All posts tagged usability

Where’s the Banana?

Okay, so I know this is a pretty basic topic, and not nearly as buzz worthy as Andy’s product extensions or Facebook’s credits, but it seems to me by far the easiest and most productive thing one can do to increase web store transactions. And even though I’ve told people at every cocktail party I’ve ever been invited to, it’s hard to believe how many web stores still don’t do it, even after all those parties.

My big secret is this: if you want people to buy stuff, you’ve got to get them to click the “proceed to checkout” link, so make it the biggest, bestest action item on the page.

It’s that simple. But try this experiment. Go visit a dozen online stores and count the ones that still use just a text link for the “proceed to checkout” action. Or if they use a button, they make it the same size and color of the “continue shopping” button. You’ll be amazed.

So to update an old Seth Godin theory for our purposes, your shoppers are (no offense) gorillas, and when a gorilla gets to your view cart page, what do they ask themselves?

Where’s the banana?

That’s right. You want it to be super clear to shoppers what you want them to do next. If they aren’t done shopping, they’ll know what to do, or take the time to figure it out. If they suddenly realize they’ve got the wrong size or color, they’ll take the time to figure out how change it.

But when they’re confused, or they start to slow down with their shopping, or they just aren’t sure what they want to do, that’s when we want to help them, that’s when we want to show them the banana.

Make it a big, bright green image button. Or do some fancy CSS and round the corners. It doesn’t matter what technology you use, it matters that it’s the most noticeable call-to-action on the page.

So why do so many stores not consider implementing this? It certainly can’t be a conscious decision. We’ve certainly never done an A/B test on a checkout button that suggested we should use the tiny, blue text version. I think a lot of it has to do with the way designers often mock up home, category and product pages, and programmers then interpret these designs for the rest of the site pages. Most e-commerce platforms, even CommerceV3, use text-based checkout links by default. It’s easy to replace, but someone has to remember to do it.

So take a fresh look at your own efforts and make sure you (or your testers) can immediately spot the banana. While you’re at it you may want to review the rest of your site pages using the same technique. But start on the view cart, where you’ll see the best return for your efforts.

5 Powerful Tactics for E-commerce

Okay, time for Tom Funk to take a deep breath. I’ve spent the better part of each day since September 8’s introduction of Google Instant, panicking, gnashing my teeth, tearing my hair, rending my garments and dodging chunks of falling sky.

Search is an important source of lifeblood to any commercial website. Until now, I’ve always felt Google did an exemplary job in letting relevant results, from little guys and big guys alike, bubble up to the surface of search.

Now, Google Instant and its predictions bias search against the long-tail, against the little guy. We now have less a web of discovery, and more a web of trend-following, big-name brands, and some repetition of your personal user history. Google Instant is the tyranny of the majority, where nobody finds anything without seeing a little eBay, Facebook, or Lady Gaga first.

But it’s time for me to look beyond Google Instant for a moment, and recognize what matters most to ecommerce marketers and site owners. There’s plenty of stuff we can control. Let’s stop fretting about what we can’t.

1. Brand positioning. Visitors coming to your site from whatever source must immediately “get” — both through the look-and-feel and from a clear “positioning statement” or slogan — who you are, what you do, and why that’s a benefit to them.

2. Guarantee. Offer a strong, unconditional guarantee, be conspicuous about it. Stand behind it. It’s a selling point, not some hidden legalese boilerplate.

3. Checkout optimization. Shop your own site with an eye toward removing roadblocks, eliminating unnecessary forms and fields, cleaning up the look, adding confidence-building logos of your security, shipping and credit card partners. And enable a friendly, low-key abandoned cart email program.

4. Testing. Use Google Website Optimizer to test any significant offer, merchandise selection, navigational or design element. You’ll not only prove that your ideas were awesome, you’ll quantify just how awesome they were. Or, as is often the case, you’ll prove some ideas just don’t move the needle. No worries. That’s valuable too. Imagine you find that a $10-off deal doesn’t lift conversion any better than a pitch that emphasizes five-star customer ratings, which doesn’t cost you a nickel. Cha-ching!

5. Customer retention. Far more important that how much search-engine traffic you can capture, is what do you do to convert visitors to customers — and to build a long-term relationship with those customers so they come back to buy again and again. Today’s best tool for retention is still a generous, creative, and smartly segmented email program. That’s been the case since the dawn of ecommerce, and some 89% of merchants still say email is their highest-ROI channel. But social media is fast becoming the new customer relationship channel. If you’re not active now on Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Groupon, and wherever else your customers are spending their online time, your customer retention efforts are behind the curve.

Full disclosure: I’m a Google shareholder. Yup, I have 10 bright, shiny Google shares. So I’ll totally be at the annual meeting in Mountain View, doing the secret handshake with Larry, Sergey, Eric, Matt, Marissa, and the rest of the gang.

But even with that massive financial conflict-of-interest, you can always count on me to be 100% objective in my assessment of Google.