You’ve tried all the latest conversion optimization tactics but nothing is working. Sales are flat and you’re starting to wonder if all that money you’re pumping into AdWords is worth it.

You’re getting traffic but nobody is buying. Why?

If you’re investing in marketing and constantly tweaking conversion optimization tests and still not getting results, maybe it’s time to go back to the basics and focus on what matters to your customers: the user experience.

Your website design should prioritize the shopping experience and the journey the buyer takes to conversion. Good conversion optimization starts here.

When you have an existing online store, it’s easy to forget about the design and structure of your website and only think about marketing. Even the simplest things are neglected, yet, it is often the simplest thing that what matters to drive that one visitor to become a buyer. Here are some of the common website elements that negatively affect conversions for eCommerce sites.

Text-Heavy Product Pages

Product descriptions are one of the most critical aspects of an eCommerce website. You might have a beautiful high-res product image, but if your product copy doesn’t sell then you’re left with nothing. 

The challenge with writing product copy for more complex products is that you don’t know if the visitor is already familiar with your product or not. 

A first-time buyer may be a novice who doesn’t understand most of the specifications, and why should he purchase something with a distinct characteristic when he doesn’t understand what it means? Alternatively, the visitor may be experienced in purchasing a specific item and understands the lingo behind the specifications, but finds your descriptions too plain. 

What can you do? Let your product do the talking.

Apple Example

Apple has done a marvelous job of getting their products to stand out. If you continue to browse on their list of products on site, their engaging and simple interface has explained the features of their product.

When making product descriptions, or laying out a product page, consider the following:

  1.     Try to put the product descriptions first before the specifications. You can also put in a table of commonly known specifications like the dimensions, color, material and so forth.
  2.     When writing a product description, write for the visitors. Ask yourself what it is that they value most about a feature, and how that helps them accomplish a task or resolve a problem. Don’t go into details; reserve that for later. Avoid spamming keywords in the copy, for obvious reasons.
  3.     Write product descriptions in readable chunks of text. Do not try to explain it all in one paragraph. Ideally, it should be around 150-300 words. Keep it simple and concise. 
  4.     If you think a product has a lot of features, consider listing those in bullet or number form. A list keeps it concise and clean.
  5.     Don’t sell too hard. If your description screams BUY ME PLEASE BUY ME, scrap it, and rewrite it.

Trying to Fit Everything Above the Fold

Remember the days when we were so hell-bent on getting everything “above the fold”?

While I still personally believe that the opportunity above the fold is still the best part to optimize its design, below the fold is now important as well. It’s now time to start unfolding the fold.

The general rule is that above the fold is your opportunity to entice and catch the visitor’s attention while content should be below the fold to keep your users scrolling. Scrolling is now a debunked myth.

Above the fold example

Look at this website above. In an attempt to present everything above the fold, coupled with the bad web design (no offense to the webmaster), this website is as bad as it gets. The layout looks too busy; there’s no breathing space for your eyes to rest.

Tens Sunglasses example

Tens Sunglasses offers a clean, refreshing and straightforward design above the fold. Scrolling down the page will give you an insight into what Tens is, along with their seasonal collection and available styles. For an eCommerce fashion website, product presentation is a big deal. The first impression creates a big opportunity, especially for first-time buyers.

Formerly Yes example

Formerly Yes offers another fantastic way around the folds. They present products in full photos, along with a simple navigation menu at the upper left corner of the website.

Visually crowded websites tend to disrupt a visitor’s flow of thinking. A balanced, well-designed page shouldn’t focus on getting everything above the fold, but compel visitors to continue scrolling.

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Too Many Choices

Offering a wide range of products is a good thing, but giving the consumers too much to choose from is never a good thing. We did mention that “visually crowded websites disrupt a visitor’s flow of thinking.”

Tips on offering choices:

  1. Ideally, users can bear two to four options. That range will suffice for quick decision making.
  2. Additionally, offer choices that are distinct from each other. If they see what’s the big difference is between one product and another, it will help your visitors decide quickly.
  3. If you’re still trying to present more than four, again offer distinctive choices. Set a theme per item. This product page from Bose displays a good example of product diversity; it gives the idea that there’s a Bose product for everyone.

Bose example

Another technique you can follow is Nike’s Tech Knit page. Nike could have offered an array of their products; to keep it simple and offer an easier choice for their visitors, they have categorized it between men’s and women’s. This shows how Nike views its potential customers; they value their preferences, and they don’t just push their products in your face.

Nike example

Another example below is the brands list on this website. The site has a lot of brands in its arsenal; while it is good that this site has almost everything you need, looking at this menu will eventually stress you out. While you can scroll through the individual brands, it is still just one long list of options.

Cranium Fitteds example

How can you avoid this mayhem? A separate brand page can solve this misery!

What you can do:

  1.     Determine the top brands on your site. This can be determined just by looking at your sales and even through Google Analytics.
  2.     If you offer a sale for your products, determine which brands have the potential to garner more sales especially during a discount promotion.
  3.     Above the fold, display the brands with a special sale. People love sales. They tend to spend more on discounted products.
  4.     Afterward, place the top brands’ logos so the visitors can choose and click on the brand they want to view.
  5.     Next, list down all the brands alphabetically, then create a function that will filter the list of brands according to your preferred brand. (See below)

All Brands example


Missing Headers

Headers aren’t just an SEO thing; headlines give an idea to users of what to expect on a certain page. This is the first impression you have; this is the chance to catch the viewer’s attention.

Reebok example

Headers direct the attention of your users. A web page without a header does not give the user an idea of what the page is about. Whether it’s header text or an image, it’s important to get the user’s attention and entice them to keep scrolling.

However, in some cases, there are websites that don’t need a header. Websites without a header just use their logo and navigation menu up the page and push the content on the top of the page. This works best on blogs, personal websites, some portfolios, and at times, mobile websites that focus on showing content.

What can you do? Decide what works most for your website. If you can do without a header, ask your web designer for usability tests. However, in the case of an eCommerce site, I recommend that you use headers as an indicator. Headers should not be considered as just an SEO element, but also part of the web design.

Final Thoughts

We’ve been too caught up experimenting with conversion optimization tactics that we’ve neglected the most critical element: the design and structure of our website’s elements. User experience counts the most, especially in eCommerce sites. Every step they take should push them down the sales funnel, not the other way around.

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