Author - Victoria Greene

5 Web Design Trends For New Ecommerce Sites 2018

2017 was a year for bold, brutalist web design.

Take a brand like Balenciaga.

The use of negative space and clean lines makes for a highly functional web environment. It looks immaculate on all devices.

However, this year, trends are evolving towards the bold and immersive. Picture bright, saturated colors, pattern, and artful typography.

Whether you’re looking to draw users into your opt-in pages, or show off your products, this post will talk you through five web design trends for new ecommerce sites in 2018.

Making The Most Of Customer Reviews

88% of customers check out reviews online before deciding to buy. You need to make sure that you are doing what you can to maximize the increased traffic customer reviews can bring.

Sites like AO.com use layered review options, optimizing for the user’s preferences in the features of the products. Dynamic bars also animate to show the ratings. This is a useful design feature that adds a sense of authenticity to the user-generated reviews.

The data collected in survey content can help you structure your data for easier consumption on your website. Highly technical reviews can be separated from everyday ‘happy customer’ comments, satisfying different audience segments.

Reviews can also be thought of as a form of social proof. Developments over the last year within Facebook have enabled business pages to leverage all social media interactions towards their star rating. All comments, likes, and check-ins can count towards your site’s online clout. And so to encourage interaction across platforms, social plugins can help draw in new responses.

One-On-One Recommendations

Chatbots and voice command A.I are starting to become mainstream. In the year ahead, ecommerce brands should be looking for ways to incorporate machine learning wherever there’s a fit. Chatbots are one of the easiest ways to make your site feel more personable and customer-service oriented.

There’s a lot that goes into marrying UX, personalization and live chat, and it starts with a brainstorming session. List all of the possible commands and questions your website could pose. Next, consider how they may be rephrased using different terms and start creating your own chatbot responses to common questions.

On-site chatbots are commonly seen on the bottom right-hand side of a website. However, the best ecommerce brands are using Facebook Messenger and unique hooks to encourage the user to interact long-term.

Typefaces: The Bolder The Better

Many brands are embracing the bold, serif typeface trend. In many cases, the header text spans across the length of the hero banner.

However, for a fresh new look, headers are also being scattered throughout landing page designs.

Left, right, center justification, or entirely animated — bold text is being used in modern designs to create more immersive scanning patterns across the landing page copy.

Unconventional scanning patterns can keep visitors interested and reduce bounce rates.

Further, bolding certain words and phrases can help your messages sink in and trigger specific emotions in the reader.

In all of your on-page copy, you can use exciting typefaces to draw attention to the subheadings and keywords that you want your customers to focus on.

Easy-To-Scale Social-Friendly Sites

The number of selling channels is ever-increasing. Running a website that can evolve with the ecommerce trends is key to staying afloat in the saturated online market.

Open source CMS systems are enabling more brands to experiment with bespoke design elements, while maintaining scalable functionality.

Subscription as Service (SaaS) models allow you to create an online store, customize it, and access all of the backend features to keep it running it smoothly.  For those who are new to ecommerce and web design SaaS hosts offer useful 24/7 support. You can even buy one that’s already set up & running.

As a reflection of the domination of social media in ecommerce marketing, many sales sites are mirroring the aesthetics of networks like Instagram. A simple product grid can easily match that of an Instagram profile, in the case of the Nick Mayer art store site:

Homepages that focus on the products make for a layout that’s easy-on-the-eye for smartphone users. The nested menu options are also easy to navigate on any device..

Inclusive Design

Designing websites for accessibility is not a new thing. But, it is undoubtedly becoming more normalized as awareness of Inclusive Design Principles grows.

“The days of making assumptions about how, where, and why people consume content in the ways they do, are over. The need for inclusion is now ubiquitous.” —  Leonie Watson, Brand Consultant @ Heydon Pickering 

Accessible Design gives people of all ages and abilities a clear path to conversion on any given webpage. As just one small example, if you are supplying video, you must ensure you include closed caption subtitles.

Bold and graphically exciting landing pages may look interesting. But, if the mix of fonts and colors is inconsistent, many users may have difficulty finding what they need from you.

Also, trends like parallax screens may have been trendy in the past. However, according to the outlined principles for web designers to follow, parallax sites can make some users feel nauseous.

Bear this in mind when considering your scroll options, on-screen animations, and use of video. You also need to present controls for turning these features off.

 

There you have five web design trends for new ecommerce sellers to look out for in 2018. One of the key takeaway points to consider is how you can use your layout, typography, and imagery to create a visual brand narrative. As long as your site is accessible and scaleable with the latest customer interaction trends, there’s plenty of creative leeway for businesses looking to push the aesthetic envelope.

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6 Things, Other Than Marketing, You Need to Spend on in 2018

Being a marketer means constantly being in tune with the latest industry trends — but it can be easy to forget that marketing your business is not done in a vacuum. 

Have you given your business a thorough audit this year? Are there elements of your business, other than marketing, that need some concentrated attention?

After all, marketing only really works when you have a compelling brand and message to put out there in the first place— or an effective business framework that means campaigns are meeting commercial targets.

Here is how you can take an integrated approach with your company strategy this year, ensuring that your marketing budget will go towards conversions, sales, and tangible business goals.

Improve your brand, improve your value proposition

First and foremost, let’s talk about branding. Now, for the uninitiated, branding may not seem much more than trying to get the snazziest, simplest, most memorable logo since Apple’s quarter eaten… apple. Spending on a reliable and innovative designer purely for your logo may seem like a good idea, but a good foundation is still just a foundation.

You need to ensure that everything from your website copy to your e-shots, from your Facebook cover photo to your Instagram profile, are alight with brand messaging. Otherwise, you run the risk of wasting marketing budget on a brand that simply isn’t a reflection of what you can actually do.

It’s easy to become ‘brand blind’, so it’s advisable to open up the conversation with your network to see how they feel about your brand. Be ready to have some difficult conversations.

  1. If you’re not a proficient writer, it’s important to hire people that are. Bad brand copywriting is not something you want to become famous for.
  2. Another great way to get your brand out there is by forming connections with influencers. They have a wide range of influence with the public, aiding with your PR targets  as well. Choosing the relevant one(s) for you is all about knowing your target audience and customer demographic. So, make sure that you choose wisely and don’t risk wasted time. Be true to your brand!
  3. Make sure that your brand has an inherent value proposition, so that your audience can quickly and easily form an accurate picture of what you’re offering them.

Strategy & data planning

A strategy is key for anyone wanting to get ahead. It’ll guide your thought processes for the year(s) to come; laying out clear steps for you and your team to follow.  It’s at the core of a healthy marketing plan, but should also take into account elements that fall outside the remit of marketing.

Data processing should be a big part of your strategy — as it’s largely insights based on facts and figures that should go into a business strategy. By all means, theorize and hypothesize, but don’t lose sight of the actual customer and market data that’s pouring in.

Writers & content creators

Generating traffic to your website is probably one of, if not the most important factor to think about when allocating your business funds. Traffic leads to the essential inquiries and sales that keep your business running.

In order to generate quality web traffic, you need a stack of high-quality, relevant online content. Not only do you want quality content that’s representative of your brand, you want it to be consistent across all your business channels (including any printed literature).

Hiring people that are both reliable and good at copywriting is the secret behind compelling content creation. Don’t try to fob it off to a junior team member, or squeeze it in yourself between dealing with customer orders. You need to invest in good writers if you want to see a return from your content efforts.

Luckily there are loads of high quality writers and content creators out there that you can contract on a freelance basis.

Outsourcing your business

Don’t be afraid to delegate! Source photographers, HR professionals, designers, developers SEOs etc who are professional and timely.

There is always going to be somebody who can do a job better than you can, so don’t shy away from leaning on expertise when it’s clearly needed.

Hiring those with more experience than yourself can benefit you two-fold. Firstly, they will undoubtedly give your business a necessary boost in quality. Secondly, you can use their expertise to expand your own knowledge whilst also saving time.

And outsourcing doesn’t stop at people. You can also outsource things like logistics via dropshipping or customer service via chatbots. Use the latest tech to help you scale your operations and, ultimately, improve your margins.

Financial services

The importance of a great financial structure is sometimes underestimated in the small business world.

Having your finances handled properly is the crux of any good business. While you use your time to focus on directorial things, your accountant can deal with the monetary side of your work. This can save you both valuable time and money.  A knowledgeable accountant or part-time financial director can be deep wells of high-quality advice.

You should also look into whether financial cloud apps like Receipt Bank or Quickbooks could help you save processing time. The better financial data you have, the better decisions you’ll be able to make for your business.

Travel & networking

Traveling it is a great way to increase the size of your network. Going further afield to meet a client and/or would-be business partner can help solidify rapport – showing how far you’re willing to go to connect.

Ultimately, you can’t put a price on human interaction. While emailing is efficient (and free), it’s nothing compared to the experience of physical interaction; especially if you’re planning to work together long term. Instead of your words being misconstrued, time being wasted and not being able to properly gauge your relationship – take a trip, and see how much further you get… together.

Don’t be afraid to show your face at local networking events, meetups, and conferences either. There are plenty of offline opportunities out there waiting for you.

 

Marketing works best when it’s part of the wider conversation concerning your business. Look to outsourcing and financial management as ways to run a more efficient business, and branding and content as ways to supercharge your sales. Don’t fall into the trap of running after vanity metrics or running your business in restrictive silos.

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The 9 Worst Ecommerce Designs in History

Nowadays, all retailers should have a website. This much we know to be true. But as with so many things in life, web design trends come and go. In fact, some websites exhibit strange styles choices that were never in fashion to begin with.

Back in the mid-90s, most websites were pretty horrible to look at. Either that, or they were plain and boring. Today, there are some gorgeous ecommerce web designs out there. But there still exists a wide range of flashing, brightly colored, overcrowded and poor quality websites in the digital ethos, just waiting for some poor hapless soul to stumble across them.

From these shining, Flash-animated, vaguely terrifying examples, we can learn what not to do when it comes to making our own ecommerce websites, and what to avoid when browsing new websites for sale ourselves — investing in badly designed site may cost you a pretty penny… Don’t do it people!

 

Arngren.net

Right folks, what do we like about this website?

It’s hard to know where to start with this one…

At first glance, it’s like someone cut up a catalogue and made a collage from their favorite listings. At second glance – yes, it’s the same. That’s exactly what it looks like.

Here are just a few of the many things wrong with it:

  • It’s overcrowded (that’s an understatement)
  • There’s no informational hierarchy – we don’t know where to begin
  • The graphics are small and poor quality

LingsCars.com

As you arrive on this one-of-a-kind car rental website, the second thing you’ll notice, after the explosion of color and animation that hits your eyes, is the intensely off-putting music that starts playing automatically.

Here are a few things that aren’t working:

  • First off, it’s an assault to the senses
  • There’s far too much going on – sounds, colors, animation, brains…
  • Despite this compelling graphic, I don’t know if I do trust Ling

 

Pennyjuice.com

Now, the first thing you’ll need to do when you arrive at Pennyjuice.com is chosen whether you want to view it in HTML or Flash. Choose well.

Just who is Penny Juice? Great question. As you can see, people have a lot to say about Penny Juice. Finally, a 100% juice that kids will drink! Available in bright yellow, pink, green, blue, purple and orange.

Penny Juice teaches us that:

  • There is such a thing as too much color
  • The best place for your menu is not in tiny writing at the bottom of the screen
  • Adobe Flash is dying

 

Patimex.com

Another Flash-based dominion of terror! Patimex, a Polish charcoal company, has a very special mascot – a grinning devil barbecuing a sausage. What you can’t see from the image is that the mascot also bounces around the screen and sings. You cannot take your eyes off him.

Here’s what we can take away:

  • Audio autoplay is a singularly off-putting feature in a website
  • Devils don’t make cute mascots – consider what your graphics say about your brand
  • Adobe Flash is dying

Suzannecollinsbooks.com

Wait, Suzanne Collins as in the author of The Hunger Games trilogy? Yes. This is her website. It’s not what you were expecting, is it?

The website is bare, and the first call to action we see takes us to another website: one with little on it except a request to download Adobe Flash Player. For a dynamic author of futuristic teen books, it’s surprising that this website looks and acts the way it does.

What’s wrong with this website?

  • It’s full of dead links
  • It’s designed for 200% zoom, so it looks strange and sparse on a desktop
  • It’s dated and unexciting – downloadable documents galore

 

Frys.com

Ok, so compared to the others, this one doesn’t look too bad. But it’s not good either.

There’s a scrolling carousel of 32 promotional images that hit you right in the face – like this one of a very ‘stock image’ employee. It’s dated and bland – where the others have over-compensated to give their websites ‘character’, this one has done the opposite.

What we can learn:

  • There will always be a better menu heading than ‘Things We Do For You’
  • Some explanatory text on the homepage that explains what you’re about is helpful
  • If you have to use stock images, there are better stock images out there

Low Price SkatesLowpriceskates.com

Welcome to the black hole that is Low Price Skates. Clearly, there’s something missing from the top section here. Who knows what that could be? More skates pics, one must presume.

Low Prices Skates offers free shipping from $99.99 – what a great deal! Presumably, it means when you spend $99.99 – but regardless, it’s not very clear.

We have a lot of images crowded onto the homepage, with tiny text descriptions that even a person with impeccable eyesight would struggle to read from a reasonable distance. The copy also reads like it’s been written for SEO, not users, as you’ll see from this paragraph on quad speed skates:

 

That’s a lot of keyword stuffing, right there.

So, what can we learn?

  • For one thing, make sure your website displays properly
  • Keep all text at a reasonable, legible size – 16px should be the minimum
  • Optimizing for SEO requires more than including the same keyword over and over

Yvettes Bridal Formal

Gosh! What a lot of things there are to look at here.

We have a tuxedo model – the same picture twice? – intermingled in a collage-like style with what appears to be a footbridge. We have no way of knowing how the footbridge is involved.

The menu and copy we see on this page look like it was created in Microsoft Paint. There’s little to distinguish content from links. And the color palette is absolute madness.

We’ve not even looked at the gowns and veils page yet! Here it is:

 

It’s quite something. Yvette is obviously passionate about what she does. She seems to do many things.

This website teaches us that:

  • Too many choices make taking the next step paralyzing
  • Updates are important – it’s not been PROM 2010!!! for quite some time…
  • LESS IS MORE !!!!!!!!!!!! **

Now, most of these websites are quite old – but they’re still out there on the web. Even today, there are plenty of newer e-commerce websites making simple design and usability mistakes that will affect users’ impressions of the brand – and its ability to make sales. So if you’re thinking of creating a website for your online business, say no to bad web design! 

Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, Victoria Ecommerce, she shares tips on e-commerce and how writers can hone their craft. She is passionate about using her experience to help e-commerce companies increase their brand reach.

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Why Your Web Design Never Works Out the Way You Plan

Why Your Web Design Never Works Out the Way You Plan

We all know that a professional and user-friendly website has the ability to boost brand exposure and sales for your business. In this day and age, your website is (or should be) your most qualified salesperson. If it fails to generate leads on a regular basis, then it isn’t doing its job.

When embarking on a web design (or redesign) project, there is a tendency to focus very much on the superficial – how the website looks. Some business owners believe that a ‘fresh lick of paint’ is all that’s needed to attract more customers and improve conversions. But that really only scratches the surface.

Here are four reasons why your new web design might not generate the profitable results you were hoping for. It should come as no surprise that #1 on the list is:

You didn’t think about your users

Listen – your web design can have all the image carousels, parallax scrolling, and Flash animated load screens you want. But these ‘impressive’ effects are the last thing you should be thinking about when designing or redesigning your website. First off, you should be thinking about the needs of your users.

Even if your website looks the part, your users will soon become tired of it if essential components, such as being able to find things easily, are overlooked. When people visit websites, rarely do they spend their time gushing over how beautiful it is. They’re not here to linger and admire, they’re here to a) find something, b) read something, c) buy something.

It may sound boring, but the truth is that people like familiarity. Your attempt to create something that deviates from the norm may actually put them off, particularly if it makes the website hard to navigate. So the take-home truth is this: don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Build a website that meets the needs of your users in a pleasant and efficient way.

You went for style over substance

We’re often led to believe that creativity is the holy grail of marketing. I’m certainly not here to dispute that. However, when it comes to designing a website, creativity actually isn’t the be-all-and-end-all. “What an unfashionable thing to say,” I hear you cry. Stay with me.

Let’s consider the following statistics:

  • Nearly 8 in 10 of consumers will stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device (Adobe)
  • 39% of people will stop engaging with a website if images won’t load or take too long to load (Adobe)
  • 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience (Econsultancy)

In other words, we need to focus on usability if we want to please our customers. That means having a responsive website that displays well across devices, optimizing the website for speed so that pages load quickly, and ensuring that users have a good overall experience so they are more likely to come back.

A good web designer already knows all of this. What’s more, they also know the importance of having quality content. Whether you create the content yourself, bring a copywriter in-house, or hire a freelancer, you need to be thinking about your content alongside your web design.

Why? Because at the end of the day, content is what drives traffic. It’s the food of SEO. Search engines need ample information about the what, where, how, why and when of your business in order to determine your rank in SERPs. Content is the ideal way to position yourself as an expert worthy of the top spot.

You went ahead and made it yourself

Note: you may ignore the following point if you’re a web designer.

However, if you’re not a web designer and you have no experience in web design, then designing your website yourself is a big reason why it may not work out the way you plan. The truth is it takes years to perfect the art of making beautiful, functional websites. The same result is virtually impossible to achieve in a few hours using a DIY web design tool.

Nothing beats good old-fashioned experience, and while a website builder can give you something very passable for a reasonable budget, you may find it hard to recreate exactly what you’re after. By contrast, working with a professional gives you much more flexibility, not to mention saving you the headache of doing it yourself.

Web designers not only understand the principles of design, they also know how to create a website that will bring targeted traffic and high conversion rates. Everything from layout and hierarchy to color and iconography has a role to play.

Read more: Web Design Services That You Need.

Tips for ensuring a successful web design

It’s clear that design has the power to make or break your digital brand. Here are the elements that a good web designer will focus on to build a website that will benefit you and your business:

  • Intuitive navigation – making it easy for users to find what they’re looking for
  • Responsiveness – automatic adjustment to different screen sizes
  • Considered presentation and placement of CTAs for maximum impact
  • Simplicity over clutter – everything needs to justify its presence
  • Form and function over frivolity – UX is paramount
  • On-brand aesthetics – optimal use of color, graphics, and copy

So whether you’re out to create a new website, update one or two key pages, or overhaul your existing design, remember that it pays to go pro. Cutting corners may save you money in the short-term, but could lose you business in the long-term. With the right professional on board, you have the best chance of building a web design that works out exactly the way you planned.

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