Archive for March, 2007

7 Key Focus Areas when Revamping Websites

March 11th, 2007
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Recently we helped relaunch the website. This website was using a 3.5 year old osCommerce, it now runs on the latest ZenCart open source e-commerce platform. Here I summarize the top 7 improvements that made a lot of difference:

  1. Decide on goals and show them in your layout, design, and development:
    The previous site had a bunch of HTML pages on the root folder which served as an informational basis site and the shopping cart was one level down in the subfolder: /shop. This served great for 2-3 years but we realized that Jeremiah’s Pick site first goal was to sell online and the average user who comes to visit the site, is looking to buy their great coffee. Hence, we brought the shopping cart to the root folder, and in fact the shopping cart runs the entire site. This includes a full use of the ezPages component in ZenCart which serves as a limited content management system.
  2. Centralize the main menu:
    Previously, the site was set to be navigated via three or four different menus, depending on what page was the user at. The new site has one simple navigation bar in the son-of-suckerfish technique which implements a nice SEO sensitive menu.
  3. Reduce the number of clicks to action (CTA):
    In this case, the action was defined as a purchase, add to cart, or inquiry submission. Hence, we made sure to reduce the number of unnecessary categories, subpages, and therefore clicks. We did so by consolidating pages, reorganizing the sitemap and separating groups of products into the minimum necessary subcategories.
  4. Revamping a website means a better look:
    Call it in any way you wish, the site still need to impress your existing users. In 2-3 years, the wealth of stock images and digital cameras have improved quite a bit. Make a use of it and push the limit of your designer. Show the final draft to a few of your friends/colleages/strangers and look for the ‘WOW’ reaction within 3 seconds. If you don’t see it, go back to the drawing board.
  5. Build a dynamic platform, not only a website:
    Today, there is no reason a new website cannot be fully managed by the computer illiterate. Use content management systems, WYSIWYG editors, database driven shopping cart, etc. Make sure the user has full access to all the elements on their page, especially the front page.
  6. Automate processes:
    If the website shares user database with an outside email management software, look for their API and connect your shopping cart with their system directly. Connect the order process to a real time shipping calculator. Connect the cart to a real time credit card gateway. Make the daily report available for a quickbooks import.
  7. Track Results:
    Once the new site goes live, the work is far from over. Track your results, either your results are hits, user registrations, or online orders, make sure to save the results from the past year and compare it for the next couple of weeks on a daily basis. Question any significant variation, if it is negative, work to correct it, otherwise make sure the results are real.

Websites are one of the most important assets of any business today. Don’t overlook any detail and make sure to always have your users in mind when you work on revamping your website.

Web Design