As I prepare for the roll-out of my 2nd, full-time eCommerce website, I’ve found myself very occupied with the  homepage and ‘traffic funnel’ layout that is created for the site.

I’ve had a wonderful growth process learning about user interaction and ‘user experience’ (UX) on sites as well as ‘user interface’ (UI) work with web-based software products. This was enabled by being around great people to learn from but also from being a “student of the game”, maniacally reading and watching along the way.

Here are a few tidbits I would recommend as you build your website to make a more enjoyable experience for the visitors to your informational site, or to convert more visitors into customers.

Traffic Funnel

As you begin to layout the blueprints for your site, you should have a layout for your ‘traffic funnel’ as well. The traffic funnel is the pages that you wish to layout in order that take the visitor where they want to go (or where you want them to go). This will obviously begin on the homepage, but where do you want them to click next? Do you want them to visit another page with more specific information? Do you want them to go straight to a registration page? Do you want to offer more information on the product or service up for sale?

My guess is that you have a plan in mind for what you would like for the visitor to do. So, lay that out in a blueprint with each page and the order you want them to visit. Couple points:

  • Its ok to group secondary or ancillary pages together in a group if they are all related by purpose.
  • Some funnels have a cycle where you can go back to the main page and then forward to another page. Cycling back to pages is ok if you plan to incorporate that.
  • You can also use multiple secondary pages to test different buttons and layouts to find the best funnel. Which pages get more clicks forward and which pages cause users to bounce off the site?
  • Whatever you do, have a specific plan in mind and lay that out in your traffic funnel.

Color Design

This also an important part of your site you should consider before you begin the design portion.  While most people think it is the choice of your primary colors that are important, it is actually the use of white space that is most important. Here’s a great example of using white space effectively.

Effective use of white space creates an aesthetically pleasing experience without creating an overwhelming and “busy” site. When you pick colors for your layout (say blue and green), it is important to avoid the use of big blocks of royal blue or forest green, but instead use light greens and blues in order to be easy on the eyes of the visitor. The combination of well used white space and grey’s should give an easy, comfortable feel to the site and create a quality user experience. I believe this is extremely important in eCommerce to create a comfortable buying experience for the customer.

The use of bright, bold colors is still important, but should be used in small areas where the objective is to catch the user’s eye.  This is best for buttons and links, which I’ll explain in more detail next.

Buttons & Links

The use of buttons is one of the most important aspects of site design. Buttons and links effectively guide the user clicks down the traffic funnel in order to reach the goal or conversion. This could be buying a product, learning information, or registering as a user. Buttons should be bright colored, easy to find, and effectively placed on pages to guide the visitor to the next step of the traffic funnel.  If your traffic goal is to sell a product then it may be advantageous to place multiple buttons on a page in order to make sure the visitor sees one if they happened to miss the first (or the second) time.

Caution: The process of guiding users to buttons in order to get clicks borders the line of effectiveness and bullshit very closely. Buttons that are too big or placed around the site in excess can quickly hinder the user experience and cause them to get a “salesy” or sleazy impression.

Keep in mind the user should be at your site because they heard good things about you or found you in a search engine.  If they are, they will have a pretty good idea of what to do. Your goal is to help guide them to see the highlights of your site and complete the visitor conversion, whatever that may be.

Keep an eye out for Part 2 of this article where I will take a deeper look into creating a more dynamic website, including multiple landing pages and more.