When putting together a business plan for your new Internet presence, one big question that the business owner must ask themselves is: Do I want to make money? It seems like a no-brainer. Every businessperson wants to make money. However, it is a crucial question to ask yourself when putting your business online. Many folks are still so unfamiliar with the way that sales happen successfully on the Internet that they opt to put out a large sum of money on a flash web design that, while it may look high tech or interesting, simply will not make them a profit. Why is this?
Why Flash sites don’t work in business
For those who may not be familiar with what flash is, do some browsing online and take a look at about 20 or so websites. There is a good chance that half of them have some sort of flash graphic on them. Smooth, highly stylized animated graphics are the signs of a flash website. Some of you may find websites that have large pieces of them missing or having error messages. Chances are that these have flash as well, and your browser isn’t equipped with the right tools to view these expensive graphics. You quickly move on. And, bingo – you’ve just answered the question of why these sites don’t work when it comes to e-commerce.
Think about what you want when you go shopping. For instance, during your weekend errands, say you want to buy a pair of new shoes. You have a million other errands to run. You want to get home, you may be hungry, etc. – a lot of factors going through your head when you arrive at the shoe store and want to get in and get out with your new shoes. But, when you walk in the door, a salesman jumps in front of you with a large, color banner and begins shouting at you. You know where you want to go in the store just to get a pair of shoes, but he seems to be blocking your path and directing annoying advertising catch phrases at you. His huge advertising banner may be confusing you as to the layout of the store or where you need to go. How long do you put up with this before you walk out the door in frustration? You just want to buy a pair of shoes, for crying out loud. You know what you want, where you want to go, how much you want to pay, and where the door is to leave.
It’s no different when shopping on the Internet these days. Your potential customers want to see, at a glance, what you are selling, how much it is, what exactly it looks like, and how few steps they need to take to buy your product and leave your store. Confusing them with catchy graphics that they may not even be able to see and will certainly slow down your site loading on their computer is a sure fire way to irritate them and lose your sale. Your e-commerce site needs to be clean, concise, and easy to use. Some simple rules to keep in mind are as follows:
1) Keep the color scheme of your site as simple as possible.
Research shows that a simple white background is the most successful for e-commerce websites. A white background (for the most part, depending upon what you sell) shows your product the best and makes the writing easy to read. You may decide that white will be just too plain for you, and if that is the case, we strongly recommend sticking to light colors, with a majority of white and perhaps a few soft pastels or darker colors thrown in to accent your site. When building an e-commerce site, keep away from using black as your site background color at all costs. It’s dreary, it’s hard to read, and people will go elsewhere.
2) Use clear, quality photos of your products
We’re sure that you’ve come across sites selling products where you’ve had to squint and put your nose to the screen to try and figure out what it is that they have a picture of on their selling page. We’ve seen these, too – more often than we should. Photos of your products need to be high quality, clear photos that really showcase your product. Hiring a professional photographer is an investment you may want to seriously consider. If you can’t manage to do that, try and take good photographs yourself using a good digital camera. Take a picture of the product and the product only. Do not have your product photographed with a group of other similar products or with extraneous objects. Customers may get confused as to what they are actually buying when there is more than one thing in the picture. Most importantly, it is imperative to actually have photos of your products. People won’t buy what they can’t see.
3) Make your store as easy to walk through as you can.
Try and think of your online store as an actual physical store in your town. Would you want boxes of inventory, garbage, or products that you sell scattered off of the shelves and cluttering up your aisles? No, it would be a mess for your customers and would give them a bad impression of your business. It’s the same with your online store. Make your site clean and easy to navigate. If your customers can’t get back to the last page they were on, or back to your home page without having to jump through hoops to do so, chances are is that they’ll get frustrated and look somewhere else. Remember, your website loses about half of its visitors per click that they make, so try to get them to your product with as few clicks as possible. The easier you make it for them, the better success you will have. Customers that have to wait through agonizing flash graphics to load on every page they go to certainly won’t wish to hang around for long.