How all Your Web Pages Fit Together

To better understand how all the different web pages fit together on your ecommerce website (or any website actually) let’s look at different scenarios of how someone can enter your website. Remember that a person can enter your website on any page that is indexed by the search engines, they won’t always arrive to your home page.

Scenario # 1 – Arriving at the Home Page

The visitor typed something in the search box that showed your home page in the results and they clicked it. The person could be totally new to the subject of your website, somewhat versed in the subject of the website or someone with enough knowledge of the subject that they just want to get right to what they visited the website for.

What we all do as website owners, is try and get everything onto the home page because we thing everything is important. Through a well planned navigation system and well written content on the home page to introduce the “departments” of the website, a visitor will be taken to/find what it is they came looking for.

Scenario # 2 – Arriving at a Category Page

The visitor typed something in the search box that showed your category page in the results and they clicked it. Like scenario # 1, the person can be new to the subject, somewhat versed in the subject or someone who knows exactly what it is they are looking for.

Having an introduction to the category at the top of the page summarizing the category not only helps the user confirm that they are in the correct section of the website, it helps with your search engine optimization if it includes the keywords and phrases people use to find this selection of information. The content should always be written for the users but with tweaks to improve your search engine optimization program.

Keep in mind, this person has not read your home page introduction, so some restatement of what this section of the website covers would be necessary.

Now you are going to say that the “big guys” don’t do this. This is true for some. But what you have to keep in mind is that they have much bigger marketing budgets than the average small business owner to use other means to drive traffic to their website besides the results in the search engines.

Once the person is at the category page and you have subsections of the category, the visitor needs some indication what is in the subsections. Again, having a short description as to what they will find in this subcategory will improve the visitor’s experience by leading them to what it is that they are looking for. This is another avenue to improve your search engine optimization program if the description includes keywords or phrases a person would use to find the information (without going overboard).

Scenario # 3 – Arriving at a Sub Category Page

The person typed something in the search box and clicked your result that takes them to your sub category page.

Depending on how you decided to structure your website, the sub category page could also be your category page.

Remember again, this person hasn’t come from your home page so reintroducing this section of the website would confirm to the user they are in the right section of the website.

Just like any other page on your website, this page, needs to include some written words to entice the user to purchase your product or read on if it’s information they need. Having written words on the sub category page not only improves the user experience, it is yet another opportunity to improve your placement in the search engine results.

This page is also an opportunity for the person who knows what they want, without further persuasion, to make their purchase. By including the price and a Buy Now! button or link on this page you have satisfied the person who knows this is exactly what they want.

For the person who needs more information/persuasion include a link to a product specific page.

Scenario # 4 – Arriving at the Product Page

The individual product page has various jobs. This page could be the page the visitor was taken to from your result in the search engines (therefore doesn’t know anything about your website yet), or a person who has worked their way through from the home page, from the category page or the sub category page.

Once on this page, the person may need more persuasion to purchase the product or need more information to make their decision.

Keeping the above in mind and that the person could have come directly from the search engine results this information would need to be on the page to keep all visitors happy:

  • Web page content that describes how the product will improve the visitor’s life.
  • Includes marketing and search engine optimization techniques.
  • Technical information for those who need/want this information before making the purchase.
  • Easy way to purchase the product (e.g. Buy Now button).
  • Information on your shipping, privacy and return policies (these can be links to single pages within the website).
  • Answers to all the questions the purchaser might have about the product.
  • Links to how to use the product articles (another avenue for people to find your website!).
  • Quality pictures of the product including it being used and different angle shots.
  • Testimonials from happy customers.
  • Related products and/or accessories available that compliment this product.

Summarizing How All Your Web Pages Fit Together

All the above pages have the potential to make a sale. It doesn’t matter what page the visitor arrives on, if you provide enough good quality information on the higher pages in your website hierarchy to lead them to the purchase you will accomplish what you set out to do, make the sale.

Put you shopper hat on, what would you need to see on the page to convince you to buy this product? Get a few friends or other potential buyers to look at the pages and give feed back on what parts are missing from your web pages and holding them back from making the sale.

Each page is part of the puzzle in making a sale. Building a website that gives a clear overall picture of how all your web pages fit together will improve your search engine results standing, make your website popular by word of mouth, improve the user experience and create return visitors/customers.

Recommended Reading

web design for ROIwritten by Lance Loveday & Sandra Niehaus is a new book released in 2008 which covers techniques to improve conversion rates on your website.

Don’t Make Me Thinkwritten by Steve Krug is a book on how to improve the usabililty of your website. It is now in it’s Second Edition and includes three new chapters covering usability as a common courtesy, web accessibility, CSS (Cascading Stylesheet) use and what to do when the Boss wants you to … (fill in the blank) and it just isn’t a good idea.

Both of these books are short books, written for anyone involved in the creation of a website, including website owners, content writers, marketing people and web designers.

Make It Easy to Order Right Now! A look at what website owners miss when optimizing their ecommerce websites.

Did Poor Usability Kill E-Commerce? A look at how poor usability of your website affects your sales. Mr. Nielsen’s website is referenced in both of the books recommended above plus many more. He is an usability expert therefore, spending come time on his UseIt website reading through the many articles available would be time well spent.

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