Retailer Web Services Digital Advisor Fall 2017 - Page 7

ON DESIGN TIPS FROM THE FIELD Best Practices in Web Design E Winning designs by Tom Swain, RWS designer very month at Retailer Web Services (RWS), web designers submit the designs they’re most proud of. All employees then vote to crown one new RWS customer’s website as the best overall Design of the Month. The winning designer gets lunch on the company as well as bragging rights, of course. designed site can achieve this goal of personalizing the customer experience by using various methods based on a retailer’s target customer. Strategically placed calls-to-action, a simple and thorough navigation structure, and brand consistency all work together to create an effective balance of form and function. Designer Tom Swain has been on a streak lately, winning six out of seven consecutive months, m ost recently for his custom designs of comfortzonesleepgallery.com and ambiancefurniturestore.com. With a decade of web design experience and having watched trends come and go, Swain offers a few best practices that are considered pragmatic approaches to increasing conversions and decreasing bounce rates (the rates at which users leave sites after viewing just one page): Swain’s design talent has also been recognized by our clients. According to William King of Ambiance Furniture in Arlington Heights, Illinois, “Tom was awesome in capturing my vision. He was able to work outside of templates and achieve the look that I was going for.” It’s no wonder Swain’s favorite challenge when designing sites for retailers is to create a unique look and style that sets them apart from their competitors. “In this space, competition is fierce and a well-designed website can offer a small business a serious competitive edge,” said Swain, who thinks design is far more than just a visual aesthetic. At its core, Swain believes, design is problem solving. According to Swain, for retailers that sell online, the No. 1 priority of a website is conversion. That is, turning a visitor into a buyer or at least a prospect through de-anonymization. A well- 1. Mobile first. A “mobile first” approach to user interface design means that a designer gives consideration first to the small screen and then builds out. This ensures that a website’s content is delivered effectively across the large spectrum of screen sizes and resolutions in today’s digital world. 2. 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 facilitate the online shopping process. 3. Micro-interactions. When users’ actions are met with reactions, their sense of engagement helps keep them on your site. Hover effects, transitions, and parallax scrolling—which can all have a 3-D aesthetic as elements move at different speeds—are useful techniques that, when used strategically, are highly effective navigation aids. Swain also provides a few tips on how to work with designers so they understand your vision and bring it to virtual life: 1. Know your competition. Seek out and provide examples of competitors’ sites that you know create an effective online presence. Competition breeds innovation. An experienced designer will pinpoint a competitor’s “it factor” and figure out a way to do it better. 2. Know your market. This sounds like Business 101 but the more retailers can tell a designer about their customers, their customers’ buying habits, and any external influences specific to their geographic region, the better a designer can utilize that information to design accordingly. 3. Trust your designer. Retailers are the subject matter experts when it comes to their products and services. To Swain, this is as important to him as his expertise is to retailers. Designers are the professionals when it comes to digital marketing and effective design. Any good web designer should possess the ability to provide clear and concise reasoning behind each design decision. When the retailer and the designer trust and respect each other, they can focus on the site’s primary objective, ROI. 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.” 7