At its core, a website exists for humans — and to some degree businesses — to solve problems. So taking the time to look closely at what those problems are is going to help you figure out how to solve them successfully. Similarly, knowing that the problem we’re solving is one of brand awareness, sales journey, information distribution, or inspiring knowledge leadership (or something else) is going to help focus your efforts when planning and executing the work.
What is a sales site?
Sales sites have a primary goal of (duh) selling something. This is e-commerce in general, but while some other types of sites have a bit of a sales component, we’re talking about websites where their main focus is as a site built to sell stuff, full stop.
Think large and small online retailers or brands that divide their digital presence into multiple sites and have, in some cases, just about every type of site we’re mentioning in this series. Their main shopping site would apply here.
Really obvious examples of sales sites would be Amazon or eBay, but even something like Masterclass is primarily about selling something.
Masterclass’s website feels a bit like an informative site, but the job to be done for the user is to not just find information but travel the path of purchase, which can take twists and turns through various upsells and packages before resulting in a cha-ching.
Sales sites also include smaller-scale businesses too, like the local soap company that's trying to sell their soap to somebody within a 50-mile radius, or a restaurant with an online menu. Hotel brand-dot-com sites like HolidayInnExpress.com, for example (one Edgar Allan has worked on before) and is about to work on again), are all about booking, which is the hotel world’s version of selling.
On sites like this, users are laser-focused seekers are there with one goal: to choose a product or service, add it to a cart, and check out. Businesses have a mirror-image aim: to get people to do those things as often and in as much volume as possible. Therefore the goal of the site is to remove friction from the buying process and get more people to the finish line with fuller carts.
What should you focus on when creating a sales site?
For sales sites, the cart is the bullseye, and the user’s journey to get there is everything. So, what's important there? Customer research and journey, the psychology of what makes people click buy, and strategy: how we use UX and content to push them toward purchase and clear their path on the way.
So, for a sales site:
You put a lot of eggs in the content design basket
You use visual and verbal tone to assure users they’re in the right place
You have the very best checkout and payment processing technology
You do everything you can to plan and test the journey from the first click to the “buy” click
TLDR: if we’re creating this type of site, we’re putting energy into audience research, content design, UX, testing, and e-commerce technology to help buyers move like butta through the purchase stages from dreaming to selection, purchase to review, and returning for more.
Wait — aren’t there other types of sites too? Indeed. Check out the master article here.