I’m one of those persons that love books, bookstores, and stores like Office Max and Staples. I love the feel of a glossy paperback book cover, sight of rows of colorful pens, and am perfectly willing to spend 15 minutes figuring out the very best type of manila folders to buy.
When I spoke on a Usability panel at SMX New York with Lance Loveday, I discovered he’d written a book called Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads. Of course, I asked for a copy and promised to write about it. The first thing I’d like to say is I love how it feels. It’s just under 200 pages of smooth pages with light colored tabs, pull quotes and readable font size. My copy has little red sticky tabs all over it. This indicates the content is as delightful as it is to hold in my “bookaholic” hands. Everyone who has an ecommerce web site should buy Web Design for ROI, by Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus.
After doing my holiday shopping online again this year, I was often reminded of this book. I went looking for a computer desk for my son. I knew exactly what I wanted because I already owned another one like it. The specific piece I wanted was sold out in department store that offered it on sale.
I searched directly by the name of the company who makes the furniture item, hoping they still had some in stock. Amazingly, they didn’t sell it at all. Rather, their site let you search their re-seller sites. I was delighted to discover the first site I visited had what I wanted.
Or not. I got as far as the address and billing phase, but stopped when I realized I did not know if they had the item or knew if it would arrive before Christmas. There was no log in area for customers, no way to track orders and no payment method offered ahead of time. I left that site and tried 4 others. In each case, it was a distributor. They all used the same third party shopping cart process issued by the manufacturer. Not a single one of these resellers could tell me if the product would or could be delivered by Christmas, was in stock or could be tracked.
No Guidance, No Interaction, No Sale, No ROI
The point of Web Design for ROI: Turning Browsers into Buyers & Prospects into Leads
is to turn browsers into buyers. You may hear this referred to as “funneling customers”. My favorite parts of the book are chapters 8 and 9, which cover the shopping cart purchase process and forms design. They list common visitor questions on page 157, which every purchase path designer should be prepared for. These are the same questions I had asked while trying to buy a computer desk. They went unanswered by about a dozen web sites. Not only could they not tell me if the item was in stock, or when it could be shipped, they also never thought to contact me when or if they would ever get the item. Imagine if just one web site had tried to stay in contact with me! They could have made the sale.
The book includes examples and resources all throughout the pages. It’s absolutely not too technical to read. The writing is friendly, witty and warm. The authors guide you step by step and you can begin implementing even the small things right away.
If you’re looking for gift ideas for your favorite web site designer, or your web site is suffering from abandonment blah’s, this book is on my strongly recommended read pile.