The Quintessential Self-build Checklist
Creating your website is the most crucial part of your business as it is your shop window and primary marketing and sales tool, so you have to get it right.
So here is a checklist of sorts of the main things you need to think about when you self-build your website.
These days visitors are going to come to you via all manner of devices using all sorts of browsers, so any site you build has to have responsive or adaptive design to allow it to be looked at on this array of screens. If you don’t you can be sure that a competitor does and they will win the sale.
You also have to make sure you support all browser types and their updates.
Increasingly, websites are catering for an ever-more mobile audience and use infinite scroll – where the site just goes on and on, or just scrolls way beyond ‘the fold’. This is a great way to design a site – especially from an adaptive/responsive stand point – but be careful how you actually apply it.
Your site should come complete with a really good search facility that should be prominently displayed on every page, ideally at the top bar so that it is always there, no matter where the user scrolls to. Letting people find what they are looking for is key to sales. Let them control the site, not the site control them.
Images, content and speed
You need to make your site look pretty on all these devices and browsers and you have to use pictures to paint a thousand words – but make sure that you are not overloading the bandwidth and making your site very slow to load.
‘Buy Now’ buttons
The aim of your eSeller site is to, well, sell stuff, so make sure that every page has a clear, prominent and easy to click (even with a ‘fat finger’) Buy Now button.
Sign up/don’t sign up
At check out you need to get people to sign up where ever possible – so that you get their data for future marketing. However, it is vital that you also let them guest checkout without having to do this. It seems counter intuitive, but giving people the option not to be harassed by you can actually make them come back for more and make them much more loyal. And they’ll probably sign up eventually, especiall if you offer them a deal.
Many visitors to your site will come from search engines, so may not necessarily land on your home page. So you need to make all your pages and web properties consistent and easily navigable. They also all have to look nice, be easy to use, have prominent “buy now” buttons and so on.
Contact info on all pages
Keeping with the theme of consistency, you need to make sure that all your contact info is available clearly and easily on every page. By all means put it at the bottom of page but also put it in the top bar too. If you are opting for long or infinite scrolling then they may never get to the bottom of the page – have you got to the bottom of Facebook lately? Quite.
All contact info should be in a clearly labelled ‘CONTACT US” button at the top on every page and feature every single way of contacting you: email, phone, post and social. All on one lovely contact us page.
When building your site you should also be looking to not only get people following you on social media, but sharing your content and products. Design your site so that every element can be shared. So think about how your products are displayed and how that can be shared on with social, email, even text.
And make that shared page shoppable so that people can buy from it!
You can extend the sharable idea to getting customers to sign up or subscribe to get information or offers. This way you can harvest their data for use in future marketing campaigns.
It is good if you can build in a blog or news content or thought leadership. This is something that will attract search engines, shares and likes. It is also something that you can push out to customers and prospects as part of a soft sell that builds trust.
Make sure that you feature a range of delivery options to suit all needs – from expensive next day delivery to free. And make it a clear part of the check out process. The more options you can offer and the easier you can make it seem, the more likely they are to buy from you.
Boring but important part of the trust process is having a good and clear returns policy, spelt out and easy to find. People are more likely to buy if they know they can return. Don’t worry, they probably won’t but it helps them over that last hump to clicking Pay, because they will trust you.
Supplier and Trade Association labels
Talking of trust, it is vital that you also include relevant trade association and suppler logos on your site where relevant – ideally on every page – as this builds trust and shows that you are a viable and well respected brand.
Calls to action
Calls to action – and good copy generally – are vital to make your site engaging and to guide people from search to browse to buy to sharing and repeat business. So cover your pages in calls to action – from simple Buy Now buttons to Subscribe Free and save 10% and so on. And keep it lively and keep changing it…
Test everything all the time
There are many other things you need to do to build a website, but the one thing you must do all the time is test. Test everything – device compatibility, browser compatibility, check out works, pages work, links work, everything works. Always be on top of it so you find the problems – and can fix them – before your customers do.
And A-B test too. Try new things and serve up to a random half of visitors for a week or so and compare the results. You have to keep improving, changing and growing – but you have to make sure you do it with things that work.