We all do it, though our mothers told us not to: we judge books by their covers, and online shops by their homepages. From the moment your homepage starts loading, you have anywhere from 2 - 8 seconds to assure customers they’re in the right place -- otherwise, they’re off to your competitors.
Starting an online store can be a bit overwhelming, but if you’ve got a homepage that captures your audience’s attention, looks brilliant, and accurately conveys your brand, you’ve won half the battle.
A brilliant homepage should answer, even at first glance, the questions of who you are, what you do, and what service you will provide your customers. That means having your logo in a clearly recognizable place -- customers tend to look at the top left of the website for this information, so see how that placement works with your overall design.
It also means coming up with a ‘strapline’ -- a short slogan that quickly tells your customers what you’re about -- and placing it somewhere they’re likely to look within the first 5 seconds. Think of successful straplines like Guiness’ “Good things come to those who wait,” and HSBC’s “The world’s local bank” for inspiration. Your own strapline can be as long as a couple of sentences, or as short as “Fit. Flirty. Fun.” Just be sure that you’re communicating what you do and that you’re being consistent with your branding.
A great eye-catching banner placed strategically ‘above the fold’ is another invaluable tool when you’re looking to create an online store that draws in customers and drives up sales.
SupaDupa has instructions and even videos on how to put up banners and slideshows that showcase your products and give your homepage a professional touch. We even provide design templates for banners that you can customise with your own photography, which means your banner will be gorgeous and unique without having to get your degree in graphic design.
Consider this moment in every online shopper’s life: you’ve finally found what you’re looking for and you want to make a purchase but… can you really trust this vendor? Something about the website seems off -- maybe it looks outdated, like your order will be sent to a company that closed years ago. Maybe it’s just plain ugly, causing the gorgeous items in your shopping cart to look uglier by association.
Even if these companies are well-staffed with a huge warehouse of items just waiting to be shipped, customers won’t care because the face of their brand -- their website -- looks like it’s from 1992. On the flip side, even if all the manpower behind your brand is just you and your cat, your customers never have to know because of your stellar homepage. That’s the beauty of online eCommerce.
That’s also the beauty of using a platform that offers a store builder and shop themes, because these templates make it so you can build a professional-looking website without any prior knowledge. Take advantage of them, but tweak them to make them your own. They’re customisable, which means you can not just use your own product photography but choose the fonts and colour schemes that most resonate with your customers and your brand.
Browsing on the web means just that: skimming text and moving quickly from one point to the next. That means your online boutique is likely to be more successful if you cut down on the clutter.
Keep blocks of text to a minimum on your homepage, saving detailed product descriptions for when they click on specific items. In other words, let your products do the talking.
Use sub-menus for other pages, such as your blog and your ‘about me’ page. Remember that customers generally look to the top of the page or to the right for navigation tools, and that these navigation tools in themselves need to be simple and easy to use.
It may seem like a trivial detail, but many people won’t do business with a company that has no listed phone number or email address. Make sure to have a ‘Contact us’ page clearly linked to on your homepage. People usually look for this information at the bottom of a webpage, so link to it in your footer even if you have already have your contact information listed somewhere else on the page.
Remember that while your main customer base may reside in the UK, your website is on the global marketplace. Make sure that any currencies, dates and times, and measurements are clearly marked so that your business is open to everyone.
For example, what does the date “3-4-2014” mean to you? You might mean the third day in April, but an international customer could read that as March 4th. Something as simple as making sure to spell out the month, rather than using a number, can clear up misconceptions before they even start.
When it comes to actually selling items, brilliant pictures of your products are everything. Because of this, it’s worth it to study some ground rules for ensuring you get the perfect picture, if you’re not already using a professional photographer.
Don’t use images that look blurry, too dark, or can’t be enlarged while still retaining a high image quality. And don’t forget to ensure that your primary images (the first one uploaded in every product!) are all the same size -- in both height and width -- so that they all line up nicely on your homepage.
If you’ve been studying up on your eCommerce terms, you might have heard of the term CTA, or call to action. This just means having things on your homepage that encourage your customer to go deeper into your website. The goal is to get your customers to click and read further rather than just skimming your page and moving on. This can be anything from a ‘Discover more’ button to a ‘Schedule a free consultation’ option.
Calls to action make it so that your homepage is actually working for you, generating leads and getting customers to interact with your website, rather than just laying about like a beautiful brochure.
Ever been surfed the web in peace and quiet when suddenly a song starts playing? Which one of the 20 open tabs is that even playing that song? The anguish, the misery!
You want your customers to feel comfortable and at ease, and there’s nothing more jarring than loud media that you didn’t ask for. In the same vein, try keeping away from floating pop-ups that demand things of your customers before they’ve even gotten to see your homepage.
While a pop-up asking customers to subscribe to your mailing list or ‘like’ you on Facebook can be effective, it’s also intrusive, and the extra second that it takes to click the little ‘X’ in the corner might be all it takes to push potential customers away.