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6 design mistakes that can kill your sales

By Alexandra Gavril - February 11, 2014

When building a site that customers will love, you need to focus on two things: human psychology and testing, testing, testing.

You need to learn more about your audience and find out how they use your site. While knowing the best practices is a great way to improve your site’s design, you should always rely on testing as it’s the only way you can get better results.

So, let’s go over the six major design mistakes that might stopping you from converting your visitors into customers:

1. Confusing navigation

confusing navigation?

If your site’s navigation is chaotic, the chances are your customers will have a hard time finding what they’re looking for in a few clicks. In other words, you can lose a sale in just a few seconds.

Your site’s navigation should be intuitive and logical to make it easier for users to find their way around easily. Don’t re-invent the wheel because, while you’re trying to be different, it will hurt your sales as it only creates confusion.

For example, if you’re using hyperlinks, make them stand out from the body of the text. Make sure you organise and structure your navigation to match the theme of your site. While a personal site can afford to get a bit more creative, a business or ecommerce site needs to be clear and logical.

Keep in mind that if a user can’t find what they’re looking for in less than 3 clicks, chances are they’ll leave the site very quickly.

2. Excuse me, where’s the search bar?

If you have a site with hundreds of pages or products, you need to make it easy for people to find the product they’re interested in purchasing. How? Add a simple search bar somewhere at the top of the page (usually in the top right corner). It’s where people expect to see it.

This ensures users won’t be wasting more time than they need to clicking around and looking for a product which you may or may not have.

3. Using low-quality images

No matter what type of products you’re selling on your site, if you’re using low-quality images, the message you’re sending your customers is that you’re a low-quality business. The visuals you use are extremely important, even more so if you sell items that are dependent on looks and are using aesthetics as a big selling point.

High quality images help your customers imagine your product in their hands. Since you can’t do that online, the best alternative is to use high quality images for the products you’re trying to sell. Check out this example from Rolex:

Need more proof on the importance of images on your site? One case study from Visual Website Optimizer showcased how an increase in ecommerce image size increased conversions by almost 10%. So this is just one of the things you could work on to increase sales.

Another very interesting test mentioned by Peep Laja was about an online store that increased its conversions via site search by 100% when they included images in the search bar:

Conversion XL report on search bar

Have you ever considered improving your search bar like that?

4. Complicated checkout process

This is one of the top reasons customers abandon the cart just before paying and you lose sales. You need to make the checkout process as simple and as quick as possible. If there are too many steps, or if you’re making the customer fill out too many forms or perform too many complicated actions, they’ll become impatient, abandon the cart and leave. You should only ask for the information you absolutely need to process payments and deliver the product. No wonder Amazon.co.uk has implemented the 1-click ordering process – it’s simple and quick.

And one other thing, don’t add surprise charges at the end of a checkout. There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect product, going through the checkout process to find out there’s an unexpected shipping charge.

5. Complicated registration forms

How much information do you really need users to provide you in order to contact you, sign up for an account, download an ebook, get notified about a release of a product or sign up for a free trial? Gone are the days when a user needed to provide a zillion details in order to do any of those things.

MailChimp, for example, has got it right.

Remember one thing: people visit your site to get information, not the other way around so make sure you only ask for the information you really need.

6. No trust indicators

Trust seals and security badges can help strengthen your credibility and, as a result, increase conversion rate on your site. Other trust indicators which could help boost the confidence of visitors are testimonials, awards, customer reviews. These are meant to prove your ability and track record for delivering on your promises.

Derek Halpern wrote about an interesting study that found that the design of the site played more of a role than the actual content of the site.

What other design mistakes have you discovered were killing your sales?