5 Key Questions You Should Ask Before Selecting Your WordPress Website’s Theme

5 Key Questions You Should Ask Before Selecting Your WordPress Website's Theme

If the web design for your new or redesigned website is going to be based upon WordPress and its CMS, then there is no shortage of decisions that you need to make to turn your initial thoughts into a fully functioning website. Everything from the colour scheme, the number of pages,  which pages you are including, content creation, and integration with other applications, are but a few of them.

Near the top of that list of ponderables should also be which WordPress theme you are going to use for your new web design, however, that is not always an easy choice. We say that not because there are not any great themes available, but the exact opposite. Because there are so many excellent options, narrowing your theme choices down to one, is no easy task.

Ever willing to help our readers, we are going to try to make that task somewhat easier for you by providing you with 5 key questions that need to be answered as part of the process of selecting a WordPress theme for your website. Any theme where you are less than 100% convinced of the answer is a theme that may be best passed over. Here are those 5 questions:

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Cyber Monday: Tarnish Your Brand, Slash Profit, & Kill Customer Loyalty, All in 24 Hours

Cyber Monday Tarnish Your Brand, Slash Profit, & Kill Customer Loyalty, All in 24 Hours

Ah, Cyber Monday is here: the peer pressure fuelled day when all retailers mutually agree to cut their profits and encourage their customer’s addiction to discounts and promotions.

I know that sounds a bit pessimistic, maybe even downright harsh, but hear me out.

There are really only 2 reasons why a retailer would offer Cyber Monday promotions: to gain new customers or reactivate old ones. Let’s talk about what deep discounting does in both situations:

Acquiring New Customers: Suppose a man offers a woman $1,000 to go on a date with him. She accepts. How much of a chance do you this couple has at a long term, quality relationship? Any business transaction based on bribery (and let’s be honest, that’s essentially what discounting is) only produces low-quality, low-affinity relationships. Customers acquired through steep discounting are far less likely to rebuy unless a similarly steep discount is offered again. If you’ve ever run a lifetime value calculation on these customers, you’ll undoubtedly find that it’s much lower than your typical customer LTV. (If you’ve never run this analysis on your customer database, please do yourself a favour and run it!) When discounting is the foundation of the relationship, future price increases are simply out of the question.

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25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

25 Killer eCommerce Link Building Tips

Of all websites, e-commerce stores have arguably the hardest time attracting links. The typical etailer’s site lacks substantitive content, and as a result draws few natural links. To make things worse, link requests are often ignored due to the purely commercial nature of an e-store. Link building for e-commerce takes extra patience and creativity. Below are 25 tips I’ve found helpful while building links for online retailers.

7 Tactics for Creating Link-Worthy Content
The reason etailers have such a hard time attracting links is that they make so little effort to create content worthy of them. If you have a blog, you understand this well. Your blog naturally receives links in response to posting valuable content. Bloggers rarely go around begging for webmasters to link to them. Links just come naturally. With this in mind, let me throw out some ideas for creating trully link-worthy ecommerce content.

#1 – Create a Coupon Code Page: This tip can be gold. People naturally share and link to deals, especially when they think they’ve found something exclusive. Consider creating a page that features all your current coupons and deals. (another benefit of this strategy is that customers will find this page higher on the search results when they search for [your brand]+coupon instead of unapproved coupons on deal-type sites.)

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4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

4 Reasons your Product Pages Don’t Convert

I believe online stores focus too much on technology, too much on traffic generation, and even too much on site conversion optimization, and forget that it’s still all about the product. Everything else is just a tool. Below I’ll share what I believe to be the 4 biggest mistakes made on the product pages of today’s online retailers.

1) Too much imagination is required

All too many product pages require their customer’s to have a good imagination. For example, product images convey the product alone with a white background. Not exactly awe-inspiring. Online shopping can be devoid of context when product images aren’t show in use. Lifestyle and contextual images help create mental ownership by giving specific examples of use.

Yes, it’s a lot of work to get this type of photography on your site. But as I recently shared my experience in lifestyle images, it can be earth-shatteringly effective.

Don’t require your customer to have a good imagination. Paint a picture for them. How will it look in context, in their hands, in use?

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The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

The Ultimate Holiday Checklist for E-Commerce Success

I’m making the list, be sure to check it twice to ensure success for your e-commerce website this holiday season.

#1. Offer Bounce Back Discounts: Your site will be flooded with traffic this holiday season. How can you harness that traffic to create year long business? Consider offering a good discount incentive for customers to come back and shop in January. You can automatically email them a coupon after each order, or send one along with the package. Don’t forget to email and remind customers to come back and use their discounts.

#2. Loosen Up & Emphasize Your Return Policy: While a 30 day return policy is commonplace for the rest of the year, it may scare off early shoppers during the holidays. Make it clear to your visitors that you will accept returns and exchanges on all Christmas gift purchases. Be sure to let visitors know early and often about your policy, such as on product pages and the shopping cart.

#3. Review Past Failures & Successes: Try this as you plan your busy holiday season. Take a look at you and your competitor’s website’s through the lens of the Wayback machine. What worked and didn’t work last year? What can you improve upon?

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How to Build the Perfect Website

How to Build the Perfect Website

If you’re seeking perfection on your website, stop reading this. It doesn’t exist.

In fact the search for perfection might just be more detrimental to your website than anything else.

That homepage that your designer has been tweaking for weeks, stop fiddling and make it live. That eBook you’re still perfecting, launch it now. If you have doubts, test it.

In the web world we are lucky to have a friend: instant feedback. Feedback in the form of customers, analytics, surveys, etc. If you were developing a tangible product or print material, you don’t have this luxury. You have to get it right the first time. There is no excuse for a typo on the front of your catalogue or a defect on your product. But a website is a living, breathing, evolving creature. Problems can be fixed. Inefficiencies can be optimized.

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The Symptoms and Remedy for Homepage-itis

The Symptoms and Remedy for Homepage-itis

Are you suffering from homepage-itus? The symptoms include:

  • The belief that visitors always enter your website through the homepage
  • You send all of your traffic PPC, SEO, or Ad traffic to the homepage
  • Promoting products, content, email newsletters, or promotions only on the homepage
  • The belief that the “wow factor” is the most important impression to a customer, so you make your homepage do a flash based song-and-dance
  • A disproportionately large amount of your web design budget goes to redesigning it obsessively

The truth is that visitor behaviour has changed drastically. Homepages don’t matter as much as they used too. First-time visitors enter deep into the site courtesy of Google’s more accurate search results. Repeat visitors enter through landing pages from email campaigns or bookmarks to specific pages that interested them. If you take a look at your analytics, I bet you’ll be shocked out how many of your visitors never even pass through the homepage.

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Unnecessary Detours on Your Website

Unnecessary Detours on Your Website

About Us. FAQ. Customer Service. Contact Us.

Odds are you have these pages on your website. Last week I raised a question about the value of site if your products disappeared. But here’s another consideration, what if the above pages disappeared?

If your About Us page was gone, would customers still be able to learn about your company, your beliefs, your values, your unique offering, throughout your site? Or is the About Page the only place you communicate who you really are.

What about an FAQ page? Is this the only place you answer common questions? If they’re really so “common”, why not answer them in context instead? In other words, it doesn’t make sense to answer common questions about your shipping policy on an entirely separate page, it makes sense to answer them with a popup box or mouseover in your shopping cart when people are actually choosing their shipping option.

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What if your products disappeared?

What if your products disappeared

Imagine that all your products disappeared from your website. Would anything of value remain? Would your customers still come back?

If your answer is “no”, than you’ve successfully commoditized yourself.

If you’re truly passionate about your business, your site should be overflowing with content and community, both of which should be natural by-products of your real products. Content and community will endure, even if your products were gone.

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Back to the Fundamentals of a Successful Website

Back to the Fundamentals of a Successful Website

These are all worthy causes. I’m going to suggest to you however that they aren’t the most fruitful pursuits. I’m going to suggest to you that we often bypass the quick-wins in favour of sexier options that we’re more familiar with.

If your email marketing program is entirely focused on determining that right moment to send an email for maximum impact, you’re wasting your time. Not because optimizing open-rates is stupid, but rather you should be asking, “what makes people want to open in the first place?)Similarly, you could endlessly test colours, wording, and placement of your add to cart button in your shopping cart. You’ll probably inch up a bit in conversion. Yet fundamentally you haven’t added any value to the customer experience.

Resources are limited in every organization. Therefore we must always ask whether our optimization efforts are worth their opportunity cost. What else can we be doing that more effective?

I was recently reminded of this. For years, customers have been telling us to show the pictures of clothing on real people, rather than mannequins. For years we ignored the advice due to the impractical task of always having models on stand-bye when new products arrive. In the meantime we optimized the heck out of everything we knew how. We starting hitting the point of diminishing returns. All those a/b tests weren’t as effective as they used to be.

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Unlearning your Website: Thinking Like a Pre-Customer

Unlearning your Website Thinking Like a Pre-Customer

Many would consider their industry expertise to be a competitive advantage. What if I were to suggest that your knowledge about your products and services can be the greatest hindrance to the success of your website?

Tappers and Listeners

Consider this fascinating study, highlighted in the book Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.

A group of people are divided in half. The first group, the tappers, are assigned with the task of tapping the rhythm of a well known song, such as Happy Birthday to You or The National Anthem, on a table. The listeners are assigned with the task of identifying the song that is being tapped out by the tappers, based on the rhythm.

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Website Redesigns: Breaking the Cycle

Website Redesigns Breaking the Cycle

Website redesigns are expensive, time-consuming, and hugely popular. Why? Because unlike website optimization, they’re tangible and exciting. You clearly see the end result. In my observation, companies redesign their website’s quite frequently, typically following a predictable pattern:

The Website Redesign Cycle

1. Company creates website
2. Company grows tired of website, and realizes it doesn’t meet all of their needs
3. Company redesigns website, addresses some of the weaknesses, but damages features that worked perfectly, annoying customers accustomed to the old site
4. Repeat (endlessly)

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25 Web Form Optimization Tips

25 Web Form Optimization Tips

Stop for a moment and consider the goals of your website. Regardless of whether it’s a purchase through a shopping cart, a lead generation, white paper download, or a email opt, I’m going to bet every one of these actions requires a customer to use a web form.

With web forms playing such an important role in the completing goals, it goes without saying that we should optimize the heck out of them. Below are 25 tips for doing just that.

Ditch the Captchas: Captcha’s are great for blocking spam, but some evidence suggests they are just as good at blocking conversions. A little spam isn’t the end of the world, and definitely isn’t worth losing conversions over. If you must use a Captcha, make sure it’s easy to read.

Remove Unnecessary Fields: Do you really need to ask for your customers date of birth and gender? Even if your customers aren’t concerned about privacy issues, odds are they’re lazy and might just abandon your excessively inquisitive form. Here’s some great advice from Get Elastic on registration forms.

Keep It Simple: Just because we can use CSS to do all sorts of fancy things with text boxes, doesn’t mean we should. Keeping form fields simple will ensure that customers understand their purpose and won’t confuse them with design elements.

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Avoid the eCommerce Low-Trust Tax

Avoid the eCommerce Low-Trust Tax

What’s one thing that all successful e-commerce sites have in common, regardless of their industry, technology, or experience? Their customers trust them.

E-commerce in particular lends itself to a low trust environment. After all, when you make a purchase online, you’re giving money to someone you can’t see, for a products that you can’t touch. Needless to say, trust is a crucial aspect of transacting business online.

Duct Tape Marketing recently interviewed Steven M.R. Covey on his book The Speed of Trust. Covey speaks of a “low-trust tax” which makes all business processes less efficient. Inspired by this concept, I came up with 10 ways to avoid paying a low-trust tax with your e-commerce site. If you have any ideas of how to inspire trust on your website, please leave a comment below.

Have a Real About Page: I’m not talking about a vague paragraph describing what you do. I’m referring to a personal, detailed explanation of who you are. Share your mission, your passion, and your vision with customers. This information becomes a powerful word of mouth tool when customers are telling friends and family about your products or services. Consider even showing pictures of yourself and your staff to add an extra personal touch.

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