Who would have thought in 2015 the word sticky could have a positive connotation? For most life scenarios it’s the opposite of what you want. No one likes a sticky situation, or to be stuck with something. However, if you’re an online retailer, the word sticky can translate to success; the stickier your website the better.
A sticky website is one where customers stick around longer. Stickiness is a major goal of an online business; you want people on your site for as long as possible. So let’s talk about why, after the endless hours you’ve put in to get customers to visit to your site, why, oh why, are they leaving?
Reason #1: Design Clutter
Think of your homepage as your storefront, the place where a customer lands after they walk in your door. If the physical space is cluttered, messy or less than aesthetically pleasing, many clients would turn around and walk right back out without even a cursory glance at your product. The same rule applies online.
It’s important not to overwhelm customers with a chaotic landing page by trying to cram items in or make everything oversized out of fear of people missing things. Try using white space, colour, consistency and weight to create balance and hierarchy for your design rather than size alone. By following best practices and placing objects in familiar places, you can create a clean, well- organized site where a customer can easily find what they are looking for and understand their options or how to navigate your site.
I mentioned hierarchy in the last point, but I can’t stress the importance of it enough. If there are too many buttons, promotions and links competing for attention, it’s difficult for customers to make a decision about where to go. The user should feel like they have options, but the path should be clear, without too many forks in the road. Remember that a customer can only do one thing at a time, so try not to constantly tempt them away from it.
User flows can be really helpful to define clear goals and identify points where decisions are being made; how many choices they have, what the end goal is for each choice, and any potential drop off points along the way.
Once you decide what the goal of the page is, make a list of the elements and rank them from most important to least (no two can rank at the same number) and use the guide to stress what is the most important to your business. Then design accordingly.
Reason #3: Unfriendly Navigation
Have you ever repeatedly clicked a top level nav item like “Shoes” only to realize it’s just a heading? If you are using titles for your categories that are not clickable, use design to differentiate between the clickable list item and the non-clickable heading. You could also add “Shop All Shoes” to the subcategories to make it clear to the user what they ened to click to see the whole category.
The point of the nav is to get users where they want to go quickly; consider how many categories you have? We try to stick to no-more-than 7-10 top level categories. Scanning through a long list of 20 plus categories can be exhausting. You can also evaluate the number of subcategories you have by taking a look at any that have less than 5 products in them. It may be possible to group the products with other like items so that the customers don’t have to drill down to far to find what they are looking for.
Consistency is key as well and can help to reduce the number of categories you have. For example if you have Mens and Womens sections with the subcategories Clothing, Shoes and Accessories, you can skip the flip side. Meaning that a top level accessories category that is broken down between Mens and Women’s is unnecessary.
There are many many reasons why having a mobile friendly site is for the benefit of your company. You want to create a pleasant mobile experience so your customers can interact with your brand on the go. Forcing them to pinch and pull to see your nav can be so irritating for a customer that just the thought of it may cause them to leave. It’s too easy to Google up another site that is optimized for mobile.
Keep in mind that your mobile customer may need to browse with their thumb only so it’s also important once you have a responsive site to keep elements large enough to tap with a thumb. You also want a significant amount of space between icons and list items so that the user can select one item at a time – we usually go with about 36px of padding. Lastly make your phone number and maps clickable. Everyone knows the skill required to memorize a phone number and flip back and forth from the browser to the keypad while juggling a coffee and work bag.
Reason #5: Misleading Promotions
Ads and email are a great way to lead customers to your site but it’s crucial that the experience promised matches the experience on your site. If you are running ads for sale or free shipping, make sure that customer lands on a page where that messaging is clear. Or if you draw a user to the site through an email with a great pair of shoes, it’s best that that product is current and in stock to avoid disappointment.
Your phone, email, store location and hours, should be obvious and easy to find. After all this is one of the most important functions of your website – you want people to find your business. Make sure this information is located in your footer (and that your customer can get to your footer if using a continuous scroll.) A customer determined enough to pick up the phone and call you has more intent to buy, so you definitely want your site to support them in their attempt to contact you.
How Sticky is Your Site?
You’ve poured endless hours into your eCommerce store, but visitors just aren’t hanging around for long. There could be a few factors influencing this. If your website isn’t sticky, you’ll see a higher bounce rate. This means you have traffic to your site, but they’re landing then leaving before converting. You’ll want to focus on keeping users on your site as long as possible! A cluttered design is unappealing and un-shopable for most. Too many Calls to Action (CTAs) are a distraction and will cause site visitors confusion, you should be aiming to create a hierarchy with your design elements. Make your store’s navigation as user-friendly and consistent as possible so consumers can find exactly what they’re searching for without getting lost. Mobile devices are gaining traction with online shopping, your site should cater to this consumer behaviour by remaining mobile-friendly. Match the experience promised with the experience that you have on your site by keeping your promotional ads in-line with your actual sales. Finally, you’ll want people to be able to find your business, keep your info in a relevant easy to see spot. Keeping all these elements in mind will add to your site’s stickiness and success!