As more consumers shop online,
Web retailers are experiencing
welcomed traffic spikes and
recognizing the need to increase
their IT spend in 2013 to keep up
with the demand.
According to the 2013 Shop.org and
Forrester Research Inc. State Of Retailing
Online survey, more than half (51
percent) of retailers surveyed said
their top priority for 2013 is site
optimization, including checkout
optimization, alternative payments,
user experience, testing and product
detail page enhancements. Among
other customer experience investments
this year, 27 percent of the retailers
surveyed plan to prioritize site redesign,
including overhauling the “look and feel” and implementing
responsive design changes.
Every enterprise has its own processes for website
design and development, but to avoid being left out in
the digital cold, companies should take the following
four steps to design an optimized user experience.
Understand the Objectives
“The most successful brands let their objectives drive the
site design,” said Scott Pulsipher, general manager
for Amazon Webstore. “This may include strengthening
brand identity, increasing customer engagement
or selling more products.”
Let’s look at examples of each. Pages that
strengthen a brand’s identity are pages with executive
bios, testimonials, press releases, etc. Pages
that increase customer engagement are blogs,
white papers and videos, and the list goes on.
Lastly, pages that sell products are (you guessed
it) product, subscription and checkout pages.
Regardless of page type, it’s imperative to determine
its objectives first and then think critically
about content placement. The most
basic rule to follow, for all pages, is to keep
important information above the fold, such as
images and calls-to-action.
“The ‘Add to Cart’ button and other CTAs should be
displayed prominently,” said Pulsipher. “In addition,
place the most pertinent information — product
descriptions, images, prices and reviews — above the
fold to increase conversions.”
Provide Consistent Collateral
To make a lasting connection with visitors, digital
enterprises should aim to create a consistent crossplatform
“personality.” To achieve this, a company can
employ one of many strategies.
“Some companies take a global brand strategy with
a single corporate brand identity,” said Pulsipher.
“Other companies, with multi-brand strategies,
launch a site for each brand. This allows the individual
brand, with its own personality, to speak directly
with its target segments. Meanwhile, other companies
create flash sale or curated sale sites to target even
smaller niches. With so much customer focus, know
that the personality of the brand will match the personality
of the customer.”
Taking this approach delivers a clear message about
the enterprise when a consumer is reading and engaging
with its branded content. More importantly, tailoring
the copy to fit the audience's tone can help lift
Design the Page
Retailers know using design elements that create a
clear, compelling and aesthetically appealing message
is necessary. Color, font face, images per page and use
of white space impact the message and influences the
customer’s first impression of the brand.
“When selling a design-oriented product, visuals
provide impact and offer the customer a rich shopping
experience,” said Stephanie Pertuit, online marketing
manager for Blinds.com. “To keep a site fresh, introduce
new ideas and design cues. For instance, tying a
promotion to a timely event or a coupon with a holiday
can generate a positive response.”
Finally, the experts agree to start with the
customer and work backward. The development of new pages begins by looking at quantitative (e.g.
heat maps, survey responses) and qualitative metrics
(e.g. customer emails or social media interactions).
Based on this information, the designer
creates a mock-up for review. Then, once the layout
appears promising for accomplishing the goal,
the page is developed.
Test for Results
After completing the page, make sure the design decisions
achieve the desired goal while confirming a
To determine the most persuasive design, conduct
A/B testing on the information architecture like
Blinds.com does. This company constantly tests ways
to make buying window coverings easier and more
enjoyable online and only adds content, images, and
design elements (e.g. inspirational room scenes, 360-
degree product views or close-up images) that are
useable and will convert. The general rules of thumb
is to analyze usability tests, surveys and Web analytics
regularly and test constantly for effectiveness.
Net a Yes
Every customer has a mission and a set of expectations.
So, address the customer’s needs using concise copy,
user-friendly visual elements and adding personal
touches to influence a positive response. Highlight key
differentiators of either the product or the buying
process that make purchasing as seamless as possible.
Knowing the desired outcome will determine the appropriate
“Since visitors are in different phases of the buying
process, offer multiple ways to interact with the site
from buttons guiding customers to order free samples
to videos encouraging a design consultation scheduling
to the larger end goal of clicking ‘Buy Now,’” said Pertuit.
“Infusing the site with helpful reassurances, such
as tips and friendly faces using the product, shows that
assistance is available throughout the process.”
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