5 places to get started on optimization

Where to start ? What to do next ?
5 ideas to keep you moving.

Plan day

#1 Repeat what you've just done

If you're already improving your site, doing more of what has worked is a great tactic.
If improved product shots are converting better then improve all your product shots - or improve them further or bigger - or go for multiple shots or an interactive product viewer.
If copy changes have helped - then change more. Did you put in more detail, or describe benefits (not just features) - or maybe you persuaded visitors by telling a compelling story. Decide what worked and do more of it.
Maybe you sold more sofa-beds in the sofa category - instead of the bed category. Why not have sofa-beds in both ? And look at other products that could belong in several categories.

#2 Fix broken stuff

Dead links that point to a long-gone page.
Calculators that don't...calculate.
Email auto-responders that never arrive or contain dead links.
A good way to find broken stuff is to mystery shop your site yourself. Or even better do a mini-usability test by getting your mum to buy a product or become a sales lead and watch your site in action.

#3 Start at the front

This is often with a Google AdWords campaign.
This can be the quickest way to get more traffic to your site. Set a huge budget for a few days and watch traffic and conversion rates. And use some of these tips to get higher quality clickers.

After improving the front of the journey, you can improve...

#4 The middle of the journey

The middle of the visitor's journey is your Landing page - her first encounter with your site. If you're still sending AdWords traffic to your home page then this is where to start: build dedicated Landing Pages carefully tuned in to match the visitor's motivations and guide her to take action - buy, enquire, call, visit, whatever you want her to do next.
If you're selling products online, then your Landing Page should be the closest match to your visitor's search: a product page or a sub-category page.

#5 Start at the end of the journey

If you start at the end you can work backwards towards the start - improving each step.
The end is usually a 'thanks' page after the visitor has taken some online action - eg

'Thanks for ordering your ipod from ipod-city, blah blah...'

Very often these thanks pages are written by junior programmers and are never reviewed or modified - just copied forwards from the original 1998 version.
It's good practice to spell out what the site owner will do and what the site visitor needs to do. This can be as simple as checking her email and following instructions. And what to do if no email arrives.

Look at the thanks page as an opportunity. Probably too late for an upsell or an additional sale. But why not invite her to bookmark the site on Facebook so her friends can see she's just bought a 300GB iPod for only $89. Or follow the order on Twitter - and receive special deals as well.

After you've improved the last part of the journey, improve the step before. For e-commerce sites the checkout is one area that can be improved over and over again. 'Shopping Cart Recovery' is a speciality within a speciality - there's even a video about carts.

And talking of Facebook - you can bookmark this page right here...