Engaging Your Online Customers

How does the design engage your customers when they visit your online store?  To answer this question, you must identify the factors within a website that make it engaging.  Once you know this, then you can focus on how you can affect those factors?

We typically base engagement levels on 4 factors:  

  • How long a customer stays on your website (Time on site),
  • How many pages a customer views (Page Views),
  • How often customers leave the site immediately (Bounce Rate), and
  • How what percent of the customers complete a purchase (Conversion Rate). 

It's safe to say that customers are more engaged if they stay in your online store for longer periods of time and viewing a number of pages, particularly product pages.  Of course, if they put items in their shopping cart, go through the checkout process and pay online, then they were firmly engaged.  However, an engaging design doesn’t always mean a long visit.  A more intuitive design and/or a returning visitor can produce a shorter visit.  

Good web designers consider engagement factors, such as the following:  

  • Creative, compelling design – set your products apart through high quality images that are on brand, especially images that show people using your product or in live settings.

  • Good About Us page – use interesting ways to communicate facts about your business to build confidence.  Customers want to know they are buying from a trustworthy and legitimate company.

  • Limit choices – guide your customers to what they want and don’t overwhelm them with too many options.

  • Tell stories – when possible, talk about your products in a conversational tone, rather than just the stock description.  People process information better this way.

  • Don’t be pushy with the sale - build commitment over the duration of their visit, rather than popping up all kinds of distracting deals and specials.

  • Maintain brand consistency – show professionalism and common feeling throughout your online store (and other web properties)

  • Design for your customers – People have very different needs, cater to each, particularly with respect to connecting various audiences (adults, seniors, teens, etc.) with different product categories.

  • Easy navigation – be clear and consistent.  Don’t try to be clever or too unique.  Visitors should easily understand the navigation - where they are, where links will take them and how to get back.  Bread crumbs are a must. 

  • Clear Calls to Action – This is the primary objective of every website.  What do you want visitors to do?  Resister?  Create a wish list?  Call?  Engage with online chat?  ... and of course, put items in their shopping cart and check out!  Once they are excited or find the product they are looking for, make it easy to covert, not just with buttons, but using user-focused verbiage as well.

  • White space is good – A cluttered store is stressful and can lower consumer trust.  You may have hundreds or thousands of products, so demonstrate that you have everything well-organized.  

  • Easy to read fonts – There's no reason to make anything difficult to read with fancy fonts.  Stick to web-ready fonts. 

  • Design for mobile (multiple devices) – For online stores, responsive design is essential to serve customers that are "out shopping" and/or predominantly use their mobile device.  When they read your email campaigns or are searching for products, make it just as easy to get engaged through your mobile design. 

  • Reviews, Voting and Polls – Online reviews are addictive to shoppers now.  They want to know what others think about products they intend to buy.  Social media and technology have made it easy for users to participate and provide their opinions.  So utilize quick-hit features to capture their interest and drive engagement.

  • Keep it fresh – Customers may visit your site often, especially those that like your products.  Don’t let your website get stale.  Changing your storefront regularly grabs (or re-grabs) the interest of your customers, while showing them that you are proud of your brand and products.  It’s an opportunity to entice and engage them with new, interesting images and information. 

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