Archive for April, 2012
When designing your store, you obviously should be focused on your customers’ experience, but what some merchants and designers forget is that not every customer is the same. Beyond just design preferences, a portion of your potential customer-base has different abilities and needs when it comes to being able navigate and interact with the Internet. That is why designing with web accessibility in mind is so important.
What is web accessibility?
Accessibility is the practice of enabling users of all abilities and disabilities to consume content. Individuals with impaired vision, hearing, motor skills, cognition, or some combination of these can require special hardware/software to navigate the web.
The Web Accessibility Inniative defines it as:
“Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can use the Web. More specifically, Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web. Web accessibility also benefits others, including older people with changing abilities due to aging.”
The definition of accessibility has been widened to incorporate other factors that can hinder the experience of a user that does not have a disability, like those who:
- don’t have the latest browsers and plug-ins;
- have slow modems, or live in rural areas with limited Internet
- browse without graphics, using text-only browsers or subscribe to non-graphic services
Why is it important?
7% of the US population is hearing impaired and 4.5% are visually impaired. First and foremost, your customers matter. Every good business puts their customers first and so should your store. Secondly by making your store accessible to all different types of people you open your business up to new customers who appreciate the easy experience you’ve provided.
What can you do?
Here are some simple things you can do today to make sure your store is accessible.
- Write Meaningful Page Titles – If you name your pages generic names like ‘Home’ or ‘Main’ a blind person that enters your site will only hear the words “home” or “main” and won’t be aware of the true nature or contents of the site.
- Describe Images: use alternate text to describe them
- Use Well-Structure Form: Use headings, lists, paragraphs, to structure your copy
- Explain Links: Add a description to every link on your page to tell the visitor where the link will take them.
- Add Audio To CAPTCHA – You should avoid using CAPTCHA when possible, but if you do use it make sure to include an an audio alternative for people with incapacities.
In yesterday’s SEO webinar, I received several questions on whether it is better host your blog on your store’s domain or on a hosted platform like WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr.
So which is better? While there are some pros to using Tumblr like gaining in-site traffic through tags & networking, on the whole hosting your blog on the same URL as our store is better for your business’ branding & SEO. But why?
All blogs are great for SEO, but self-hosted blogs allow you more control over SEO. Hosting your blog allows you to add SEO friendly plugins and other SEO features that make your blogging efforts much more effective. Hosting your blog on your domain also tells Google that your site offers fresh content ( which it loves) where as your blogging platform would reap all of your fresh content benefits if you hosted it with them.
.Hosting your blog on your domain reminds users that you are a business not just a blog, and helps build brand recognition. Being a content creator gives your store credibility & authority with customers, but that connection is not as easily made when your blog is hosted on a separate URL than your store.
3. Content Control
When you host your own blog, you have full control over the type of content you publish but if you use free blogging platforms, you are restricted by their guidelines. If you publish mostly promotional content or only write about your products, you could be flagged as low quality or spam. You could even get banned which would mean all of your hard content marketing work would go to waste.
4. Functionality Control
If you host your own blog, the only limits to functionality is your imagination. Key branding tools like social media widgets & buttons, newsletter sign-ups and coupon-codes are hard if not impossible to implement on free platforms.
5. Design Control
Design is a huge part of brand recognition, you want your readers recognize the look & feel of your blog from your store and vice versa. Free platforms do not offer the same customization options as self-hosting does.
A big shout-out to newly launched 3dcart stores: www.scrapbuck.com, www.burgerflavor.com, www.foxandkitten.com.au, http://www.babyboone.com, www.themissingpiecepuzzlecompany.com, www.bckidsboutique.com, www.mystcenterprises.com, www.vemayca.com/ www.jobjackets.com, www.centurylink.net, loftopia.com, www.onthesidehomedecor.com & www.aswilliams.com.
Depending on your vertical, ranking organically in Google’s first page can take years of optimizing your keywords & tags, building links and raising your site’s authority ( If you want to learn more, make sure to sign up for our SEO webinar). But showing up on first-page of results can make or break your business, so what can you TODAY to make sure your customers are seeing your business on the first page? Paid “Search Engine Marketing” can fast track your business to first-page glory.
PPC is big business. The king of search Google makes $32 billion in revenue from just their advertising platform adwords. And while Adwords pretty much unavoidable when running an ecommerce business, the process can be confusing and seem like a guessing-game if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The below inforgraphic from WordStream tries to explain the process simply but if you need help, let 3dcart PPC experts optimize and run your Adword campaigns for you.
Join 3dcart’s Search Engine Marketing experts on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EST for “The New Rules Of SEO” Webinar.
Learn how to get your website to rank higher on Google, Yahoo! and Bing. 3dcart CMO Joe Palko & SEO manager Brian Falla will discuss how Relevance, Authority and Quality are all factors the affect their SEO rankings. This hour long informational webinar will also include a Question and Answer session along with appetizers and light refreshments (just kidding).
3dcart is happy to announce eight new templates in our premium template store. The The three beautiful “Stationary” templates were designed by RedPeach Designs and the five others come the design team here at 3dcart. Give them a look and tell us what you think in the comments!
Store Spotlight: Goldifox.com
Goldifox.com’s classy and clean custom design showcases their beautiful merchandise and is a great example of 3dcart’s versatility.
In their CEO’s Own Words: “Goldifox.com is a unique, feminine, retro, whimsical shop for fashion conscious ladies interested in independent clothing and jewelry labels from around the world!” - CEO Courtney Verwol
Ecommerce Inspiration: “It all came to me one day as I was a fan of shopping online myself, and I thought “what’s stopping me from doing this?” So I taught myself the ropes completely and got where I am now through trial and error. I started this to keep me busy and save up for school, where I want to get a degree in Costume Design for Film! Seems to have worked out for me so far!”
How has 3DCart helped your store?
What’s your favorite 3dcart feature?
“My favorite is being able to see all the stats, incomplete orders and their IP addresses to see where my customers are coming from, and the automatic system that sets up a great, professional looking e-mail to remind account holders of the items in their cart! Also the transactions with PayPal go through so smoothly, and the ready to print packing/invoice slips looks great.”
Submit your store to be spotlighted: http://blog.3dcart.com/apply-for-a-store-spotlight/
Making product videos is a great way to effectively convey information, show products in use and create trust with the customer. And with YouTube now being the second most popular search engine in the world, your product videos can even bring you new customers in addition to adding value to your existing ones. If your timid abut jumping into the video production world, here are a few tips to get you started:
1.Keep it short. Your customers don’t want to sit & watch a flashy drawn-out product video, they want to get the information they need and nothing more. Shoot for making your videos 2 minutes or less. Constricting yourself to certain time-parameters will also help you to focus on the most important aspects.
2. Write a script. There are many times when you can ‘wing it’ in business, but videos are not one of them. In order to get everything across to your customer in the most effective way, you’re going to need to spend time collecting your thoughts & organizing them in a script.. and then write it again. The best writing is done when you spend the time to write several drafts, refining your thoughts and words until you have a gem of a script!
3. Get in there & demo your product. Don’t just hold up your product, USE your product. The goal of your video is to give your customers an interactive view of the product, so swing that golf club, wear that dress, make that pan sizzle – your video should demonstrate whatever your customer will be doing with the product.
4. Decide on what your company’s voice is and be consistant. We all know that the funny videos are the ones that go viral, and they also make the companies relatable & personal. But funny isn’t for every company, brand, product or audience. However if you think you have the right personality and products for an outlandish or witty video, go for it!
But if funny & outlandish is not who you & your company are, don’t try to be. Being authentic and true to your brand is key to earn customers’ trust. Videos give your customers a more well-rounded view of your brand so don’t send them mixed messages ( you risk coming off as ‘phony’). An educational informative video will sell more products than one that misses the mark trying to be something that it is not.
5. Be personal. Let your customers know the people behind the brand. Introducing yourself and your relationship with the company , starts the video off on a friendly inviting note.
6. Get the money-shots. Customers are watching the video to see the products so make sure you show the product form multiple angles. Shoot close-ups to show off the products detail, and features.
7. Don’t talk their ear-off. In a 2 minute video, it is perfectly ok to have 30 seconds of light background music while you show off the product from different angles or in use. If a picture speaks a thousand words, a video speaks a novel so don’t worry about filling every second with your commentary.
8. Make your products look their best Production value isn’t everything, but be conscious of how your products look. Here are a few production tips:
- shoot in high definition, and in widescreen
- Pay careful attention to the lighting to avoid harsh shadows and dimly lighted environments.
- Shoot with a tripod to keep the shots steady.