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A well-designed website can convert clicks into sales. Here’s how

By amandapeters 20 Aug 2019

Neglecting your website could prove costly to your business. Here, CEO Rebecca Kimber, outlines six key elements your e-commerce platform needs to make that sale

Making a website means you can tap into an unlimited market of customers. Open 24/7 and unrestricted by location, your online shop window is an important part of your business that works for you, even while you sleep.

With the right tools, you can build a website that not only sells your products effectively but allows you to channel your creativity and delight your visitors.

Whether you are just starting out or making improvements to an existing website, these six points will guide your creative process and help you to build a page that takes care of your visitors and sales while you focus on your passion.

1. Be clear about what your website is for
Building a great website that works should always start by identifying your objective. Is it primarily to make your sales online? To encourage people to visit your physical store, workshops or event, or simply to get them to pick up the phone and give you a call? Whichever it is should feel obvious on your website.

You’ll have secondary actions the customer can take on your site but they should be supporting the main one. For example, providing the opportunity to sign up to your email newsletter is a good way to capture visitor’s details if you have a longer sales cycle or if they aren’t ready to complete the objective there and then.

2. Make your visitor feel connected to you
Your visitor has a reason they’ve come to your website, they’re in need of something and they’re looking to see if you are able to provide the solution. The most important thing your website needs to do is make them feel safe and understood while communicating what you can provide for them.

A great way to do this is to use photos of people who look like your target customer alongside imagery of things they will find appealing. This is so they will subconsciously see themselves mirrored within the website. Don’t forget that when you’re adding images of your products and services that this is the only way your visitor can connect with the product. It is, thus, important that these images are of great quality, enabling visitors to examine every detail.

You can also use colours to convey your message and provoke specific emotions. For example, purple is often thought of as regal or creative, orange is seen as creative, too, while yellow makes us think of happy things and sunshine.

The question is do you want to make someone feel safe, sophisticated, excited or supported? Is this how your customer wants to feel? Does your website convey this?

Alongside the style of your site, the specific content you include should lead the visitor to complete your objective and support your desired action.”

3. Lead the way with what you say

Alongside the style of your site, the specific content you include should lead the visitor to complete your objective and support your desired action. It should clearly showcase what you sell, make or do. Tell your story and convey who you are (either on a personal level or as a business or entity). Provide testimonials and quotes from existing customers or clients that show your visitors that you can be trusted.

Don’t forget to keep your website up to date, too—old and past content and information will make it look neglected and can put potential customers off as they may get the impression that you are no longer an active business.

4. Factor in a mobile-first design
With mobile orders surpassed those from the desktop last Christmas, you can’t afford to ignore the experience that over half your visitors will be receiving. When you make changes or build new pages for your website, spend time looking at how they work on your phone.

How far do you need to scroll to get to what you consider to be the main goal of your website: buy a product, fill out a contact form or view some specific information?

Consider simplifying your content, too. You probably don’t need everything that’s on there. You may not want to remove the content altogether, but perhaps it can be out of the way on another page, or after your main website goals? Think about the thing most people are there to do and cater to that.

5. Display your content professionally
You’ve got under 15 seconds to capture your visitors’ attention before they’ve left the site, so what they first see (referred to as the “content above the fold”) is absolutely critical. Ensure this content gets their attention and makes it clear you can deliver what they are looking for.

A great way to do this is to use a little motion on your site. Our brains can’t help but be drawn to check out what is moving, so this works well to draw attention to important points and get someone to look more closely.

Our brains are also drawn to symmetry. Uniform spacing and layouts will make your site look more professional and when content is laid out consistently the brain will find it more appealing and easier to understand.

Use a limited colour palette and fonts to bring things together and maintain the same styles and layouts through the website. This helps the brain to look for information that matters and it won’t be distracted by changing designs.

Finally, ensure that images you place together are the same size and aspect ratio - for instance, they are all squares on one line and landscape on another. This is another good way to create uniformity and visually please your visitor.

Don’t be afraid to have a bit of white space and simplicity to show off your photos, too.

You’ve got under 15 seconds to capture your visitors’ attention before they’ve left the site…”

6. Make it easy for people to buy your products

A clear store with organised products that are set out in a way your customers expect will help you make more sales. Think about the times when you’re browsing an online shop while wishing the perfect product would jump out at you. You’re not the only one. Your soon-to-be customers are in exactly the same situation when browsing your online craft shop.

Speed is key for online shopping these days, so by organising your store into helpful categories, providing a search function and adding a shortcut to the basket makes finding that perfect product and buying it so much easier.

Additionally, if you know many of your customers buy a particular product, display it on your homepage. If new visitors are similar to your existing customers, they’re likely to want that popular product, too.

Don’t forget the finer details though, alternative options to PayPal, payment partner logos and clear returns policies are all essential for your customer’s convenience and will help to build trust with your store.

The author
Rebecca Kimber is CEO of Brighton-based, one of the UK’s top e-commerce stores and website building tools for small businesses. She is a serial entrepreneur and passionate about helping more people start their own businesses online. Rebecca is an active speaker, mentor, and contributor in her local business community.

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