Laura Doonin is one of the panellists in the website review workshop at Be MPowered. Here she gives us the low down on what she's looking for in a great website.
My professional focus is ecommerce strategy and digital innovation so when I think of best practice features and functionality, I come from the angle of having worked with what I call midterprise retailers (mid-market and entry enterprise businesses). I do feel that much of the same thinking can be applied to individuals who sell services of sorts.
When reviewing ecommerce sites, I always start out as if I am a potential customer. It's really about making the journey as frictionless as possible.
The number one thing I look at is the search functionality. How are you surfacing up options to customers and how user-friendly is your homepage?
This then leads to the site navigation. Is the flow intuitive? If not, I straight away know that the information architecture needs some love.
Navigation leads to filtering - retailers with large catalogues need to have strong logic in their data to ensure they are surfacing up the right products to the right people.
The product page is very important to give upfront info including pricing, promotions, shipping and delivery. Below the fold is where the 'more info' can be and usually in a tab structure to keep the page clean.
When in comes to checkouts, there are complex and simple versions but a rule of thumb is don’t try and recreate the wheel. Look to benchmark retailers on what they do and remember the customer is making a transaction and look for familiar experiences - the great thing about many Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms is that they provide a standard checkout that is tested continuously so you don’t have to do it.
Finally, transparency is key. It is now an expectation to have 'real' reviews on every product page.
From a User Experience perspective, we base much of our methodology around the Baymard Institute's research. We always have to focus on the data to inform the design.
We have to design for where the customers are and that is mobile. I always take a mobile first approach to design - it may seem simple but it's actually hard to decide what stays on mobile and what to take off. A few points to consider: make the font clear - we don’t mind scrolling on mobile, if you have call-to-action buttons, don’t put them too close together, make the the strongest call-to-action buttons pop, and make the checkout bolder with an accent colour.
All Birds - digital-first brand, values, purpose and ethical at the core, simple navigation and comprehensive filtering. Before you know it you have checkout and are $140 bucks down. Theory 11 - super cool and user friendly - it is the epitome of design and functionality.
We design, build, integrate and support mid to enterprise retailers' ecommerce experiences. We double down on two platforms - BigCommerce and ShopifyPlus - and work with some of the biggest retailers across NZ and AU. But what we love most is the speed of change, the way that tech is moving so fast but it's also becoming easier to use. We see ourselves more as an innovation partner that unlocks retailers' digital and marketing teams' potential.
After spending over 10 years working in retail, I understood what should be done and why it needed to done - the how is the hard part. I want to bring solutions to retailers that can help set them up to succeed. I believe there is a greater need for women in key roles here - at a time where change is happening so quickly, we need more care, thoughtfulness and inclusion.
There is a real vibe in the AU retail space just now with more honest conversations, collaboration, faster speed to implement and the ability to fail and move on. It’s great.
There are website platforms that allow you to be in control. I love that but you have to do the work, you have to research, you have to find out best practice and often you need to seek expert help so you don’t waste money, can scale, and stay motivated.
When you make a decision, think speed to market and agility. Work with people you trust. Have both a build and buy approach to your tech stack. Be OK with the small pivots. And finally trust your gut.