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The most common website mistakes (and how to fix them)

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When it comes to a retailer’s website, there are thousands of things to measure and test, tweak and retest, so when it comes to site design and usability, a little expert advice is a good thing. That’s just what attendees at our upcoming Online Merchandising Workshop will get at their one-on-one expert site consultation. To warm up our experts for all the questions to come for them in July, we posed our own question: What’s one of the most common problems you see on retail sites and how can it be fixed? We had so many good responses, we split them up in two posts. Read on to get a few tips now, and come back next week for Part Two.

Laureen Freedman.Lauren Freedman, President, the e-tailing group Focus is one of the biggest problems we see among retailers large and small. It is essential that retailers prioritize the tactics starting with the home page to ensure shoppers are well guided as they browse your site. Too much information makes it challenging for shoppers to find their way. At the same time, a smart selection of tactics that is right for your category and your customers ensures that you have optimally exposed your assortment and put forth relevant and timely promotions that drive conversion. As shoppers continue down the funnel, it is essential that the product page have the proper copy, superior photography and rich media to move shoppers to make their selections. Close out the focus with a streamlined cart that makes it simple and swift to make a purchase.

Jason Goldberg.Jason "Retailgeek" Goldberg, VP of Strategy, Commerce and Content, Razorfish When looking to improve e-commerce performance, one of the best places to start is at the bottom of your checkout funnel. One of the most common mistakes we see in checkout flows is a Promotion Code Field that is too prominent. The Promo Code field is an important utility, and we want to make sure it’s easy for users to find and use, but we also want to make sure it’s not inadvertently interrupting the checkout flow for a large group of shoppers. The solution is to make “Promotion Code” a link rather than a field. When the customer clicks that link, you can use an expanded section of the page to reveal a promo code field, or pop-up a modal to let the user enter their code.  Target and Zappos each use a variation of this approach. Another alternative is to help them find a promo code on your site.   You can give shoppers a link to a page on your site that lists valid promotions.  OfficeMax is a good example of this tactic. The bottom line is to make sure shoppers with a promo code are able to use it, while making sure you aren’t sending shoppers with a high purchase intent off your site.

John Kinsella.John KinsellaSenior Vice President and Senior Consultant, FitForCommerce A very common problem is for sites to be cluttered with an overwhelming display of images, messages, promotions, advertising, calls to action and disparate colors. The sites appear to be designed by a committee, which in fact they often are, by different business silos. These sites lack a  clear, consistent brand message and intended user experience. This visual clutter can be fixed by defining the ideal user flow through the site, then prioritizing the messages, calls to action and purchase path. Ultimately retailers want to maximize conversion and AOV throughout the channels, including retail through store finders and rich content for research. Identifying which triggers on the site facilitate the highest customer productivity will help prioritize which elements deserve the best real estate. For more expert web design and usability tips, watch for our second post in this series, and sign up for a Dr. Is In: One-On-One Website Critique at our Online Merchandising Workshop, July 15-17 in Huntington Beach, Calif.