SANDPOINT, Idaho — Even with years of usability studies and information to draw on, many shopping carts are poorly designed and a source of frustration for online customers. The holiday shopping season is approaching and Susan Daffron of Logical Expressions, Inc. has a few tips for merchants that are inspired by her book “Web Business Success: The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Web Sites That Work” (ISBN: 978-0-9749245-0-2; LCCN-2006909228).

Daffron says that the key to increasing online sales this holiday season is to make it easy for customers to complete their online transactions.

To improve shopping cart usability:

1. Reassure people. When people shop online they are worried about being ripped off. They want to know that the business is for real and to understand what it is going to do with their personal information, particularly their credit card number. To provide this reassurance, businesses should offer a complete privacy policy, evidence of a valid security certificate, and membership in reputable online business organizations, such as the BBB Online Reliability program.

2. Design (or redesign) the shopping cart so it is as easy to use as possible. Navigation that “is really cool” to a designer or Web programmer often is incomprehensible for online shoppers. Get your mother or grandmother to sit down and try out your site navigation. If Mom is confused, redesign the interface so it makes sense even to “newbie” computer users.

3. Tell people what is going on. For example, if the checkout uses a multi-page wizard interface, make sure it includes graphics or text that shows people where they are in the process. Also let customers know that their order was received. If there is a delay (such as for custom merchandise) be sure the customer is informed. It sounds old fashioned, but if necessary pick up the phone and call. Good customer service goes a long way online.

When it comes to ecommerce sites, Daffron says the site should not get in the way; ideally, it should be effortless for customers to buy. By updating their sites now, merchants may be rewarded with more sales this holiday season.

For more information about “Web Business Success” visit the Web site at

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Valerie G, editor at CANW
Valerie G has been an editor with California Newswire for several years, is a gifted theremin player, can quote copious lines from 'Red Dwarf' and also knows where her towel is. Oddly, she does not drive, nor does she take the bus. She identifies as both human and democrat.