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Fit and Finish: What It Is and Why It Matters for Experience Design

Elena Mintzias • January 16, 2018

When it comes to good design, the details are what sets the final product apart. For a home, it’s the details – from the shape of the foundation to the fountain in the front yard – that create a unique, polished look. The same is true when it comes to a website.

Now, a well-designed site isn’t just slapped together. It requires careful planning and a phase-based approach: something we like to call fit and finish.

 

What is Fit and Finish?

Fit

“Fit” refers to the foundational elements of the site. The structure. The frame. This foundation needs to support the site with consistent templates, themes, fonts, colors, and styles. Just as a house’s trim should be consistent throughout, so should the line work on a website.

Consistency is a very valuable asset for an eCommerce site. The fit of a new site design establishes a visual language and identity for a brand. Beyond typography, UI elements, icons, and interactions, this identity needs to be married to that of the brand. This alignment strengthens consumer connection and engagement.

Beyond style, fit also refers to the functionality of the site. Usability and intuitiveness are core tenets of a smartly designed site. Shoppers need to be able to browse, configure, review, and buy in the easiest way possible.

Furthermore, smart fit needs to address business requirements as well. Whether that’s an improved mobile experience, faster page speeds, or a new information hierarchy, these requirements need to be addressed in the foundation of the site design.

A strong site foundation enables retailers to continually optimize their digital experience. That doesn’t mean every detail needs to be addressed at the fit stage, it means that the site’s design foundation should support a future roadmap of finish detailing and polishing.

 

Finish

Finish is the fine details that take a site from well-designed to a truly unique and powerful experience. On a house, it’s the delicate crown molding or the intricate light fixtures. It may even be that fountain that you made sure to include in the original foundation plans.

For an eCommerce site, finish is enhancing the customer experience with features and functionality that are supported by the fit.  For example, it’s subtle motion effects on homepage content or innovative guided selling tools. It may even be a new content strategy or refreshed product imagery – things that were impossible to implement without the sound foundations of a new site design.

Good design foundations drive site performance. Great finish additions are what transform the site into a memorable experience.

 

Why Fit and Finish Matter

The fit and finish approach matters because it drives eCommerce success through design. Site design DOES have an effect on a retailer’s bottom line, and the fit and finish methodology ensures that needs are met and shoppers are wowed by the experience.

First, the fit ensures that basic needs, requirements, and functions are addressed. The site is consistent, it looks nice, it aligns with your brand. Without this, finish-grade enhancements would fall on deaf ears. Who cares if there are slick tools and animations if the site won’t load or if a customer can’t shop effectively?

With the right fit and a strong foundation, the finish stage can then be rolled out. It helps to have a robust roadmap of finish-grade enhancements for planning and budget purposes. Furthermore, consumer behaviors change in the blink of an eye. The fit and finish approach gives you the flexibility to address new trends while maintaining a solid design foundation.

 


Elena Mintzias

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Elena Mintzias

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