Characteristics of a Retail Store

Yesterday I did a web usability and design analysis on Let me start that again. Yesterday I did a really bad analysis of What happened? I had breakfast, I had coffee, I even went on a quick walk before I did it. I’ll tell you what happened. It confused me.

My Problem

When doing the analysis, there are many factors I consider that are based on the home page. When doing the analysis I thought I was on their home page, when in reality I was on one of their category pages. The person in charge of their site thought I was crazy when they saw the results. I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about. He was right, and when I realized the mistake I did a second analysis of the site. What I found was why I made the mistake, and something that could drastically improve their sales.

The Home Page is a Category Page

So how did I mistake a category page as the home page? Go to there site, and you will see. All the pages look the same, and the only place you will really see any differences is near the footer of the home page. The home page has some additional content covering benefits and services. Actual confusion can really kick in if you were to click on the menu item “All flowers”. All flowers takes you to their home page. This, to me, is almost proof that their home page is a category page. There menu makes it out to be.

Making a Home Page Look Like a Home Page

So the problem I see with is that they need to make their home page look like a home page. You may now be asking what makes a home page look like a home page on a retail site? Well if you are selling a product, there are several important factors, and they all point to two things. Create trust, and buy this product. They make you feel comfy, and tell you what and where to buy. Here is how they do it.

List of important key elements that should be found on the home page of a retail site:

  • Logo links to home page, even on the home page
  • Search function
  • Phone number – often in more than one spot
  • Shopping cart button or link
  • Category links and/or icons
  • Best sellers and/or seasonal products
  • A link to site policies
  • My Account – Helpful for return customers
  • A link to a help page or customer service page
  • A large amount of space centered on page for promotional item or message

To clarify the last item listed I have taken a screenshot from HP’s store.

Essential Items

Most of the items found on the list could very easily found on every page of a site, but three of them really do stand out. These are what I would consider essential items on a retail home page. They are a category list and or icons, best sellers or seasonal products, and the large promotional item or message like the HP example above.

Give Visitors Something to Remember, and Something to Buy!

By making the home page stand out from the rest of the site you also create a few opportunities besides just being able to recognize it. The most important one is your ability to lead a visitor to a desired action. Making it bigger and bolder than the rest of your site gives the visitor something to remember, and if done right, gives them something to buy.


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