At the point you feel like you are due for a redesign, its probably a little too late. The most successful online stores are in a constant state of change, ever-evolving toward future goals. This means preparing for the mobile-local change long before Google’s algorithm forced you to. It means becoming a social-first brand that uses all available networks to not only connect with customers and fans, but genuinely talk to them, too. It means putting your customer first and prioritizing their wants.
And, when it comes to ecommerce site design, what the consumer wants is pretty simple: convenience.
I once met with a Pinterest influencer who said, “Ecommerce is like grocery shopping. Yes, customers absolutely care about the ingredients and where the item comes from, but they aren’t going to pick up the box and read that information unless the packaging catches their eye first.”
In other words, the ecommerce industry is akin to a grocery store. Aisles play the part of a search engine (where keywords help customers identify what they need). Shelves play the part of your search engine ranking (though in supermarkets, you want to be in the middle –– where a person’s eyes naturally fall –– rather than on top). Your site’s aesthetic –– or, rather, your homepage and product page design –– plays the part of packaging, and this is key.
If you want customers to read through your product information and press the “Add to Cart” button, you have to get them there first with appealing design and logical site flow. So, as you ramp up for an ecommerce redesign, here are the top things you need to consider before you begin rebuilding.
Focus on ROI
The entire focus of a redesign should be to increase traffic, increase AOV, increase conversion rate, or all three! I call these the three wisemen. Every feature or design element should have a dotted line back to one of these three goals –– otherwise, you don’t need that element.
There is a fourth goal, however, and that is to increase back-office efficiency. In general, though, this is typically tied more to your ecommerce replatforming than a redesign. Replatforming addresses concerns around your ecommerce technology solution, whereas a redesign addresses concerns around traffic, page flow, branding and more. Often, brands will decide to redesign, even in the slightest, when they migrate from one solution to the other since they are already diving in to the site infrastructure and layout. This, however, is not a necessary step.
Test as Often as Possible
As my friend and best selling author Bryan Eisenberg says, “Always be testing.”
Whatever you can do to test the performance of a particular redesign or new functionality, the better. Sometimes, of course, testing isn’t possible. If you can’t test before, though, then I would definitely test after. To do this, be sure to measure site performance for at least three months prior to your redesign and then give the design a couple months before you compare performance metrics.
Better yet, if your site performance has drastically increased, reach out to your ecommerce technology provider or designer team to help draft copy to pitch to publications about your success. This is an added PR and brand awareness opportunity that helps to position your brand as a thought leader in the ecommerce space.
A few things to test along the way that have proven to work for other ecommerce sites:
- Keep it simple: Remove site clutter and have prominent CTAs as well as efficient site search functionality. This will help to move customers down their preferred conversion funnel much more quickly.
- Make sure your visitors feel a natural flow to move forward: CTAs here are extremely important. Push customers to new product arrivals or show them a collection that you have curated. No matter what, give customers a specific action to take when they land on your homepage.
- Think about button copy and color: Don’t only think about button copy and color, but absolutely A/B test this, even after you’ve launched your ecommerce redesign. Optimizely is a great app to help you do just that.
- Give plenty of assurances along the way: Make sure your site’s security seals are prominent so as to breed consumer trust. Also, use reviews throughout your site as social proof that your products are quality.
Think Mobile First
Google has spoken and now, being mobile-friendly isn’t just a nice-to-have –– it’s a requirement. So, when redesigning, think about how mobile devices will resize the design. Use tools like Responsinator or Responsive.is to test out your new design on all mobile devices.
Keep in mind, too, that devices change. The iPhone didn’t even exist when I founded Groove Commerce in 2007. But, look at how the world has changed since. My recommendation is to go responsive and follow best practices. Do the best that you can and do not wait five years to adjust your site for new devices. You’ll fall to the back of the pack if you do.
Take Inventory and Remember Functionality
The most common problem I see during redesign is that site owners haven’t taken inventory of their sites from a features and functionality standpoint. It’s important to not forget the content and functionality that is already working well for you.
It’s also good to understand the site elements that cause friction in the sales process as well so that you can smooth them out or remove them.
Use Google Analytics to get insight into your site flow and prioritize redesigns for pages that have higher than site-average bounce rates. Think it through: what is it about this page that is causing so many people to leave? Is it poor functionality or product photos? Is it difficult to navigate? Are the CTA buttons not clear? Use a redesign to solve for that.
Visuals are Everything
What’s above the fold is really, really important. Think about your “Add to Cart” button and what data elements you need to display near there. For instance, how long does it take your products to typically ship? Are they in stock? How will features like ratings and reviews, which create social proof, be integrated into the page?
Start by showing a strong value proposition to your visitors on every single page and be sure to use non-stock photography (or creative non-stock photography like images from Gratisography or Unsplash).
In all, be customer-centric in your redesign approach and don’t necessarily trust your gut. Instead, test absolutely everything with tracking and metrics to make sure that every small design change is having an optimal impact on your business’s bottom line.
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