Designing an eCommerce website using the principles of learning from customer behavior and user data is the methodology behind Growth-driven design (GDD). Essentially, by studying the behavior of the customer as they negotiate their way around your website, and feeding the learning back to the design process, takes your eCommerce website to the next level of growth. By doing this repeatedly, you can put your eCommerce site on the path to rapid and continuous growth.
When visitors enter your eCommerce site, they are confronted with several options to make their next ‘move’ or the ‘click’. If they have entered with an intent to purchase a product, your goal is for them to navigate your online store using optimal user journey and convert to customers.
If they fail to checkout, it can be presumed that either they lost their way somewhere and gave up, or your eCommerce website was not able to convince them of spending their dollars. In both cases they either had their purchase intention intact, or modified their intentions along the way.
Growth Driven Design: Learning from your website visitors
Growth-driven Design is defined as a website design process that leads you to your objective, which is Growth, and which sits on top of the hierarchy of needs. In other words, a design based on continuous, incremental improvements.
So, how do you determine the improvements required? This can be done in two ways:
By studying the behavior of the visitors that is apparent - by studying the pattern of their ‘moves’ or the user journey (You can see this under Audience-> Users flow in google analytics)
By researching the behavior that is not apparent - which is hidden in his mind - by asking for their feedback
An intense focus on studying the behavior of your eCommerce website visitors is a pre-requisite for GDD. Along with that, you need to Plan Ahead and have a clear view of the steps required in developing a GDD.
Steps in implementing GDD
Growth-driven design of your eCommerce website may follow the following stages:
A) Drawing up a wish List
Get your team of website designers, online marketers, and other key stakeholders and brainstorm with them on what your ideal website should be like. Draw up a wishlist of features – for example, speed (three clicks and done!); comparison (of various product options); customer reviews (nothing sells a product faster than favorable reviews); visual appeal (attractive style); and son.
Soon, you will have a long list of desirable features, and it will be clear that all of them simply cant be actualized. The next, most critical step, is to place them in order of importance, which is their potential contribution to sales, and pick the top 15-20% which seem to have the maximum impact. Focus on these to improve your eCommerce website design in a way that will engage your visitors and encourage them to take the desired journey to buy products.
B) Developing SMART goals
SMART Goals are – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. An example of a SMART goal would be: To achieve 10% sales conversions of all traffic coming into our website within a month. Another example: To generate 5% incremental leads every week over the next 3 months .
Not a SMART goal is something like- to be the best website in your industry!
Of course, your SMART goals must tie-in with your financial objectives - sales, profit, inventory, marketing spend, and so on.
C) Analyzing and developing
i. Analyze the moves: as we had seen earlier, a major part of incremental learning can come from analyzing the visitor moves or user's flow across the site, time taken at various stages, retracting steps if any, and so on.
ii. Analyze feedback: ask for feedback at the end of every visit. And use these gems of learning to develop appropriate website design features.
iii. Analyze competition: check what all is your competition doing. What are the main features of their website’s design. Use decoy customers to navigate competitor websites and report their experience to you. Try to survey your competitor’s customers (if possible) to identify what’s working in their favor.
iv. Analyze against your wishlist: how many of the top 20% features have you cracked. With what level of robustness. Say, you had listed 3D product view as a top feature. Is it there? If yes, is it working well? And so on.
Place all your customer learnings and user data before your team of ecommerce website UI/UX designers, and ask them to address each one of them. Keep a relentless focus on continuous, gradual development. Also, create a common knowledge folder on sharepoint or google drive, which can be accessed by all teams- design, engineering, sales, marketing, accounts, logistics- so a consistent user experience is provided to your potential customers.
D) Designing the navigation path and critical conversion factors (CCFs)
With customer learnings and user data in place, the website UI/UX design & engineering team must imagine and develop several alternative navigation paths that the customer may choose from. The team will then need to evaluate the relative effectiveness, ease and speed of various paths. Having done that, they may select the top few and promote those in certain ways.
The website design & engineering team must also figure out what are the CCFs of each category of product it is selling. CCFs are the top one or two features that actually convert your eCommerce website visitors into customers. It could be price in one case, review in another, or a 360 degree view in a third case.
E) Measuring performance against SMART goals
The purpose of all this activity is to meet your financial goals, and those are a result of accomplishments against your e-commerce site’s SMART goals that you started off with.
Measure the progress against each goal at reasonable intervals. Check any deviations for the source of the problem. Get to work on correcting it. If any feature is lagging behind, maybe it needs a quick overhaul and an innovation. Check the successes and reasons thereof. What is working well can be expanded more to capitalize fully on it.
Choices to be made in eCommerce website design
The right design for an eCommerce website depends upon many aspects, each of which offers a choice to the eCommerce website designers. There is a trade-off involved in each situation, and the choice the website UI/UX designers will make will depend upon what the site is offering, and what will influence the customers the most.
a. Design vs Simplicity: How dazzling must a design be depends on the category you are operating in. Categories where customer is heavily dependent on visuals & photography, will need to put up a site that is exciting and desirable. Fashion, jewelry, furniture, consumer electronics, tourism, etc will need to have website designs that can satisfy visual appetites & nurture the material emotions. Logistics services, real estate, hardware, musical instruments, audio equipment, etc. would need to prioritize on presenting information that influence buying decisions effectively.
b. Motion vs Static: This is correlated to the design aspect above. Visually demanding sites might consider adding videos in additional to still photography. Products which need to show functionality may use 360 degree views and real estate websites can use 3D animated walkthroughs. Use of scrolls can be very effective if you don’t have a large number of categories. Product demo videos influence conversions significantly for SaaS products and consumer electronics.
c. Crowding vs Space: Does your site need to give a feeling of space to the customer? Or is it ok to crowd it with several items on one page. That depends on whether you are an aggregator or or your own promoter. An aggregator will be compelled to have a category X product X sku based matrix design; while, a manufacturer with few lines can use the space more creatively.
d. Quality & size of images: High quality imagery that can be zoomed into simulates the experience to a large degree as in store shopping where customers can touch and feel the products. More often than not, websites with better images almost always convert better if all other factors are same.
e. Fewer vs several Navigation paths: An aggregator usually will offer several options to the customer to explore various options in the site.
f. Frills vs no frills: Use of special cursors, hovers, pop ups will depend on the situation- are they helping the cause or are they coming in the way.
For an eCommerce site to be profitable, it needs to incorporate content that is fresh, relevant, engaging and informative that speaks directly to its customers and site visitors. Implementing Growth-Driven Design processes is an effective way to ensure that this always happens.
Growth-driven design, which is largely based on the principle of continuous improvement using customer learnings, user data and SMART goals, is a highly reliable way as compared to traditional design. It is one way that is logical, dynamic and leadership oriented. Have your website design team adapt it now and ‘measure’ the difference.
At 0707 we have been perfecting the art of growth driven design (GDD) over the years using our deep understanding of data, analytics and user behavior on eCommerce websites. Please feel free to get in touch with us to discuss your eCommerce website’s growth possibilities.