Home > eCommerce Tips and Tricks > You Might Not Judge a Book by its Cover, But…

You Might Not Judge a Book by its Cover, But…

Your customers will most definitely judge your online store by its homepage. Yes, it needs good SEO. Yes, it needs to be clearly organized and easy to navigate. When it comes down to it though, what’s really going to pop out at your customer in the first seconds they are on your site, is what it looks like. Your site needs to be professional and attractive. This will instantly make customers trust it more, as higher quality web design implies a more legitimate, successful company. Wikipedia might get by with plain white and black, but your online store won’t.

Brick and Mortar stores have three main advantages over an online store: customers can see and touch the actual product before deciding whether or not to buy, they get to take it home immediately, and they have salespeople. Have you ever been in a store where the sales people just sat at the register and didn’t say anything to any of the customers? How many customers were shopping in that store? Without the advantage of a good sales person to engage the customer you need to fill this void with an engaging website. There are many aspects to an engaging website. Personally, I love when I’m shopping for clothes online and it suggests what else I might wear to complete the outfit. If the website looks sloppy or like it was programmed by someone dabbling in HTML, however, there is no way I’m going to stay on the site long enough find out what other ways the site might engage me.

I make no claims to being any sort of graphic artist or designer of any sort, but one thing I DO do is shop online. So, from a customer’s perspective here are some tips on how to make a site look more visually engaging:

1) Color
The type of company you’re running will dictate the sorts of colors you might use (jewel tones versus earth tones for example), but your color scheme will be very important. It should be eye-catching, but not distracting from your product. Having a white background is fine, just make sure you use some well placed accent colors to make it pop. If you’re going to have a lot of text on your page (multiple long paragraphs) I suggest using a lighter background with dark text because it’s easier on the eyes, so customers are more likely to read through it.

2) Pictures
People love pictures and people judge pictures. Make sure you have them, and make sure they’re good. Poorly chosen or low quality pictures make it look like you don’t care. And if you don’t care, why should your customer? If you customer thinks you don’t care, he or she is much less likely to trust you. High quality photos add a lot to a site (and I don’t mean high-resolution, I’m talking composition, lighting, color, etc.) and lend an air of credibility. If you have pictures of your products (and you better!), make sure they are GOOD pictures. If you have a bad camera, find someone with a nice one and borrow it. If you’re going to have to take pictures of new products all the time, a good camera is a good investment. You can type as much text as you want in the description, but that picture is selling (or not!) your product.

3) Layout
The layout of your site should be easy to navigate and aesthetically pleasing. I’m not going to dig through your site looking for anything that might interest me. I’m either looking for a specific product and want to get there quickly and easily, or I’m just casually clicking on things that strike my fancy. For the latter, you’ll want to make sure categories are clearly laid out in an obvious place. If I don’t see a link, I’m not going to click on it. It’s that simple.

4) Extra Touches
Details are key. Having nice little touches that tie everything together really add to the professionalism of your website and make it a more enjoyable shopping experience. I think having a site that is shaded to appear sort of 3D (this site, for example) looks 100 times better than a site that looks completely flat. As I mentioned earlier, related products are great. Most of these will be unique to your company so just think about it for a little while, I’m sure you’ll come up with a couple of great ideas!

Anyway, those are just some quick tips to get you started. This will be a major aspect of your online store, so take some time to really brainstorm and decide what you want it to look like. If you’re in a better financial position, you might consider hiring and expert to create something unique and professional for you. If you don’t have the money or time, MiiDuu.com has some great free themes that take care of this for you.

Now that you have some ideas brewing, why not head over to MiiDuu and give it a go? Already have a MiiDuu store? Get some how-to advice from our Design related FAQs!

A quick PS: Your online store may not have sales people, but it is still responsible for customer service. Make sure to respond to all customer e-mails in a timely fashion, and obviously, be as helpful as possible. If a customer has a problem, it is in your best interest to solve it as quickly as possible, even if that means taking a return or two. I, personally, will never buy BCBG clothing again due to an outdated return policy and poor customer service.  I also recently read a blog post dedicated just to discrediting a company for this same reason (Why you shouldn’t buy from Raveready.com OR Beatdropcloset.com). This will be especially hurtful to people with poor SEO as the blog post could show up in searches before your shop!

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