Your Site’s Color Scheme is Important. Choose Wisely.

By John Nicholson

Meaning of Colors - Color Wheel Typography

Photo Courtesy of The Marsid – M&M Group

Some may even call it an integral decision. Weigh the options, consider a variety of hues because there’s a great deal of information that coincides with your site’s color scheme. From psychological impulses and behaviors to simple aesthetic judgments, your color design says more about your brand personality than you might think.

Colors are so ingrained in our everyday lives, and have played such a major role in our collective upbringing, that it’s nearly impossible to separate our perceptions of any specific color from the color itself. Marketers are uniquely familiar with this idea. In fact, studies by KISSmetrics show that “42% of shoppers form an opinion of a website based on its design, including color scheme…[and that] 52% of shoppers do not visit a website again if they don’t like its aesthetics.”

So which colors should be used to create the optimal website? Well, that depends on what you’re going for, what your mission is, and what kind of personality you’d like to portray. Let’s consider Blue, Green and Orange.

Blue

You’d be secure if you chose blue for your site. You can’t really go wrong with it. It’s aesthetically pleasing and psychologically inviting. As a plus, blue is even associated with trustworthiness and reliability. When we think blue, we think of the sky – boundless opportunity and natural beauty. With this in mind, it’s no surprise that many banks and insurance companies choose a blue design. All major social media channels revolve around a blue color scheme, too — think Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.

Interestingly, and perhaps not surprisingly, blue is also many peoples’ favorite color (57% of men say blue is their favorite hue, while 35% of women say the same). That’s leaps and bounds ahead of the next choice for favorite color — green for men, purple for women.

Green

It’s impossible to disassociate the color green from thoughts of plants, and therefore growth. It’s a natural hue with other organic connotations like vibrancy, health and renewal. Not as safe a bet as blue, green is still a great choice for consumer brands that would like to portray themselves as proprietors of freshness and wellness.

Orange

For obvious reasons, people generally associate orange with danger — traffic cones, hunters’ vests, reflectors. But it’s also known to play to an individual’s sense of adventure and risk. There’s also a natural excitement to the color orange, so brands use it to reach those personalities intrigued by such a thrill-seeking lifestyle. Think Harley Davidson.

On the other hand, in a study done by Hallock, men and women chose orange as the “cheapest”-looking color. So if you think orange is the color for you, use it wisely and be sure it’s done right — otherwise you could scare customers away, turning them off immediately.

Panda 4.1 and its Effect on Business Brands

By Jessica Herbine

Since the most recent iteration of Google’s Panda update hit on September 25th, you may have been tracking some interesting changes to your clients’ or business web analytics. Panda 4.1 utilized a few new signals to identify and penalize low-quality content; specifically, its main function was to target thin and duplicated copy. Although Google warned that 4.1 would be the last of all Panda algorithm changes to be announced, they did acknowledge that the search engine is working on a “softer” Panda roll out that will help small websites and businesses perform better in the SERPs.

duplicate-content

Who Was Affected by Panda 4.1?

  • It seems that numerous affiliate websites that had withstood the blows of previous Panda updates were finally knocked out by 4.1. These in particular included websites that were obviously keyword-driven, and acted simply as gateways to other websites.
  • Informational websites – even those with credibility like Answers.com and HowStuffWorks.com – were penalized for providing broad knowledge about a wide variety of topics. Conversely, niche informational sites were given a boost; not surprising, as Google loves industry authority figures that share at lengths about a few topical subjects. This is especially true with niche blogs and websites that provide original content that is entertaining or informational as it is thorough.
  • Local business sites that were committed to providing their customers with helpful, inessential copy were also rewarded for providing a content-rich experience, whereas local businesses that offered only the bare minimum (contact information, tagline, standard ‘About Us’ page, etc.) did not fare as well.

How to Keep Your Site in Good Standing

In Marketing Land’s Panda 4.1 analysis, Jim Yu noted that a number of those sites that were negatively impacted hosted ads above the fold, and/or boasted a high image-to-text ratio. This not only demonstrates thin content, but is also indicative of a slow mobile page load time. Depending on the nature of your business, visuals are an important onsite factor to include – however, they should be logically balanced out with text that provides visitors with information on your brand, products and services.

The key takeaway from Google’s latest update is that businesses need to prioritize digital content development and user experience above all else. In short, eradicate duplicate content and come up with creative means for providing engaging content on most every page. Whether that content strategy includes informational copy blocks, how-to help guides, blog posts or another form of text, it is your job to decide the function of every page and how it will attribute to the desired outcome of each unique user visit. Search, content and user experience are now one in the same, so pinpoint your business’ weak spots and say what you need to say.

Retailers Mobile Performance Falls Short of User Expectations

By Katherine Pietrangelo

M-dot Load Times Fail to Meet

The flood gates have opened on mobile sites and more retailers are using them than ever before. In the rush to get a good-looking responsive mobile website up though, many retailers are neglecting a key component in what users are looking for: fast load times.

According to a new report by Radware, it typically takes a mobile retailers site 4.8 seconds to load using the iPhone 5s, with only 15% of full-site pages loading in less than four seconds. These are surprising numbers when you consider that the average user expects the site to fully load in under three seconds.

Radware believes that there are two possible reasons why load times are so slow on retailer’s mobile sites:  consumer demand for high-resolution images, and the inevitable increase in image size that comes with higher-resolution images. Radware also states that there is a huge lack of awareness around this issue as well, so many retailers don’t recognize that it’s even a problem.

Many marketers misunderstand what is causing the poor mobile performance, and are sending and receiving poor advice. For example, one representative from a well-known technology company told audience members at a conference that they employ the highest quality images in their responsive design sites so that the browser can scale the image to the correct size of the mobile device. This is untrue, and not how it works.

Radware cannot stress enough just how important load time is when it comes to mobile pages. According to their data, 50% of people will leave a site if it doesn’t load after three or four seconds. If a retailer’s mobile site takes longer than that, they are losing a huge chunk of possible revenue.

In a review of the top 100 ecommerce sites, it was found that 50% of the mobile pages weight is images, but 35% of those sites failed to compress their images, significantly impacting load times. It was also found that 81% of the sites reviewed automatically give users a mobile version of the homepage, but 20% of those sites don’t allow users to access a full version of their site. Only 8% gave tablet users a specially formatted tablet version of the site—which is an issue when tablet users are expecting a desktop-type experience rather than a paired down mobile experience.

With user’s expectations so high for mobile sites, this failure to meet it by retailers could have a significant impact on sales come the holiday season.

Responsive Design: Optimizing For Mobile User Experience

By Jason Bauman

Optimizing Responsive Design For Mobile eCommerceResponsive design is an increasingly popular option for companies looking to update the look and feel of their digital store.  When a website is built to be responsive, it can adapt how it appears depending on the size of the screen displaying it. This allowed web developers to   build the site once and have it adjust for mobile, tablet, and desktop screens seamlessly.

While this can allow designers to create a beautifully seamless experience across devices, there are a few key areas that designers should pay attention to when trying to create be best experience for users.

Mobile Optimization:

It’s not a secret that customers are increasingly turning to their mobile devices when browsing for merchandise online.  When they navigate to your eCommerce site, they expect that they’ll be able to browse everything your company has available.  Sadly, this is not always the case.

Some elements from a full desktop site won’t translate well on a mobile screen, such as an interactive map or popup asking the customer if they want to subscribe to your email list.  Most customers will expect this, provided these items are not a primary draw for your site.  What they won’t accept, however, is not being able to purchase what they want from your website, or having trouble finding it.

Responsive designs will often help you avoid this issue since it uses the same navigation screen at any resolution, but if you decide to target specific devices (such as the iPad) make sure that your customers can navigate to any product page easily.  One common pitfall are image banners on your site that might be switched out for something smaller on a mobile device.  If you are promoting a product on your main page, make sure it is available on mobile as well.

Image Loading

According to Radware’s “2014 State of the Union: Mobile Ecommerce Perfomance” report, images on an eCommerce site can account for as much as 50% of a website’s “weight,” or load time.  The same study also found that sites took an average of 4.8 seconds to load despite the fact that more than 50% of consumers will abandon a page if it does not load in the first four seconds.

With phones offering resolutions above 1080p and desktops with “retina” class displays becoming more popular, many marketers will suggest that you use the highest quality images possible for your site and let the browser scale them on demand.  This will force your customer’s computer or mobile device to load the full image before it can scale it and load the rest of the page.

One way to avoid this is by giving the image a specific size in your code.  This will allow the browser to load it in the background while continuing to build the rest of the page.  For responsive design websites, you can dictate several sizes such as small, medium, and large for phones, tablets, and computers respectively.

If you, or the designer working on your website, is familiar with Javascript, implementing something like adaptive images, or the script free Sencha.io Src also offer potential solutions.  Both of these services will adjust the size and resolution of an image based off of the size of the screen automatically.

Finally, you can compress your images, which will make them load quicker on mobile devices, but could mean sacrificing the look and feel of your full desktop experience unless you pair this with one of the options listed above.

Reducing image loading times will make your site load much faster overall, which is one of the quickest ways to improve user experience.

Never Stop Innovating

When done correctly, responsive design allows for your web team to present an attractive storefront to customers no matter what device they’re browsing on. Treating mobile browsers as “first class” consumers and reducing load times will go a long way towards keeping your clients happy.

The most important design asset any eCommerce site can have is innovation.  Finding creative ways to present your products to customers before your competitors will help to ensure that they keep returning.

Stop Shopping Cart Abandonment With Mobile

By Missy Steinberg

Shopping Cart Abandonment Solutions

 

There is something doubly devastating about having high shopping cart abandonment rates. When customers come bearing armfuls of goodies to the checkout  only to drop them all at your (virtual) cashier’s feet, you’re not only losing out on a sale but are also confronted with the fact that you’ve done something to drive that sale away.

Studies show the push could have been undesirable shipping costs or annoyingly long page load times or simply the indecisive air of a Thursday night (abandonment rates are highest on Thursdays between 8 and 9 p.m.). No matter the motive, the act is causing retailers to lose an estimated $18 billion every year and is impacting 68 percent of shopping carts.

With abandonment rates as high as 97 percent for mobile, the issue is one worth focusing on. The beauty of solving the problem of the vanishing shopper, aside from the obvious, is that remarketing those customers results in a 55 percent increase in spending.  Do a good enough job of reeling deserters back in and you could see a jump in profits. But how do you bring them back?

You could try email blasts reminding customers of the wonderful purchases that could have been, a tactic that nearly 25 percent of the top 1,000 retailers employ. Or you could alert mobile users with an in-app notification. Unfortunately, research shows that mobile users tend to dislike pop-ups of any kind, with 60 percent of them opting to disable the notification feature on their phones. Personalized emails don’t stand much more of a chance as they typically garner a click-through-rate of about 10 percent.

As clicking seems to be the biggest roadblock to shopping cart recovery efforts, especially for mobile users, getting customers to tap “Proceed To Checkout” may seem impossible. Try taking advantage of the one thing mobile users’ fingers unfailingly gravitate toward: text messages. Texters read 90 percent of all messages they receive within the first three minutes of their arrival. It’s the personal aspect of messages that ignites interest.

When used in push notifications, this kind of personalized outreach has been shown to boost conversion rates 8.8 percent year over year, according to an Aberdeen Group study. SMS and MMS are great options for reaching customers. Even better is Rich Media Messaging (RMM), which allows you to send a design-saturated text embedded with copy, images and videos, essentially recreating the feel of an email. This strategy does require customers’ permission, however, once that access is granted it may have the potential to reunite users with their long-lost carts like never before.

Holiday Forecast: Significant Losses from Cart Abandonment

By John Nicholson

And we’re not just talking about a couple million. The researchers and data pioneers at Jumio expect online retailers to lose up to $8.6 billion in sales this holiday season from mobile cart abandonment alone. As a sharp turn toward mobile shopping continues, this will become a serious issue for brands of all shapes and sizes.

What makes this problem a bit more concerning is the fact that holiday sales are supposed to rise to $616.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. And a hefty $105 billion of that is expected to come from online sales alone. Clearly, there is much to be made. But because 47 to 72 percent of online shoppers abandon their mobile purchases due to checkout friction, it’s imperative that online brands address site issues that will remedy the situation before the heat of this holiday shopping season.

Let’s take a look at some important data points.

  • There are four main reasons why consumers abandon their cart at checkout. Aside from high shipping fees, they left the checkout page because: the process took too long (50%), it was too difficult to complete on a mobile device (41%), or the processing would not successfully go through (23%).
  • Similarly, 63% of shoppers will not return to a site – with the intention to buy – once they’ve had a bad checkout experience and left their cart.
  • Here’s another daunting figure to consider. Brands lose between $5.6 to $8.7 billion in sales because 57% of shoppers won’t complete the mobile purchase on a desktop later.
  • And perhaps most interestingly, Jumio predicts 20% of online sales will come from mobile shoppers alone this holiday season.

One solution to the cart abandonment problem is to streamline your checkout page. A simple, succinct user interface that doesn’t ask superfluous questions or draw the consumer from the ultimate purchase is your best bet for a successful checkout procedure.