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#2.10: The “Simple Changes to Your Site” Issue

1 > Copy familiar interfaces
2 > Remove the animation
3 > Don’t require a password
4 > You’ve got to see this: Priceless guide

1 > Copy familiar interfaces

Don’t reinvent the wheel — identify the successful sites and mimic their interfaces. Some companies have spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars hosting usability and navigability focus groups to identify the quickest click-to-buy scenarios. Leverage the knowledge they’ve gained to better your user interface. Over the years, Amazon and Yahoo have trained millions of consumers to know where to look for things. Sites with similar styles tend to make consumers happier because it’s always easy to find the buy, subscribe, and other functional buttons.

The lesson: Many successful sites have researched what works best, so make up time by using the knowledge they learned.

2 > Remove the animation

Maybe it’s cute, but who needs to see a flash animation or cartoon before they enter a Web site? It’s potentially damaging to your business as many of your surfers get bored and leave. Simplify your site. Even in the coming-of-age consumer broadband connections, it doesn’t mean you have to make your site “heavier.” According to Internet Retailer Magazine, when Coach.com, the leather goods retailer, learned that its customers found the animation distracting, the company removed Flash graphics from its site. Following the redesign, conversion rates increased 25%, sales increased 65%, and page visits grew 45%.

The lesson: Flashier does not mean better. By keeping it simple, convenient, and fast, customers can find what they need quicker — and will return because they had a positive experience.

More info:
http://www.internetretailer.com/dailyNews.asp?id=6153

3 > Don’t require a password

Remove all barriers to entry for potential customers to do business with you. Start by lifting the requirement that people register with a password for something as trivial as an email newsletter. It’s understandable that you want their information, but get them to subscribe first. Once they’re in the door, then request more information. Asking for all of the information up front will make them leave. Secondly, they may not remember their password, thus, blocking them from your site in the future. You’ll scare away customers with unnecessary security.

The lesson: Requiring a password to your site or to your newsletter is damaging. When presented with a form to get the password, it turns people away. When people forget their password, they’ll leave.

4 > You’ve got to see this: Priceless guide

Known as the world’s most renowned expert on Web usability, Jakob Nielsen has studied, analyzed, and written about the characteristics of a successful site. One of his books, Homepage Usability: 50 Websites Deconstructed, is filled with great tips on what makes these sites rise to the top.

More info:
http://www.useit.com/homepageusability

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