Today with so many online trends and ecommerce functionality, things could get very hectic within your ecommerce presence. There are some features and functionality which can also take a toll on the performance of the site, and are often being placed within the design by many “ecommerce agencies” disregarding the impacts on the users of the site and ultimately the success of the site in terms of sales. Often the design agencies will come up with a design and site without asking the correct questions and aiming for the target audience. Also, the blame isn’t solely with creative agencies, retailers and companies are to blame too. Where design, features and functionality are forced upon the creatives, by the client and wanting their vision before they’ll sign off the site.
User-centric design is the solution, In user centric design, as the name suggests, the person using the site is at the forefront of the designer’s mind. Personas of up to 5 different users should be scoped and devised to then question the usability and functionality during the design process. Key questions to ask…Who is the target audience? How familiar with internet shopping are they? Which age group? Do they search or navigate? How much time do they have when online (to understand buying /research behaviour). All these elements make a difference to the features and the layout of an ecommerce website. By following a user centric design process you can ensure that your site is truly answering the needs of your target audience.
Once this is understood the details can then be translated to wire-frame designs. These are like a blue print of the features, positions and how users interact. The creative design should then be applied on top of the wire-frame schematics to ensure that creative doesn’t impact loss in sales, conversion and process. It’s shocking how many online retailers have signed off creative designs for the sake of design, which usability experts can clearly see do not make the most of online merchandising industry standards and which are not likely to give them the best return on investment.
You may think that increasing your customer service, return on investment and maximising sales is reason enough to adopt user centric design, however there is a bonus…The personas can also be developed to continue through to online marketing, giving retailers an understanding of how they are to interact and encourage repeat visits and sales per persona group. It maybe that one group is more likely to react to a traditional direct marketing catalogue posted through the door or a flyer, whereas the other may choose to follow a retailer via facebook or twitter. The importance once again is knowing your customer and being clever in the way you track behavior and results to allow you to develop a strategy going forward.
Know your users, design and develop for those users, convert your users to purchase and finally retain your customer!