Sunday, March 11, 2007

10 High-Profit Redesign Priorities

Tips for increasing sales and loyalty ...

"Several usability findings lead directly to higher sales and increased customer loyalty. These design tactics should be your first priority when updating your website.

I often write about the top mistakes in Web design, but what are the top things you can do to make more money? Following here are 10 Internet tactics with a particularly high return on investment (ROI).

1. Email Newsletters
Email newsletters let you maintain a relationship with your customers that lasts beyond their visits to your site. The newsletter is the perfect website companion because it answers a different user need: newsletters keep customers informed and in touch with the company; websites give customers detailed information and let them perform business transactions.
Newsletters are fairly cheap. They require little technology and mustn't be published too frequently. If you don't have a newsletter, then publishing one is probably the single-highest ROI action you can take to improve your Internet presence. If you do have a newsletter, then improving it according to research findings will likely make it several times more valuable to your organization. (Most of the newsletters we've tested failed to meet users' expressed desire for good communication.)

Newsletters have one more benefit: they are the primary way to liberate your site from dependence on search engines. In the long run, achieving this liberation is one of the most important strategic challenges facing Internet managers.

2. Informative Product Pages
The product pages on e-commerce sites, marketing sites, and B2B sites all suffer from information deficit. It's rare to see product descriptions that tell prospects everything they need to know to make a purchasing decision.
In my recent book, I present data showing that poor product information accounted for 8% of the usability problems on the websites we tested. Even worse, poor product information accounted for 10% of the user failures (that is, cases where users gave up, as opposed to "just" being delayed or annoyed). Designing product pages according to user needs is a highly targeted way to encourage sales at a point where users have already indicated interest by virtue of visiting the page.

You need detailed product information, but it must be written in a way that makes sense to people who aren't experts in your field. For example, on the product page for a laptop, don't be like Dell and tell people that the screen is "WSXGA+." Tell them it's 1680 x 1050 pixels. (Be honest: did you know this? And you're probably five times as geeky as a normal person.) Or, better yet, be like Apple and show different screen resolutions next to each other so users can see how much data is visible with each."    (Continued via Alertbox)    [Usability Resources]

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