not know what a navigation bar is then take a look at the startwebsite.org. On the top left of every page is a series of links which give you access to the main pages of the site. it is not important for you to keep the navigation bar on the left side of the page, you can keep it on the top, right or the bottom of the page as well.

 

However, you may have to consider few items which should always be there on the navigation bar.

 

Products: This will provide the customer a link to the page listing all your products. If you have too many products then categorize the pages and make them accessible from the main product page.

 

Order Form: As the name suggests this should point to the order form.

 

Price List: Providing a pricing list will improve the usability of your site and ultimately your goal.

 

Support: Provide a link for your customer mentioning different ways of contacting you.

 

About Us: Talk about yourself or your company through this page as you are the one who is selling the product and the customer should know you.

 

So if you follow the above mentioned guidelines you will be able to make your website a usable website because on the Internet it depends on how you design your website and whether you want your visitor to become a payable customer or not.