Apparatus has been proud to use legacy design practices in the digital realm. We have been involved in great projects that span across print and digital too. We found a new tool that can make this ‘walk across’ better. I personally am looking forward to use this, in context, for a project.
With a tool like this brands can interlink their print marcomm to their online presence easily, online stores can create offline catalogs with specific promotions, corporates can lead their engagements to contextually correct media assets, publishers can segue readers into richer content and more. I believe this is just a beginning – an aesthetically pleasing QR code. But there are going to be more soon.
Apparatus has been using Getty Images since inception to illustrate brand stories of our clients. We were amazed to see a magnificent interpretation of stock photos as a television commercial to sell their services. Take a look at this.
While we are revisiting the great big world of building online stores in India the west has moved on. User experiences are getting closer to visual tactility and aiding users to examine there wares better. Look at this video below. I am going to try this very soon and post another video.
Apparatus team have been working on a few online store projects. Most of these are at a prelaunch stage and that makes it easy for user experience design teams to partake in product definition and extend further into product design.
However there are a few who have been in business and need a substantial design overhaul. These ecommerce properties ail from a few maladies that needs attention.
Discovery that matches user intent leads to conversion
Users who approach online stores come with a definite intent to find a suitable product. The user experience should be designed for users with specific needs and users who want to explore and discover. The design should set a strong context for them to arrive at a product or move about and find.
Fixes versus refurbishment
These stores are ongoing businesses backed by investor firms. They cannot suspend operations for an overhaul. We understand this. But the management typically sees the solution as a series of small fixes that will lead to betterment. It will not. The synthesis of web analytics and user research should lead to larger incremental phases of change that can better the brand experience in a short period of time. Bite the bullet!
Knowing the domain does not make you a UX expert
It is a great additive that can be learned. Good design is about creating cohesive, compelling and usable experiences through framework, structure and content. It involves information design, graphic design and meticulous production. You need help. Hire us!
Curated content emotes and converts
Do the thing that offline stores do as ‘we suggest’. Do collections that are thematic and write about them. Do collections that go well together and publish them as trends or what people like. Help users choose if they are exploring through supportive house-styled images of products and well written textual content. Add on contextual user generated content and create digestible nuggets of content to consume. And lead all these to appropriate stock keep units.
To know more about these write to me. If you want to get this done call Apparatus. Have a good day!
The Apparatus portfolio has evolved over the last eight years. It has a fair share of information portals, enterprise applications, brand communication, web and mobile apps. There are a bunch of publications designed for print and tablet too. Please do view this full screen and write to us soon. (And do select ‘presentation’ mode.
Apparatus is going to be eight years next month. We are constantly trying to redefine ourselves as a creative business. Lately we have been pursued for partnerships from across Europe and I have been talking history. This presentation is to walk interested people through our progress, our competencies and our goals. Take a look at this presentation.
The key to any good ecommerce experience is leading the user to the apt product and of course seamless fulfillment. This post deals with product discovery in ecommerce. The overall objective is to reach a single screen of appropriate products, typically 10 to 20, through a minimum set of clicks.
A typical stage area promotion where the brand consistency and quality of design can be stronger
Homepage promotional portlets have to be compelling and not intimidating
Even if there are more than one gateway to enter an ecommerce catalogue we designers should meticulously think through the categories, search model, multiple portlets within portal pages and related (up/cross) selling These are compelling reasons for users to reach to a specific product easily. The elements of discovery in ecommerce are:
An information model and a catalogue tree that is intuitive and appropriate: Product groups should be put through rigorous questioning to tuck them under appropriate category headers. Category header labels should be easy to understand and offer quick segue to the products. A good practice is to put the category tree through a small focus group to understand flaws.
The basic search: Ecommerce search should start free form – a simple field and dropdown of categories. However filtering, sorting and comparing products from the search result is a key ingredient to a satiating shopping experience.
Sort and filter: The column headers of these search results to sort should be thought of intelligently. Typically these are values that can ascend or descend. For example – price. Sort rearranges the order and does not exclude like filter does. The parameters used for filter should be the ones that you will use as a buyer and these filters are contextual to your wares in a category.
Promotions and portlets: On the homepage or a similar page with multiple boxes that include house ads, the campaign plan and the content plan should help the user reach a product very quickly. The promotions should be calendar sensitive and the team should do a yearly plan that accommodates changes and inserts. The leader lists should be intuitive top tens on social parameters like popularity or rating. The lead stage promotional banners should contain the chief promotional messages well designed with striking imagery and typography.
With these there is all possibility that all users will efficiently reach their product and if convinced can be converted too.
As Apparatus engages in new projects that involve catalogs, payment gateways and retail concepts I am starting a series of posts focussing on ecommerce in India. This is the first of the lot.
Indian railways is probably responsible for making online users ready to pay and buy things on the web. With their devastatingly ugly website they could generate substantial revenue with payment modes that were compelling – cash on delivery for instance. The air carriers, travel and ticketing websites followed suit. And now this is the sole vertical that generates B2C revenue online. However fashion retailers and bookstores never took to selling online like they did in the west. The users were still wary of identity theft and misuse to swipe their cards online. There were a few retail platforms like rediff or indiatimes that stocked fashion, had their own logistics partners and private labeled shops for big brands. However this was restricted to the privileged credit card holders.
Sometime early last year with the sweep of social shopping websites in the US and the death of local social networks in India online startups considered commerce again. Venture capital firms were ready to look at this new found interest. Even the new fangled security measure of validating personal credit cards at the über secure bank website did not deter them. Myntra, Flipkart, Bigshoebazaar and more such names appeared and today they are growing or consolidating.
I personally think there are flaws in these properties and more payment methods do not necessarily make better user experience or more business. The things that ail Indian ecommerce are:
The business is not a brand: The principals are from a technology pedigree and they make functionally strong websites. But they do not consider the value proposition, persona or the tone/voice of these brand expressions. They do not engage the users like a brand does. Examples are Myntra’s inconsistent promotionals, human models without a specific statement and a packaging that does not communicate.
Product discovery is about an intuitive information model, focussed promotions and an agile search: Category trees can be misleading if they are not thought through. Consolidating categories for more real estate can be detrimental to a seamless ‘buy experience’. Flipkart’s ‘Art, Photography and Design’ as a category has about 100000 books in it and filters like hardcover/paperback or delivery time does not help me narrow down to what I need.
Focus the homepage: Why do we all like the Apple homepage? It is an intelligent solution with a single product/promotion occupying over 50% of above-the-fold real estate. The rest can really be interactive stamp size pictures. Cluttered home pages with too many portlets like in Yebhi.com or Letsbuy.com can intimidate a new user. Also the brand gets a boost with a visually lightweight homepage.
Fulfill smoothly without much ado: Myntra messaged me twice, called me more than six times before they hand delivered a pair of shoes that I bought. I would have preferred it less intrusive and efficient. So it is important to engage a smart logistics partner to get wares without a hitch.
Play the brand always: Engage the users like offline brands engage consumers. Remember amazon’s bookmarks, expedia’s smart guides and goodies from Target to create a brand asset biosystem that goes beyond the online shopping experience.
Follow our blog for more posts on online shopping user experiences.