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'Net Features

Discover recent digital developments and practical expert guidance in the Website Magazine Net Features weblog.


Quick Hit: Growing Websites Focus On These Two Channels

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 18:30:00 GMT

Ad blockers are certainly a problem for advertisers and publishers, but in the United States the usage is not as bad as it could be. Based on data from PageFair, the U.S. ranks in the lower half compared to Europe in terms of current desktop ad blocking penetration (18 percent), yet four out of 10 U.S. firms are seeing their website traffic shrink according to Adobe. Growing websites, however, are focusing on two channels to get around the decline in display traffic. 

Adobe reports that as ad blocking penetration increases, traffic from display tends to decrease, but the decrease in display traffic is offset by an increase in traffic from social media (it doesn't separate paid social from organic social). Growing websites (traffic increased between Q2 2013 and Q2 2016) are placing more emphasis on social and email channels with social's traffic share accounting for more than two times the smartphone traffic for growing firms and email representing 1.7 times more smartphone traffic than that of shrinking firms (who saw declining traffic from Q2 2013 to Q2 2016). Adobe also indicates that "declining firms" relied on affiliate/partners and natural search for their traffic acquisition needs.


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66% of Online Shoppers Recently Shopped Internationally

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:45:00 GMT

The Internet has afforded many populations with easy access to information on other parts of the world, and even their products too. In fact, a new Pitney Bowes survey finds the majority of global consumers shop cross-border, which has its benefits and challenges for everyone. 

The third annual Pitney Bowes Global Online Shopping Survey reports, unsurprisingly, that 94 percent of consumers frequently make domestic online purchases (daily or weekly for a third of shoppers surveyed across 13 countries*), and, more surprisingly, that 66 percent of consumers who have made a domestic online purchase have also made an online purchase from another country in the past year.

Singapore (89 pecent), Australia (86 percent) and Hong Kong (85 percent) have the highest number of cross-border shoppers, while Japan (34 percent) and the U.S. (45 percent) are still weary of cross-border buys.

Pitney Bowes believes that as domestic online shopping becomes more frequent that it can create familiarity and comfort to reach across borders, but retailers still need to ensure they solve global consumers' painpoints like payment methods and online shipping and returns. 

No one payment option was chosen by a majority of cross-border shoppers. Credit cards (45 percent) were the most preferred method of payment online. E-wallets, (e.g., PayPal, Alipay), were identified as another popular payment method (34 percent) for cross-border purchases. 

Despite merchants' efforts, shipping and return policies continue to fail. The most basic elements of the customer experience, such as shipping the right item; accuracy in address and tracking; a transparent returns policy; and proper duty and tax were all cited as challenges. Hong Kong (65 percent), India (59 percent), South Korea (55 percent), Singapore and China (both 54 percent) were among the countries experiencing the greatest headaches with online shopping during the 2015 holiday season. 

Additional insights from the global study can be found in the infographic below:


*This year’s survey polled Singapore, Hong Kong and Mexico for the first time, where they joined survey participants from Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Employee Impact on the Deal-Hunting, Info-Gathering Consumer

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:30:00 GMT

When shopping online, the world is at a consumer's fingertips - they can research pricing, product info, peer insights and more to make the most informed decision whether that's at home on their couch or in-store. Where most of that deal-hunting and info-gathering takes place and how retail staff can assist, according to customer experience (CX) optimization company InMoment, depends on the generation.

For shoppers under age 34, nearly half (41 percent) prefer to shop online primarily for the research aspect and 18-24 year olds are twice as likely to visit a brand's website before a store visit. Gen X shoppers, on the other hand, are most likely to conduct mobile research when they’re already in-store. Of those respondents who visit the brand’s website while in a store location, 72 percent were younger than 44 years old, but the highest percentage (26.1 percent) came from the 35–44-year-old demographic.

While these shoppers are certainly comparison shopping, the good news is that consumers who visited another brand’s website while in-store spent, on average, 1.2 times more than those who did not. Better yet, average spending increased nearly four times when the consumer was engaged by both staff and the brand’s website.


The takeaway for retailers is that their staff - whether it's in-store, at a call center or within live chat - needs to know as much (and better yet, more) than the well-researched consumer regardless of the touchpoint. InMoment recommends that in order to keep customers engaged, employees must be both engaged and included in evolving the customer experience. This means, InMoment, writes keeping sales associates in sync with what’s online, providing exceptional ongoing training, and inviting them to lend their perspective on everything from customer pain points to new products and services.

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Start Thinking About Tax Season Now

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:15:00 GMT

Cloud-based tax compliance automation solution Avalara announced TrustFile for QuickBooks, a $24/month system that allows small businesses running QB Online and QB Desktop to import their sales tax data, then automatically prepare and file sales tax returns.

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QuickBooks customers that sign up for TrustFile will be able to import unlimited transactions from either QB Online or QB Desktop, review sales tax filing deadlines and summary information in a dashboard view (as well as review and file their returns), access state sales tax reports by jurisdiction, automatically prepare sales tax returns to file in all 50 states, and file from Avalara's dashboard without having to navigate each state's Department of Revenue submission sites.

"Before Avalara TrustFile, sales tax preparation and filing was time-consuming and downright frustrating," said Erick Rodriguez, owner at Supafly Skate Company, an Amazon FBA seller. "After signing up for TrustFile, it's all done with the click of a button."


Artificial Intelligence for the Sales Team

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 16:00:00 GMT

Artificial intelligence (AI) is the hottest topic in digital circles, but many companies have leveraged its capabilities for much longer than the buzz has existed - like, which offers a self-learning AI engine to improve the sales process by personalizing communications, scoring leads and better educating salespersons. 

Recently the company announced InsideSales Playbooks, which provides this functionality: 

●  Customizable sales plays – Strategic engagement plans and contact strategies that guide and automatically remind reps when to follow up with leads and opportunities 

●  Integrated communications – Single-click dialing and emailing from the Playbooks extension, enhanced with managed cue cards and email templates

●  Inbound phone calls – Reps can stay focused on their work and let Playbooks notify and connect them when there is an incoming call

●  CRM sync – All sales activities and record updates automatically synced to the CRM

Several new predictive and prescriptive features have also been added, like:

●  Prescriptive recommendations for the companies and the individuals at each company the rep should target

●  Recommendations for the sales engagement plan that would be most effective for each opportunity

●  Cues for how and when to contact prospects for maximum engagement rates

“What many of the tech giants are now discovering about AI is what, in many ways, we’ve been doing all along,” said Dave Elkington, founder and CEO of InsideSales. “This is about science, including big data and AI technology, holding the key to unlocking human potential. To be clear, we’re not talking about robots taking over sales jobs. What we envision with Playbooks, and the entire InsideSales platform, is a true sales revolution -- a generation of sales reps who are better equipped, better informed and more effective than any that has come before. And it’s not going to wait until the future, it’s happening now.”


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Breaking: Third DDoS Attack Underway

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:47:00 GMT

:: Update: According to Dyn representatives, service has been restored as of 6:17 p.m EST, Friday. Latest updates from Dyn can be found here. :: Cyberattacks are more than just a political commentary for those who conduct business online, but with banking, entertainment and communication taking place digitally every day - that's all of us, whether we own or manage a website or not. Web professionals have long understood the magnitude of cyberattacks (read more here), but even they got a wake up call Friday when some of the U.S.'s most popular sites were hit, twice, and a third is underway as Dyn alerted customers - a situation that Dynatrace calls preventable (more commentary below). A large-scale distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) against Internet performance company Dyn prevented the access to at least Twitter, Etsy, Spotify, Dyn and Github. Shutterstock had also been down for Website Magazine and came back up the same time Twitter did, and users have reported outages at Netflix, Amazon, Tumblr and Reddit.  Dyn told CNBC Friday afternoon the attacks are "well planned and executed, coming from tens of millions of IP addresses at the same time." Of course DDoS attacks happen when individuals or groups send fake traffic in excess amounts to take a site offline (think of how unprepared sites crash during high-traffic periods but these attacks have malicious intent).  Dyn told CNBC that one of the sources of the attack is coming from "Internet of Things" - risks Website Magazine has warned about (repeatedly).  Website Magazine reached out to Dyn and did not receive immediate comment. Catchpoint is in the performance monitoring business and can comment on the impact of this problem, but not how the security was breached.  "This is one of the nastiest attacks we have seen in a long time, and a sign of more powerful attacks to come," said Mehdi Daoudi, CEO and co-founder, Catchpoint Systems. "The increasingly fragile and interconnected state of the Internet is an Achilles heel, and hackers are capitalizing on this  vulnerability. They're like snipers,  strategically taking aim at the highest value targets to create the biggest possible ripple effect of damage across the Internet, with the least amount of effort." For perspective, research from Kaspersky Lab indicates that a single cybersecurity incident costs large businesses, on average, a total of $861,000 while SMBs pay an average of $86,5000.  A Preventable Situation David Jones is the director of sales engineering and APM evangelism for digital performance management software company Dynatrace and has provided the following commentary about today's attacks: Today, Dynatrace monitored the widespread issue that impacted the performance of many Web-based businesses, impacting users in the northeastern U.S. What we know is the DNS health was the root cause of the issue. As websites, cloud and mobile applications become ever more complex to manage, ensuring performance remains a challenge for any business that depends on the Web to deliver services, products and information. These kinds of situations can dramatically impact a digital business’ revenue and brand image - but they are also preventable. • It’s critical for businesses to have a DNS failover strategy. Relying on a single DNS provider is a recipe for disaster, as many have learned as a result of today’s attack. Maintaining relationships with multiple vendors allows businesses to switch DNS routing as soon as an issue arises. • It’s important to manage the number of third-party connected to websites and apps. The more third-parties, the higher the risk of performance problems. • Use software “robots” - aka synthetic monitoring - to monitor your website. This ensures that your site can be reached from wherev[...]

The Key to Successful Personal Branding is a Thriving Website

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:10:00 GMT

:: By Larry Alton, @LarryAlton3 :: Every entrepreneur and Web professional knows just how important personal branding is in today’s Internet-based marketplace. Whether you’re looking to funnel customers to one of your businesses, pick up speaking engagements, explore new career opportunities or grow your social media following, a personal brand is key to being successful. But did you know that it all starts with your website? Here’s How to Build a Successful Personal Site  When you speak to today’s leading entrepreneurs, it becomes immediately apparent that online personal branding is paramount to visibility and sustained success. Count 26-year-old success story Sam Ovens as one of the believers. “Each media hit, speaking opportunity or social media post has the potential to bring you a new customer. Personal branding is an essential tool for business success,” he explains. And while social media plays a role, your website is the best place to begin. It’s your home base, so to speak, and should be given priority. Specifically, you should focus on the following five elements: 1. Simplicity The key to a successful website is to make it simple. Don’t try to wow visitors with complex multimedia elements and confusing graphics. Instead, deliver a consistent and poignant message that says, “Here I am and here’s what I do.” Your website should feature just three or four different pages – one of which contains a portfolio or referrals – and all should be easily reachable via the homepage.   2. Navigation “The design of a website’s navigation has a bigger impact on success or failure than almost any other factor,” web designer Andy Crestodina says. “It affects traffic and search engine rankings. It affects conversions and user-friendliness. Everything important about your website is connected to the navigation, from content to the URLs.” Why, then, do so few entrepreneurs spend time perfecting this aspect of their sites? If you want to have a successful site that keeps visitors engaged, make sure you’re placing a bigger emphasis on agile navigation. 3. Content While static pages – such as your homepage and contact page – are the bread and butter of your site, your blog is what generates backlinks and helps you enhance your name recognition.  You should be posting regular content to your site’s blog every single week. You don’t have to publish multiple posts per day, but do make it a habit to regularly share high-quality content that resonates with your target audience and encourages social sharing. These are the lures to your site and they constantly need to be baited. 4. Landing Pages If you’re selling a specific service or product, then you need to get familiar with landing pages. These are dedicated pages that pull targeted visitors in and push them through the conversion funnel. You can use landing pages to quickly grow your audience around a specific topic or niche. 5. Opt-In Forms Part of building a personal brand is growing your audience. And while acquiring website visitors is great, you ultimately need to convert these visitors into leads. The best way to do this is by integrating email opt-in forms into your site.  According to ExactTarget, email is the number one channel for delivering marketing messages. Their research reveals that 77 percent of customers like receiving permission-based marketing communications through email. Develop simple and attractive opt-in forms and you stand a much better chance of monetizing your traffic. Make Personal Branding a Priority It’s easy to assume that in-person networking and the occasional LinkedIn request is adequate, but in today’s hyperconnected business world, online personal branding is critically important. And it all starts with your web[...]

Seeing Your Brand through Customer-Colored Glasses

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 20:05:00 GMT

By George Skaff, Nuance Communications As a customer-centric brand, it’s easy to fall into the mindset that you understand what your customers want. But, do you really? Or do you project your own perceptions of how a customer experience should look? If your brand is missing the mark in customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores or conversion rates, perhaps it is time to take off the business glasses and try on the customer glasses for a while. See what your customers see when they travel a journey with your brand. Blurred Vision Customer-colored glasses would give you an omnichannel view, in which the lines between all the channels used by the customer are blurred into one unified experience with your brand. These lines have been blurred by the smartphone, in which voice, social, email, SMS, apps, Web chat, etc., are all a part of the same experience, being held in the same hand. Wearing the customer-colored glasses, you can experience the customer’s mindset. Following their steps, you will see those blurred lines and understand how consumers consider all the touchpoints of the journey as one long interaction, regardless of how many devices, how many locations or how many separate times they contact your brand. It’s all part of the same experience, especially if their mobile device is involved. How to Get a Hold of Your Customers’ Glasses  You can get these customer glasses with a contact center that has an omnichannel view. Break down the company’s silos and consolidate the data from all the different channels, creating one single knowledge base – one single view. Customer-Colored Glasses Make Your Brand Look Smart From this harmonious view, your customer experience team can gather the intelligence needed to direct the customer to the right agent. By knowing where they’ve been, what they’ve been searching, or what they’ve been asking, you can provide knowledgeable answers that cater to their needs. This is an important aspect of your contact center because by 2020, customers will expect companies to know their individual needs and to proactively address their current and future needs. (Walker) An Advantageous View Seeing the customer journey from the customer’s perspective also enables your agents to influence the purchase process. By examining buyer behaviors throughout the customer’s journey you can develop an appropriate engagement strategy for that customer. What channels did they respond to most positively? Where are they located? What search terms did they use? What have they purchased from your brand in the past? This kind of customer knowledge equips you to present the right content at the right time, through the channel in which they prefer to engage, leading them to the desired purchase decision. Proof? 58 percent of customers are willing to spend more on companies that provide excellent customer service. (American Express) Go Ahead So, put on those customer-colored glasses and give your brand an omnichannel view that enables your contact center to give customers a more satisfying experience and produces better conversions. Seeing your brand the way your customers see it will give you the comprehensive perspective that lets you understand what makes your customers loyal to you. About the Author George Skaff is vice president of worldwide marketing for the enterprise division of Nuance Communications, a leading provider of voice and language solutions for businesses and consumers around the world. Nuance recently acquired digital engagement solutions leader, TouchCommerce, of which Skaff was the chief marketing officer. George has over 25 years of progressive experience in the computer industry, and has demonstrated a proven business expertise in marketing and strategic partnerships for various sized companies in high technology and services areas.  R[...]

Tips & Tricks for Holiday Email Marketing [Infographic]

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:55:00 GMT

With Halloween just 10 days away, Campaigner looked at some holiday email tactics that won't make retailers "lose their head" as the industry rides closer to the most critical shopping season of the year. 

Remember the following tips and tricks for email marketing, when metrics or sales seem to be stale or messages need a boost:


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101: The Right Site Search for Online Stores

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 19:50:00 GMT

:: By Alexander Levashov, Magenable :: Do you know what must-have online store functionality is used by 43 percent of visitor and provides 1.5-3 times better conversion? Your guess is right, it is site search. In this post you can find what makes great e-commerce site search. What is Site Search and Why Should I care? Site search, or internal site search, is functionality visitors use to find content related to their goals. It is different from search engines like Google that index the Internet; it's a search of a website's content.  The bigger an online store, the more important good site search is, because it is the most direct path to a product or content.  There are number of studies that prove the importance of site search: ● Forrester Research in its “Must-Have E-Commerce Features” report found that 43 percent of visitors navigate straight to the search box and searchers are 2-3x more likely to convert compared to non-searchers.  ● A Screen Pages (a UK-based agency, specializes in Magento) report based on stats from 21 websites indicated that visitors who use search convert 1.5 time better   In addition to conversion improvements, site search helps merchants understand what customers want/need. By tracing search queries, especially with zero products found, retailers can find out what products are in demand and use that information for planning purposes. What is right e-commerce site search? So site search is important, but what is the right site search? What is the difference between decent and poorly done search? To get answer to this question, let's explore a comprehensive study published by Baymart Institute, which reviews site search facilities of 50 leading U.S. retailers. The top recommended best practices of great internal search are below: Search by product name and model number  Make sure searching by product name and model number is not only doable, but also ideally your search engine is smart enough to forgive a typo or two and still display references to right products.  Smart work with terminology/jargon and synonyms We use different words to refer to the same objects. For example “laptops” can be also called “notebooks,” so if you use one term on the website, your customer uses another in search and if your search isn’t smart enough – you may lose a sale. Correct work with special symbols A good example of this is (13 " laptop), which a person may be referring to as a (13 inch laptop). Smart search understands this.   Understanding abbreviations For example some people type “MFC” for multi-functional device or “PC” for computer. Auto-completion and auto-suggestion Typical problems with auto-suggestions are: ● Dead ends (term suggested have not linked to any page); ● Ambiguous suggestions, making users unsure, which one to follow. An example there was suggestions of “samsung adaptor” and “sumsung adapter” when user started to type “samsung adapt”; ● Redundant and duplicate suggestions. It happens particularly when auto-suggestion logic is based on past searches or when a user types in the same keyword several times.  Employ faceted search, especially if you have an extensive catalog  Faceted search is the ability for the user to filter and sort search results based on set of certain search parameters (like product attributes – price, color, size, etc.). As with auto-completion/suggestion it is important not just have it, but implement it right, so it helps your users rather than confuse them. Breadcrumbs Have meaningful breadcrumbs when users come from search results page. Ideally there should be both history and hierarchical based breadcrumbs, so users can both [...]

The Evolution of the Business Conference [Infographic]

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 08:15:00 GMT

From bigger names giving keynotes and providing the entertainment to increasing ticket prices and audience sizes, business conferences have become over-the-top spectacles, which has its pros and cons.

Letting their hair down or being motivated by an inspirational speaker is only beneficial to attendees if there were plenty of value adds throughout the day, as attendance comes at a cost (actual travel fare and time away from the office). Nextiva provides a look at the evolution of businesses conferences in this interesting infographic below.

(Editor's note: To zoom in, click on the image.)


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E-Tailers: Tune Up Your On-Site Search Before the Holiday Rush

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:05:00 GMT

:: By Jordi Torras, Inbenta :: The holiday season is already upon us. In fact, 40 percent of consumers begin holiday shopping by Halloween, according to the National Retail Federation. For e-tailers, this means the time is now to take stock of how well your website is performing and make any updates necessary to prepare for the holiday rush. Unquestionably, the holiday shopping season is a vital time making a final push past annual sales goals or to try and catch up if it’s been a down year. Beyond that, it’s also an opportunity for brands to set themselves up for long-term success, earning real affinity and customer loyalty by providing an outstanding customer experience (CX) during the height of holiday shopping chaos. Of course, not every purchase journey is going to be seamless. A spike in traffic hopefully means a surge in sales, which often translates to a larger volume of customer help cases. Some companies cringe at the thought of spending more time and money to handle a short-term surge in traffic. Other brands, however, welcome it as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with their customers and convert them into advocates (as well as repeat customers in the future) by delivering an exceptional customer support experience. Better CX Through Self-Service Support Online shoppers prefer to troubleshoot issues on their own, making self-service tools an absolute necessity for your website. A whopping 72 percent of online buyers prefer self-service to resolve their support issues over picking up the phone or sending an email. Capitalizing on that trend and offering intuitive, effective self-service can lower costs, improve customer care productivity and increase conversion. So what makes a solid self-support solution, how do you help customers help themselves? Here are three key strategies for supercharging your e-commerce site ahead of the biggest shopping month of the year. Search Bar: Make information easy to find Think of your site’s search bar as the warm welcome you might get from a store owner when you walk in the door. It represents an offer of help, should the customer want some guidance through the store. Yet, like an inattentive store associate might turn a customer off from wanting to browse a physical store, a poorly placed search bar can have the same effect on an online shopper’s experience and motivation. E-tailers with an intuitive search experience often see customers using the search box as their very first action, using it effectively as a guide for the site. Those with poorly placed or hard-to-find search bars risk cart abandonment according to Forrester data that found 53 percent of customers are likely to abandon their online purchases if they can't find quick answers to their questions. Avoid this by making sure the gateway to your entire site is easy to find. Simply put: having a prominent search bar can be the difference between a happy customer and one you’ve lost to a competitor. Connected Search and FAQs What’s the first thing most people do on a site when they have a question? Well according to Forrester, 81 percent of online visitors click on the FAQ and hope there’s a good answer awaiting. Given those figures, having a well-structured and optimized FAQ is imperative to ensuring that your customers can find what they’re looking for. Optimized FAQ pages should be responsive and evolve over time to match common customer queries (hence the “frequently” in FAQ) and direct them to what they’re looking for with ease. But since the overwhelming majority of e-commerce websites still use keyword-based on-site search engines, it’s often much harder to make the connection between a search and the FAQs [...]

How Well Are You Connecting People With The Right Products?

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:05:00 GMT

:: By Julie Barile, Sophelle :: It seems like a simple, straightforward concept – a shopper types a search word or phrase into the search box on an ecommerce site and voila! The shopper gets what the shopper ordered. At least that's how it happens sometimes. While the process of delivering the right product to the right person at the right time seems elementary, doing it right is actually very complex, and many retailers are still not doing it well. The art and science of “product findability” touches nearly every part of a retail organization across all channels, customer touch points and functions. And it affects the bottom line as the ability for shoppers to easily find what they are looking for has a direct impact on average order value, conversion and loyalty. Aligning all parts of a business around the concept of maximizing product findability is the first step in creating the truly seamless, frictionless experience that customers are demanding. Product Findability Starts with Good Data  Before starting down the path of improving product findability, take stock of your data situation. Effective product findability is driven by the intersection of real-time customer behavior, demographic, geographic and historical customer data, combined with enhanced product data. You should have a good understanding of how all of this data is collected, managed, stored and accessed by the technologies that power product findability. Data quality and accessibility are the single biggest predictors of product findability efficacy. Enhance Your Product Data Product data is often overlooked when thinking about product findability. Retailers, however, can no longer rely on basic product data to do the heavy lifting of connecting people and products. Advances in natural language search technologies are supporting finding products the way shoppers think about them. Digital assistants and mobile voice-to-text are the most prominent examples of natural language search today, and they will have a big impact on digital commerce tomorrow. All retailers should consider implementing solutions that enhance product data beyond what is native to their digital commerce merchandising tools. These solutions will allow for the inclusion of natural language descriptors, product features, multi-word phrases, and problem and solution-oriented terminology – all of which should be accounted for in a comprehensive product data set. Allowing for regional language nuances is also important in supporting product relevancy (for example “trousers” versus “pants”, “backpack versus knapsack”, and “soda” versus “pop”). A fully attributed product catalog delivers better search results, provides more relevant facets, filters, and drill-downs, powers more comprehensive data feeds and greatly improves the efficacy of personalization solutions. Product Findability is Not One-Size-Fits-All Products range widely in complexity and the duration of sales cycles. Complex, high-ticket items such as appliances, cars and furniture require more information and longer purchase cycles than commodities and apparel. It’s important that your mix of product findability solutions makes sense for the types of products you sell, the sales channels you sell in and the process by which customers make purchase decisions. For example, products with longer sales cycles are best supported by solutions which have guided selling features taking your customer through a process of selecting desired product attributes, and product comparison functionality allowing shoppers to compare line item product details and features against price differences. For product asso[...]

Web Design Trends for 2017

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 20:00:00 GMT

:: By Manas Kumar, Top Notch Dezigns :: Websites are one of the most crucial parts of any business, and it’s imperative brands keep up with the latest trends and technology surrounding Web development in order to meet visitors’ expectations. The following are a few examples of the features you can expect from updated websites in 2017 (in no particular order). 1. Age-based responsive design Currently, we see Web pages change their outlook in accordance with the size and resolution of the device, but sooner or later these pages have to adopt to the visitor’s age as well. The reason is simple. You cannot expect an 8-year-old to read news formatted for a 30-year-old. By the end of 2017, you can expect Web pages to respond according to the age of the user for sites that cater to multiple age groups. The pages may change the look of the navigation bar to a stripped-down version for the beginners while it may remain a bit complicated for the expert users. For elderly users, the font size may also vary. The young ones can expect to see more vibrant colors while the middle-aged and elderly ones will see a much simpler version of the Web page. Using age-based responsive design requires, of course, a commitment to collecting and using customer data to improve their experience and identify user personas.  2. Mobile browsing to increase As smartphone technology advances quickly, more users will divert their attention to mobile devices rather than buying a big computer. This will increase the need for mobile-based apps and website versions in the future. In 2016, websites that did not adapt to mobile devices were punished by users (in the form of bounces) and the search engines (in the form of lower rankings). In 2017, these effects will be felt further. 3. Use of space gets more creative As we advanced in Web technology, designers often felt that the website should look simple and sleek – leading to minimalistic design. The trend is again changing and customers, as well as users, are looking for more vivid and soothing designs instead of just looking at a simple page where everything is flat and monotone. 4. Lazy Loading It is a concept that allows part of the page to load as soon as it is requested. The user does not have to wait for the whole page to load. This not only saves a lot of time and data, but also allows the website owner to save bandwidth. This trend may increase in the coming year and more websites will use it to reduce loading time for the users – to the betterment of search rankings and user-experience metrics. 5. Custom graphics Since bandwidth became cheap and easily accessible, stock illustrations, images and videos are becoming more prominent on sites. In the last couple of years, however, website looked for something unique. With more designers and artists coming forward to use the Internet as a platform for selling their work, custom graphics will likely become more prominent in 2017. 6. Haptic feedback Haptic feedback refers to the sense of touch in a user interface (UI). When you press a key on a virtual keyboard, it sends out the tactile feedback to the system. Haptic technology is becoming far superior in the mobile devices, which will help designers and developers to form a system that encourages the use of calls-to-action (CTAs), especially on e-commerce websites. 7. User on-boarding When a user visits a website, he or she should see an opening introduction about the product or the services – that’s on-boarding (think of it like a movie trailer or an introduction video for a new employee). If the design is creative and holds the user from beginning to the e[...]

The Experience Business — From a Web of Pages to a Web of Experiences

Thu, 20 Oct 2016 19:55:00 GMT

:: By Kevin Lindsay, Adobe :: We’re in a major period of transition, as our Web of pages shifts to become a Web of experiences. The ‘last millisecond’ and the behaviors it triggers have become less a consideration and more the norm in this always-on, customer-first universe. Consumers don’t just expect — they demand more spot-on experiences and personalized journeys from the brands they frequent. They don’t want websites. Websites are boring — necessary evils in their fully integrated lives. Web experiences, though, are something special. That’s what pulls consumers in and inspires purchases, viral chatter and other key actions. A Web experience is something you — as a consumer — can climb on board for, feel good about or get behind. It’s something you relate to on a bigger level. This shouldn’t surprise us — we’re in the experience business and have been for a while. The next phase? Optimizing those experiences with our collective eye on creating perfect experiences. It’s doable. Since you have a site, you already have the data, the content and the context — three key pieces to building a Web experience. The next step is to tap into the brave new user experience (UX), design and tech worlds to create something even bigger and better — a true experience.  Request Website Magazine's Free Weekly Newsletters  The World of New UX — and the New World of Experiences Brian Solis, a thought leader in the space, unpacks this even more in his book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. He mentioned that this is “...a new era of business in which your brand is defined by those who experience it.” Your job, intrepid marketer, is to understand how customers experience your brand and work to define those experiences to benefit both sides. No longer are great products enough to win over consumer sentiment, he explains; instead, we all need to be razor-focused on building and cultivating the most meaningful experiences possible — experiences that stretch across all of our brand platforms. Why does it matter now? Because, we’re in a website crisis, really. On the average website, nearly two in five users don’t complete even the simplest tasks. Design and UX are issues. The simplest transaction is loaded with steps and page after irrelevant page of info. It’s not surprising that so many people ditch their carts before buying their shoes, downloading their music, or booking their flights — they’re just not good experiences. They’re not meant to be. They’re meant to be websites. And the average person will give a website about 60 seconds before calling it quits — that last millisecond is a powerful pull. How We’ll Shift to a Web of Experiences This goes beyond just finding (or not finding) our way through cluttered and poorly organized pages. Once upon a time, websites provided dazzling new ways to communicate our brands. They were cutting-edge methods that boasted transactional experiences without the hassle — things that, prior to the Internet, we had to do in person or over the phone (the horror!). Fast-forward two decades, and now, we casually toss around the term “digital experience” to describe the exchanges that have become utilitarian in nature — for example, booking a flight, contacting customer support, ordering new sneakers, paying a credit card bill. They’re totally transactional, but still, we assign the term “experience” to them, too. Because, today, everything’s become a brand experience. B[...]