The Keys to Customer-Friendly Online Commerce
By Larry Kavanagh
To achieve customer-friendly navigation--and greater sales--on your Web site, turn to the most powerful Web design consultants you can find: Your customers. If you pay attention to how your customers use your site, you can learn how to optimize your Web site's navigation. Here are tips on how to exploit what these invaluable consultants are telling you:
Use traffic logs to identify the home-page elements on your current site that your customers use most frequently. What do they click on? Is it products, category links or general information? What features do they use? Category navigation, search, or quick order? However, absolutely do not stop there. Click-throughs are meaningless by themselves. What are the sales results of those click-throughs? Analyze the traffic to see if these clicks resulted in purchases. Other issues to consider include:
* Are there links that customers click on frequently, but don't lead to purchases? De-emphasize or remove these links. They're distracting the customer.
* Are there links that few people click on, yet those few have higher rates of product purchases? Make those links more attractive by making them more prominent on the page, or reword them so that more people understand just what those links are.
* Evaluate all the categories on your site. Find the superstars-the categories that, when a customer clicks into them, improve the chance that a customer will make a purchase. Put these categories on the home page in order to increase the amount of traffic flowing through them.
* Hide the dead categories. Don't try to revive a dead horse when, with about the same amount of effort, you can train your thoroughbred to run a bit faster. What's better, doubling the sales in a category that brings in $1,000 a year, or increasing the sales of a category that brings in $100,000 a year by 10 percent? You have a much better chance of realizing the 10 percent increase on a good category than you have of doubling the poor-selling category.