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Website Design November 4th, 2011
Improving the performance of a shopping cart can make or break a company. This blog is meant to give you the foundations of a high performing shopping cart and teach you what to look for when looking for vendors.
1. Increasing organic visits by optimizing the site for search engines (SEO)
2. Promoting your website through online ads like Google AdWords
4. Email marketing is another great way to reach potential customers
Once you’ve harnessed all the above steps to drive traffic, the next question is: how do you get people engaged and turn them into customers?
1. User friendly design with well defined calls to action.
2. Easily accessible and organized navigation.
3. A well planned sales funnel.
4. A site tuned for performance.
The first three points address a site’s core usability; for more on design related ways to enhanced your ecommerce website see Ryan’s post: Designing your Website to be a Sales Instrument!
Regarding the fourth point “performance,” there are many factors that affect the performance ecommerce websites. They typically fall into the following categories:
It’s important that we use small file sizes for images and most importantly on our home page. Be very careful about using background images and wherever possible make sure to apply the bg-repeat option. When it comes to shopping carts, there are a lot of products that require images and in some cases multiple images. The categorization of thumbnail and actual images are important as well; images should be low-res (but viewable) and in an optimized format.
The website’s backend can have the ability to convert images to a required size/DPI so that the product images uploaded by the client are optimized automatically. Most clients directly upload photos taken on high resolution digital cameras; automatically resizing images, eliminates the need to reduce the file size in PhotoShop and makes the backend more user-friendly.
External CSS can also maximize the performance of the website. Effective use of AJAX also helps to provide a better user experience while background processing takes place.
Even though, most available shopping carts (paid or unpaid) try to optimize, update and fetch the data to and from the Database, there are cases where we are compelled to customize certain modules. Before we customize for a specific requirement, we should make sure to completely understand the structure and dataflow of the database. Customizing without properly understanding the system can cause a lot of vulnerability and may affect the performance of the system, mainly due to the improper use of JOIN queries. When it comes to custom coding for an built-in shopping cart, we should always try to use the standard functions of the corresponding framework/open source package so that performance is not compromised.
Be very conscious of the performance side while planning a shopping cart. If it’s not properly planned you may lose out on potential customers. With these tips achieving a balance between usability, performance and SEO are within reach.