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Let’s face it: Your website is central to your e-commerce business. There’s no way around that. Upgrading your website is one of the most important things you can do to bring in new customers and sell more products.
Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to know exactly how to improve your site. To help you out with that dilemma, here are three ways to refresh your website and boost your business without breaking the bank.
1. Reconsider the Design
The overall design of an e-commerce website has a big impact on customers — and on sales — so regularly rethinking and tweaking your site’s design is vital.
“Good Web design for an e-commerce site is something that would be a number of things done well,” said Miklos Philips, principal lead for user experience at Toptal.
“This would include a clear brand identity, the use of clear visual hierarchy, easy product search and browsing via clearly laid-out navigation and omnipresent search,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
An e-commerce business relies on its site not just to sell products, but to communicate a brand’s identity and create an enjoyable shopping experience for customers.
“Good design is important because it needs to instill in would-be customers trustworthiness and store credibility,” said Philips. “If the site appears poorly constructed and confusing, customers lose confidence in the store’s ability to deliver on its promise.”
It’s not like you can’t make sales with a poorly designed website, but incorporating effective, shopper-friendly design elements will offer long-term gains.
“Good website design communicates your brand identity, builds trust in your company, creates a cohesive and pleasant shopping experience, and naturally guides shoppers towards purchase,” said Alison Garrison, director of services for Volusion.
“You can make revenue with not-so-good design, but you will make a lot more with thoughtful design that puts the shopper first and is based in solid conversion principles,” she told the E-Commerce Times.
2. Make a Great First Impression
First impressions matter, since it doesn’t take long for a customer to decide whether to stay or go.
“It takes about 50 milliseconds — or only 0.05 seconds — for people to form an opinion about a website — that is, whether or not they like it, whether they’ll stay or leave, and ultimately, whether or not they’ll purchase,” explained Garrison.
The homepage is the first thing customers see when visiting your site, so it’s important to pay particular attention to it, and to upgrade and improve its functionality as necessary. When rethinking your homepage, start at the top of the site and work down, looking at it as a customer would.
“Consider the header and navigation,” said Garrison. “This is prime real estate and should include value propositions, such as free shipping and easy return policy, and trust builders, such as a phone number and trust badges.”
On that first page, consider organizing the categories you offer — perhaps building them based on your customers’ requirements, such as gender, age or particular use cases, Garrison recommended.
Creative categorizing will make the homepage at once more appealing and more useful, drawing customers deeper into your site.
3. Add Autofill
Autofill has come a long way, and intelligent autofill technology can both streamline the shopping process and boost conversion rates.
“In a word, consumer-friendly autofill depends on accuracy,” said Karl Mattson, SVP of Growth for Fillr.
“How often does the autofill correctly autofill all of the fields in a shopping check-out experience? The better autofill does this, the less a user has to manually correct or input text fields in a form,” he told the E-Commerce Times.
Increasingly, autofill is used in mobile shopping apps, which is another good e-commerce upgrade to consider.
“Autofill, long available only as a Web browser feature, is now available as a service that can be white-labeled into mobile shopping apps,” explained Mattson.
“This is an important, critical step forward for mobile app shopping conversions,” he said.
“Before, mobile app conversions were dependent solely on how well an app designer could create an easy-to-use checkout experience. Now that apps have the option of offering their own autofill as part of their conversion experience, autofill becomes an avenue whereby users can side-step the most frustrating part of mobile shopping — manually completing a complicated mobile e-commerce check-out,” Mattson pointed out.
New advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning have made autofill better than ever, which makes it a smart upgrade.
“Hand-in-hand with machine learning, autofill is evolving from a relatively straightforward text-based service to a technology that will become available across platforms — particularly voice-assistive platforms like Cortana and Seri,” said Mattson.
“As it expands to new platforms and uses, thanks to machine learning, autofill also continues to become smarter,” he added. It is now “more accurate, more contextually relevant and faster.”
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