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***UPDATED***I don't have a clue how to make my site more user-friendly - what are some of the does and don'ts for this?

Three tips…
  • Consistency - especially with navigation
  • Search - include a site ‘search box’ that’s pre-filled with an example query, and if possible add advanced search filters (colour, size, style etc.)
  • Contact details - display your customer service telephone number prominently at the top of the page

Leon Bailey-Green, Director, The Online Fashion Agency

Buy this book: ‘Don’t make me think: A common sense approach to web usability

A lot of it is common sense but most techniques are based around keeping things simple and not giving your users too many choices.

Fadi Shuman, Co-Founder & Ecommerce Director, Pod1 London/New York

Great looking sites shouldn’t compromise on usability and unfortunately some sites do. Customers are our lifeblood but unfortunately they and we (remember we are other people’s customers too) aren’t very forgiving when it come to poorly designed sites. Once we have been ‘wowed’ by your good looking site and want to get down to the business of actually buying something, we want to go through  an efficient, logical and simple process. By this I mean that all sites, no matter how large the brand or how exciting your story, should always remember that a website is a store and customers want to be able to see and search for products easily.  Clear navigation is key whether that’s to get to your departments, collections, services, news or support.  Just because you know where things are on your site, don’t expect others to! The other mistake that many websites make is that they do not showcase their range enough through use of great merchandising, highlighting key products and using cross-sells to drive up average order values. Remember, you need to get your customers to see as much of your range as possible – educate them to your range and inform them of the benefits.  The other area to focus is  overall category navigation and search. Customers need to be able to easily find products, so always make sure that your product categories are clear, logically placed and if possible expandable to highlight sub categories if your range is large. Faceted navigation is a great development and sites that have introduced it  really see the benefits it brings by allowing  customers to browse the range efficiently.  The other thing to note is that if  you have ‘quirky’ category or departmental  names, ideally change them to be more in keeping with what users expect. Whilst it may feel ‘fun’ to you, users don’t have the patience with trying to second guess what you mean. Also ensure that  keyword search tables accommodate synonyms.

The other area I would suggest you look at is how you actually use the real estate on your page and where the links are placed.  Best sellers, key pieces, basics, volume pieces or basically anything that you want customers to see should always be clearly visible.  You’ve heard it before, but try to avoid putting key products and information below the fold (ie; users should be able to see quickly what they are looking for without scrolling on key pages such as homepage and category landing pages). Also make sure your links are logical and don’t link off to some bizarre page or one that still requires the user to click a multitude of times until they get to a ‘buying zone’. Buying zones are those pages where users make decisions on whether to buy your product or not.  Pages such as product listings and product detail and shopping basket are key and you need to ensure that you have provided the customer with enough decision making information,  such as strong imagery and alternative shots , clearing pricing, and delivery costs and times. Finally ensure your customers can  easily  access the returns and FAQs info.  Hidden information tends to make customers suspicious – they wonder what you have  got to hide?!  I hope this helps.

Jane Gleadall, Co-founder, Biglight

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