Expert Author Gihan Perera
Most people prefer simplicity over complexity, and this applies in particular to your Web site. If your Web site is too complex and confusing, it can be costing you business, because most Web site visitors simply won't go through a difficult process to complete a transaction. So simplify your Web site and make it easy for site visitors to become customers.
In 2012, Corporate Executive Board surveyed over 7,000 consumers to determine what made them buy online, make multiple purchases, and refer the site to others - all things that most Web site owners want. One of the key findings was that users want easy navigation through the site.
To a Web developer, "navigation" usually refers to the menu buttons on your site. But in terms of ease of use for site visitors, it applies to a number of different areas. Here are four key things to consider when addressing this issue.
1. Simplify your home page.
Your home page has one simple purpose: To get your site visitor to click through to the next page. To do this, make sure it follows this simple four-step process:
  1. Identify your ideal site visitors.
  2. Understand their situation - that is, their biggest problem or aspiration.
  3. Describe your solution.
  4. Lead them to the next step.
2. Simplify your menus.
Examine your menu structure carefully to make sure a first-time site visitor will be able to find their way around easily.
Broadly, the menu buttons should appear in the order that most site visitors will use. For example, many Web sites have an "About Us" button early in the menu, but that's mistake because site visitors will only want to read about you later in the buying process. They do want to know about you, but only after they have understood the benefits of your products and services.
Also be sure your menu item labels make sense to a first-time visitor. For example, if you have an online shop, the menu button should be Products, Shop, Online Store, or something similar. Don't call it something obscure, like "Treasure Chest".
3. Simplify your language.
Be sure you write in a way your site visitors understand. Use their language, not yours, especially if you work in an area that has jargon or technical language that customers won't understand.
In general, use small words, short sentences, and smaller Web pages. This doesn't mean you should "dumb down" your Web site; it simply means you present it in a way that's easy for your site visitors.
4. Simplify your order process.
Make it easy for customers to buy! That sounds obvious, but it's surprising how many obstacles most Web sites have in the buying process. So make it as easy as possible for customers - for example:
  • Don't force them to "register" before they can buy anything.
  • Use a secure server.
  • Make the order process as straightforward as possible.
  • Publish a clear privacy policy, and make it easily accessible from your order forms, shopping cart and checkout.
  • Provide a variety of payment options, especially for people worried about giving their credit card details on the Internet.
  • Publish a telephone number that allows a wary customer to talk to a real person.
  • Publish your full street address to reassure the customer this is a legitimate business.
  • Provide a currency converter for international customers (For example, link to the free currency converter at xe.com).
  • Show postage and handling costs early in the process.
  • Write any terms and conditions in simple, plain English.
  • State your refund policy, and make it easy for unhappy customers to claim a refund.

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