Reliable Site Architecture Leads To Better User Experience

Site  Architecture refers to how  you have positioned your pages for Search Engines or people to find.  This also talks about how easy it is for a user to find the page by clicking links on the page. The better your architecture, the easier it is for people to get to your money pages faster.  So what kind of architecture works best for your site?

I’d like to list out a few points to keep in mind when you design your eCommerce or other site.

Site Hierarchy is quite important because users have an easier time of finding pages if they are where users expect them to be.  You must keep the hierarchy in mind while designing your site.

Site Architecture Website Menu Layer

Site Architecture Website Menu Layer

  1. Site Navigation must be as intuitive as possible. Eye tracking software have established that users read from left to right and top to bottom. So, the most important links must be placed on the top horizontal menu bar – going from left to right in decreasing order of importance.
  2. For category based menus, a left column is the most beneficial. This is also important with a view to improving the Search Engine Optimization for your site.
    Site Architecture Design Menu

    Example of a category based left column menu.

  3. It is preferable to have 2 or 3 different menus. Menu 1 would be along the top from left to right with links to different important pages on the site such as About Us, Return Policy, Shipping etc.
    WebSite Architecture

    Images shows multiple menu layers- each layer used for a different purpose.

  4. Menu 2 would be from top to bottom on the left hand side with list of categories. This could also be just underneath the main navigation menu.  An extra feature you could provide is an automatically expanding menu that shows the subcategories inside each category as the user hovers over the menu .. as the image below shows.Site Architecture overview
  5. Menu 3 could be another menu with user-specific menu items such as Login, Signup/Register, My Account, My Cart , My Wishlist etc. This is normally placed above the Main Menu on the top right hand side corner – on par with the name and logo of the site.
  6. All pages on the site must be reachable from the home page within  a maximum of two clicks.
  7. The farther they are away from the home page, the less chance the user will find the page.
  8. Also search engines tend to discount the pages for ranking as they move away from the home page.
  9. In some cases, it may be advisable to link a page from multiple category menu items. For example, a page about Jumping Weekly Subscriptions may be reachable both from Jumping Publications menu as well as Subscriptions menu.
  10. A breadcrumb is a device to help the user understand the structure of a page in the site. Using a breadcrumb, the user can click on any of the intermediate pages and directly browse to such page. Please note that the  image below – though a good example of breadcrumbs, goes contrary to Point # 6 above.Site Architecture using bread crumbs
  11. A footer link section is quite commonly used now.  This section is primarily found on the home page where all internal pages are linked directly from the home page. This is mostly for the benefit of the Search Engines as users rarely if ever browse to the bottom of a page.
  12. As far as common navigational elements across pages are concerned, most advanced technologies have some sort of master-content pages arrangement so that you can create the navigation once and use it multiple times. Make sure you are not recreating the same code on multiple pages.  This means, there will be only one code set for header, navigation menus and footer of the site.

Remember that having a reliable site architecture leads to better user experience.  Related article: Developing A Website Pricing Strategy!

A Pricing Page That Sells! – Features of a Successful Pricing page

In this third installment in the series about required E-commerce website features, we are talking about the pricing page. Pricing pages are key to conversion. Designing the right pricing page increases checkout and ultimately Profits.

Then you put up a pricing page for your product, you must realize that you are trying to convince the customer to part with his money in return for your product. At the same time, your product may be in competition with multiple other products/services(both in your industry and elsewhere) for the same money.
So, here are a few thoughts – derived from years of experience working with retailers on their sites; as well as studying from the giants of the industry.

Make it Simple to Find the Price.

Do make it easily visible using bolded font; or colored text – or some similar mechanism.

Don’t make the customer go through multiple clicks before the price is revealed to him.  Make it easily visible by using a bolded font  Don’t use red font though, red still stands for danger; or inconvenience or something negative. Your price should come across as friendly.

Pricing page should be well designed.

Do use a professional to design your pricing pages for you. It is one of the most important pages on your web site. The UX of the page must be adequately pleasant to remove any unnecessary frustration the user might feel.

Salesmen can vouch for the fact that users normally feel apprehensive just before being told the actual final price on the product. That’s why your car dealer has such nice cozy rooms where he seats you – and offers you cool drinks/tea/cookies – before he springs the price on you.  You have to do the equivalent of that same selling tactic on your website using good design.

Don’t clutter things on the sales page. Don’t put the price in the middle of a hundred other things.

Make use of comparisons to sell (Anchoring).

Do offer multiple items to compare with. This makes use of the principle of Anchoring as aptly explained by Robert Cialdini in his books on persuasion.

So, if you have a product that you are selling for $127/-, I would offer the user two more products, one above and one below this price point. Make sure that the product at $127 has much greater value than the item at $127/-. Also make sure that the value provided by the next price point is not much different from the $127/- item. The user will consider each item’s price with respect to its value  and  hopefully arrive at the $127/- item as the best one to purchase.

Pricing Page Strategy

Don’t offer just one price to the user.  This makes him feel he has no choice – and makes him want to hunt around for better offers. When he has multiple choices, he will most likely settle for the one with the best value proposition.

Point to the best value provided. Make it easy.

Do point out the choice with the best value among all your products. Use different color and fonts to highlight the choice that in your opinion is the best value. This can also be customized to change depending on where the user is coming from. Talk to your marketing consultant about this option.

Limit the number of options available.

Do not offer more than 4 or 5 options. Multiple tests have shown that when the user has too many options to choose from, he ends up choosing none! This is because too many options do tend to confuse the user. Hence limit the choices to 4 or max 5 at a time. If there is a reason to offer more than 5 choices, move that to a separate view.

Use Tabular Data As Needed.

Tables are used all over the web  to make it easy for users to go through and comprehend a lot of data at one go.  When there are many options to be compared, as well as multiple features for each options, the table is the way to go. This helps the user go directly to the features he is interested in, and identify the option that matches his needs. This website does a great job with their excel budget template spreadsheet.

Use tool-tips where apt.

Tool tips should be used to avoid cluttering of the web-page. These are powerful objects to minimize the use of text on the screen. These help in showing extra information only when the user hovers over some text or image.

Tool tips need to be used judiciously to help users get more information regarding each item in your table.  This will help users to read more about each item.

Use the Psychological Power of Scarcity:

Scarcity refers to the ability of the seller to influence the purchase of the product by real or apparent discontinuation of availability of the product.  This can be done by maintaining limited availability of stocks or mentioning a deadline for service availability.  Another way is to announce an increase of price at a certain date.

Use Discount Coupons:

It was found that nearly 80% of users leave the cart to go hunt for discount coupons on the internet.  This phenomenon has gone up very much in the recent years as discount coupon websites have risen in popularity.

Offering a discount coupon at the right time – at the pricing page itself can restrict the losses due to customers leaving the cart to look for discount coupons.

 Offer Chat With A Support Person:

Having a chat with a customer support person makes it easier for the user to get any questions answered right from the pricing page. This reduces cart abandonment by a large factor.

Website Pricing Strategy for Products

Offer testimonials / Social Proof:

The pricing page is one of the most important pages where you can place the testimonials from happy clients. Social Proof can help a lot when a client is getting ready to pull out his wallet and make a payment. Again, this can be customized depending on the user to display a testimonial that means the most to the customer.

Display Trust Badges :

User are getting over issues of fraud etc due to advanced security options being available. It still helps to display trust badges from third parties such as Verisign Inc.

Display Payment Options:

How To Stop Failing Businesses

Related Article: How To Stop Failing Businesses

Display all the different payment options such as credit cards (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express and other options such as Paypal need to be displayed on the pricing page.  These may vary from country and locality.

Shipping Charges:

If you charge for shipping, and if it varies by item, it would be good to show this on the pricing page itself. This needs testing though as the probability of users abandoning cart due to shipping issues varies from site to site.

Delivery Time:

Whether  you have a standard delivery time for every item on the site or the delivery time varies from item to item, it makes sense to display this on  the pricing page. The idea is to answer every query and every objection that the customer might have at the time of purchase. Try to avoid this common pricing decision mistakes.

Related Article: How To Stop Failing Businesses

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