Laying it out for all to see

They say that the more money you have, the easier it is to make even more. But those of us who aren’t multi-millionaires can watch those who are: the smart folk all bought gold in 2019. Similarly, the more visits you get to your website, the more you can learn about what does and doesn’t work. If you don’t get 10,000 visits an hour, watch and learn from those who do.

There’s no question that the biggest online sales site around is Amazon. So what can we learn from the big daddy of e-commerce?

The main lesson for me is that cool design doesn’t translate into effective design. Amazon’s site doesn’t exactly look state of the art, does it? But they’ve found out what works, and tested the heck out of it. When you arrive at Amazon’s site, two things should strike you: it loads in a flash, and you’re presented with a whole range of offers that you can scan in the first 2-3 seconds. Compare that to the average small business site, which takes 5 seconds to load instead of 1, and which presents the visitor with just one product or message. (Actually, a second and then third product gets shown on its rotating carousel, but nobody – nobody – waits 20 seconds for that to scroll on).

Our sites could do this. We could invest in making them load more snappily, and we could lay out all the best bits so that visitors can scan through the highlights in a moment. When I tried the panel-based highlights approach on this site of mine, the stickiness of the site went through the roof. Not only did visitors seem to be more likely to find something they wanted to read, they clearly also noted in the back of their minds that there was a lot more potentially interesting stuff on the site, so they were more inclined to return to the home page to find more after reading an article.

People visit sites to find out things. They are becoming less patient. We need to understand this, like Amazon does.