Is YOUR Web Site Ready For Christmas?

    November 1, 2004

It will soon be Christmas. Whether Christian or not, that means one thing to online vendors everywhere: BIG SALES!

But is your site ready for Christmas?

Let me explain what I mean.

As webmaster of a UK shopping directory I get to review many online shopping sites. I take about 60 seconds to decide whether the site gets added to my shopping directory (or not).

And what I look for, in those crucial first seconds, is what YOUR site-visitors look for too. They’re thinking:

-> ‘Can I trust you?’,

-> ‘Do you sell what I’m looking for,’ and

-> ‘Do I want to buy it from here?’ or

-> ‘Do I just want to somewhere else?’

The bad news: I am more patient than your site visitors!

The good news: you just need to make a few common-sense changes to your site, for it to be ready for customers this Christmas.

(Results from a study on online shopping habits help illustrate my point. The figures are a couple of years old, now, but I don’t think the needs of online shoppers have changed too much.)

So what do I look for?

1. Is Your Site Safe AND Secure?

‘Of course our site is safe AND secure!’ you say. ‘We’re a member of a safe-shopping scheme, and we pay lots of extra money for secure servers!’

You know your site is safe and secure, but does your site display the safe-shopping logo proudly on the home page, where it’s easy to find, easy to reassure?

Do put any safe-shopping logos high-up on your home-page, or even the logo of your secure server provider like Worldpay or Verisign! (And the same goes for customer testimonials!)

Safe shopping schemes/providers include:

2. Does Your Site Look Professional?

(26% said the [shopping site] was too difficult to navigate

– Anderson Consulting.)

How do I decide whether a site is well-designed and professional?

Maybe it’s a great color-scheme, or site layout. Maybe it’s clear images, good use of fonts, or an impressive Flash movie. Maybe it’s all of these things (or none of them).

Basically, for me, a professional website:

* is easy to navigate (so you never get ‘lost’)

* is quick to load (no unnecessary ‘splash’ screens)

* contains clear and immediate benefits for your customer

* does not rely on obscure browser technology

Yes you can break these rules, just as long as you make sure that your site is CUSTOMER-FRIENDLY.

(At the very least do a site-usability study. You’ll be amazed at what you learn!)

These sites/resources may help:

How NOT to design a website

“Don’t Make Me Think!” philosophy of site design

3. Does Your Site Contain Great Content And Offers?

(16% of online shoppers said the site didn’t offer enough gift-giving ideas to help them make an appropriate purchase – Anderson Consulting.)

Is it REALLY worth shopping at your site?

Do you offer a great choice of goods at low prices? Can visitors read reviews of the products you sell? And can they create a Christmas wish-list for their friends or family?…

What’s compelling about shopping online at your store?

(For ideas about compelling shopping, just visit Amazon!)

4. Does Your Site Display Delivery Details & Costs?

(40% said the product they ordered was not delivered in time — Anderson Consulting.)

I’m sure your site has delivery details and costs, but… is it easy to find them?

Don’t force a customer to buy an item, before they can find this information!

Make your delivery details and costs as easy to find as possible — especially if you offer free delivery! Don’t give a potential customer a reason to go somewhere else!

And as for late delivery — if you can’t avoid this, at least keep your customer informed at all times. This keeps the customer as happy as possible, encourages positive word- of-mouth (i.e. new customers), and helps you achieve the holy grail of online shopping — repeat business!

5. Does Your Site Display Contact Details?

(25% said the [site] did not provide enough information needed to make a purchase.)

“A site without contact information is a site with something to hide!” That’s what a potential customer thinks, anyway!

Your site should state WHO you are, and WHAT your business is about. Include information like name, address, and phone number on an about-us page, and mention a little about your business (a photo of you and your business is very reassuring).

If you need an example, why not look at the about-us page I’ve created. It’s not brilliant, but it’s a start. (Hey, I don’t even sell anything online!). Find it at –

And here is a really professional contact page which does the same job of reassuring the potential shopper

Congratulations… Your Site Is Now Ready For Christmas!

Follow the advice above, and your site should be ready for the demands of Christmas.

You can probably think of more common-sense ways to make your site more ‘customer-friendly’ e.g. customer testimonials — do whatever needs to be done.

More and more money is spent online each and every Christmas. Your site can have its piece of the pie — just make sure your site is ready.

Season’s best wishes to you!

STEVE M NASH is the author of the ebook: “3 Super-Tips To
Build, Promote And Profit More From Your Website.” Download
your free copy now!

He’s also the author of many popular articles aimed at
webmasters, affiliates, even complete beginners. Read them