Is it time to ditch HTML templates in eBay UK listings?

Recently we noted that eBay UK’s off-the-peg HTML designs, called Listing Designer, were going up in price and it got me thinking.

Rather like cigarettes or petrol, when the government puts up the price, it generally means it wants you to use them less.

And so it goes with eBay too. If they up the fee, they want you to do it less frequently. But they don’t want to lose the money. I wonder how much they make from Listing Designer? Quite a tidy sum, I imagine.

So when eBay put up the money to use Listing Designer my assumption was this. They like the cash but it doesn’t do you any good as a seller if you do use them. They’re cautiously edging towards removal but too coy to lose the cash just yet.

Compare the behaviour with images. It’s only recently that eBay made a dozen photos per listing free for all. It improved the buyer experience, makes great sense for mobile shoppers but the accountants liked the extra bunce eBay got by “taxing” multiple images until the business case for multiple images over-ruled them.

And it all speaks to a discussion that plenty of eBay watchers have been having all year. Is it worth having fancy HTML templates in your eBay listings at all?

There has been discussion as to whether eBay’s new search engine Cassini actually demotes listings with HTML templates.

The increasing use of mobile plays a part and the templates don’t often translate to being viewed on mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

Plenty of people take a view but I’m not sure and eBay haven’t made a definitive statement. But my instinct is that it’s better now to move away from using a fancy HTML design in your listings.

Anyone who gives a definitive answer is being disingenuous but here’s my reasoning:

Firstly, HTML templates may well confuse Cassini search if you have too much info in the field so stripping it down to the basics (text only) really does make sense.

Secondly, HTML templates don’t translate to mobile and that could well equal as much as 45% of eBay sales these days. Make sure your listings are mobile-sexy.

Thirdly, it’s just another job. Stripping out extraneous tasks such as HTML templates is a good way to save time and effort.

You will doubtless have a perspective and I’d like to hear your ideas but my advice is that black text on a white background is the best strategy now for eBay item descriptions.