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Is Your Agency Designing a Marketing Campaign or an eCommerce Site?

March 5, 2013

by Noelle Darlington, Project Manager

Your eCommerce site is getting a little old, a little stale. Time to freshen things up, change the colors, get new fonts, new imagery – really give it a total makeover to grab shoppers’ attention.  Ready-set-go!

Instead of hiring a web & mobile design agency, you’ve gone to your graphic design agency that is working on your print marketing campaign.  Through their original discovery process, they already know your target audience, messaging and goals, so it makes sense to use them, right?

In a few weeks, you have shiny, new design comps that you love and you’re ready to implement.  You hand over the PSD files to your web developers, and suddenly all the problems begin.

It turns out that although these new designs support your new marketing campaign strategy, they unfortunately don’t provide an optimum user experience for your customers: taking into consideration their overall goals and path to purchase. And, your existing site’s information architecture needs to be reworked to make things function the way they’re laid out in the comps. That wasn’t in your budget! 

As you get further into the build process, you discover that the new architecture now requires more pages that you don’t have designs for.  You have to go back to your graphic design agency, ask for more design comps, and pay more money.  Well, that should be the worst of it and you’re almost done.

A few weeks before launch, your department head mentions the new site is expected to be mobile-friendly.  Your graphic design agency didn’t design for that.

Now what?!

What should you have done differently? Here are some things to keep in mind when doing a redesign.

1.  Start with a discovery phase.   Do some user research.   Review metrics.  Brainstorm some ideas.  Figure out the user goals vs. the business goals and how to measure success for both.

Ask important questions such as these: Are most of your users on tablets or phones? Do you want to have a separate mobile site or rebuild your desktop site so it renders nicely on mobile phones? Are there limitations you need to keep in mind with your current eCommerce platform?

2.  Map it out.  Once you know the target audience’s needs, wants, terminology, purchasing behavior, and shopping device preferences, create a site map for how shoppers will navigate the site. Really get a feel for how things should function, flow and help drive users to checkout.

3.  Create wireframes.  Using the information you have gathered and developed so far, produce wireframes—a blueprint of each page layout illustrating the best possible way to achieve your end results (in eCommerce, converting browsers to buyers).  The first and most important pages that should have wireframes are home, category, product detail, cart and checkout. 

Only now are you ready to have design comps created by your design agency.  The discovery, information architecture and user experience phases are key in the creative process and help to develop the strategy behind the overall design. 

With all this foundation work, your agency will be able to provide you design comps that will not only support your campaign, but also support your eCommerce goals as well.