The Basics

What the outdoor retailer offers is personal expertise which is something the web cannot deliver. In a world awash with product and competing claims, the informed sales person comes into his or her own. On these pages and in concert with individual sponsors we offer a series of bullet point guides to the basics of the key outdoor product categories. Our aim is to provide inexperienced sales staff a guide to what to remember and for more experienced ones a reminder of things they might have forgotten. The Basics has been produced so as to make it simple to download – in most cases each takes up no more than single sheet of paper.

The Basics of Web Design

Sponsored by Vertebrate Graphics

There are a lot of things to learn when it comes to designing your website and we have worked hard to reduce them to a reasonable, bite-sized portion. 

Customer first
First and foremost – remember your instincts as a retailer and think hard about the customer, then design and organise your site around them. So make sure you have easy-to-use site navigation. Creating an excellent site architecture will ensure that website visitors become customers. Try to keep it simple, so that visitors can easily move around your site and not get lost or confused.

Forever Mobile
The use of smartphones with which to scan the Internet is fast overtaking the use of traditional desktop machines. Make sure that your website is accessible via a mobile device and all the functionality works with these types of devices.

Quality search function
The search function is an important tool for your users, it can help them find exactly what they are looking for, so it is essential that you do this well. A keyword search function on your page, should automatically check spelling, and offer alternatives that they may be interested in 

Clearly display your calls to action 
It is vital that your customers do not have to search for the shopping basket or other important information like contact details. This should be clearly displayed in the top half of your site so that customers can view what they have put in the basket with ease.

Easy access
Ensure that any ‘bells and whistles’ will help the customer find what they want, show them suitable alternatives and ‘sell in’ appropriate related items as you and your staff would in your actual store. 

Ensure each product has its own dedicated page – where you present the product details. Dedicated pages and dedicated page titles and content are loved by search engines. And make the most of your products. By promoting a different product each week, you can make more of the space you have on your site. By creating a ‘buy of the week’ or special offers section, customers will be more inclined to keep checking back to the site each week, increasing loyalty to the site. Testimonials also work well, as users will feel more trust in your products if other people have good things to say about them and your service.

Share your knowledge 
Your passion and opinion on products is what sets independent retailers and smaller groups apart from their competitors – consider comments on your own site and explore suitable social shopping sites. 

Good selection
Select a credible web partner for the design and build and invest in search engine optimisation and link building. You should be looking for a company who wants to assist you with taking your ecommerce operation forward, month-in-month out (by looking at the stats, page visits, conversion ratios and instances of dropped baskets) and act as your eyes and ears when it comes to successful internet retailing – especially if you lack the time to really master the online aspect of your business.

Analyse your customers
By analysing customer journeys and looking at how they use your site you can begin to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. This is a valuable process to make sure your site is successful and doing the most that it can. By analysing where you lose potential customers you can see where you are going wrong and make improvements – constantly building on your online service and capabilities. It is also important to evaluate key search terms and update your SEO with your findings to improve site rankings. 

Be clear
Look after your customers . Even though your site is online you still need to offer the same amount of customer service that you may do from your call centre, or retail shop. By ensuring that you reply to customer emails within 24 hours and deliver on all of your offerings, then your customers will be happy to come back and buy again from you. Building up relationships with your customers online is crucial to a happy and long relationship. Loyalty is key. 

Help, don’t hinder
Flash and high quality images can visually give your site the wow factor, but make sure that it doesn’t mean pages take too long to download and become slow. This will frustrate users and may lose their interest. Ideally, your homepage should load within 5 seconds (depending on connection speed). Remember Flash is not supported on Apple mobile devices. By using small web optimised files and images and taking out unnecessary flash and html you can ensure fast downloads and happy customers. 

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