Monday, January 21, 2013

The Business Chat - how useable is your online store?

Early last December my phone rang with an area code I didn't recognize. It was a lovely woman from New Brunswick who wanted to order jewelry. I do have an online store however this woman had never bought anything online and couldn't quite figure the whole thing out. We had a great conversation and after 45 minutes I had walked her through the process and the order was placed. She was very happy with herself for finally buying something online and I was very happy that she could purchase more in the future. 
I don't know about you but I buy a lot of stuff online, (oh that late night habit!). I can figure most websites out and i just assume that others can too. Sometimes I forget that not everyone does this. 
One of the most important rules of success is to make it easy for people to give you money. 
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. If they can't figure out how to hit the Buy Now button and follow it up with the Complete Payment button then they can't give you money. Not all of them will call if they get frustrated halfway though. Most of them will just click away. After all, there are millions of other sellers online competing with you for their dollars. 
As oniine sellers we slave over our photos and our production descriptions, but rarely do we think about the basics like website usability and navigation. Can people find the buy now button? Do they have to sign up for an account to check out? (Etsy) Will they? Do they understand the process enough that they trust it with their credit card? 
This is a case where you can't see the forest for the trees. Of course your website makes perfect sense to you, it's yours. If you're wondering how useable your store or website is, ask a friend to find their way around. 
Here's how I have my website tested. 
First I set up a listing for one cent and called it The Test Necklace. You don't want your friends to have to actually spend money. Then I recruited 4 friends. I used 4 people of varying degrees of computer literacy. I asked them to start at Google, find my website and purchase the Test Necklace. I asked them to make notes about anything they found hard, or weird, or anything they felt could be better. 
The better experience our customer has means the more likely they are to buy from us again. And that's a win-win situation.

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