Throughout the 21st century, ecommerce has only increased, especially in recent months due to COVID-19. Nowadays, to own a business with no website or an outdated one seems unthinkable. In a recent episode of the podcast Making Bank, conversion rate optimization expert Jon MacDonald discusses the importance of internet conventions. Having run The Good, a conversion rate optimization firm that has worked with brands such as Nike, he imparts simple adjustments you can make to your site to enhance your conversion rate.
In episode 52 season 4 of Making Bank, MacDonald recommends the book “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steven Krug to any website owner. He outlines Krug’s argument: that we have now entered an age in which most people have grown up with specific internet conventions. What Krug means by this is, whether consciously or subconsciously, most people expect sites to follow unspoken rules. For example, when you are browsing a company’s site, where do you expect the find the logo? When you click the logo, do you expect something to happen? If you answered, top left-hand corner and when clicked, it brings you back to the home page, you’ve absorbed internet conventions.
Now, MacDonald adds to this conversation by pointing out that many businesses—even highly successful ones—don’t always follow these internet guidelines. This divergence often results in what he calls “rage clicking”—when “somebody might be clicking time and time again on something that’s not an actual link on the page.” That person’s subconscious knowledge of the internet is fueling them to click, and they repeat this action when they can’t believe that the website isn’t following these rules. As he says, this “signifies that you probably should make that a clickable link that goes someplace.”
But why follow these conventions? If your business is so successful, can’t you do what you want? In theory, maybe. But as MacDonald points to, “Amazon is just the thousand-pound gorilla, but they follow all the conventions.” Amazon’s logo is in their top left corner, and when clicked, it brings you back to the main page. The reason to follow these expectations, as MacDonald’s explains, is because not to creates barriers to convert. When you build unnecessary walls for someone to become a potential buyer, they are less likely to do so. These are simple fixes, so why not? What do you lose? Continue reading to learn about 3 easy conventions you can follow for your site.
MacDonald advocates that your main navigation should only include five tabs. He says almost every single business can fit their products into five tabs. When creating your tabs, make them all about your products, not you or your business.
Wait a minute—don’t a lot of websites have a mission statement or an “About Us” page? Yes. However, the consumer is not coming to your site to read about how your company began. They aren’t ready for that just yet. They are coming to your site to see if your products can help remedy a need or a pain they have. When you walk into a retail store, the space usually doesn’t advertise their beginnings—rather, what they have to offer. As MacDonald says, “if you wouldn’t do it in a retail store, don’t do it on your website.” The consumer is walking into that store, logging on to that site, to research your products. Converting people into buyers is about the consumers’ perspective, not the business.’
The Bottom Bar
In studying scroll maps, MacDonald has also come to realize that your bottom bar should mimic your top one. Scroll maps allow him to see where certain people click off and where others continue. In synthesizing this data, MacDonald has discovered that if the bottom bar does mirror the top, more people will convert to consumers.
The bottom bar has its own conventions, such as the contact information in the right–hand corner. However, its existence should always be tied to the main navigation. The most important information on your site should be at the top of the page, as that is what most people see. But some people are interested enough in your products or services to scroll all the way down, and they should be rewarded for that interest. They continued to read, even after they had already come across the most important facts for which they were originally searching. Why punish them by making them scroll all the way up to the top of the page to view your products? Make it simple for them to view your services by imitating the items in your main navigation. By making it easier on website visitors, they are more likely to convert. More conversions equate to more business.
Categories That Help Your Consumer Decide
The third easy convention your website should follow centers on the subcategorizes, or dropdowns, from the main tabs. MacDonald puts forth that people are more likely to convert the further you “push them down your funnel.” By this, MacDonald means consumers going deeper into your website, investing more time and energy with your business, which usually translates to dollars. A drop-down menu that includes every single product presents the information in an overwhelming and ineffective fashion. Instead of bombarding the site visitor, help them discover what they need.
MacDonald utilizes skin-care brands as a prime example of how this works. Rather than just list every product they offer in a dropdown, subtly pose options such as skin types—dry, oily, or combination—to help make the consumer understand what they may need. They will dive deeper into your site and that time they spend will make them more likely to convert.
Overall, these conventions are simple ways to help boost your business. By following internet expectations, you eliminate barriers to convert, easing the transition on the viewer to become a buyer.