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Better Design = Better Sales

Anyone experience this first hand?

5:49 pm on Jul 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I have a site, a little store front but the conversation of traffic to sales isnt the hottest. Its a spiffy little design but maybe im doing it just so wrong. Has anyone experienced first hand a design that made sales truly better than their old design? Does Design matter?
5:59 pm on July 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Absolutely no question about it. I have a couple of sites that sell pretty well the exact same thing, however one of them has a conversion rate that doubles the other. Same pricing, same product, just a different look.
7:51 pm on July 19, 2002 (gmt 0)

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We did a survey a few years about this. A few of the stats were very encouraging (as someone who designs professional sites for a living):

Does the quality of a company's web site affect your decision to purchase a particular product or service from them?

Yes: 89% No: 11%

Has the look of a company’s web site ever discouraged you from making a purchase from them?

Yes: 77% No: 23%
4:26 am on July 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Definitely matters. It would no affect very much if the site in question have no competitors, ie you cannot buy the product elsewhere but this is very unlikely to be the case.
A bad designed site will give your customers the impression that they are dealling with a non-very professional company as they will inmediately associate the bad design with a "chip" investment from your company.
4:43 am on July 21, 2002 (gmt 0)

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<<one of them has a conversion rate that doubles the other.>>

I firmly believe that good design make a difference, but there are many variables here. Sometimes one page/site converts better than another not because it's actually more effective in and of itself, but more because the luck of the draw in the search engines is sending better prospects in the first place. When you're comparing results from various approaches, remember to check your logs to see if there are any noticeable differences in how people are finding you that should be taken into account.

12:10 pm on July 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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What was the design difference between your two sites that made the difference in sales conversions do you think?

12:25 pm on July 22, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I, myself, believe it makes a huge difference in design quality. First off, design should be based on target users(male or female, young or old, etc...), but even more important, the overall quality of the site(no broken links, proper white space usage, useability, download time, etc...) should boost sales. I am currently working on a new design for the first site I ever built. I thought it was great then, but looking at it now, I cringe at the design. The new design looks 300% better(IMO). So when I publish it(soon), I'll return to this thread and post the results.

Birdman :)

10:06 am on July 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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There is no doubt that e-commerce is based largely on trust...a visitor has to make judgements as to whether they want to trust a site to deal with their monet and deliver their goods...and on the web there is nothing else for them to go on than the professionalism and quality of the site. It has been proven many times that one person can set up a sucessful booming e-business all of their own, simply by giving the impression that they are so much greater than they really are. Its a good reason why the big names prevail on the high streets. people know a name they can trust, and so feel more inclined to buy from their glizty glossy showrooms than some backstreet corner shop with its windows boarded up.

I presume your talking about the site in your profile in your post. i had a look and cant find anything to buy. The site is lovely, the discussion boards are very good and have loads of really good info to get punters coming back and staying sticky, but though the design is super, its not revolved around the purchase of goods nearly as much as it should be. Remember that you provide the other stuff to keep them there and enteratin/inform them so that they trust/fidn attachment to the site in order to get their money...

make the buying side a whole lots more obvious. on my very first visit to the site i thought good things...i enjoyed my visit, and if confronted with the right product may well have bought it...but i was never confronted with the option of buying anything...so i didnt, and there lies your problem...sort that out and you could well be onto a winner,as the rest is spot on...

good luck, i hope this ramble helps!

10:32 am on July 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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some really good points here..

I agree that design can enhance trust.. in various ways. Also a "quality" site also suggests what you are selling is quality

The key thing is not so much quality overall, but what is the parts of the quality that sell.

The key is not to get too tied up with "looking good", but have quality through fast loading, a nice smart functional design and navigation.

RcJordan I am sure will tell you that one of his sites is one of the UGLIEST on the web (sorry yet again RC, but yours is such a great example!) but it is also one of the most successful in makeing sales.

Most design specialists have to be reigned in. Sometimes its even better to not use external design specialists but to give some quick web design training to sales guys and then get them to design one!

But before I get my fellow web designers here all riled up may I add that the good ones realise that sales is what matters, not quality design per se, but they know how to create a quality design that optimizes sales or leads short term (immediate sales) and long term (branding and repeat sales) and treats that as the ONLY criteria of a good design.

2:53 pm on July 27, 2002 (gmt 0)

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A good point...i for one do it, but i think its way to easy to simply try and make a site look good...whereas probably only 50% of a well designed sited is in its looks...the most important factor by far in a selling site is in navigation and sales spin...butter them up a bit, instil a sense of trust with quality and class, while all the time presenting them with what they are 100% there for...your products.

Thats why most flash sites make awful e-commerce sites...

9:35 am on July 29, 2002 (gmt 0)

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>> I firmly believe that good design make a difference

I think we should also distinguish between "graphic design" and "site design". Whilst the look of the site is obviously important ("graphic design"), I think it is of seconadary value to the structure and flow of the site in most cases.

One client of mine recent went through some upheaval in the business, leading to a requirement for a site redesign. Whilst we were at it, we (finally!) persuaded them to let us do some restructuring work.

The site is for a local recruitment firm, and they are using an ecomm package as a cheap'n'cheerful way of getting a database of jobs online. The way they had made us set it up last time, you could take 7 clicks to reach the product level (ie actually viewing job details).

Now its 2, or 3, depending on which route you take. I confidently predict that the new site will be more successful, as it is no longer a chore to use the site. The look is also much improved, and should appeal to the target audience more.

So, not only should the new site appeal more visually, but it should be possible to actually find information on it now, as well. This may be considered a good thing

6:27 pm on July 30, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I am sure a better design will give you a bigger sales. Think about how you would feel if you walk into a store and everything is a messy. Would you feel comfortable using your credit card at that store ?

I think it is very important to give your visitor a feel of professionalism on your site. Try use live sales/support software to response your visitor's questions too.

Remember that a internet store front is no different then a 'real' store. You have to adjust your site to whatever you're selling.

[edited by: TallTroll at 1:05 pm (utc) on Aug. 1, 2002]
[edit reason] URL drops [/edit]


6:07 am on Aug 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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A simple slogan for e-commerce is "If a user can't buy, they won't buy!".

Usability has two (related) components - preference and performance. Site aesthetics fall under the heading of "preference" - a user likes the colours on one site better than on another, hence they "prefer" that aspect of it. However, what if the user finds it easier to perform their task (searching for products, selecting products for purchase, navigating the site, looking at the shopping cart, checking out) on site2? Then, their performance is better on the second site, but they also "prefer" the second site because their performance is better.... it's cyclic. IMHO, increasing performance aspects on a site should be a priority over preference.... see above slogan.

1:08 am on Aug 7, 2002 (gmt 0)


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Think of the buying process as a chain. When you pull it, it breaks at the weakest link, the strength of any other link does not matter one bit as long as its not the weakest one.

The single most important factor IMHO is download time. If people don't wait for the site to load that is the weakest link and nothing else matters. Same with Flash intros for the most part.

From there its not so easy to pick out the next weakest link, but traffic logs, or other tracking can shed some insight.

Colors make a diffeent, content makes a huge difference. Just like a Hollywood producer may storyboard a movie, it may help to do the same with a site. In addition to keywords, draw out how you think people will use the site, the paths people would logically take to accomplish the tasks you want them to accomplish.

Calls to action are very important. Make it so easy to figure out how to put something in the shopping cart your dog could do it, make it easy to see what is in the shopping cart. Reasuring words are very important - secure, risk free, safe, toll free, satisfaction guaranteed, we value your privacy (only if you really do) help to reassure visitors.

When they are buying, let them know where they are in the process, show an order confirmation complete with price with tax and shipping, all items being purchased before they press the submit button. Amazon is great at this type of thing. Wouldn't it be nice it YAHOO!/LookSmart would show you the title, description, URL, and category along with the submission fee all on one screen before you submit? It's not fun when you have to appeal to the editors because you made a mistake that could have easily been caught had they provided a confirmation screen. No only does this type of thing improve the sales process and satisfaction but it can cut returns, customer service, and labor costs.

11:01 pm on Nov 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Birdman: I would be interested in hearing the results of your redesign. Did it make a difference in converstions? What seemed to work? What didn't?

I just uploaded a redesign of the first site(FP98) I ever did and the difference, in stickiness, so far is amazing. The percentage of time spent on the site per visitor has increased. Now I'm waiting to see what the converstion rate is going to look like.

The changes: New color scheme
change in site page layout(from fluid left justified to fixed centered)
change in navigation
cleaner layout( much better use of whitespace)

The site as it was was really just functional it did not take in to account asthetics or trying to build customer confidence at all and the conversion rate told the story....:(

11:20 pm on Nov 8, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I'd also like to know.

There's a current discussion going on right now in Webmaster General that's closely related:

How to increase site conversion [webmasterworld.com]

5:12 am on Nov 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Hello everyone!
Thanks for the interest, Big_Balou and Marcia:)

The redesigned site is faring alot better. Sales are up and I noticed that 160 people have bookmarked the site in the last month.

I don't have any exact statistical figures, but we are getting lots of compliments from users.

I added some new features such as input forms for users to request customization and they seem to like them very much.

This site actually belongs to my mother and she informed me today that she made three good sales over the phone that originated from the site to go with a few online sales. So considering she was lucky to get a few sales a week before the redesign, it's looking up:)

a design that made sales truly better than their old design? Does Design matter?

In this case, most definitely!