UX design in eCommerce: say “adiós!” to low conversion rates.

Everyone is talking about UX design, but a few of us have seen how it should actually work. You won’t find the only and the best definition of this term. You don’t need to. When you grasp the core principle of it and implement UX design in your eCommerce store, things will never be the same.

UX (User Experience) is a multifaceted conception. It implies data architecture, interactive design, usability, visual design and interaction between a human being and a PC. Oxford academic has conducted a research in order to find out what is the role of UX design in business and what exactly it helps to achieve: “The goal of user experience design in industry is to improve customer satisfaction and loyalty through the utility, ease of use, and pleasure provided in the interaction with a product”. In other words, UX is about improving the experience of interaction with a product in such a way, for the clients could find the value in it.

UX design is a value and convenience which you provide to customers at every stage of interaction with your eCommerce store. Just hit their needs and the loyalty is yours. Sounds so simple and evident right? The question is: do you know the needs of your customers and how to offer a correct solution with UX? That’s why UX design starts with consumer research.

Background for creating UX design for your eCommerce store

Typical mistakes which lead to disappointments in eCommerce business and cause repeated investments:

  • Surface knowledge about the target audience and its segments.
  • Ignoring the competitor analysis
  • Looking soberly on the product/service you are going to sell or already selling to find the answers to the following questions: do I have a competitive advantage? Which one? Which value does my product/service carry for the customer and (if my product is not unique) why should the customer choose me?

Such nuances help to create the brand’s conception, its positioning, and design a good marketing strategy. The problem awareness starts when you have some traffic and no sales. The conversion is low. And you begin to realize that the most responsible investment should be done in the very beginning – when you have an idea and the vision of what to do, but you need people who have the expertise. Reliable people, who will treat your business like their own, because they know that there is too much at stake.

Do you know why I decided to raise this topic? I’ve noticed an awful tendency: business owners launch a new eCommerce store, have certain hopes concerning the project but things do not work. No sales, no customers, just nothing. And this should be changed. You already know how. Ok, let’s leave sentiments for now. Let’s see what a designer should do in order to make your project look decent and make your customers buy more frequently.

A designer is an architect and a painter of your concept

Much depends on this person. Too much. Only once in my experience I have met a designer who treats his work with diligence and high professionalism. And we still cooperate. I do not have doubts that there might be many designers with similar qualities, but there are many with quite opposite qualities as well. And the task of a business owner/manager is to distinguish a good designer from a bad one. It’s not so easy as it turns out. Why?

At the beginning of your cooperation, everything seems perfect…until you pay forward. Sometimes things start changing almost at once. Motivation is fainting and the work is being done simply for the sake of being done. I doubt that you will be satisfied with average results. We both know that your business deserves the best. So, how can you build an effective collaboration process with a designer?

    • Evident fact: check the expertise (the number of completed projects, their quality and the spheres of competence). If there is an ardent wish, you can even ask his/her past clients to give a feedback. You might be surprised to hear certain things (sigh with relief that you haven’t yet started cooperation) or you will be 100% satisfied to learn that you are making a right choice.
    • First conversation: it’s enormously important to discuss all possible details of a future project. If we are talking about an eCommerce store, the points are the following:

  • The number of pages to be designed. Don’t forget that main pages contain subpages and design may vary. (It concerns both a design from scratch and a redesign as well). The agreed number of pages should be fixed in your personal document. When a certain page has been designed, you just use the doc as a checklist and put a tick near the page to see what is still left. Ask your designer to show his list as well. Just to make sure that they are similar.

  • You will certainly wish to have additional elements on your store (different pop-ups for your marketing activities). For example, asking a customer to subscribe. Or designing different banners for promotions. Discuss it with a designer, plan all the visual elements in advance and agree on the final price. If you forget something, you will need to pay more.

  • What you also need to specify is whether a designer prepares a desktop version only or a decent responsive design. Considering the fact that more and more users prefer to shop online using mobile devices, responsive design is a must-have thing nowadays. If the store has defects, the content is displayed incorrectly and the speed is low, conversion suffers greatly.

    • Logo redesign. A small element, but a rather significant one, I should say. You together with a designer can create a unique logo for your brand. Or redesign the old one. But a designer will estimate the website and logo design as two separate projects. Considering the fact that logo is the major attribute of your brand and will serve as an image for your brand in the customer’s eyes…It’s worthwhile devoting time and efforts into this.

    • Navigation. Make sure that your specialist knows the principles of good website navigation. When the prototype is being prepared, a designer should make the correct conversion paths through the site to wisely lead the customer to the checkout page. The role of navigation is critically important. If customers don’t know how to find the necessary product on your store, be sure, you’ve lost them.

    • Deadlines. Agree upon the deadline right after you discuss all major points. If you forget to do this, things might go very slowly. The degree of urgency differs much in different projects, but you shouldn’t forget that when the design is prepared, the process of development starts. This project stage requires lots of attention, efforts, and responsibility. If a project is complex, it might take a great deal of time to get things done.

    • Ordering a prototype. It’s cool if you already have a vision of how the future eCommerce store will look like. If not, you can order a prototype (not free of charge). You will have a ready structure for the eCommerce platform. It’s more convenient for both parties and this will make the process faster.

    Concerning the colors and elements of the website. To think of, I have almost forgotten to tell you this. Do not copy the design of some other store. For God’s sake. Make your online store unique. I know pretty well, there is a huge temptation to “borrow” at least something if some site is mind-blowing. But believe me, you don’t want to be someone’s copy and shadow. Provide a customer with unique design and user experience. Your brand’s reputation starts with such details.

    • Control. One of the most transparent ways to see how things are moving with your project is tracking the progress with Jira. With this tool, you will be able to see how much time a designer spent on a certain task. When the work is finished, the source materials should be handed over to developers in a decent format. Some prefer to give PSD-files, but a good alternative to this is storing files in Zeplin. The tool is convenient because the developers see the function, size of each element and the fonts. It’s convenient and saves time.

    • The right candidate. A designer develops not what you ask, but what you really need because of having the necessary expertise. If a designer is not responsible for the layout, he will give the step by step guide “How each element of your website should function”, which elements are active and which are static. He won’t leave you when the work with design is done, but help you to solve things if something goes wrong. An ideal scenario: a designer is aware of your existing problems in business (if we talk about the redesign), he/she analyzes your competitors, closely collaborates with your sales team to eliminate all bottlenecks in the future design.

    Design without good content is a waste of money

    The truth is the following: people won’t buy the product simply because the eCommerce store design is cool. The content that converts visitors into customers has the following features:

    • It’s not simply the text, it’s the text based on content marketing principles
    • The content helps each customer understand the value of the product and how it can make the customer’s life easier, better or simply make him happier
    • The content appeals to emotions
    • It arouses the customer’s curiosity and makes the customer surf an online store much longer
    • It arouses the wish to become your loyal customer (showing the advantages of a product, the peculiarities of customer service and highly personalized approach)
    • It arouses a desire to tell someone else about your brand
    • It shapes the brand (good content is actually your best personal marketing and PR manager)

    Who’s responsible for this? It’s a content marketer’s job. Here is the description of your ideal candidate:

    • Perfect knowledge of grammar rules. No excuses
    • Good knowledge of the artistic language and storytelling principles
    • Having a sincere wish to tell the story of your brand and spread it through digital channels (not just writing for the sake of writing)
    • Good portfolio is a must
    • Knowledge of certain marketing principles (how to write content that sells)

    When design and content on the eCommerce store are on the highest level, the results exceed all expectations.

    Your project is in the developer’s hands. What’s next?

    A frontend developer should strive to achieve a Pixel Perfect Design. In addition to this:

    • Make the visual design qualitative and interactive for the user: if the design itself is good it should look exactly the same when the layout is ready. It’s great if a designer provides you with comments on the use of elements (different types of animation etc). But if he doesn’t, a frontend developer will have to do this by himself by means of Google search, asking a friend/colleague or his own expertise.
    • Responsive design: if it was provided by a designer, things get easier. If you didn’t agree upon the responsive design, it will take time for the frontend developer to think over this issue by himself. In other words, he should care for the website design looked decent on all devices. There might be certain nuances he should care about. Heavy elements in the mobile version may slow down the speed (that means he should know for sure what should be avoided without harming the aesthetic look of the website). Slow loading means a bad user experience. Bad customer experience means low conversion. Low conversion means no sales. Now you realize (or recollect) how much depends on the mastery of your frontend developer.

    Backend developer is a best friend of a frontend developer:

    • Makes sure that the user experience is flawless
    • Sets the server-side logic for external elements
    • Optimizes the speed and performance of the platform
    • Responsible for integrating your eCommerce store with certain tools (CRM, POS, email marketing, etc)

    P.S. – decided not to go deeper into this issue, enumerating the languages a developer should know and all that stuff.

    Enough for getting things done? We’ve only just begun!

    Let’s imagine the situation that you are ready to launch the project. You are even confident that a QA engineer has tested everything properly. What will you decide: to check everything by yourself from start to finish or to hope that your QA has tested everything with a clear conscience?

    I’ll tell you what: if you have a manager, who will test the project once again, it should happen. If you are this manager – congratulations. No one yet has died because he tested too much. So, if it happens that there are troubles with conversion, you will be sure that you need to optimize the content or the strategy. But one thing is still certain: your eCommerce store should have a regular technical support.

    Let’s sum up:

    You know perfectly well that UX design is not a magic pill. But it’s a totally different thing when combined with micro UX nuances, good content and well-thought-out marketing strategy. Before creating this, always remember about a must-have foundation to make all this work…Guess what I am hinting at. I am talking about people. Take your time to find the right people and you won’t have to do things twice. Steve Jobs had the same approach, that’s why he said: “We hire people who want to make the best things in the world”. People who share your values are your best employees. So, I wish you patience and luck not to miss such people.

    P.S. – if you have made a decision to redesign your eCommerece store, let me know, I will send you a checklist.

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