I’ve been working on a new community-orientated startup lately, which also has an e-commerce / marketplace element to it. As such it needs some beautiful product pages

Product pages are absolutely crucial to the success of your website. They often double up as a landing page, and they must tick all of the right boxes to boost conversions (and reduce bounce rates).

However, product pages on a community-powered websites need to go the extra mile. They must help convert visitors into customers, but they must also engage and drive interaction. I want to encourage buying (a ‘hard’ goal) as well as rating, reviewing, bookmarking and sharing products (a ‘soft’ goal).

For my new site the thinking is very much along the lines of 80% community / 20% marketplace, and I believe that viral functionality (and related information) on product pages is essential. But there is now a surfeit of options from which to choose, which leaves us in a bit of a dilemma. What to leave out?

Perhaps we should start by figuring out what the essentials are. Consider what happens when you don’t have the right information on the product page. Take shipping information, as a prime example of where things can go awry.

Product pages must include shipping details, yet many online retailers hide this information in the checkout. All this does is increase checkout abandonment, as visitors enter only to find out the shipping costs and options before promptly pressing the back button (to further consider the purchase, or possibly bail out due to an unpleasant surprise relating to outrageous shipping fees). When this happens the e-commerce manager assumes that there is a problem with checkout abandonment. Forms and processes may be redesigned, yet the problem is merely about the positioning of information. Redesigning the checkout on this basis is a waste of time, effort and money.

So what needs to be on the product page? 

You’d be surprised at the sheer amount of options. There are too many elements to display in a concise, meaningful way. Some things carry more value than others, so there’s a series of decisions to be made along the lines of ‘What can we leave out?’.

There are obvious things that you absolutely must display, like price and availability. And there are less obvious things, which may (or may not) be disposable. The challenge is partly an informational one (what to place where and what to leave out?), partly a persuasive one (labels, colours, sizes?) and partly a design one (how to avoid clutter, insert space and guide the eye?).

Here’s a list of the various elements that I’d like to be able to display on my product pages. They’re perhaps not all necessary, and some may get in the way, but it strikes me that community-powered websites required more information and options than a pure e-commerce site. 

ESSENTIALS

  • Product title
  • Images
  • Add to cart button
  • Price
  • Availability
  • Payment methods
  • Shipping (delivered to / carrier options / fees / offers)
  • Location
  • Product description
  • Product detail (materials used / dimensions / weight / cleaning / washing)
  • Sizing / size guide
  • Colour options
  • Date added
  • Product tags / categories

SELLER DETAILS

  • Seller rating
  • Seller followers
  • Other items by this seller
  • Contact seller
  • Follow seller
  • Seller testimonials
  • Returns policy

RATINGS, REVIEWS, SHARING AND STORING

  • Item ratings
  • Item reviews (and / or comments)
  • Item followers
  • Rate item (‘love this’ / 1-5 stars, etc)
  • Bookmarks / sharing / tweet this / send to a friend
  • Add to wishlist (item / seller)

SOCIAL CREDIBILITY AND MERCHANDISING

  • Who loves ya baby?
  • People who liked this also liked…
  • Cross-selling / up-selling (buy with X and save £££)

RICHER, DEEPER, SEXIER

  • Video
  • International pricing / currency converter (e.g £99, EU110, $165)
  • Colour chart 
  • Trustmarks (security signs, testimonials)
  • Number produced
  • Product code
  • Flag item (spam etc)
  • Stats (views / fans / item follows / sales)

If you have experimented with adding, repositioning, relabeling and/or removing some of these elements I’d love to hear what worked for you (and what didn’t). Also, what have I missed? Please leave a comment below…