How to Make Your eCommerce Design Project Run Smoothly
If you’ve ever been involved in an eCommerce design project, then you understand how all the moving parts can easily get off track and possibly unhinge your entire initiative.
From visual design, branding, and identity to user experience and front-end development, there’s a lot to consider (and a lot of opinions) about how design will contribute positively to eCommerce performance.
Agreeing on creative direction, interaction design, and the final outcome of your website doesn’t have to be a painful experience, however. Here are some ideas for making your eCommerce design project run smoothly.
Start with a Strategy
Before you begin any creative work, have a clear idea of what you’re trying to accomplish. Are you updating to a more modern, trendy design? Do you want new product descriptions? New imagery across the site? Do you need to improve the user experience and flow? All of the above?
Many people have a sense of why they’re redesigning their eCommerce site, but it’s helpful to have more than just a sense—be as specific as possible. This enables creative teams to focus their efforts and avoid spending time on irrelevant tasks.
For example, if you want to update your site’s navigation structure, understand why. Maybe your hierarchy is confusing to customers, making it hard for them to find products and information. Or, maybe your images, logos, and graphics are inconsistent across your site, diluting your brand identity. Maybe you need to research your competitors and audience to better differentiate yourself in the marketplace.
Whatever your eCommerce strategy includes, it’s important to drill down as deeply as possible to uncover the goals you want to accomplish. Many creative teams can help with this too, so don’t hesitate to include them in discussions.
Document Your Goals
This one’s really important. Now that you know what your strategy and goals are, put them on paper. Or put them in a spreadsheet, slide presentation, or email. The medium is less important than what’s contained within it. Each business is different, so choose the method that works best for you and your project teams.
With documented goals you’ll have a reference point for the remainder of the project. When differences of opinion arise, you might be able to resolve them by referring back to your goals. If aspects of the project start to get off track, your goals will help you understand what you were originally trying to accomplish.
Define Your Success Metrics
Goals can be pretty worthless unless you know if you’ve achieved them, right? That definitely applies to creative and design work on eCommerce sites. Along with your goals, define what success looks like for each goal. Ideally you’ll measure them with facts or data; however, that’s not always the case.
For example, if one of your goals is to redesign your checkout flow to reduce cart abandonment, then cart abandonment rates would serve as your success metric. Conversely, if one of your goals is to achieve a modern, fresh look and feel across your entire site, a success metric could be consensus and approval from your executive team. Qualitative success metrics can work too, so don’t ignore them entirely. Just make sure you have a clear, agreed-upon definition of what success looks like.
Plan Your Review Process
Before the project begins, agree ahead of time about what the review process will look like. How will you review the website? In mock-ups? Prototypes? Will you meet with your creative team in person or will you review via email or conference call? How long will each review round take, and who is responsible for reviewing what? Having this information outlined ahead of time will save time and keep the project moving forward.
Once you have the process outlined, now comes the actual review. Here are a few tips to help move this process forward as seamlessly as possible.
• Send feedback all together. For each stage in the review cycle, gather feedback from the necessary people and send it to your creative team all at once. This makes it easier to document, track, and review design changes that would otherwise get out of control if feedback were sent piecemeal.
• Provide specific feedback. As much as possible, avoid giving vague or unclear feedback. If you don’t like a certain design element, try and figure out what you specifically don’t like about it. Even further, tie your answers back to the strategy and goals you outlined at the beginning of the project. Specific feedback helps your creative team make revisions that properly reflect your company and eCommerce goals.
• Provide relevant feedback. With your strategy and goals documented, this can be relatively easy. Make sure your feedback is aligned with those goals to avoid critiques that might be irrelevant to creative work. For example, if one of your goals is to create a responsive, mobile-friendly website, hold off on feedback about SEO or social media during creative review sessions.
• Understand who will review what. With large eCommerce projects many hands are involved, all of which can have a different stake in the project. Determine who is responsible for reviewing what design elements, and try to stick to those assignments. This helps avoid a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen scenario in which everyone gives individual feedback at any given time in any given format.
Armed with a clear strategy, documented goals, and a plan for handling feedback, your eCommerce design process will not only run more smoothly, but also produce a website that performs optimally.
Brooke Seldin is a marketing content specialist in LYONSCG’s Chicago office. She is a writer, an editor, and a content strategist who specializes in eCommerce, technology, and digital marketing for B2C and B2B organizations. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.