The possibilities that a flexible and powerful WordPress website offers in terms of web design can be astounding — but that does not mean you should go ahead and use every advanced feature there is to use. You need to keep your web design in perspective; always in going in one direction, the direction that it needs to go to deliver a seamless e-commerce experience for your target market.
Here are three simple pointers to remember to do just that with your WordPress website design:
Optimise Social Integration
While being “in” with the trend does serve its purposes, optimising social integration means more than just jumping the bandwagon. Social is hot right now because of its potential. You should leverage this in your WordPress website design. Here are just three ideas how:
Social sign ups — It is strongly recommended that you enable your visitors and clients to create accounts within your e-commerce website for many reasons. To help ease them into signing up and avoid lengthy processes of information divulgence (which in itself may already be a worrisome and time-consuming task for people with limited time to spend on just one website — as most active Internet users are), allow them the option of social sign ups Social sign ups offer them the option of using a social network profile of choice to use for signing up, e.g. “Sign up through Facebook or LinkedIn” options.
Social sharing — always enable your visitors to share what they see on your website through several social networking, sharing, and syndication sites. Always include the main players Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and other relevant sites like LinkedIn and SlideShare. Beware, however, of annoying your visitors with too much of these buttons and options. Never allow these auxiliary elements get in the way of their browsing.
User-Generated Content (UGC) — Encourage feedback and input in the form of comments, reviews, and ratings. Even negative feedback can be significant, especially if you handle a complaint well and everyone sees that. Social buttons like Facebook’s “Like” or “Thumbs Up” and Google+’s “+1” are also informal ratings that help towards social validation: the more people like or +1 something, the more potential clients will be likely to purchase.
Integrate Navigation with Your Sales Funnel
The way people navigate your e-commerce website and find things to purchase should be aligned with your specific sales funnel, thus maximising your buying cycle and making your navigation work for you as an inbound marketing vehicle.
An excellent example of this principle at work is the website of Forrester Research Inc. Forrester Research handles volumes of information from international research and studies, and they figured out a great way to let their visitors sift through literary millions of pieces of data through their navigation. Aside from a standard internal search engine and a nifty sidebar “browse” element for visitors you know what they want immediately, their homepage lets you choose your role or profession from three wide fields of research. After choosing one, you are then prompted to specify a subfield of your choice. Finally, once you specify your role through the above process, you are shown the Forrester page for that role that presents popular material, a “stream” of the newest materials and research (which can be turned off too), and most importantly, a question: “what do you need to succeed?” There are several options there to choose from as an answer to that question.
Your e-commerce website offerings may not nearly be as complex or large in scale compared to Forrester, but the key takeaway is that Forrester’s website allowed it to streamline a visitor’s journey from point of the website to exactly where they want to go. It avoids offering too much or too little, and is aligned with Forrester’s goal of providing the data and materials its visitors are after.
If you can achieve this even to a lesser degree in your online shop’s navigation while also tying your marketing and branding efforts into your sales funnel, you will naturally see your performance metrics rise, particularly lead generation and conversion. A marketing effort integrated with your buying cycle can more effectively generate and score leads, while e-commerce website design and navigation that is well integrated with your sales funnel will naturally boost conversion.
Speed Up the Experience
Your visitors will not appreciate slow page loading times as they browse and decide what to purchase from your e-commerce website. In fact, people who used search engines to get to your website will wait an average of five seconds for your webpages to load sufficiently before deciding to hit their browser’s back buttons to look at some other search result. Slow loading times are a leading cause of high bounce rates in organic search engine optimisation.
One of the things that severely limit loading time is the extraneous codes that are added into your website. Luckily, code snippets from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools and the like do not take up so much bandwidth. What does take up so much space and time, however, are some ads, their tracking codes, and other similar elements. You can check using free tools online on how fast each webpage in your website loads and you can even peruse a breakdown of what code elements are slowest. Of course, video, large images, and animation can also slow don loading time.
In this regard, you need to ensure that your most essential pages that help conversion are the fastest ones in your website. Consider making the homepage, category pages, landing pages, and product pages relatively free from extraneous code and other superficial elements. These pages — especially product pages — make you money directly. It is best if you let them do their job without hindering them. It also helps better streamline the experience of your visitors.
There you have it: optimise social integration, integrate navigation with your sales funnel, and speed up the experience. Use the features and tools within your WordPress website design to accomplish these three things and you can expect a lot of return on your micro-management investment.