1. Make sure your site loads quickly, whether on a computer or a mobile device. “Aim to keep website load time to [a few] seconds or less,” says Gabriel A. Mays, founder, Just Add Content, a website platform for businesses. “Your biggest threat isn’t a competitor, it’s the back button. If your website loads too slowly, customers won’t wait around. They’ll go elsewhere.”

And don’t forget mobile users. “Studies reveal that nearly two-thirds of cell phone owners in the U.S. now use their phone as their primary access to the Internet,” says Mark Taylor, global lead for Customer Experience Transformation at Capgemini Consulting. “As a result, companies need to enable all aspects of the customer relationship – from browsing to purchasing to engaging with the brand – to have mobile functionality.

2. Focus on navigation – and don’t forget about site search. “Customers should be able to easily navigate an organization’s website,” says Ali Mirian, senior vice president of Product, Collective Bias, a marketing & shopper social media company. “Limit unnecessary clicks and implement features like auto-scroll to help avoid users losing interest.”

And “invest in good site search technology,” adds Will Cook, vice president, Multichannel, HP Marketing Optimization. “Site search remains a neglected part of the customer journey. [Yet] search provides an easy way to connect the user’s intent with the right content.” Moreover, “search queries and results clicks [provide] user feedback, [which can be] used to drive a more personalized experience in the future,” he explains.

3. Remember that a good photo can be worth a thousand words (and maybe a thousand dollars). Don’t underestimate the power of high quality photographs of products, says Mira Risek, user experience designer, Usability Matters, a user experience studio. “Some [companies feel that] commonly recognized or generic products might not need that level of visual appeal, but online shoppers find images reassuring, not to mention immensely helpful in identifying that they’re getting the thing they want.”

“We live in a visual world,” says Carolyn Blank, founder, Home Garden Directory. “A website without great images will not get customers to checkout,” she says. “Great photos, and lots of them [though not so many you overwhelm customers], will give shoppers the same feeling as if they were picking something up in a store.”

4. Less is often more when it comes to content. “When it comes to content online, the ‘less is more’ adage often holds true,” says Mirian. Too much “text, [or] excessive images or videos, can quickly clutter the customer’s screen and hinder their overall experience,” as well as distract them from making a purchase.

5. Include customer reviews. “Customer reviews are trusted 12 times more than a marketing piece from an organization,” says Hunter Montgomery, CMO, HigherLogic, which provides community management services. “So let them do the talking.”

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