In order to sell or promote products on the web you must provide good product information in order to give your customers confidence before they click the buy button.
When customers shop online they require more product information compared to shopping for the same items in brick and mortar shops as there is no tangible product to hold no salesperson to ask and no product displays to read.
As a result of poor product information many ecommerce websites are losing sales to competitors who are spending the time to make shopping online as painless as possible for their consumers.
Here’s an example of a few misleading ecommerce pages from a large UK clothing store.
In this case the product has several images and a decent amount of product information.
However when would you realise that you were only buying the shirt and not the matching tie?
It doesn’t mention anywhere that the tie is not included or sold separately.
Another item from the same store features a pair of suit trousers, but if you look more closely you’ll notice the conflicting product information.
Are they machine washable at 40 degrees or dry clean only?
After looking at these two products would you have confidence purchasing items from this store?
Making the assumption that you know the audience of your website and that they understand all the industry and product terminology you use within your company maybe alienating some of your potential customer base.
There are a few very easy ways to continue using your terminology and acronyms whilst making your website more user-friendly and meeting web accessibility guidelines on acronyms and abbreviations at the same time.
Add Meaning to your Terms
Acronyms and Abbreviations - By using the <acronym> and <abbr> tags in HTML you can give more information to your users when they hover their mouse over the term or abbreviation on your website. This HTML mark-up also allows spellcheckers, screen readers, translation systems and search-engines to understand the context too.
Welcome to the <acronym title="World Wide Web">WWW</acronym>
or <abbr title="Telephone Number">Tel</abbr>
Create a Website Glossary
If you find that you use lots of terminology on your website you might want to consider adding a glossary to your website and hyper linking to the appropriate terms in your glossary when you use them in your web text.
Picture used under Creative Commons from tuchodi
Information Architecture put simply is the planning stage of a website and involves organising and designing the structure or "blueprint" of a site and should be carried out before any design or development takes place.
Here is a good example of the importance of Information Architecture.
Choosing Product Navigation Categories
You must consider the end user when deciding what categorisation to use for website product navigation.
We could categorise a company's products by brand, model number, manufacturer, or by function but which is best?
Ask yourself these questions:
- What makes the most sense to the customer?
- Will a customer who is new to our products/brand be able to find what they're looking for?
- Will a user who knows what product they need be able to find it quickly?
Categorise Your Products Carefully
Some websites make the mistake of only categorising products by brand/model or manufacturer and using this as the product navigation on their website. In this case customers who are not familiar with the company's products will struggle to find what they are looking for.
For example, the Peugeot UK website categorise their cars by model number, 107, 207, 308, 3008, 407, 4007, 807 etc. As a potential customer who is not familiar with Peugeot's model numbers I don't know what models to consider if I'm looking for an estate car. Do I click through every model category to try and find what I'm looking for or give up?