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Along with providing plenty of comparison and review data, good search facilities are essential for a large eCommerce site. This also means that if you use a searchable product database that your keys and descriptions must be well-chosen and links from search results to pages work smoothly and easily.
While we've talked earlier in this series about importance of providing various ways to enhance social aspect of your site, it's also important that customers be capable of using it without assistance. Never over complicate your site or your processes to point that it's no longer obvious what to do to buy something (or complete whatever desired action you are focusing on).
A typical customer should be able to go from front page to product page to order page to thank you page easily and without hesitation or confusion. The simpler and cleaner process, better for you.
If you can manage it, test with 4 or 5 basically internet illiterate people. Watch carefully what they do, where they hesitate, what seems to cause confusion - but don't talk or help during process. Then go over everything with them in detail working with your observations and their thoughts and feelings. Your site may be obvious to you, but is it obvious to anyone else?
And when you think you've covered anything, a few pairs of new eyes (or checking out your competitors' sites) can give you a whole new to-do list.
Your eCommerce site is an intentional business creation. Every aspect should be organized around what you want site to do, what kind of visitors you want and what you want them to do. Everything on your site should be there for a specific reason that contributes to your goals for site. And everything should be tested to be certain that it actually does contribute.
It's your site and your business so never take anything for granted, never assume something works if it can be tested. And never stop testing. With careful attention to detail and on-going testing you'll be able to make incremental improvements over time that will vastly improve productivity of your eCommerce web site.
Aside from writing, Richard teaches, trains and consults, on and off-line, on business and professional presentations, eCommerce, site building and programming. Visit http://www.Building-eCommerce-Websites.com for eCommerce articles, information, resources and links and check our blog at http://www.Building-eCommerce-Websites/blog for opinion and ideas.