Two years ago, my mom wanted to buy me a dress I wanted for Christmas. The problem was this: my dress was from a vintage seller on Etsy and my mom still asks me what the little box at the top of the internet screen is for. She tried hard, but she just couldn’t get through it. In the end, she ended up giving me the money so I could buy the dress myself rather than try and deal with the Etsy shopping cart.
Here’s another illustrative story about user friendly websites. When I last made a big clothing purchase, I got all set to do it from a US based website that I had heard good things about. It was hard to navigate and by the time I got to the point that it wouldn’t let me change the American Express drop down to Mastercard I was ready to scream. So I deleted my order and bought from a site in the UK. They translate pounds to dollars, had a great search function and made checkout easy. Bad processes killed a big sale for Company A and gave one to Company B.
No matter how great your stuff is people need to be able to pick it out, put it in a shopping cart and press the right buttons to make it show up on their doorstep. Even people who don’t understand the internet.
Everyone spends lots of time on their production descriptions and copy, but rarely do we think about the basics like website usability and navigation. Can people find the buy button? Do they have to sign up for Paypal to check out? How many different ways do they have to use to authenticate their credit card?
The worst part is that you can’t even figure out where the problems would be because if you’re reading this site all of this seems really easy for you. This is where being related to or friends with a technophobe can be a real boon to your business.
If you’re wondering how your store or website stacks up, have your technophobic friend or relative go through the entire process. Start by having them Google you and see if they can get all the way to end of the checkout process. If they get hung up somewhere, have them take notes about where they would have quit trying and why. The most common issues I see come from SEO issues where you think you’re ranking for “scotty dog necklace” but you’re really showing up under “fried green tomato” or something and from shopping cart usability. Both of these can usually be remedied by some changes in wording, which is cheap and easy to do.
How useable is your website?
Holly Jackson — Cottage Copy
Holly Jackson is the owner of The Full Figured Chest Copywriting, along with being a fashion blogger and columnist. She lives in Mississippi with an artist, two dogs, and a whole bunch of mystery novels.
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