You can’t sell diddly online if you don’t actively give the buyer the right information at the right time.
I also know that some of you have been grappling with usability/conversion design for your websites. Ebay can teach us something on each of these points.
First up, Ebay is a perfect case study on what you need to tell your customers - up front - before they even ask or go looking for it.
If you do this they will immediately feel well towards you for being transparent. After all they don’t know you from a digital bar of soap and you need to go over and above to win them over. You’ve also been easy to deal which helps to start evoking a sense of trust in your business.
Ebay also provides some excellent clues to good design from a usability /conversion perspective. Let’s take a look.
Make your product look fabulous and ensure multiple views if appropiate. The aim here is to make sure that the potential customer can visualise exactly what it is that they're buying. If you don’t have a product but a service, then perhaps it’s a list of strong dot points with comparison to your competitor or a quick video. You’ll need to work out what is the equivalent of the ‘photo display’.
Without this product/service view, customers are not sure what they’re getting and won’t waste time trying to work it out. Also note where the image sits on the page. Directly in the eye line (for those cultures that read left to right - your eye is trained to start at the left side of the screen/page).
Summarise the key information the potential customer needs ie. price, postage, payment etc right up front. Notice how the Guarantee by Ebay is included in this key information. It may not be something the visitor was consciously looking for but it immediately removes one of the barriers to someone committing to a sale online - will I get my money back if it goes wrong? Think about your customer and what are the key points that they need to know to provide the comfort they need to hand over their dollars to you. Also in this same section is the ‘sellers’ rating. Again, this is another important ‘trust’ device that Ebay have used to give the buyer as much comfort as possible to make the purchase. Think about what your equivalent might be for your customers? Reviews, social proof or something else?
From a design perspective, the dominate elements on the page are the images, the pricing information and the call to action button - Buy or Bid. Now as your eye continues to drift, if the visitor is interested in the product they will be want more detail. The supporting content has been placed directly under the pricing information and immediately removes possible barriers to purchase such as delivery and postage details. While it’s not dominate on the page, it plays the supporting role perfectly.
Detailed information is provided below the images and pricing information allowing the user to answer any remaining questions that have about the product.
Now for the killer on this page. Right at the bottom you can see a section where the visitor can either post or see questions and answers raised by other people. Design-wise its placed right at the bottom after the visitor has scrolled to the bottom of the page to check all the information the page. If they do have a question, it’s right there in front of them to raise their question.
An Ebay listing is a great template to look at the elements that a potential buyer typically looks for when buying online. Ebay have spent a lot of time and money designing and testing to get the right information, structure and design right. Their whole success has depended on being able to regularly ‘convert’ customers. So the question for your business is how can you apply these techniques to help your business?