Avoid clever and unique features when designing web site navigation, advises consultant Jennifer Bailey of Red Spade, a firm that specializes in web site usability. Follow the tried and true, she told attendees at the Internet Retailer conference in San Jose, CA, this spring.
"You're only going to confuse your customers if you deviate from internet conventions," she said. Logos and navigation bars should be on the left, because we read from left to right, said Bailey.
Links should change in appearance when customers click on them. The link to customer service should be called customer service or help, not help desk or service desk, which may be confusing. Underlining should be limited to hyperlinks, not used for emphasis.
"You only want to veer from convention if there is a compelling reason for your customer," she said. "That way they can use what they have learned elsewhere."
Among Bailey's other recommendations are not to use duplicate links, such as offers of financing and a credit card that go to the same place. Additionally if you offer a guarantee, link it to the explanation of what is guaranteed.
Make sure that action items are prominent. "Don't make customers hunt for the buy button," she says. And don't put it so low on the page that shoppers have to scroll down to see it.
She also advises that once customers have put something into their shopping cart, to make it clear they have the option to continue shopping.
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