With Greg Randall's exclusive guide to Home Page Best Practice now on sale, Power Retail looks at some key tips for making your website as effective as possible.
Your website is not just a platform through which to sell products; it is also an experience for customers. To grow your consumer base and encourage buying, you need to make the online shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible for your customers. And the first test of your website is the homepage.
This is where best practice comes in – yet many retailers are still learning what best practice is. Even pureplay online retailers, whose entire business model depends on a strong web offering, don’t always know what guidelines they should follow to make their websites as effective as possible.
Online retailing is competitive, and your website should stand out from the crowd. It should also be tailored to you – your brand, what you offer, and what customers come to you for. It’s not enough to copy competitors; you need to fundamentally understand the principles and practices behind a strong website, and work that understanding into your homepage design.
Here are just a few key points to keep in mind when following best practice for your homepage.
Keep your content relevant
Your homepage divides into key areas, and you should learn your way around these to make the most of the website “real estate”. Users’ eyes will be drawn to particular places, and if they find content that isn’t relevant or interesting to them, they have no motivation to scroll further.
Use your banners wisely; bombarding users with eye-catching but irrelevant content causes them to tune out content, a problem known as “carousel banner blindness”. Use your homepage to advertise exciting and temporary content, such as featured promotions. And highlight content that will move users on to the next step in the buying process.
Make sure you’re mobile friendly
Shoppers are increasingly accessing websites through smartphones and other mobile devices. There’s a misconception among retailers that customers tend not to make purchases on a mobile device, but research shows that mobile commerce accounts for almost 60 percent of digital sales worldwide and will only continue to grow.
While many customers start off browsing a website for fun, 77 percent end up making impulse buys. Making your homepage mobile friendly is therefore the first step to encouraging extra sales.
While there is still a place for computer navigation, homepage design should understand the differences in layouts and page element treatment across desktop and mobile devices. Nothing puts off a potential customer like trying to access a website on their phone and finding it clunky and unnavigable. You’ll maximise your customer engagement if you make your website accessible across all the platforms through which consumers might use it.
Ensure your homepage is easy to use
This may sound obvious, but it’s actually common for website design to prioritise branding and visuals over ease of use. Customers want a website that’s straightforward; your homepage, in particular, is the gateway to your website and should make a positive first impression.
So ensure the search box is easy to find. Include category content, but don’t put products on the homepage. Provide auto-suggestions to make searching simpler. These factors and others will ensure your homepage is easy to navigate, which will invite customers to explore your website further.
For a detailed guide to best practice, including case studies and practical tips, check out the Power Retail e-book Home Page Best Practice by Greg Randall. Now on sale, this is the first of four books on website best practice. Download a free sample here.