5 Deadly Sales-Killers Could be Hacking and Slashing Away at Your Profits

5 Deadly Sales-Killers Could be Hacking and Slashing Away at Your Profits


Right now your ecommerce store could have 5 deadly sales-killers you didn't even know existed. Fortunately, there's a lot of literature in the UX and eye-tracking space, and today you're going to get these insightful studies served up in laymen's terms, allowing you to incorporate their findings into your site's design and interface.

You'll see how seemingly minor aspects of your website can be huge determinants of how well your business performs. Let's get into the research by diving in to problem #1 with your online store:

1. No Emphasis on Headlines

A lot of people are guilty of this. I think many of them feel headlines are too "salesy" and won't have the intended effect. According to the data in the Eyetrack III study, headlines are the most viewed thing on any page, even over flashy images. Here are some interesting stats on the power of headlines:

  • Headlines draw people’s attention almost immediately, and outperformed pictures by a large margin.
  • People only scan the first couple of words in a headline before they make their descision to leave or stay.
  • Your headline has approximately ~1 second to capture a reader’s attention before being ignored.

Why this is important: You're killing your sales if the major pages on your site don't place emphasis on the headline telling customers exactly what the page is about. This goes across the board, starting first and foremost with your homepage:

1. No Emphasis on Headlines

You need to place clear and concise headlines on other critical pages as well - about page, FAQ, contact us, etc. should all include a powerful headline to get your message broadcast clearly. 

Check out this example from Help Scout's about page:

1. No Emphasis on Headlines

Potential customers should immediately be confronted with the point of the page. You have very little time before you lose their interest and their sale, so get to the point quick with a big headline.

2. A Slow Loading Site

You've likely heard this one before — a slow website isn't good for sales because people are impatient. But do you really know how far this effect goes? Much of the discussion out there on site speed is ancedotal, but today you're going to get some research that shows shocking truth about how important site speed really is. According to this analysis conducted by Microsoft's Bing team, page speed is a huge factor in a number of important statistics:

...a less than 2-second increase of delays in page responsiveness reduced user satisfaction by -3.8%, lost revenue per user of -4.3% and a reduced clicks by -4.3%.

Users really are impatient, and your punishment for a slow-loading website won't be complaints in your inbox, it will be lost sales from people who decided what you were selling wasn't worth the wait. ...a less than 2-second increase of delays in page responsiveness  reduced user satisfaction  by -3.8%,  lost revenue per user  of -4.3% and a  reduced clicks  by -4.3%.

If you also take into consider that Google ranks pages based on their speed, what you are left with is a very clear warning that you need to have a seriously fast website if you wish for you business to grow into the big leagues. The good news for stores using a hosted ecommerce solution like Shopify is that speed is taken care of, and your online store will likely be very fast.

3. Illegible Typography & Spacing

This one might seem nit-picky but it's definitely not — great typography is a huge part of a fluid user experience, and if yours isn't set correctly, you're going to be losing customers. According to this study on readability, typography is one of the biggest influences in reading comprehension when it comes to text on the web. The study revealed how small margins managed to help people read faster, but that it greatly reduced their comprehension of the text on the page: 3. Illegible Typography & Spacing

But the problems don't end there. Many other studies have shown that people have about as much patience for poor typography as they do a slow-loading site. If they don't like the way your content reads, they won't let you know about it, they're just going to leave. I'm no master of typography, but my buddy Rafal Tomal, lead designer of Copyblogger Media, certainly is, and he had the following three thoughts on improving typography:

A. Improve Margins 

Directly relating to the first study, Rafal recommends improving margins and line height on every page with text, adding white space both between lines as well as around.

A. Improve Margins 

B. Improve Contrast 

While grey-on-grey might look fancy, it's a big turnoff for your customers. So is any other color combination that's hard to read on page. The easiest colors to read? Good old fashion black text on a white background — it may not be original, but it gets results.

B. Improve Contrast 

C. More Line Breaks 

Once again, Rafal's recommendation aligns with the research (on headlines), as he encourages webmasters and designers to include more line breaks and a better use of headings and sub-headings to make the content more approachable. 


C. More Line Breaks 

All images from Rafal's blog.

4. Not Designing Based on Reading Patterns

The way we read dictates much of how we browse a website, because more often than not a majority of a website is going to consist of written content. You might have seen the eye-tracking study that revealed our tendency to browse in an F-pattern:

4. Not Designing Based on Reading Patterns

It's been found to be true across all sorts of content pages, from blog posts to search engine results, we tend to favor browsing in an F-pattern that leans heavily to the left side of the screen. This is largely due to our reading patterns, and the results don't end there. According to a separate study many web users spend a majority of their attention on the left side of a web page — as much as 69% of the time:

4. Not Designing Based on Reading Patterns

If your site has an interface that customers will regularly be interacting with, this is an important study to keep in the back of your mind when you're split-testing different elements of your site. Important note: the study found that the opposite was true for those users who read in a language where the text is consumed from right-to-left. This shows that we truly seem to browse pages based on reading patterns, but also brings up the point that you need to factor your audience into account when analyzing any of these studies.

5. Confusing Navigation

Navigation is one of those things you must get right, as it's likely the next place a user will look after they view your headline. Some companies, however, just can't seem to get navigation right, and they end up putting them in the wrong place, making them too generic to figure out, or include far too many options. Example:

5. Confusing Navigation

According to this test involving site design, over 70% of users went for a link to click rather than using search. That coincides with another study that shows that users usually only use search when they can't find what they're looking for, meaning that you shouldn't rely on search as a crutch.

Make sure that the navigation on your site is in an area that people expect it to be, is obvious and clear in communicating where each links goes, and that contains enough links to navigate to the important parts of your site but that doesn't go overboard.

What did you think of these studies? Let us know in the comments below!

By: Gregory Ciotti, a marketing strategist at Help Scout, the invisible email support software for entreprenurs. 


  • Julie Henderson
    Julie Henderson
    May 09 2013, 10:33AM

    Nice article Gregory!

  • Susanne
    May 09 2013, 11:07AM

    Great article. Keeping our Shopify site relevant is only part of the business. Clear, plain English info like this is a relief.

  • Antonio Vaughn
    Antonio Vaughn
    May 09 2013, 11:18AM

    Do you have more examples of good and bad navigation. Particularly one that has FAR too many options for the customer to click?

  • Ollie
    May 09 2013, 11:55AM

    Another great blog article by Shopify! Interesting statistics about loading times too. Check out our shopify site please :) www.icollectionshop.com

  • Aaron Shaffier
    Aaron Shaffier
    May 10 2013, 03:39AM

    These are all excellent points. You left out one important one though – long, cumbersome checkout process.

    Unfortunately this is one of the major weak spots of Shopify. When will we see streamlined, one-page checkout like most other modern shopping cart platforms?

  • Charlie Alexander
    Charlie Alexander
    May 10 2013, 04:48AM

    I agree with Aaron above, but also that this is a GREAT article. I am lapping this blog up shopify! Thank you ps: can anyone tell me what font it is that you are using here on this blog? It is beautiful and clean.

  • Sacha G
    Sacha G
    May 11 2013, 03:35PM

    I want to echo what Aaron said about the checkout process. Shopify’s current long-winded and cumbersome checkout process is killing conversions, and we all know it.

    It’s absolutely crazy that a one-page checkout still hasn’t been implemented considering we’ve been asking for this for over a year.

  • Vassilis
    May 12 2013, 06:14AM

    Very nice article, i loved all the points but especially no 1. I have two questions:

    Q1: can you give us some examples of Confusing Navigation, for example a good menu ( the right choices for the user) vs a bad menu ( many choices for the user to click) as you did in point no 3?

    Q2: what about checkout process? is one-step or many-steps checkout better? do you have any research about that ?

    Thank you!

  • Nicole Banks
    Nicole Banks
    May 13 2013, 08:29PM

    This site is the first site that I have come across that educates it’s potential customers so well. The information provided is well needed, when considering starting an ecommerce business. Thank you for providing this information!!!

  • Marvin
    May 14 2013, 01:15AM

    online shopping now days is getting very much popular because of many features. we can compare products, read review from different user. Even now days we can buy office supplies online and home products online. We get different varieties and many choices.

  • Ray R. Morawski
    Ray R. Morawski
    May 16 2013, 02:43PM

    Good points! I appreciated the practical information in a easy to read format. Navigation is so important. When I cannot find my way around a site easy, I like many are gone!

  • Gary D
    Gary D
    May 22 2013, 04:57PM

    Great article: we have been not only re-branding our company but also building a new web site. Being a new company, any and all positive, progressive information that you have to offer would by greatly appreciated.

  • Justus Romijn
    Justus Romijn
    May 23 2013, 06:29AM

    I’m not so sure about the research on the F-pattern effect at point 4. It could be just a correlation, as most websites are build from top-left to down right, hence the results from eye-tracking software that most people also view the site in this way.

  • Marie-Lousie Anderson
    Marie-Lousie Anderson
    May 26 2013, 08:35PM

    Your articles and suggestions are much appreciated and make a lot of sense. I have recently started my business and have a visually pleasing website and easy navigation but a lack of traffic and sales. I realize that the positive effect of marketing (that I am doing myself) takes time.
    I would like to ask your opinion in regard to pricing and sales?

  • Matthew Steffen
    Matthew Steffen
    June 14 2013, 06:11AM

    This is an exclusive article. Thanks for sharing such an important article.

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