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Temperance: Moderation in All Things

You're in the business of selling to consumers—not entertaining them. When designing your web site and the services you offer, keep in mind the KISS principle—Keep it simple, stupid! Customers come to your site to shop. Let them. And make it as easy as possible. Don't place anything in their way to prevent it.

Can your customer go from product page to checkout in three to four clicks? A shopper should go from a search page or product category page, to a product list, to a product description page, to the shopping cart—in no more than four clicks. The same goes for the checkout process. It should take no more than four pages of information to fill out to complete the sale. Amazon's idea of a one-click purchase is an excellent example of a quick and easy checkout process.

And don't forget the FAQs! The FAQ page on your site should be an easy-to-read summary of what a shopper needs to know in order to buy from you. All in one place, the FAQ should describe (at the very least) your shipping costs, return policies, how to contact your customer service department, any standing promotions or discount programs you have. Though you may have this information on other pages of your site, it's still a good idea to have the most important pieces all in one place on a FAQ page.

Stay light on the graphics. Look at some of the most successful sites on the Net today. Amazon.com, eBay, Yahoo!—all are simple sites with few graphics on their web pages. Use thumbnails for product pictures that can be clicked to see a larger view. Thumbnails allow product pages to load faster.

Finally, stay away from multimedia presentations such as Flash if they add little to the product or service description. They interfere with and slow down the shopping process.

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