8 Tactics for Making Your E-Commerce Site More Likeable and User Friendly

This is a guest post by Pascal van Opzeeland, whose author bio will be at the end of the article.


Deep inside, we all want to be liked. And it’s crucial for business as well.

The ancient Chinese saying “A man without a smiling face should not open a shop” is wise and true. Classics like How to Make Friends and Influence People go a long way in teaching how to make that happen face-to-face. But how does that translate to the era of online shops?

Behind a website, you can’t apply tips like smiling, show interest in the other person, or repeating their name. So how do you make your web visitors like you? Here are 8 tips.

 

1. Make Your Navigation Simple


Making things complicated is the fastest way to make your visitors hate you. To keep things simple:
 

  • Make your pages scannable. Minimizing text and making your story intelligible through your visuals, headlines, and bullet points tell the story.

  • Use visuals to support your words. I like reading, but not from a screen. And that’s true for most people. On screens, we like visuals and videos. So use them to communicate your message more effectively.

  • Minimise the number call-to-actions on a page. Don’t put your visitors up with choice fatigue. Have one dominant CTA per page.

  • Put a cap of 7 to your menu navigation. Seven is a magical number when it comes to information processing. By keeping your navigation options below it, you guarantee your visitors won't be overwhelmed. 


  • Stick to a modest color scheme. By limiting your main colors to three.


Lingscars.com is a website that breaks practically all of these tips in an almost artistic manner. But that’s a feat most businesses can’t get away with. iSenseLabs is a fine counterexample of a clean an orderly website. Check out Steve Krug’s classic Don’t Make Me Think as a good intro on web design.

 

2. Make Your Writing Clear & Simple



The motto of simplicity goes beyond design to your words. In your web copy, aim for short, simple, and clear. Make it conversational. You might not be talking to your visitor directly, but that's how it should feel like. 

Some writing tips to keep things simple and conversational:
 

  • Keep your sentences short. A period allows a reader to finish the thought.  


  • Keep your paragraphs short. Three lines per paragraph should do. One thought per paragraph. 


  • Use short words.You will get” is better than “You will receive”. The less mental strain, the more focus is left for your offering.

  • Use common words.Use” is better than “utilise”. Stay human, avoid pretentiousness.

  • Cut out unnecessary words.We would really like to receive your feedback” can be rephrased to “We appreciate your feedback!”. Respect your visitor’s time and energy.  


  • Use contractions. It’s perfectly correct English to write "I’m" instead of "I am". Writing with contractions makes you sound informal.


Our book recommendation for this topic would be Gary Provost’s “100 Ways to Improve Your Writing”. 

 

3. Write With a You-Focus



A common way to alienate visitors –and people in general for that matter– is to focus on yourself.

“We have introduced a new feature that allows our customers to upload an avatar...”, or, “We wanted to make improvements on our processes so that users can load their sources faster...

Guess what? Nobody cares about you! People only care about themselves. At least that’s a useful aphorism to live by.

So make it about them. Write with a you-focus.

With this new feature you can upload an avatar…", or, “You can load your assets faster now." Save your internal mental processes for your diary.

As an added benefit, writing with a you-focus tends to make your sentences shorter.
 

4. Prioritise the Most Important Questions

 

People land on your website with a purpose in mind. The easier it is for them to reach this purpose, the more they'll like you. 

For this, it’s important that you understand your visitors. You need customer empathy and to identify their needs and expectations. Some tips:
 

  • Do customer interviews. 


  • Analyse your support documentation for insights. 


  • Categorise customer feedback to identify the most common themes. 


  • Implement some customer feedback systems


With these results, you can then structure your site’s information infrastructure so that it answers the most important questions first. The 20% of the questions that 80% of your visitors have. Other frequent questions that fall just outside of the 20% you can answer through an FAQ section.

 

5. Offer Easy Contact Options



No matter how well you structure your website, though, there’ll always be long-tail issues – people with specific questions whose answers aren’t readily available in your web copy. That’s where your support options come into play.

Make it easy for your web visitors to reach out to you. The easiest solution is an on-site chat window like Userlike. It allows your visitors to send and get an answer to their question without leaving your website. You can even use it to guide your visitor through the entire purchase process. 


An on-site contact form is the best next thing, followed by a prominent position of your e-mail address or phone number. Realize that your customers will vary in their channel preference, so it's good to offer at least a mix of options: on-site chat, e-mail, phone, and messaging support.

And for all the support channels you offer, make sure to stick to the 7 principles of good customer service: speed, accuracy, transparency, accessibility, empowerment, friendliness, and efficiency.

 

6. Show Yourself


There’s one thing your competitors aren’t able to copy: you.

If you manage that your web visitors build up a personal attachment to the people of your team, you’ll be at a huge competitive advantage. 

One way to do this, is with a well thought-out About Us page. We put in considerable effort into the team page of Userlike, for example, so that it represented a positive and realistic image of our people and culture. You can actually see that we’re pretty good people. :)


Furthermore, you can sprinkle your team members’ faces throughout the website experience – as we did on our features page, for example. People are wired to bond with other people, not with things.

 

7. Use Authentic Images
 

Whatever images you use on your website, avoid the standard stock photos at all costs. Not only does it tell your web visitors that you’re an uncreative person, it also comes off as cold and impersonal.


That doesn't mean you shouldn't use a solution like iStock. Just avoid the standard laughing images.

Find some horrible examples here.

Check out solutions like Death to Stock or Canva to get to more original imagery. You can also source your team’s talents. The Planio Blog uses a minimalistic illustration style. It’s not complicated – it simply works.

 

8. Show Social Proof


Trust is still one of the main concerns when it comes to buying in general – but it becomes especially salient when buying online. Unlike in a physical shop, online you don't actually get to see and feel the product before you pay.

You can fill your website with promises, but it’s more effective to show social proof: evidence of the happy customers.

That’s why trust badges are so popular, like those from Trusted Shops. And why companies like Slack put such prominence on their existing users. Their minimalistic home page only has only two elements: (I) the main benefits, and (II) their existing customers.


Social proof takes away much of the stress that comes with being a digital consumer. People look at others to make their judgment calls. Perception is everything.

So there you have it – 8 ways to make your web visitors like you. Do you have any tips that worked especially well for you? Let us know in the comments below!

Author bio:

Pascal is Mr. Marketing at Userlike, the communication solution for website and mobile support. Besides leading Userlike’s marketing plan for world domination, he fills his days watching old movies.

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