By Jennie Gilbert, Chief Operating Officer of Retailer Web Services
The retailer-website designer relationship runs deep at Retailer Web Services (RWS). There is seldom a day that goes by we don’t see kudos shared with our design team from one of our retailer customers, saying how pleased they are with their website design and complimenting the designer they worked with to achieve it. It’s no wonder, as our customers work one-on-one with an assigned designer to translate their visions into a distinct online presence that’s consistent with their brand—and turns online shoppers into customers.
If you talk to any RWS designer, they’ll tell you design is far more than just the way things look; design, at its core, is problem solving. And for retailers, the No. 1 priority of a website is conversion, i.e. turning a visitor into a buyer—whether the transaction ultimately transpires online, via phone or inside the store. A well-designed site must be laser focused on converting a retailer’s target customer. Strategically placed calls-to-action, simple and thorough navigation, and brand consistency work together to create an effective balance of form and function.
With a collective 131 years of web design experience, watching trends fade in and out, the RWS design team offers “Eight Essentials” of web design for 2018:
- Mobile first: A “mobile first” approach to user interface design means that a designer gives consideration first to the small screen and builds out. This ensures that a website’s content is delivered effectively across the spectrum of screen sizes and resolutions in today’s digital world.
- Minimalism: This trend has become increasingly popular because it works. A distraction-free environment is the most effective way to put focus on the content and to facilitate the online shopping process.
- Microinteractions: When a user’s actions are met with reactions, their sense of engagement helps keep them on your site. Hover effects, transitions and parallax scrolling, which can have a 3-D aesthetic as elements move at different speeds, are useful techniques that, when used strategically, are highly-effective navigation aids.
- More imagery: Use of more imagery verses more text is important. Simple, clear messaging to complement the imagery and take the user into the shopping experience is the goal. Invest in professional photography of products and people, to showrooms and storefronts. Professional, high quality imagery speaks volumes about the quality of the product(s) the retailer sells and gives the end user something beautiful to look at. In using high quality images, make sure they’re not larger than necessary as oversized images can decrease site speed. Also, make sure you have the appropriate rights to use the images you select.
- Large imagery and text: Large, colorful photos will continue to play a significant role as well as large type size to catch the eye when a user first lands on a website. For example, use of a high quality, large image across the top of a website homepage can set the tone, bringing a sophisticated feel to the entire site.
- Animations and video: Multimedia content will continue to reign supreme in bringing a website to life. Engaging animations should guide the user’s eye to trigger a desired action; video should encourage website/shopping engagement. Like imagery, the key is professional execution. Animations should be subtle, clean and targeted with a specific goal in mind. Video should be high quality, engaging, informative and useful for the end user.
- Simple icons: Icons are a great way to visually convey an idea or product in a simplistic way. They are effective at drawing the eye, while remaining a minor element on the page. They can be used to communicate a lot of information, while avoiding clutter and excess text.
- Avoid “traffic leaks,” or linking offsite, as much as possible: It's common for a retailer to want to provide the most information possible to their customers through their website, but it's not necessarily always good for business. Providing a list of links that takes users off your site to go to manufacturers’ sites, while informational, will force your prospects off your site and away from your business. Similarly, it's Ok to include links to social media, but they should not be the focus of your website. Once someone lands on your website, the goal is to keep them there.
A good web designer should possess knowledge and know-how in these key areas to understand your vision and take your ecommerce presence to the next level. As Steve Jobs once said, “Design is a funny word. Some people think design means how it looks. But of course, if you dig deeper, it’s really how it works.”
For more information, visit retailerwebservices.com.