It all began during the annual Halloween Store Decorating Contest at OLA. I only own stores at OLA, so I do not know how many similar venues allow you to customize your pages... do any of you sell at communities where you can add backgrounds, graphics, colors, and HTML to your listings and storefront? If you own your own website, or manage a blog, then this would certainly apply to you, as well.
Flea's Field, (my Sports Collectibles and Trading Card store), was used as an example of our blunder. I posted about this in our chat forum at OLA, but wanted to share the experience with my blog readers, too. I know, I know... I promised to continue my previous blog post with a post about owning your own domain for blogging purposes. I'll get back to that soon. This post needed to be written, however, as we are entering the holidays, and people are getting excited about decorating for the seasons! Here's something to remember before you decorate.
Some codes may limit the functionality of your store links:
We found a really fun site called 123mycodes.com. This site caters to the MySpace crowd, but in honesty, you can use the codes to dress up almost any site. You can even tweak the codes with your own graphic images, for real personalization. Look for fun ideas like custom cursors, glitter text, backgrounds and icons! The one that I tried at Flea's Field was falling objects.
Below is a screenshot of my Flea's Field Home Page during the test. The leaves fall beautifully, although you cannot see them float about on this screenshot.
"What's the problem?", you ask.
See those links, to my Free Shipping Challenge, my blogs and Fleapirates Plunder? Well, my customer cannot successfully click those links if they are viewing my page with a FireFox browser! Internet Explorer, amazingly, seems to work fine. Opera, which came standard on my android phone, does not work. But what about the other browsers? There are many and you cannot guarantee that your visitor will be using a specific browser, so be sure that any code you add works on all of them! If it doesn't, you might lose a customer.
Now let's talk about load times. Another friend, DraggonTagger, was kind enough to check the load time on the Flea's Field storefront during my test, as she has slower internet access than my high-speed DSL. Guess what? It took so long to load that she gave up! Do you want your customers giving up and backing out? Thought not! So be sure to check the speed of your page.
Another friend I know has a slight case of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Objects that flash brightly, or have fast, repeated animation, or vivid contrasting colors seem to bother her immensely. She will vacate any page that seems to "jump out of the screen" at her. There are millions of internet users who are affected by similar disorders... one just may be your next customer. Make them feel welcome!
So what can you do?
- Customers today have the luxury of transparency in the online marketplace. They want to know who you are and why they should buy from you. I've got profiles at OLA, my blog, Twitter, Facebook, and other link directories. Do you? If not, add them.
- Decorating with color and images can add a personal feel to your site. Let them see the real you and bring some creativity to your site. Just remember to keep your users' experience in mind.
- Spelling and grammatical errors are one of the biggest turn-offs to customers and blog audiences. Use tools like Spell Check to eliminate any typos!
And lastly, exclusively for Online Auction Founding Members, Jaswood has written a Tutorial For Decorating Your OLA Store / House. I encourage you to give it a try! Be sure to ask questions, if you have them... someone is always willing to lend a hand. There's a new contest coming up! (Hint, hint!) With all these tips and tricks, you will certainly know how to dress up your site without scaring away customers! Have fun decorating!