With a domain name in place, you're ready to start building your e-commerce storefront. But before you begin, take some time to plan.
Plan Your Site Carefully. First, identify clear marketing goals for your site, such as generating leads, building a database of potential customers' names and e-mail addresses, or putting a product catalog online to save the time and expense of printing and mailing. Quantify your objectives... such as increasing sales by 15 percent... so you know whether or not your site is successful.
Then, figure out what your potential customers need to know before buying your products and services. This might include:
An overview of your company, its products and services, and their applications.
Complete product or service descriptions, including features, key benefits, pricing, product specifications, and other information, for each product or service.
Testimonials, case studies, or success stories so customers can see how similar individuals or organizations have worked with you.
An FAQ section that anticipates and answers customers' common issues.
Plan the structure of your site, focusing on making it easy for customers to learn what they need to know, make a purchase decision, and then buy quickly. Create a site map that outlines every page on your site from the home page down and how customers get from one page to the next. Use tools that quantitatively measure site activity... where customers are clicking, how often, and whether they end up purchasing... and then compare the results with your goals.
Choose the Right Website Building Tools. With a solid plan in hand, you're ready to start constructing your e-commerce site. Many e-commerce businesses turn to professional design studios to create their Web sites. But if your budget is limited, many Web site building tools make it fast and easy for you to create a polished, professional-looking site... with no in-depth HTML knowledge necessary.
EZ Website Builders give you all the tools necessary to create, build, manage and promote your online presence. Our online Web site building tools let you choose from a variety of professional-quality Model Sites and then customize them with your own identity and information. Or, you can create and build your website from scratch.
You can preview your site online while you are building it, and when you are finished, you can instantly save it on the Internet. The entire process can put you on the Internet in less than 2 hours at convenient and affordable monthly prices.
To learn more about EZ-Net Tools site building solutions from EZ Website Builders, click on EZ-Net Tools Tour.
E-Commerce Site Design Tips. Following these basic guidelines will help make your site not only attractive, but also easy for customers to use... and that means easy to buy from you.
Carefully examine your own favorite e-commerce sites. Creatively adapting the most compelling marketing and design techniques will enhance your site's effectiveness.
Your home page is your site's and your business's online front door. It's essential that it make a good first impression on visitors. Make sure it clearly presents the following basic elements that customers are always likely to look for:
Your company name, logo, and slogan, prominently displayed. Take full advantage of the opportunity to showcase your brand identity.
A link to an "About the Company" page for customers to quickly learn who you are and what your business offers.
A site menu listing the basic subsections of your site. Keep this menu in the same place on every page throughout your site to make it easy to navigate.
A "What's New" section for news, announcements, and product promotions. Frequently updating this area will encourage customers to return often.
Contact information. Don't make it difficult for visitors to find your phone number, e-mail address, mailing address, and fax number.
Your privacy statement, clearly describing your business's policy for protecting customer's personal information.
Make it easy for customers to explore your site. As you build your site, try to minimize the number of clicks it takes the customer to go from your home page to actually being able to click "buy" and checkout. Four to six is a useful rule of thumb. Make sure links make sense, so customers know what to click to find what they're looking for. Don't make your navigation buttons or links too dominant an element in your site design: instead, focus on product information.
Keep things simple. Don't fill up your site with graphics, animations, and other visual bells and whistles. Stick to the same basic color palette and fonts your company uses in other communications, like your logo, brochures, and signage. Ensure that images and graphics serve to enhance, not distract from your marketing goals. Make sure your text is easy to read... black letters on a white ground may not be terribly original, but they are easier on the eyes than orange type on a purple background.
Keep download times short. Test pages to make sure they're not too overloaded with graphics that slow load times... and minimize the size of your images when possible. According to the Boston Consulting Group in American Demographics, nearly half of online shoppers surveyed said they left sites when pages took too long to load. Our research estimates that most Web pages take anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds to load, depending on the user's modem and Internet connection (remember: many e-commerce customers shop from home using slower connections).
Most users click away to another site or log off if a page takes more than 15 seconds to load, costing e-commerce businesses billions in lost potential revenue.