What could be stopping your ecommerce site’s visitors from buying?

Piranha Designs - Friday, December 21, 2018

The festive season is a period when you will want to see high conversion rates from your ecommerce store; the truth is, however, that even a strong-performing online shop can improve in some respects.

Fortunately, some of the reasons for any faltering conversions may be obvious to you; you may already know that your current checkout process is cumbersome, for example, or that your delivery costs are high compared to obvious rivals. Sometimes, overly restrictive returns policies can be harmful as well.

However, customers can also be deterred from purchasing from you by seemingly minor, ‘easy-to-overlook’ issues. Here are just a few that you may look to fix.

Colours that are harsh on the eye

Yes, even a site’s colour scheme can cause a visitor to spend less time browsing it than would otherwise be the case – and that means potentially lost sales.

Is your site largely decked out in a less popular colour – such as brown or yellow – that could be putting off visitors? Maybe the overall colour scheme is a bit unsightly, or there are clashing combinations of colours in various crucial parts of the site, such as its navigation menus and buttons?

Standard manufacturer descriptions

Guess what? Manufacturers have an interest in making their own product look like the best in its industry, so their own product descriptions can feature more than a little hyperbole.

Indeed, the typically highly sales-focused vibe of manufacturers’ own product descriptions can even sometimes fail to provide a clear outline of what the item is and how it could benefit the customer.

By writing your own site’s product descriptions, you could therefore do a lot to engage your particular visitors and give them the information and insight that they most need.

Typos, poor grammar and run-on sentences

Most of us naturally stop when we encounter an obvious spelling or grammatical error in a piece of text. It’s especially glaring on an ecommerce site, as it would normally be presumed that you have the professionalism to at least proofread the content on your site before making it ‘live’.

Also be sure to avoid especially long sentences that can be difficult to quickly read and understand.

Substandard photos and videos

The photos and videos that you use to advertise your stocked products should clearly show the item in question, not least so that the prospective buyer can easily understand what it is.

Remember that smartphone and tablet users – who make up an especially large proportion of online shoppers today – will frequently wish to pinch to zoom for a closer look at a given item. You should therefore ensure they can easily do this on your own site, even if you already provide a dedicated zoom feature.

To find out more about how Piranha Designs’ expertise in ecommerce website design could make all of the difference to your brand’s efforts to significantly bolster its conversions during 2019, simply email or get on the phone to our Gibraltar, London or Edinburgh offices.

Could your ecommerce site's search functionality be improved?

Piranha Designs - Monday, December 17, 2018

It's difficult to think of many more important elements of a shopping site's design than its search features. We say 'features' rather than 'feature', because we aren't necessarily just talking about the keyword search box – the likes of category browsing and faceted search can also be key elements. 

In case you're wondering what those latter two features are, the first should be fairly self-explanatory – it refers to when users select categories on your website and then continue working through subcategories to narrow down the items they are interested in. 

Faceted search should also be very familiar to you. It's all about the various filters – such as size, length, colour and brand – that ecommerce sites customarily use to help shoppers to get to the products that are of greatest relevance to them. 

There are, though, many ways to optimise site search 

You shouldn't underestimate the complexity and sophistication of site search technology these days – but also the relative ease with which you can start improving this aspect of your ecommerce portal, as long as you know which components to focus on. 

It's worth scrutinising, to start with, how your site search currently uses synonyms and substitute terms. If your site is an online health food store, for example, people won't necessarily look for food supplements simply by typing in the term 'food supplements'; others could be 'health supplements', 'nutritional supplements' or perhaps something slightly more specific, like 'digestive supplements'.

Remember, too, that there are also differences in the terminology used from one industry to the next. Your visitors may perform searches for popular acronyms, abbreviations or even slang terms that lead to a zero results page, despite the products they are seeking being available on your site.

Misspellings can easily happen too, which leaves you with a decision to make: just how tolerant should your site search be to them? You could optimise your search functionality to account for one or two letters in a search term being incorrect, which could increase the number of results produced from a user's search, but also risks decreasing their relevancy.  

Then, there are such features as predictive search and type-ahead that have become 'in-vogue' on ecommerce sites in recent times. These elements can be instrumental in making life easier for your prospective customers by giving them product, category and keyword suggestions as they type. 

Get on the phone to Piranha Designs about a complete new ecommerce site design 

Is the state of your site's search functionality just one aspect in which you consider your brand's present ecommerce presence to be below-par? In that case, it may be the best decision to invest in one of our comprehensive shopping site design packages, which are offered at a range of highly competitive price points and give you full Content Management System (CMS) functionality. 

We can also undertake exacting bespoke designs if you prefer. So, why not enquire about the possibilities to the Piranha Designs team right now?

5 things to include in your retail website’s footer

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, August 22, 2018

One element of your retail site that you may almost forget about – and not even see on other sites unless you’re scrolling down to find the bottom of the page – is its footer.

But this bottom section of your site isn’t just somewhere to put all of the links and content that you may not have been able to fit in elsewhere. In short, you’ll need to make conscious decisions on what will be contained within your site’s footer.

Here are just some items that are especially common in website footers, and which you may therefore decide to include in yours.

Social media links

The importance of your retail website interfacing seamlessly – or almost seamlessly – with your brand’s social media presence should never be underestimated.

Links to your firm’s pages on such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram may therefore be invaluable for alerting those looking at the bottom of your pages to the opportunities to continue engaging with your brand, even once they have left your site.

Job openings

The footer is an obvious place for many of those who have perused your site to hit their browser ‘back’ button. Including information about the latest job openings – even if this simply amounts to a ‘Careers’ link – could therefore be another great way to keep them interested and on your site.

A link to your site map

Could some visitors to your site do with a refresher of what pages your site consists of, and where they can be found? After all, the given person looking at your footer may have ended up there after unsuccessfully searching for a particular page on your site through the main navigation system.

Trust, certification and accreditation badges

Has your site been formally approved by a well-known and reputable body? Perhaps it has gained some form of external accreditation or certification that you feel could convince a lingering prospective buyer to go ahead and place an order?

Links to your terms and conditions and privacy policy

These are the mundane, but informative pages of your site that will likely reassure the customer about such matters as how your store uses their personal information and how they are entitled to use various parts of your site. Remember that these are vital pages for filling in gaps in knowledge left by your Frequently Asked Questions and similar sections, and it’s almost a given to the average customer that your terms and conditions and privacy policy links will be in the footer.

Do you want to have your very own ‘mini Amazon’ that will bring your brand impressive performance and ease of use for years to come, while driving ever-greater customer numbers? If so, our team here at Piranha Designs would be delighted to talk to you about our in-depth know-how in ecommerce website design, and advise you on which of our packages may be right for you.

So you’ve got a long page... how can you encourage users to scroll down it?

Piranha Designs - Thursday, July 26, 2018

While split tests have often shown that it’s better to make a page long than short, there’s one potential downside: you won’t feel the benefit if the reader isn’t aware that the page is long.

You won’t want to put a lot of hard work into creating the perfect long page, only for the visitor to not realise that they can scroll down further, or even wish to scroll down.

Defining the ‘fold’

You might well have come across the term ‘above the fold’ quite a bit when researching all things web design. It refers to the part of the page that a user can see without scrolling.

However, the fold isn’t always in the same place for different users. Instead, its position can be impacted by such factors as the user’s screen resolution, the number of bars – such as toolbars – that they have open in their browser, and whether they have zoomed in on the page.

That’s before you consider the even greater complexity brought to the issue by the ever-increasing variety of mobile and tablet web browsers these days.

But there are ways to get your users to scroll

Given such factors as the variability of the position of the fold, it’s fair to say there’s no single, universal solution to the issue of how you can encourage visitors to your long pages to scroll down.

There are, though, proven strategies that you can try. You could incorporate a distinctive background into the top, left and right-hand corners of your page, for example, so that it’s obvious to the reader when they still need to scroll down further to reach the bottom.

Alternatively, you could be a little less subtle, by actually asking the reader to scroll down in your sales copy – explicitly saying “Please scroll down for...” or words to that effect. Remember that users are more likely to follow such an instruction if they are given a clear incentive to do so – for example, if you have a discount code or a download link for a useful PDF to give to them.

You might even go as far as incorporating a ‘please scroll’ graphic just above the fold. You could simply place it where most of your visitors’ folds lie, or add it to a freestanding object attached to the bottom of the browser window. The latter tactic will ensure the graphic is always seen at the bottom of the reader’s screen, regardless of their screen resolution.

Why not talk to us about website design?

Long pages can certainly deliver great results for your organisation, but it’s vital to ensure your readers are quickly made aware of their length and are encouraged to scroll down them.

If you would appreciate the highest-quality bespoke web design services, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the Piranha Designs team, so that we can discuss with you the best route forward.

Does your ecommerce site clearly communicate why the customer should bother?

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, June 12, 2018

There are a lot of things that could greatly help to get more of your website’s visitors purchasing from you – a steady stream of insightful blog posts, for example, or a more intuitive navigation system. However, even many of these things may not be as impactful as they ought to be, if your target audience doesn’t understand or like your value propositions.

If you’re wondering, “what’s a value proposition?”, allow us to explain – it’s the benefits of a particular product or service of yours, minus the costs. When we say ‘costs’, we don’t necessarily just mean the asking price; the economic risk, time or resource investment required should also be factored in.

Think from the perspective of the buyer

Even the above definition is a little seller-centric, which may not aid clear thinking, given that it’s the individual buyer you’re supposed to be appealing to with your value proposition.

After all, the value proposition of a given product or service varies from one potential purchaser to another, because there may be certain features a buyer needs, and certain features they don’t. Plus, buyers tend to think in terms of a product or service’s pros and cons, rather than benefits and costs.

It’s handy, though, to consider value proposition from both a seller and buyer perspective, to give yourself a complete picture.

So, how can you communicate those ‘pros’?

Take a look at your company’s website. You might be offering more technical or complex products or services that can be difficult to explain. Have you communicated the value propositions for them, including what each product or service actually is?

There might even be key benefits of your product or service that you haven’t mentioned on your website. It’s for this reason that it is well worth sitting down and listing all of the elements of value that buyers get, before checking that your site clearly conveys each and every one.

You might also consider whether your site makes it obvious what happens once the buyer hits the ‘order’ button. This can be an especially important element if your business offers services rather than products. A diagram or flowchart could therefore be useful for leaving your target customer in no doubt about the process, and how it will begin to benefit them straight away.

Our expertise in ecommerce web design here at Piranha Designs could be instrumental in boosting your firm’s sales online this year. Highly rated packages are available at various price points to ensure you receive the right website design at a price that makes sense for your company.

A few steps you can take to make your site more accessible

Piranha Designs - Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Accessibility can be a tricky subject for many online business owners to get to grips with, what with all of the complexity inherent in how screen readers and voice command applications work.

The good news, though, is that you don’t necessarily need an in-depth appreciation of accessibility principles to tweak your site to be usable by as broad an audience as possible. In fact, the following steps can go a long way towards accomplishing that.

Make your buttons standard HTML

Buttons are vital for triggering actions on your site. Such actions may include sending messages, saving progress and opening panels, among other things, but it’s important to remember that it is buttons that make such actions possible.

It’s therefore also vital that the broadest range of visitors to your site can make use of its buttons. That’s why you should ensure your buttons are always standard HTML buttons. These are the buttons that are natively usable from the keyboard, with the browser and operating system already knowing what to do with such a button element.

Ensure your site’s links are only ever links

Links serve a specific purpose on your site, much like buttons do, although that purpose naturally differs: they take you somewhere. You can also use them natively from the keyboard – again, just like buttons.

Does that mean it’s a good idea to use a link to perform some of your site’s button-like actions? The short answer to that is “no”.

While a sighted user may not be able to differentiate between an actual HTML button and a link that merely resembles a button, the screen reader will tell its user exactly whether the element is a link or a button. The user may therefore expect the element to behave like a link, rather than a button, and if the response they get isn’t what they expected, this can make your site frustrating to use.

Provide labels for everything on the site

Take a look at one of the forms on your site – if there is one. Is there text next to the form fields, to make clear what each of those fields is for? Then, click on the text – by which we do mean the text, rather than the field itself. If your cursor automatically moves into the input field, you can be sure that the field is appropriately labelled.

An unlabelled form creates problems for a screen reader user, who won’t be able to tell what belongs in each field except by exploring the rest of the site for any other helpful text.

Even if you implement all of the above tips, you won’t necessarily have a perfectly accessible website – but such advice should nonetheless serve as useful inspiration for when you do come to design or alter your site specifically with accessibility issues in mind.

Why not ask the Piranha Designs team today about the custom web design solutions that we can provide for you, in accordance with your most demanding requirements?

Your prospective customers will be reassured by a well-sorted ‘About Us’ page

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What’s the first thing that a visitor to your company website will want to know, besides the products or services that you offer? It’s who you are, of course.

By that, we don’t just mean your company name, the sector in which your business is active or even the name of the founder. What we mean, are all of the other things that will actually ease the anxieties and doubts of your potential customers.

What anxieties and doubts are your site visitors likely to have?

Let’s imagine that a person ends up on your site through Google, because you’re selling something that they’ve been looking for. The likelihood is that if you’re reading this, your firm isn’t Amazon or Coca-Cola, so the visitor in question may well have never heard of your brand.

So, it’s the basics that they will want to be reassured about. Is your site a trustworthy one, where they can complete a purchase by entering their credit card or other payment information and be sure that their order will be delivered in good time?

Can they also expect the items that they receive to work properly, and if there are any issues with the product, will you be responsive to their complaints and work hard to resolve their problem?

As much of a habit as online shopping has become for so many of us, the fact remains that online shoppers can’t pick up and feel the merchandise, or try on items of clothing. You will therefore need to do everything possible to quickly establish trust with your audience – and your site’s ‘About Us’ page can be an invaluable tool for this.

A well-crafted page will do much to give you credibility

Given how unlikely it is that the average scammer will go as far as building an intricate ‘About Us’ section complete with detail on company values and original photos, it’s fair to say that original and unique content will go a long way to establishing a sense of reputability among your site visitors.

That might manifest in such details as why and when you started your company, as well as what motivates you to provide the products or services that you do through your site. It might also mean filling the visitor in on your staff, including their full names and own interests.

There’s so much else that you can do beyond this. You could describe exactly how the products or services that you offer are made, or how you manage to keep your prices competitive without compromising quality. What about ‘behind the scenes’ of your company, such as your work culture? You might also want to include details on media coverage that your brand has received.

In summary, when you get your site’s ‘About Us’ page right, it can be such a brilliant part of your site for showcasing and enhancing your company’s identity. It’s all about communicating what makes your brand unique, interesting and relevant, so that your prospective shoppers’ nerves will be calmed and they will feel confident to order products or services from you.

Could Piranha Designs be your crucial partners this year in helping you to get your website to the next level of success? We offer a broad range of up-to-the-minute and proven web design and other services, and would be delighted to hear from you.

5 things to avoid in responsive web design

Piranha Designs - Thursday, March 29, 2018

We’re sure many of you reading this will be well aware of the term ‘responsive web design’, which is the practice of designing a site so that it renders well across multiple devices.

Today, it couldn’t be more vital for any ecommerce firm to have a mobile-optimised site, and responsive design has long been deemed the best route to take to achieve this goal.

However, with the increasing prevalence of responsive web design, has also come many an error in its implementation that should be easily avoided. Here are just a few of them.

1. Overly small call-to-action buttons

While it’s understandable that you will wish to ensure every element of your website fits onto a small smartphone screen, this brings the risk that the call-to-action buttons will be too small for visitors to easily tap.

If customers continually accidentally click the wrong button or have to zoom in simply to tap it, such a compromised user experience could lead to them exiting the site. So, be sure to design a site with call-to-action buttons that are neither too small, nor too close to each other.

2. Support for only one image resolution

The detrimental effect that overly large images have on the loading times of a mobile site should mean that your own site design alters the resolution of its images based on the user’s device.

The good news is that there are many ways to ensure this happens automatically, such as the picture HTML5 element or various WordPress plugins.

3. Non-responsive emails

As wonderfully responsive as your main site may be, major usability issues can be created if the emails that your company sends are not also responsive to match.

You won’t want a situation where your mobile users find it difficult to even review their order details or browse through the list of products you’ve recommended to them in an email. Emails need to be treated as the key customer touch point that they are, being given their own role in the responsive design and testing process.

4. Giving mobile users less content

Presenting mobile users with a ‘second-class’ version of your desktop website isn’t a great idea, not least as they may be seeking information with their smartphone that they saw earlier on your desktop site.

Statistics show that the vast majority of online shoppers use more than one device. You therefore need to have a website that is generated dynamically in accordance with the size of the user’s screen, instead of simply hiding vital content.

5. Slow loading times

Mobile users are especially likely to want to take swift action. This means your page size should be kept as small as possible, which will necessitate you carefully considering what content is actually required on the page. Are there certain images, buttons and text that you could dispense with?

Remember that we aren’t contradicting our earlier point here; this isn’t about making your mobile site an inferior counterpart to your desktop one. If certain content must be kept at least somewhere, consider separating it across different tabs.

Would you like to benefit from a gorgeously responsive site for your ecommerce business? We are highly experienced and skilled in CMS website design, and through our packages at various price points, can provide the solution that suits your firm’s needs and ambitions.

The features that your site’s search function should have

Piranha Designs - Friday, March 09, 2018

If you were online in the late 1990s or early 2000s, you may remember Ask Jeeves, which was a search engine that in many ways, presaged what Google and other search titans today attempt to do: provide a useful response to specific user questions, instead of merely keywords.

It was certainly a compelling concept in its day – the eponymous ‘Jeeves’, by the way, being a gentleman character based on the fictional valet of P. G. Wodehouse character Bertie Wooster.

The character used to appear on the site’s homepage, but the delivery of the question-and-answer functionality was as clunky as you might expect given the times, and Jeeves himself was sent into retirement in 2006.

But with all of the design and technology innovations that have happened since, there’s now a lot more scope for the modern online business owner to ensure their own site’s search function produces robust and relevant results. Here are some of those that we would suggest.

Spelling assistance

Imagine how time-consuming and laborious it would be to manually input all of the conceivable ways in which a given search term could be misspelled. This feature, then, has to be something that can intelligently understand potential user mistakes by itself.

Automatic filtering of common conjunctions and articles

Conjunctions like “and”, “or” and “but”, as well as articles such as “the”, “a” and “an”, can be filtered out of users’ searches, unless one of these words is part of the name of a product.

Alternative words, aka “Did you mean?”

Shoppers may not know the exact terms used in the name of the product they are looking for, or may not understand the correct meanings of certain words. Whatever the situation, incorporating this function into your site search helps to prevent you missing out on sales.

The ability to enter alternative terms yourself

While we made the point above that an intelligent search feature should be able to accommodate many alternative spellings or terms that a user may enter, this work can’t be solely left to the search tool. After all, new alternative phases gain popularity all of the time, and you will be able to identify these through search data, so it helps to be able to incorporate them into your search feature.

Relevant recommendations

It does happen, from time to time, that a user enters a term that delivers zero results. In such a situation, rather than your site presenting your user with a largely blank ‘sorry’ page, you might want to ensure other products or categories are presented to them to increase the likelihood of a sale.

These aren’t the only key features that are incorporated into the most sophisticated search functions of today’s ecommerce stores. When you turn to the team here at Piranha Designs for our custom website design services, you can discuss with us in more detail what form your own site’s search feature could take.

What can you do to get people to come back to your site?

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, January 17, 2018

What can you do to get people to come back to your site?

As much as you might sometimes wish otherwise, your site visitors don’t exist in a state of perfect isolation. They’re browsing your site while surrounded by all manner of possible distractions – sat in their kitchen with their children yapping for their attention, or enjoying a quick lunch break before their boss calls them back into the office, or waiting for a taxi to arrive at their home... the list goes on.

Your site is effectively competing with all manner of ‘real life’ things for your visitors’ attention. So if they do get distracted and then forget about your site, how can you attract them back?

Be more memorable than any of your competitors

While many of us might bemoan popular tabloid news sites that attract attention through lurid headlines and sensationalism rather than truth, the reality is that making your site memorable does work a treat for getting people to make repeat visits.

Sometimes, that principle is taken to extremes – just take a look at the famously garish website for LingsCars, for instance. It’s a genuine business, but you might not have thought so at first glance. Nonetheless, it’s not a website you’re going to forget in a hurry.

But there are other, slightly milder ways to make your business’s site memorable, such as by giving your brand a quirky name, having an entertaining and engaging tone of voice or investing in video ads that are ripe to go viral.

Establish a means of ongoing customer communication

Obtaining a prospective customer’s contact details, or getting them to follow you in some other way online, takes the pressure off your company to immediately convert their interest into a sale. You won’t have to do it within one session, and can instead persuade them over a period of days, weeks, months or even years.

So, how can you establish that means of communication? Well, you could offer them a tempting, no-brainer deal – such as a free trial or demo – with a tiny commitment, such as providing their email address or other contact details, that makes it an almost impossible offer to refuse.

Convincing your visitors to follow your brand on Facebook, Twitter or a similarly popular social platform is another potentially good move. This will be made much easier if your social feeds provide a rich stream of content that is engaging, relevant and usable for your target audience.

Or why not launch an ad retargeting campaign? There’s a strong likelihood that if a given target customer was sufficiently interested in your site once, a well-placed ad will convince them to come back.

How could we help your firm with its 2018 goals?

The above steps can do a lot to ensure that a customer relationship that would’ve otherwise been a one-night stand becomes a longer-term commitment. But there’s much more that we can do to enhance your brand’s online fortunes here at Piranha Designs.

Why not contact our team today to discuss our custom website design solutions or any of our other sought-after services that could help to power your brand to success over the coming year?


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