8 Quick Tips for a More Usable E-commerce
by John S. Rhodes
If you are a Web site developer and you want to create
a safe, warm, and comfortable e-commerce environment for your users, then you
will want to consider several issues. Start first by thinking about your own online
shopping and purchasing concerns. What do you like? What dont you like? What do
think are the indicators of online security and personal and financial privacy?
Below is my concise listing of things that will
give your users a comfortable e-commerce environment. The idea is to empower your
users with information. Always give your users every possible piece of security
information. Let them know at all steps they are safe and secure. Provide obvious
opportunities for users to back out of a sale if they want something, they will
eventually buy it. Dont use hype and dont push too hard. It is also important
to never say anything you cannot back up. You want to build trust.
Here is the list of things you ought to do for
your users. These things ultimately make an e-commerce Web site more usable:
1. Help your users understand your
sites security. For example, explain how your site uses encryption to
increase security. It can also be useful to link to an external Web site that focuses on
security issues. This tactic can show your users your objectivity.
2. Be sure to offer both an 800 number
and a FAX number for users that are uncomfortable with online transactions.
Indeed, it might even be worthwhile to have a printable form, for those users wishing to
use postal mail. Your security might be just as good (or better) than these
"conventional" solutions, but your users might not realize this. So, have other
options available. The idea here is to understand that Web users often perceive online
transactions as more risky than conventional solutions.
3. Provide your users with the physical
location of the company. Include the postal address and a telephone number. Allow
users to verify that the company does indeed exist and that it is not
"fly-by-night". Be open and up front about this standard information.
4. Allow users to request a catalog,
brochure, or other promotional material. Be able to supplement online promotions
with offline promotions. Use powerful offline promotional tools like Web Cards.
5. Make your refund and return policy
blatantly clear. Make sure that you make it obvious that you stand behind your
6. Never require your users to enter
more personal information than necessary. Do not ask for Social Security Numbers
and do not ask for bank account information. Users are skeptical. Besides, you should not
need this information to complete the sale of your goods and services.
7. Make your shipping policy clear,
and easy to understand. Explain the shipping processes in great detail. Outline the
mechanisms that ensure safe and convenient delivery.
8. Provide your users with a "bill
of rights". Let them know how you are in full compliance with all the
appropriate laws. Let your users know that your site has been designed to quickly,
lawfully, and securely work for them.
Aim to make your users comfortable. They are at
your site, youve got them. Your job is to ease them into a sale. Dont flash
them with quick sales pitches or impossible guarantees. Your users will be more
likely to buy your goods and services if your site is pleasant and offers the right
Help them understand the power and convenience
of online purchasing. This shouldn't be too hard since many users like using their credit cards online. The real key is to give them as
much information as they need to feel secure.
Finally, remember that if you are uncomfortable
giving out information, then your users are really going to be uncomfortable.
Ultimately, that means fewer sales, and less money in your pocket.
what should you do?