October 26, 2011
When I think about the websites I enjoy shopping, they all have one thing in common: simplicity. And by that, I do not mean a paucity of options, detail or content. I mean a well-curated, carefully edited navigation, content that is clearly organized and merchandised, links that are clear about where they are going, and steps that simply make intuitive sense. These are the kind of sites that are a pleasure to shop- whether you are a power-shopper, like me, or a less experienced shopper who’s not yet quite comfortable shopping online.
For newer websites, it’s about understanding what constitutes a good experience and building it that way.
For those that have been around for a while, it’s about evaluating the site from a holistic perspective, to clearly see the disconnects, redundancy or sub-optimal organization that can result from incremental changes over time: the implementation of new pages, new categories, and new additions to navigation; the older pages with out-of-date content, broken links and functionality; copy or design that seems antiquated. Yeah. It can get messy.
It’s hard. But you’ll always be behind if you don’t deal with it. Keeping it simple requires vigilance and devotion. A constant watch guard on the shopper’s experience. So how do you do it without loads of time and resources?
- Shop your own website all the time.
- Do it now. Repeat every week.
- Don’t just look at what’s new.
- Start from the beginning and follow the path all the way through checkout.
- You’ll be surprised at the things you notice- keep a list.
- Get everyone in the company in on it.
- See what your customer sees: try Usertesting.com for a quick read.
- Start fixing things, one thing at a time.
Don’t have the time? It’s all about priorities. This won’t necessarily make the top of your list. That’s okay. Just think of it as maintenance- like putting oil in your car. If you don’t do it, the car will stop running well. By refining the shopping experience now, you are making a choice that will lead towards better conversion, a happier customer, and a strong foundation on which to do more of the fun and remarkable things that add buzz-factor to your brand. But you need the car to keep running. You don’t have to stop everything else to do it. Do yourself, and your customers a favor. Just get it started.