Posted by Marcel Sim in Online Business
Article Contributed by Mark Walsh
Are you confused about when you should upgrade your E-commerce site? How do you decide when is the right time to tweak things. Obviously you do not wish to spend money during the present liquidity crisis and recession.
You probably still remember the pain and efforts that went into building your site and making it live. You do not wish to revisit the same trouble again. Right? Wrong. This obvious reluctance to make do with the existing site without any changes, upgrades or tweaks can have disastrous results.
With rapid technological innovations taking place, online browsers expect and demand instantaneous online services. You need to show your customer that you care for their comfort and you are aware of their wants and desires.
Following are the 8 signs that can help you decide that it’s time to make changes on your site:
1) Website is not compatible on major browser platforms:
An e-commerce website is a virtual shop for your business. Imagine if it looks disfigured on different browsers (IE, Fox, Netscape, etc). Issues with different browser might not surface immediately, but when the browser’s upgrade their own software, the results can affect your website negatively. Problems could be as minor as graphic design defects to major issues like functional problems, shopping cart problems, problems with online payment etc. If these problems are not found and attended immediately, you will lose potential customers who might be using such browsers to surf for their online shopping expeditions.
Never forget to ask your website designer to check your website on various platforms and personally test this periodically to ensure the coding is compatible on all browser interface for best display of your website. If your website looks distorted or functionalities are not working completely, you need to rectify the same.
2) Changed or Diversification of Business Model:
‘A rolling stone gathers no moss’. Similarly a business that is flexible and changes with time survives, while the stagnant businesses go down the hill.
Innovation, research and development are part and parcel of today’s business world, ensuring products/services stay in line with the current demands. Your site might require minor changes with regards to graphics and additional features or major ones like offering completely new products line or services, or when you diversify and enter altogether different industry vertical.
Never forget to update the information and content in your website according to the changes occurring in your business model. Try and be as accurate, lucid and factual about the data displayed on your site as possible, as your site is the source of information for all your clients, industry experts and even competitors. You cannot afford to goof up here.
3) Site has become dull and old:
With the arrival of web 2.0 online browsing experiences are undergoing many changes. Online visitors are bombarded with creative gimmicks, flash and images to attract attention and motivate them to take the desired marketing action planned for them.
If your website looks like it has come straight from the 90s with a dull layout, slow loading graphics, table like frame with each panel taking its own sweet time to load, your visitor will say sayonara before your first product is displayed. They will go off to your competitors site which is faster, convenient and more user friendly.
Never forget to keep your customer as the focus of your website activities. Ensure you take help of technology to make online visitor’s experience on your site as happy, error free and convenient as possible.
4) Your website bugs your customers:
Yes, website can annoy online visitors. A recent online survey displays the following pet peeves of online visitors:
>>93% of consumer said POP-UP ADS extremely annoyed them
>>89% were annoyed by REQUESTS TO INSTALL EXTRA SOFTWARE
>>83% noted LOG-IN / REGISTRATION PROMPTS (to access content).
The result was: 75% of customers said they’d never return, 74% of customers said they would unsubscribe from the company’s messages, 71% said they viewed the company in a negative way and 55% said they bad mouthed the firm to friends or associates. (That’s dangerous!)
Other extreme irritations include:
-Dead links (86%)
-Confusing navigation (84%)
-Slow-loading pages (83%)
-Ineffective site-search tools (80%)
-Moving text (59%)
-Poor color, fonts and format (55%)
Never forget the simple rule ‘Keep your site simple and user friendly’ . Don’t go overboard with too many features, confusing navigations and too many irrelevant choices
confusing your visitor from finally placing that order. Make it as simple as possible for them to order online.
5) Textual Content on your site is boring:
Sit down and read the content of your website out loud? Does it sound right? Do you come across as sincere? Do you make sense to you? How about the language? If your content sounds insincere, misleading, confusing, you definitely need to hire a professional content writer to take care of this problem.
Never forget content is very important to make your site meaningful and interesting. Interesting copywriting helps to grab attention and convince visitors to turn into customers. Also proper content is required for search engine optimization to ensure your site is picked up by the major search engine and right kind of traffic is drawn to your site.
6) Your site embarrasses you or your employees:
If you find yourself feeling apologetic when referring your ecommerce site or handing out your business card, then it’s obviously time to change your site. Your website should be a source of pride for you and your employees. If you find yourself apologizing for outdated information, broken images, poor design, difficult navigation or anything else on your site, redesign the site without delay. Your website is an easy access to information for your customers and affiliates so make it good for them.
Never forget, your website represents your business. You cannot afford to get shoddy and compromise on quality of your ecommerce site.
7) Current Navigation has turned confusing:
Websites grow with changes in your business model, and this might increase the visual hierarchy of links. Your site may have started with only a few web pages and now you realize you have so many links that it’s hard for visitors to navigate through all your content. An overgrown or scattered link structure is a good reason to redesign your existing site. Below are some solutions to interface design:
· Drop Down Menus
· Collapsible Navigation
· Dynamic Flash Menus
· Good Hierarchy Layout
· Site Map
Make it possible for your clients to seek information within maximum 3 clicks. Do not confuse them with too many complicated navigations. Use web statistics tools to find out your popular pages and analyze why they are so popular. Try and duplicate the benefits and good points of those pages on your entire website.
8) Lack of proper customer service:
There are still many trepidations bothering the online shopper and it can get tricky for an ecommerce site to overcome all those prejudices and barriers. As an website owner think of the problems, fears and complications faced during shopping online. One of the major issue is the inability to touch, feel, see the product before buying. Online browsers have to pay in advance and that too basis the description and photograph shown on your site. Your site lacks the human interaction factor that is available when going physically to shop.
One of the major way to tackle this problem is to have strong support and customer care service in place. If possible have ‘live help’ available on your site to guide your visitors. If not, see that toll free numbers are prominently displayed on all the web pages and there is a friendly and helpful customer care rep to guide and solve your visitors problems. Ensure your FAQ section address all the major and minor problems associated with ecommerce sites and helps alleviate the fears of your visitors. No problem or doubt is too small or stupid to prevent you from attending them ASAP.
The above indicators will give you an idea on when your site requires tweaks, upgrades or complete redesign to turn into a source of profit center and pride for your business.
About The Author:
Mark Walsh is the marketing manager at Analytix Solutions (http://www.analytixsolutions.com/it/index.asp). Analytix team consists of IT experts and Internet Marketing professionals who help small business owners take their business online through website designing, ecommerce site designing and search engine optimization services.