Teaching, Promoting, Cheering UX and SEO Since 2002

Revenge of the User Friendly Web Site

When Google’s Matt Cutts announced that the search engine hoped to protect searchers from “bad” merchants, I jumped at the chance to help them by suggesting user friendly sites.

But, as I wrote today in Google Needs Proof Your Business is “Good” or Rank Will Tumble Down for Internet Marketing Ninjas, if Fortune 100 – 500 web sites don’t need to pass usability and accessibility standards, what hope is there for the rest of ecommerce sites?

I described how famous brands get away with designs that suck and still rank.   Since they get away with rank spots that smaller businesses jump through hoops to try to get to, it’s getting to be a pain in the neck convincing site owners to invest in usability audits.

Let’s Get Revenge

build your business site with confidenceIn small towns like mine, when the recession hit, unemployment soared and everyone was in a frightened daze, we bought local.  It got to be a really serious mission where I live because our beloved main street with its quaint small businesses was dying.  Even one of the favorite farm produce shops burned down.  To help them and others rebuild, families like mine bought locally.  Several years later there are lots of new cafes, bakeries, clothing shops and more opening.  The burned down business was completely rebuilt and is thriving.  Several resturants only local produce and meat for then menus.

Houses that were neglected are being repaired.  The local college enrollment shot up.  Even some new web design and search engine marketing businesses are popping up, to supply the needs of all the new businesses who want web sites.  What helped make all this possible was community, networking, word of mouth referrals and a even a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that the money is staying within the Tribe.

The experience of buying from local merchants is special too.  There can be a first name basis relationship and lively conversations spark up with the people waiting in line, with the cashier or patrons of the cafe.

Can You Emulate This Success?

I believe it’s worth trying.  Consider this from Improving UX Through Front-End Performance

Adding half a second to a search results page can decrease traffic and ad revenues by 20 percent, according to a Google study. The same article reports Amazon found that every additional 100 milliseconds of load time decreased sales by 1 percent. Users expect pages to load in two seconds—and after three seconds, up to 40 percent will simply leave.

Can you keep up? If you’re designing sites with rich content, lots of dynamic elements, larger JavaScript files, and complex graphics—like so many of us are—the answer might be “no.”

Of course the big brands invest in all the fancy scripts and heavy visuals. Most small business sites are practical.

Consider all the research into neurology, persuasive design, customer service design and accessibility. As Mashable points out in a piece today called Brain Friendly’ Website Design Attracts More Viewers:

Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Journalism propose that, since the brain is engaged through motivation, the most effective way to get readers to visit and stay on a website is to give them proper motivation, such as invoking emotion with stories and pictures. The researchers also say that the simpler the design, the better.

If you base your ecommerce web site design and business model on how the big brands do things, you’re cheating yourself. Step back and look for realistic opportunities and design for your people.

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