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10 Ways to Drive Customers Away from Your Site

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There are lots of ways to make money with your web site. There are also lots of ways to keep from making money. If you REALLY don't want to make money, try the 10 ways in this article.
This article was adapted from Frank Fiore's book, TechTV's Starting an Online Business. Frank is a regular contributor to InformIT.
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Your web site exists to serve your customers—not impress them. You need to design a site and offer a shopping experience that gives consumers a quick, safe, and easy way to purchase something from your web store. So before you sit down with your web consultant, and before your web designer puts pointer to screen, consider how you'll avoid these 10 ways to drive customers away from your site:

  1. Confuse your customers.
  2. Stay anonymous.
  3. Offer at retail.
  4. Frame your page.
  5. Surprise them with shipping costs.
  6. Make them work.
  7. Make them wait.
  8. Neglect to address privacy.
  9. Keep security a secret.
  10. Spam your customers.

1: Confuse Your Customers

Rodney Dangerfield gets no respect. He told his psychiatrist that he had suicidal tendencies. His psychiatrist said that from now on Dangerfield had to pay in advance. That might be funny to you, but treating your customer with no respect will drive him away from your site. And one sure-fire way to drive him away is to confuse him.

Keep your navigation simple. You're there to sell. Customers are there to buy. Make it easy for them to find your products and buy them. If they can't find what they want and order it in three mouse clicks, you run the risk of losing them. So organize your site material logically from the customer's point of view. Be sure to include clear directions for navigating the site from your home page. Remember that the home page of your web store serves a variety of functions. It's a map of your store, a welcome mat, and a marketing message all in one. People get lost easily, so include a "Return Home" link on every page of your site.

Include a FAQ page and have links to the FAQ on every page where you think a customer might have a question about your store or service. Anticipate the needs of your users. If your site has a lot of products to sell, provide a search engine to easily find them.

Go light on the technical jargon, and don't adopt a hipper-than-thou attitude in your writing. Shoppers want information—not a sales pitch. Let shoppers discover what they want at their own pace. Don't persuade. Inform.

Finally, look at your URL. See that WWW in front of it? It stands for the World Wide Web. So think globally. Users from other countries can easily access your site. If you want to make an international sale, respect cultures other than your own. Remember that they might not be familiar with American slang or expressions, so keep the wording simple.

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