It’s Nearly Christmas!
Christmas is traditionally a peak time of year for online retail (if Christmas isn’t your peak, the following advice still applies for your own peaks), but the question is: are you ready?
You should be. It’s not far away now and it’s important that you’re prepared. The rest of this article is going to be a little technical, but I hope you follow the theme and can direct the appropriate questions to your techie people.
First port of call should be to explain why this is important (it should be obvious). Consumers have high expectations these days. They expect your site to work and respond quickly. If it doesn’t, chances are Google (and thus a competitor) are just a click away. Worse still, if your site doesn’t respond at all that’d be even worse for your image.
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The importance of page speed in eCommerce as well as the web in general is a rising trend. Studies have shown that long page loads cause higher bounce rate and lower conversion, the modern web is a place of great impatience and as such fast loading pages is a real virtue which can help any company to sell online, there is a great infographic with lots of stats over on kissmetrics showing the sharp affect page speed can have on pretty much every website metric. Although the importance of page speed for usability should not be underestimated, page speed has been seen to be of more importance recently due to it’s effect on search engine rankings, with Google adding page speed as a signal for rankings, the basic idea being that slower sites will affectively be penalised in search engine rankings.
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Online retailing websites have certainly come a long way in the last decade or so. There’s been a plethora of techniques used over the years, attempting to make our websites more user friendly and to maximise conversion. It’s fair to say that not all of these techniques have been good (those who have been in the game long enough will remember scrolling marquee text), but certain design practices have established themselves as defaults, and are expected by our customers. Continue reading →
Quite often when starting a project online one of the first considerations is “what is the best practice for achieving X?”. Selling online is no different.
When it comes to design and user flow you should always look at how major players in the market work. Steve Krug (http://www.sensible.com/), author of Don’t Make Me Think, goes in to detail on this subject, but as a highly simplified summary: think about what you do naturally when browsing ecommerce sites; where do you look for basket options, where is the “buy” button, where can I find a link to a contact form, where can I search this site? The automatic answer to these questions, in order, is probably; top right, right underneath the description of the product, in the footer, top center. Chances are if you visit any ecommerce site, roughly speaking these will be correct. But if that’s the case, why do some retailers do things differently? Continue reading →
The Rise of CAPTCHA
The acronym CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”, (Turing test being named after Alan Turing the British computing pioneer) and the web is now littered with them. Forms online are often accompanied by an image containing text which the user is asked to enter into a text input field. In doing so the user is proving to the website or application that they are in fact a human. There are a few variations on this basic premise, some CAPTCHA methods use simple maths questions or pictures of identifiable objects in place of just text but the basic idea is the same; if you fill the CAPTCHA then you are (probably) not an automated piece of software (known as a bot).
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