to Do in Your Auction Listings
Okay, it's only fair. We just discussed ten things you
do in your auction listings. Now let's look at ten things you
doat the risk of
Don't make your listing too long
. Yeah, I know I said that you need to include all the necessary details in your item description. But the important word is "necessary," not "all." Don't force potential
to scroll through multiple screens of unnecessary information. Put the important stuff up-front and get to the end as quickly as you can. Two screens worth of
is more than enough for most listings. Anything longer will cause potential buyers to click away to another auction.
Don't use large, slow-loading graphics
. Not every buyer is on an
-fast broadband Internet connection. A good 40% of your potential customers still use old-fashioned dial-up connectionsand these connections, in case you
. If you pack your pages with a half-
extra-large photos, it might take a minute or more for your entire page to load on a dial-up connection. Many potential buyers simply won't wait that long, which means they click away before the page is done loading. Make sure you resize your graphics to minimize download times, and use just enough photos to enhance the sale.
Don't make your listing too wide
. Web users hate to scroll
. While some users with older PCs are still running at 480 x 640 resolution (that's just 640 pixels wide), most users today have at least a 600 x 800 display. So figure that you have a maximum of 800 pixels to work with, in the width direction, and format your text and graphics to be no wider than this.
Don't use too many different font, type
. I remember back in the early 1990s when desktop publishing programs first hit the mainstream. All of a sudden everyone thought they were expert page designersbut they weren't. The upshot of PageMaker and similar programs was a
of poorly designed newsletters and
, most of which used too many different fonts. Unfortunately, this same type of poor design is all too common in eBay auction listings, and too many fonts and type sizes make your listings hard to read. You should limit yourself to no more than two type faces, one for the title and one for the descriptive textalthough it's more than okay to use the same font for both. You should also limit yourself to no more than five type sizesfor the title (largest),
(next-largest), first paragraph (
-largest), main description (regular), and terms of sale (smallest). And limit yourself to no more than two or three different type colors throughout the entire listingone for your title/subtitle, another for your body text, and a third for
text within the listing body.
Don't use color combinations that are hard to read
. Along the same lines, keep the color combinations down to a reasonable number, and make sure the colors are easy for
to read. That probably means dark type on a light background; reverse type (light text on a dark background) is much, much harder to read. You should also avoid garish color combinations, like orange and green, or purple and red. And remember that your eye automatically goes to the brightest colorso don't use the brightest color for the least important information!
Don't confuse the buyer with an overly-busy layout
. Back to the PageMaker example, it's way too easy to create a page layout that is overly busy and oftentimes confusing. Try to lead the
's eye down the page in a natural manner, don't force the eyes to jump all over the page. That means going light on the random text boxes, graphics, and tables, all of which can serve as speed bumps for anyone trying to read from top to bottom.
Don't overuse animations and other flashy special effects
. Most users hate, hate,
flashy graphics and animations on a web page. Yeah, they
attentionbut not in a good way. Unless you have a really good reason for including these types of special effects, avoid animations and flashing graphics like the plague. Just because you
do something (using HTML), doesn't mean you
Don't subject the buyer to automatically playing background music
. Equally annoying is background music that plays as soon as the listing page is loaded. Not only is background music normally unwanted, it'll drive some potential customers awayparticularly those who are browsing on their work computers. If you must include sound in your auctions, make the sound play only after the customer clicks a button. Optional sound is okay; forcing users to listen isn't.
Don't overwhelm the buyer with too many details and restrictions
. Some sellers focus too much on the negative. There is nothing that turns off potential buyers faster than reading line after line of what the seller
do. No personal checks; no foreign bidders; no bidders with negative feedback; no returns allowed; no this and no that. All that negativity
customers away. It's okay to have a reasonable terms of sale (more than okay, actually; it's a good idea), but don't let the details get in the way of selling your item. Along the same lines, don't put your TOS at the top of your listing; keep it at the bottom, in the fine print, where it belongs.
. This should go without saying. You should never misrepresent the items you sell on eBay. That means telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about the item being listed. And part of the truth is being honest about any defects or damage. Along the same lines, don't use keywords in your title that don't apply to your item; you won't win over any buyers by describing your item as "NOT a green widget."