I was at a trends conference in January of 1997 and the keynote speaker said something that I will never forget, “The culture of the World Wide Web will never grow beyond an environment of sharing information."
Back then, there was a commonly understood respect for the Internet and the purists would never consider making it into a marketplace. It was a place where mankind shares knowledge for the common good. To use the Internet to buy or sell would have been to insult the Cyber gods.
Eighteen years later we hold our fingerprint smartphone in near proximity to a contactless reader and it vibrates to confirm the purchase of a $4 cup of over-roasted coffee. Trends can be subjective and misleading. Projected eCommerce US sales for 2016 may reach $316B and $98B* made with a mobile device.
*Statistic source… Research date: 10.9.2014.
Instead of authoritatively giving you B2C design trends for 2015, allow me to give you 3 observations that I have found to be true in my design world. These are based on practical “in-the-trenches” insight more than analytical research.
OBSERVATION ONE: Don’t ever think you are done designing; it’s an on-going process.
Intentionally start the site redesign phase the Monday after your site goes LIVE.
Okay granted, you spent a lot of money for your site to be designed by the professionals. You paid the big bucks for the cool factor. It was designed based on the latest trends to give you the edge that your company needed. But the moment you stop redesigning is the moment your site begins to die. Why wait until your analytics reveal a slowdown in conversions?
The design process should be continuous. Keep reinventing your look. Keep it relevant to your customers who are different today than they were yesterday. Never, ever stop redesigning! Put a plan in motion to freshen up the site design within the first year of site life. Rigor mortis will begin to set in at the 3-year mark so why not budget for a 1-to-2-year design cycle?
OBSERVATION TWO: Be deliberate in your design.
Intentionally plan the focal point on every page. Use the hero principle and make one thing the star of the page.
You may be thinking, your home page is some of the most expensive real estate you own, so why not utilize every pixel to display or market your product?
What if your home page were your physical storefront? Would you cram the aisles with product and clutter the entrance with sale items? Probably not. You would allow your customer to experience the ambiance of the store first and then buy when they have made an educated decision. Why would your website be any different?
Create a focal point; this is a basic design principle. White space, font treatments and good imagery will be your friends here. Let the page breathe a little. With a strong focal point, your customer’s eye will go down a predetermined path when viewing your website. The path you created.
OBSERVATION THREE: Relevant Content + Helpful Imagery = Increased Conversions.
Give your customers a reason to come to your site, stay longer and come back.
Businesses that sell online can’t ignore the simple truth any longer: Content on eCommerce sites helps drive decisions and conversions. Be that site that has the answers to what customers are asking even before they ask.
So how do you know if you have the right content on your site? Pay attention to bounce rate and average time on a page. These may be indicators of too much or irrelevant content. You may want to relieve bulky content with some powerful visual stimulation. Use good photography, videos and infographicons to break up word-intensive pages.
Infographicon: (info + graphic + icon);
a simple graphic to explain a complex thought or process. Okay, so
maybe I made up the word but it may help you to remember to say things
visually, use less words, more right-brain speak.
Infographic design is not a modern technique; it has been around for a very long time. It has changed the world we live in. Florence Nightingale’s “coxcomb” in the mid 1800’s changed health conditions for the British military. The first pie chart was not a 20th century idea but was first illustrated by William Playfair in 1801. Read more… It engages parts of the brain that would otherwise be less active.
Infographicons are powerful because they trigger your mind with well-understood visuals. Here is an example that may help you understand the impact of a simple graphic vs. words: What would happen if you replaced the sugar grams on the nutrition facts labels with a teaspoon infographicon. Instead of listing 39g of sugar, show the 9.75 teaspoons equivalent on the label. We do not visually relate to a gram, but show us in teaspoons and it will change our behavior. Give me a mental picture of swallowing almost 10 teaspoons of sugar and I react very differently. The visual embeds the meaning, our right brain engages and we “get it” more quickly and more permanently.
The average attention span in 2015 is 8.25 seconds and the average words read on a page with 111 words or less is 49%*. This basically means we have a 50/50 chance that site content is being read. Why not increase the odds by adding visuals and track quantifiable changes in browser behavior? Your customers are already making purchasing decisions partly based on the number of gold star icons in product reviews.
*Statistic source… Research date: 4.2.2015
Design has been around as long as commerce. Both had their Neanderthal beginnings when animal skins were traded and damp cave walls were their canvas. Today, continuous, relevant and focused design may give you the edge you need to lead in the carnivorous eCommerce environment where you compete.
Make a plan to change up your design in 2015 and share the results with us. We’d love to hear your story.