Matt Edmundson

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When Should Your Ecommerce Business Employ a Graphic Designer?

When it comes to ecommerce, whether a customer is introduced to your business through online marketing, Facebook advertising, an internet search straight to the Home Page or via a banner on another site, the first thing they will see is your design. Having clear design, that reflects and communicates the core values of your business, is key to attracting and retaining your customer base. That’s where the skills of a graphic designer come in. Matt Edmundson has over a decade of experience running successful ecommerce businesses, selling over $50m of products to 6m people worldwide. He gives some guidance on finding a graphic designer, what to expect and how to use the relationship with a graphic designer to make the most impact on your business.

What is a graphic designer?

A graphic designer is a visual communicator. They communicate ideas to inspire, inform, or captivate consumers. They have a proven track record and a background in graphic design and skills using a variety of software. But most important of all, they should get your business and be able to translate that in design.

Do I need a graphic designer?

Yes! You may be a whizz on Photoshop. You may even have designed your own website. But ask yourself, as your business grows, as your sales increase, is the increased graphic design needs really the most effective use of your time? Hiring a graphic designer can:

  • Save you time and money – freeing up staff to concentrate on their actual strengths

  • Help you stand out from the competition – having a distinct brand tells a customer something about your company – you care enough to invest in the design

  • Keep your look consistent – designers can create a suite of templates, letter heads and web design to use across the company

  • Help your business grow – good design really can increase sales

When should I think about getting a graphic designer?

Now! If you don’t already have one. The sooner you engage a designer the sooner you will see the benefits in increased sales. Matt Edmundson explains,

"Good graphic designers aren't cheap, but they're worth every penny, especially if you can find one that knows your brand and knows how you want to do things.”

Your visual branding is key online to customers. It is the first message you send out. So you want to get to get it right. It can be tempting, if you have Photoshop and are tech savvy, to maybe save on cost and create your own design. But a graphic designer is so much more than a technical expert on Photoshop. They will bring a whole toolkit of expertise on how to create holistic visual branding for your company, that will cross over all of your marketing and correspondence.

How much should you expect to pay for a graphic designer?

Matt says that depends – on the work that needs to be done and on the budget you can set aside for the work. If you haven’t previously engaged with a designer, it may be a much larger job at first. You will need to get to know each other, as with any working relationship.

As an example, Matt explains he paid a US branding company £18,000 to rebrand the entire Jersey Beauty Company website. But then Matt points to the JBC website as proof that ‘you get what you pay for’, because they ended up with a site that reflects their company and its core image and values.

For ongoing project work, Matt estimates in the region of £500 a day for a good graphic designer. Although this figure could be a lot less depending on whether you employ a full time designer, outsource, and hire locally or internationally.

That sounds like a lot of options - outsourcing, hiring, ordering templates and then populating them with in-house extras week by week…

Working with a graphic designer needs to work for you and your company’s needs. You may want a rebrand of your website – that is one job. You may have new products weekly, offer emails, facebook advertising - there are lots of options available to you depending on your needs.

Outsourcing – it can make sense to outsource large jobs, such as rebranding of your website. Just like if you were refitting a physical store, you would look for a company to undertake the contract, the same is true of website rebranding. It might be tempting to cut corners, but getting the right team to work on your website could make the difference between having a mediocre business and having a great, profitable business.

Hiring an In-house Designer - you may choose to hire a local graphic designer who can come and work on site with you. This has its own benefits – Matt uses in-house staff to work on permanent graphics and email design. That’s because outsourcing for some of those regular tasks can become really expensive.

Templates – Matt explains that when he rebranded JBC’s website, he also got the design team to make a series of email and web templates. This means that the in-house team can populate these templates moving forward. This keeps the brand pure but also reduces longer term costs.

Who should inspire the design? Ask yourself, who do you want to engage with your company? Matt explains he sees two keys to a successful website – traffic and engagement. Firstly, you need to direct people to your site. That comes from your marketing and business plans, from knowing your customer and how to reach them. Secondly, once they land on your page, however that happens, you need to engage with them. Your customer needs to land on your page and feel like, yes, this company is for me. They get me.

So who should inspire your design – whoever you want to engage with it. If it’s women you’re predominately selling it to, it might not be the right thing for you to have an all-male design team make your website. Include your target customer base in the design and re-branding of your company, give them an active voice, and you will see your sales increase. It’s simple, but it’s the easiest thing to overlook.

Matt Edmundson has over a decade of experience running successful ecommerce businesses. He has sold over $50m of products to 6 million customers worldwide. Matt knows the ecommerce business. He has also learnt the hard way at times. And now wants to share those lessons to work with you to transform your online business. For more information on Matt’s ecommerce consultancy, click the link below: https://www.mattedmundson.com/work-with-us.html

chloe

The about us page is usually one of the most visited website pages. It is where a customer heads to when they want to know more about you as a company, what you stand for and how you can help them. However, this page can often be overlooked or undervalued by e-commerce sites.

So how do you make the most of your about us page and better engage your website visitors?

1. Include a clear sense of mission and values

More and more consumers want to buy from sites with whom they have a shared sense of mission and values. This page is a place to clearly state your purpose and company/brand values. If you look at the ‘about Waitrose‘ page, you will read about how they source their produce, their work with charities and what they are giving back. It includes information such as:

“We want to know where our food comes from, how it’s been produced and what it contains. It all starts with long-term relationships with our farmers and suppliers, and continues with our beliefs in championing British produce, supporting responsible sourcing, treating people fairly and treading lightly on the environment. This is the Waitrose Way. But it doesn’t stop there. With your help in branch and online, our Community Matters scheme has donated £14 million to local charities chosen by you.” Waitrose

When you tell customers what you stand for, you are connecting and engaging with them on a different level. Whilst this won’t motivate every consumer, it will definitely resonate with some. It helps to build up a picture of the kind of company you are.

2. Tell your story

The about us page is the perfect place to tell your company’s story. If you are a family run business people want to know! Customers always want to know about the people involved. If it works, tell your story via a video. This is the way websites are going. People no longer expect to read reams of text. A short video, of a couple of minutes, is often much more effective. Everyone loves a good story and it will help your business come alive.

Ben and Jerry’s have a fantastic about us page. They tell their story really well. It starts with a fun video entitled ‘explore some of the great moments in Ben & Jerry’s ice cream history’. This is followed by their story broken down in to decades. Its not one monotonous page of text and data. It is interesting, well presented and gives browsers the option to dip in and out of their story using the different decade tabs. Definitely one worth a look!

3. Your team – who you are

Website visitors love to see the people with whom they are interacting. They enjoy seeing people: from the owner of the company to the person that handles customer service. Make sure you have good photographs or images, displayed in a way that is in keeping with your company style and brand. Children’s furniture company, Great Little Trading Company, have a page dedicated to what they call their ‘testing team‘. This page describe how all their product are tested by the very people who will use them: children. Photographs of the children testing the products and their names are also included. This page enhances their brand: a fun, creative company, with their customers, children, at its heart.

Employee testimonials also work really well. They can showcase your culture and give customers a glimpse of the staff having fun behind the scenes. Rent the Runway do this really well. If you scroll down to the ‘us’ section of this page, notice how their staff testimonials say something about what they do and how they work.

4. Customer testimonials

Testimonials should be all over your website. On the about us page you have the opportunity to take one or two testimonials and paint a fuller story of how a customer’s life was changed or impacted because of your products.

Find one or two testimonials that have really engaging stories. They should resemble the key customer personas’ stories. For example, if you sell jewellery and engagement rings, customers may want to see a story about a woman who got her rings from you and images or even a short clip from her wonderful wedding.

5. Links to products and a call to action

Recognising that many people visit the about us page, make it easy for them to get to the products that interest them. One way to do this might be to personalise the page with previously viewed products or items that match their persona profile.

Make sure you include a clear call to action and an on ramp, (on ramp is explained in previous blogs which can be found here) enabling visitors to easily purchase products and engage with you.

  • Add a call to action with appropriate products.
  • Add on ramps with a newsletter sign-up and clear content offerings.
  • Link to blog posts that specifically highlight customer stories or what the company has done to extend its mission (for example, charity work).

What have you done with your about us page? How have you made it stand out? Have you found it engages new visitors and potential customers? If you have any other ideas that you can share, we’d love to hear from you.

chloe

4 ways to improve checkout

The checkout page should make it easy for customers to provide their details and move on. At this stage the customer has committed to buy and wants to get through this section as quickly as possible.

How can you improve your online checkout page? It needs to be smooth and secure, whilst only asking for the minimum information.

I think we have probably all tried to buy something online, but the checkout process has been so arduous that you’ve actually abandoned the purchase out of sheer frustration.

If you want to understand what cart abandonment could mean financially for your business, there is a great article here. It provides different way to calculate this loss. This can be helpful if you need to present a substantiated rationale to your team to improve your checkout page.

I have identified 4 different sections of your checkout page which directly impact on checkout abandonment rates. Get them right and conversion rates will go up. Make sure your e-commerce site is reaching its true sales potential. Don’t let yourself down at the final hurdle.

  1. Address
  2. Delivery
  3. Payment
  4. Customer service information

Simple changes to the above, could have a really positive impact on sales.

Address

The address should be clear and easy to complete. If relevant, make sure the autofill is on and logical. Anything you already know about the visitor should be completed already. These days people don’t expect to have to input their entire address. I am a big fan of predictive search in address lookup. The double click approach whereby the visitor enters their house number/name and postcode and then selects from a list of possible addresses is simple, popular and easy to use. Anything that makes it easier for the customer is a winner. This may all seem very basic but I am often surprised how many websites I come across that haven’t bothered to include simple things which can speed things up considerably for your customer.

Some e-commerce sites, normally from sectors that see themselves as ‘down with the kids’, will use a ‘fresh’ or different layout for their address section. I would suggest this is unnecessary and can often cause confusion. The more ‘traditional’ form layout, with the label outside the box and a border just around the form field is usually the best. Customers are used to this design. They have already committed to buy, providing the form in a style with which they are accustomed, may make it easier for them to complete.

Make sure it is frustration free. If the customer presses the back button don’t make them complete the address section again. We all know how irritating this can be!

Think about how your checkout page will appear on a mobile or tablet. The form needs to be relatively large and clear. Remember someone actually needs to be able to press the buttons with their fingers. The form should not be so small (i.e. before the user has enlarged it) that it is impossible to complete. The form also needs to work when rotated from portrait to landscape. Thinking about these simple user requirements will reduce checkout abandonment rates.

Delivery

The delivery section should be simple and clear. I don’t think anyone particularly enjoys completing a web form. The longer and more complex it is for your visitor, the more frustrating it will feel. Given that you are only moments away from making a sale, don’t ask for unnecessary information or make things complicated. Here are a few ideas that will speed things up for your customers:

  • Use the customers IP address to geolocate where they are in the world. Don’t make them scroll through Azerbaijan to Timbuktu, if you know they are in the UK, then pre-populate this field for them.
  • Set the delivery address as the default billing address. Or include the option to check a box so that the delivery information is pre-selected from the billing address. This takes the headache out of completing this information twice.
  • Include a link or pop-up that explains what the different postage options mean. Not everyone understands the difference. Having to look this information up adds another unnecessary step to the purchasing process.
  • For some websites, it may be worth testing a ‘complete your order in the next x minutes and we will send it today’. Sometimes including a sense of urgency can help secure the purchase. Amazon use this technique to good effect.

Payment

Once again this step is critical to the buying process. It needs to be simple, clear and function well. When I am working with e-commerce companies, things that I look out for include:

  • Have all the main navigation links been removed? If not, they should be. There shouldn’t be anything on this page which distracts the customer away from the task in hand.
  • Customers are very security conscious these days, make sure your site instills confidence in the buyer with secure payment logos and Feefo ‘trusted merchant’ if relevant.
  • It helps to format the credit or debit card fields so they are the same as the customers actual card. Once they have selected their method of payment, make sure the boxes that appear are in line with those on the card e.g. if the numbers appear in blocks of four, then that is also how the form should appear. This makes things easier for the visitor and gives the payment fields more credibility.
  • Use iconography to show the customer where they are in the buying journey. This is relevant for all the above steps.

I could write a stand along post on how to simplify the payment process, whilst maintaining online security. However, in the interests of brevity, the above four ideas are simple fixes that I come across time and time again.

Customer service information

If is often helpful to include the customer service links on the final checkout page as well. Customers usually feel more at ease if you include statements like “Have a question? Do get in touch. We would love to help you”. This should either be a link or should be followed directly by a phone number, live chat, an e-mail address and/or web form.

Do show the returns policy as a sales feature on this page. This will encourage buyer confidence. If they can clearly see that they have 30 days to return their item, free of charge, then that will often give the customer the extra reassurance they need to press the ‘buy now’ button.

Most websites want you to buy something, be it a product or service. Difficult, confusing or just not user friendly online checkouts, can be a really blockage to a visitor becoming a customer. Make things as easy as possible with the best checkout experience.

chloe

converting browsers to buyers

Does your e-commerce site encourage browsing?

More importantly does it convert browsers to buyers?

We all like to see the statistics demonstrating X number of new visitors to your site. However, if those potential new leads aren’t (virtually) hanging around to browse and ultimately buying something, they remain just stats!

Make it easy for your web visitors to browse. Make it hard for them to resist a purchase.

After 13 years working in the e-commerce sector, here are my three top tips for improved browsing and better conversion rates:

1. The navigation

This is the principal way in which customers browse the website. It is therefore essential that it is logical, clear and fast. Is it in a logical location? Most people expect to find it at the top of the screen on a desktop and as a ‘hamburger menu’ on a mobile or tablet. Creative designs are all well and good but if the customer can’t orientate themselves on the site, they’re not going to get very far.

Is the filtering system clear? If you’ve spent a lot of time working on the design and content of the site, it becomes easy to get bogged down in the details and fail to see things from the customer’s point of view. How easy is it to drill down to the product you want? It can be helpful to include a ‘mega menu’, allowing customers to quickly search for the relevant item. Jewellery resellers, Jewel Hut do this well. Hover over a top level navigation item, such as Pandora, to see this in action. Simple additions, such as colour and font, can help a visitor identify where they are on the site and on the filtering menu. If some of the text is a link, then make sure there is colour on the roll over. This will indicate to the visitor that there is a link to another page.

We live in a very fast paced world and if a site fails to load quickly, visitors are more and more likely to abandon the page.

47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less

40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load

You only have a few seconds to capture someones attention, so don’t lose out because of slow loading speeds.

2. How scannable is the site?

Reading online is 25% slower than reading from print. Why is this? Mostly because it is harder to do. Your eye is distracted by colours, fonts, pop-ups, advertising and images. When you read printed text, your eye moves naturally from left to right. This isn’t the case for online text. Therefore, you need to make website copy much more scannable. Text should be visually broken up with white space. Sentences need to be short and, if possible, only include one concept, idea or product per paragraph. Filtering menus need to be very easy to scan over, enabling potential customers to easily see what they are looking for.

3. Images

Physical shops – bricks and mortar stores – understand the power of their display window. They are always trying to catch the eye of a potential shopper. They keep their displays fresh. Mega stores such as Selfridges have been spending serious money for nearly a century to attract people into their stores. This concept can be translated into your virtual shop front, your home page and subsequent landing pages. If you sell women’s clothes, make sure the category pages show clear, large images of the products. Visitors should be able to rotate the image. Size information should be very easily available and clear. You want your potential customer to be able to visualise themselves wearing the dress. The more they emotionally connect with the item and start to imagine owning it, the more likely they are to make the purchase. If your images are not up to scratch, visitors are very likely to abandon the page before purchasing anything.

There you have it, three ways to encourage browsers to buy. If you have other ideas on how to improve conversion rates, we’d love to hear from you.

chloe

Blog Header the scroll

This is the last in our 7 part series on how to create a really customer focused website. If you would like to read the first six blog posts they are available here. Today we are looking at the final part of the final piece of the puzzle:

The scroll

What exactly do we mean by the scroll?

The scroll is everything underneath the fold. It is what you see when you scroll down.

It is essential that everything beneath the fold ties in with the rest of the page. As with the part above the fold, it also needs to be completely customer centric. The previous 6 blogs in this series looked at aspects of a website above the fold. However, due to the increased use of smart phones, most people instinctively scroll down.

The elements included on the scroll depend greatly on the website page in question. When you are thinking about what should be included, it is helpful to ask yourself three questions:

  1. What is the purpose of this page?
  2. What is the best way for visitors and existing customers to interact with this page?
  3. Is everything included relevant?

When I am developing a new webpage, I always refer back to these three questions. We recently redeveloped the Jersey Beauty Company website and this process was really helpful.

1. What is the purpose of this page?

Is it to educate visitors? Is it designed to interact with them or perhaps to sell them something? If this is unclear you are liable to include content for the sake of it, without any real direction. Once you’ve got the purpose clear in your mind, it becomes easier to prepare relevant and useful customer focused content.

For example, if we look at the Jersey Beauty Company  (JBC) home page, there are many different things included on the scroll, each with a different purpose. The first thing I wanted to do was to build credibility and trust. Existing customers or new visitors tend to trust companies that are already working with organisations they recognise. Including brand logos, either of products you sell or your client companies, is a quick and easy way to build trust. It demonstrates to visitors that you are an established company, that you sell a range of high-quality products or that you work with a range of well-known companies.

You can also build trust with a money back guarantee. If you scroll further down the JBC home page, there are three tiles. The second tile says ’30 day money back guarantee’. The visitor should feel reassured that if they purchase an item and its not right or isn’t as they expected they have time to return it.

Information included on the scroll should also help direct visitors to the right products for them. This brings us neatly onto point 2.

2. What is the best way for visitors or existing customer to interact with this page?

You know the purpose of the page, in the case of the JBC home page scroll, to build credibility and direct the customer to the correct landing page for their needs. Next you need to think about the best way to communicate this purpose to your visitor or customer in a way that makes sense for them? Once again, it is important to keep it all about the customer. It is helpful to put yourself in your visitor’s shoes, imagine that you are visiting this site for the first time. What information is required and how can we present it in such a way that it will engage and entice.

If you are a business, like JBC, with a wide range of products, breaking them down into easy to understand categories, is often very helpful. When you scroll down the JBC home page, you see our three main product categories: ‘nourish dry skin’, ‘sooth sensitive skin’, ‘balance oily skin’ and ‘soften wrinkles’. There are also two large tile options: ‘shop by brand’ and ‘shop by category’. If you are new visitor to the site and you are unsure which product is best for you, the site can feel very overwhelming and visitors may abandon their search before it has even begun. This easy filtering system acts as a navigation guide, helping visitors to easily reach the best landing page for them.

3. Is everything included relevant?

Make sure that everything on the scroll should be there. It is really tempting to add things just for the sake of it. Don’t do that. Remember the original purpose for the page. If it is about increasing customer trust, how is that demonstrated on the scroll. Often you are simply trying to make it as easy as possible for the visitor to get to the next relevant landing page for them. How is this page doing that? If it is about getting the customer to press the buy now button, is it easy and enticing? There are always things that should be included but I still stand by the mantra of less is more.

There are so many more things which could and, depending on the page, should be included on the scroll. They might include: downloads, videos, testimonials, images, product features and sales tables. However, I always find it helps me get the focus right, if I start with the three questions above.