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Great web design requires more than color and composition. It demands more than content optimization for search engines. No matter how wonderful our design looks, or how many people find us through Google, if our visitors don’t convert as intended we have failed as designers. In this article, we will discuss one of the most challenging website design problems: reducing abandoned shopping carts.

In August 2011, See Why Website Conversions estimated the shopping cart abandonment rate to be at 75%. That means that for every four visitors who add your item to their shopping cart, three walk away. It is hard enough to attract visitors and entice them to purchase an item. Having 75% of them fail to convert is debilitating to our success.

What if I told you that you could increase your sales by 60% today without spending a penny on advertising, or getting a better placement in Google search? You would be interested, I bet! Simple mathematics tells us how to do it. If we can reduce our 75% abandoned shopping cart rate to a more manageable 60%, our conversion rate will increase from 25% to 40%. That represents a sales increase of 60%.

Touch the Shiny Red Button

Our first web design tip is to take a hard look at your checkout button. You do have one, right? Does it call you to immediate action? Does it stand out from the overall design, screaming to be clicked?

Take a look at hugely successful e-commerce sites like Amazon, and you will find they put a lot of thought into the design of their checkout buttons. Amazon uses a bright green design. The vast majority of successful e-commerce sites use red.

Whichever color you choose, it should draw the customer’s attention away from your overall design. The text should be a simple, but bold call to action. “Checkout Now” or “Purchase Now” are good choices.

Remove All Distractions

When your customer adds an item to her cart, it is imperative you get her to check out immediately. See that link to your latest blog post? Now is not the time for her to read your latest thoughts about infographics, photography, and different ways to frost Christmas cookies. Remove the link.

Don’t distract her with your most popular items list. She has already decided what she wants, so don’t confuse the issue. Removing as many links as possible funnels her toward the checkout button. If she wants to back out, she can. But don’t give her a reason to lose interest in purchasing your item.

Certain bits of information need to remain in front of the buyer when she is ready to click the checkout button. Make sure she can see your email address, phone number, or relevant contact information. Give her confidence that if she ever has a problem with a transaction, she will know how to contact you.

Relax the Shopper

Did you have fun designing your fantastic-click-me-now-please checkout button? Now we want to put your design skills to a more challenging test. Studies show that relaxed shoppers are far more likely to checkout an item than are stressed shoppers. Stressed shoppers almost always abandon their shopping carts. There are a lot of reasons for a shopper to be stressed. A lot of things can go wrong when shopping online. Your shopper has read all the articles about how credit card numbers and identities are stolen online everyday.

The first step in relaxing the customer is to always have your contact information available, per the previous suggestion. The next step is to use your knowledge of the way color combinations affect psychological reactions. You paid attention that day in design school, right? What we want are soothing blues and sea greens, or soft off whites, or any color scheme which induces relaxation. You might want to add a soothing stock photo of a zen scene, or some gentle rolling waves, of a soft focused photo of a flower.

I’m not saying you have to play Enya MP3s in the background. But you really need to think this through. The more relaxed the shopper is, the higher your conversion rates will be.

Conclusion

When you make important changes to your web design, use your analytical tracking software to measure the affect on your conversion rates. When you find something that works, see if you can increase the effect throughout your website design. When you find something that doesn’t work, put on your best Wile E Coyote and return to the design board.

The web design changes we suggested in this article should not take more than a few hours to implement. If we make the right changes, we should see an immediate increase in conversion rates, and hence an immediate increase in sales. I can think of no other way to increase sales so quickly, without need for advertising or outside forces such as search engine placement, social networking, etc.

So what are you waiting for? Get to work now! We would love to hear your opinion and feedback, so please don’t hesitate to comment below. For more useful articles like this please don’t forget to subscribe to the RSS-feed and follow Inspirationfeedon TwitterFacebook! If you enjoyed the following article we humbly ask you to comment, and help us spread the word!

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Posted by Daniel Padavona

Daniel Padavona is the founder of dpStockPhotos. Daniel is a photographer for several major stock agencies, and is an advocate for fair pay for artists. He lives in New York state with his wife and two children.

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