Creative ecommerce merchants such as L.L. Bean use the weather and traditions to increase website conversions. The 2012 Top 10 Holiday Website Designs.
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Paul & Shark's new flagship store demonstrates how design can refresh a brand...
Rejuvenating a brand speaks volumes about the brand identity, its USP and its projected future, all rolled into a single wholesome experience. When B+H Architects were asked to work on the new flagship store in Hong Kong to augment the launch of Paul & Shark into the Asian markets, they capitalized on two aspects: fine craftsmanship and innovative spirit of the brand.
Appreciate India Art & Design sharing this post. The post is about how Paul & Shark used design to rebrand their stores and it gives us a chance to discuss one of our favorite aspects of web design.
All the world is a stage.
When team Curagami (http://www.Curagami.com ) helps design an ecommerce website NOTHING is left to chance. In an ideal world we TEST everything before we pull triggers.
Ideal world's rarely exist, so we model many core details based on other similar tests or intuition (influenced by thousand of tests, reading and stealing from those we know test a lot lol).
NOTHING is left to chance.
Just as a store wraps around its shoppers websites wrap around visitors. Great ecommerce websites such as REI.com or Threadless.com understand HOW they set the stage frames the play. Websites as stage are far from a passive communication medium.
When you walk into a store the store's stage communicates a million messages to our "shopper brain". One day standing in Nordstrom I looked UP. Thousands of lights carefully directed reinforced store as stage. Nordstrom's display team must spend HOURS directing those lights (look up next time you visit a big box store).
Web designs use COLOR as "light". Color is a web designrer's klieg lights. Images come and go, but color is forever (lol). Online color creates excitement, awareness, a desire to take an action and chances shoppers will join, buy and share.
Look HARD at how B+H used color to reinforce Paul & Shark's "Brand Ideals", Unique Selling Propositions (well articulated in the article) and what we call Unique Customer Aspirations or UCA (how customers want to use a brand to actualize their aspirations and dreams for themselves) and ask yourself, "Does our web design do that too?".
5 Problems With Faceted Search
Faceted search, those data sorting criteria you see on so many websites (on the left in the VW example) creates several web design issues including:
* Infinite Pages that can destroy SEO.
* Too Much Choice.
* Merchandising hierarchy based on attributes and sort.
* Data or engineering presentation that can overwhelm stories.
* Power moves from merchandises and marketers to tech.
Infinite Pages & SEO
Smart move is to robot.txt faceted search pages. Sending thousands of pages without social shares or much content to search spiders in this day and time is not a good idea. Faceted search tends to produce low social value pages when used by itself.
Faceted search can be used in combination with category page copy and social share widgets (highly recommended). Even in combination we suggest prioritizing pages that matter and sharing those with the spider while limit access to the infinite combinations even simple faceted search installs create.
Too Much Choice
Choice is a paradox one of my favorite books (Paradox of Choice by Schwartz) proclaims. Because you CAN do something doesn't mean its the right thing to do. Faceted search without help can quickly become overwhelming. Help can take many forms including:
* Top 10 Lists.
* Best Seller or Most Viewed badges, icons and ribbons.
* Sharing analytics such as people who bought x also buy y.
Cut down choice with feedback loops. Move your analytics closer to the "front" and your design and merchandising becomes less overwhelming.
Faceted search can make a merchandising team lazy. As we discussed in the previous Too Much Choice segment finding ways to curate, combine and merchandising within faceted search results based on analytics, curation and social preference creates collaboration between faceted search and your merchandisers. A website's merchandising team should be one of the most creative a powerful groups Don't let your merchandising team think your site merchandises itself (they never do).
DATA not EMOTION
We buy with emotion and justify with logic my P&G boss taught me a lifetime ago. The web is awash in DATA and we have a tendency to "widgetize" the emotionally resonate stories OUT of our websites thanks to tactics such as faceted search. If you use faceted search your team needs to find ways to build emotion IN. Testimonial teases, arresting images and snippets that lead up a ladder to a story are a few of the ways you can add emotion into a faceted search installation.
Power To TECH not PEOPLE
Curagami, our Durham, NC startup, works in an area with many startups. Startups tend to love and focus on the tech they create. We BUY PEOPLE not TECH. We trust PEOPLE not TECH so any faceted search installation needs a strong about page and a sense of who the team is behind the search results or trust is blown and the site riffs itself to itself. Finding ways to tell YOUR story inside a faceted search installation is a CSF (Critical Success Factor).
Marty (Scenttrail) Note: 27 Bad Ecommerce Designs
These CSS Design Award Winning sites illustrate why designers shouldn't be in charge of your commercial website. In a recent G+ post I shared our journey across time, place and money online (Why Time Is Money Online: https://plus.google.com/102639884404823294558/posts/RdjAjWoJTHw ).
It's easy to get lost. We kept trying to make narrative, movie and book-like) logic work on our ecommerce site and it never did. To the extent we told stories we depressed conversions and we conducted these tests before the web was drowning in content.
Not that the web has been fully "content shocked" to within an inch of its life one of the FIRST jobs any ecommerce site must accomplish is loudly and clearly proclaiming their STORE-NESS.
These 27 "pretty picture" designs are find for big established brands people trust, but they would CRUSH a new commercial site. The "store-ness" is confusing. Are these content sites or can we buy stuff here.
Some communicate some "store-ness",but none have the "ditch digging" realities of large, successful ecom sites such as REI.com or Schwan's.com (highest converting ecom site in world). Call-To-Actions are missing (mostly), navigation is murky and not keyword dense and images don't you line of sight rules (viewers' eyes go where people's eyes in your images go).
Real ecommerce needs a few things to be successful that most of these sites ignore, miss or don't know such as:
* Email subscription forms (email list = your most profitable channel because YOU OWN IT, don't believe BS about email marketing being dead mobile is making email marketing different but dead =nope.
* AN OFFER - see REI.com's "daily deals" or Amazon's ability to sell any and everything.
* Great navigation balanced between seo and customer engagement.
* Images mapped to produce CLICKS where merchants want them.
* Every image, click and share creates analytics and data so part of what you need to map into an ecom design is WHAT DATA YOU NEED. Can't figure out what actionable thing I would know after a month's traffic on these designs.
* Sense of TIME and PLACE (what season are we in? Where are these sites?).
* TRUST and that comes from other people (testimonials, curation of User Generated Content and NONE of these have anything like that so unless they are major brands they won't pass the trust test with many shoppers).
* TRUST MARKS = didn't see a VISA or MC logo either. One way to create trust online is to align with brands and marks people already trust. Those badges look like ugly scars to designers and they help make merchants millions.
* Content - we love VISUAL MARKETING but some context such as the context one satisfied customer would share is a must.
* Design = Trust - we grant that these sites look amazing and looking amazing helps with creating trust, but junk 'em up a little and make more money.
That last bullet reminds me of a story from my P&G tenure. My boss Russ Mills taught me to never leave a display too neat. "People won't disturb a display that is too neat," he explained. These ecommerce designs are too neat for me (by half). If you aren't a major brand ignore every one of these 27 "inspirational" ecom web designs.
PS. Favorite has to be the example in the picture above. Not only do we chop people in half we ask visitors to kiss their behinds (lol). Opposite of the welcoming atmosphere I want to create on my ecom sites (lol) back when I was responsible for millions of online sales yearly. At my core I remain an online merchant, but I don't miss not sleeping and sweating sales numbers from now until Valentine's Day. Don't miss that at all :).
Flat Design Rocks Mobile
Flat web design looks great on any device so it is one of he hottest trend i 2014. My faves from this group of great flat designs:
VeloSport (more because I'm a cycling nut)
Flatness in and of itself doesn't make a web design look good on mobile. Responsive design is the holy grail of platform agnostic design. Responsive + Flat more powerful than either of those ideas alone.
In March 2011 Jake Price, a freelance producer for the BBC, journeyed to Tohoku, Japan to document the devastation left in the wake of the Pacific tsunami.
The result of his trip is evident in his powerful and beautiful immersive web documentary, "Unknown Spring," which was awarded the World Press Photo Multimedia Awards...'
Agree with the @Art Jones note. The mashup of many channels into an immersive environment as illustrated by Unknown Spring is a fascinating and a sign of things to come. The execution on my mac was a tad bumpy, but the convergence of media, narration, navigation, image and "hero's journey" storytelling is powerful.
Here is the link to the Unknown Spring site:
Article about the "new" convergence storytelling:
I like Salesforce and SquareSpace and was surprised I didn't hate the Microsoft design.
Want To Learn Graphic Design?
Don't know about you but I learn best now by doing. I'm too old to sit in a classroom and listen. If I can't Tweet, G+ and Scoop I don't learn. I love the approach for how we train doctors for learning Internet marketing:
* Watch One.
* Do One.
* Teach One.
That last phase, teaching, is where whatever you are trying to do becomes solid and real. This is why social media, blogging and great tools like G+ are so valuable. We can share, teach, learn simultaneously.
When I created my first website in 1999 we couldn't afford to hire anyone. I learned photoshop and enough HTML to be dangerous and we set off on a journey.
Marshal McLuuhan was right. Today the medium is the message, so marketers need to speak graphics too or be too far behind (waiting on someone to create something). If you want to learn great graphic and web design FOLLOW, READ and LEARN FROM the Museum of Modern Art's design team.
Not a huge surprise MoMA would have a rockin design team, but more than brilliant designers these guys share and play well with others too and that was a tad unexpected. I would become a snotty jerk if my designers were good enough to work for MoMA.
Friends are laughing now. I know I will NEVER reach such graphic design heights, but that's okay because I know and can learn from great design when I see it (as can you). MoMA design rocks and they share so learn from these gifted artists / designers.
Bauhaus is not only one of the most important design movements in history, but an especially relevant style for Web Designers. Alex and Simone tell you why.
Wow, love this post by SitePoint.com's Web Developer Alex Walker and graphic designer Simone Sala because it both EXPLAINS Bauhaus Design Principles and then applies them with examples to the web. #toogood
The Bauhaus stressed form and function. Removing ornamentation in favor of clarity, ease of use and beauty. Sounds like MOBILE DESIGN to me.
Mobile is so SMALL it forces the right choices. Look how "mobile design" is not impacting web design. Mobile stared trends such as limited color palettes and flat graphics because of limitations (of smart phones), but those limitations can also help FREE up a website and point it more clearly at true north.
True north online is where visitors know what to do and why easily and are so engaged by your content they want to do (what you want them to do) AND they want to share the experience with friends. Mobile's "game console-like" BEING is reshaping marketing (see Marketing's Big Bang Manifesto https://plus.google.com/102639884404823294558/posts/Tf9GNsX35qn ).
Great, helpful post.
In an ambitious 9 part series Business 2 Community @b2community explores the meaning and relevance of 9 design principles created by one of lions of design - Dieter Rams. You may not think you know who Dieter Rams is, but you do.
If you've ever shaved with a Braun electric shaver or admired its lines then you know Dieter Rams.This series explores Rams' 10 Design Principles:
Good Design Is Innovative
Good Design Makes a Product Useful
Good Design Is Aesthetic
Good Design Makes A Product Understandable
Good Design Is Unobtrusive
Good Design Is Honest
Good Design Is Long-lasting
Good Design Is Thorough Down to the Last Detail
Good Design Is Environmentally Friendly
Good Design Is as Little Design as Possible
Lots to learn from Dieter.
Here A Wiki, There A Wiki, Everywhere A Wiki
What is a Wiki if not an invitation to create online community. The "open source" like collaboration Wiki's provide is a blueprint for creation of online community. After months working on http://www.Curagmai.com we've discovered how close Wikis are to...well everything.
Wiki Ideas To Steal Include:
* Open Source Like Content Collaboration.
* Use community to steer and de-spam ecosystem.
* Depend mostly on social reward.
* A healthy and competitive contest never hurts.
* Feature and thank contributors.
* Provide ways for contributors to know where they stand vis-à-vis other contributors.
* Create ways contributors can follow and communicate with each other.
* Include ways for contributors to create mini-tribes.
* Make sure "rules of the road" are understood and published.
* Communication with sponsoring agents must be easy too.
* Normalize greatness by sharing across ecosystem.
* Role of sponsors becomes more curators than creators.
* Ask for help.
* Provide social rewards (such as features) to contributors.
* Create ways to identify contributors in the world (t-shirts, stickers).
* Appreciate, be nice and thankful (always no matter what).
Following a few simple rules will dramatically increase the most important content you can't buy (User Generated Content or #UGC) and build sustainable online community. Sustainable online community means costs go DOWN even as other material rewards (UGC, followers, traffic, money) go UP.
This Haiku Deck is about why we are all in the Wiki business whether we realize it or not AND how to design for the Wiki-ization of marketing, brands and online community.
Watching the excellent HBO Documentary about James Brown Mr. Dynamite made me think of FUNK and web design. Web design is easy to get WRONG (lol).
It is tricky to design online with a sense of surprise, beauty and novelty. I like the Digital Invaders design as it feels free and spontaneous. Other designs such as Monster CSS and Creative With A K feel like they are trying to appear spontaneous and free.
Trying too hard is EASY in web design too. Remember all websites are STAGES we designers SET. The trick is to set a stage that feels like it is happening now and won't feel dated tomorrow. Feels like there are enough visual hooks in Digital Invaders it would be easy to keep it fresh with minimum fuss.
I like Emigre too. Emigre creates the same sense of happening now but that design is at the other end of the spectrum from Digital Invaders. Its hard to beat the grid. First website I created, in 1999, used a Mondrian grid.
Grids help organize massive amounts of information without that mountain feeling like it is about to crush you. I like the funky NOISE contrasted to the quiet grid because they demonstrate the need to find a visual VOICE in your web design. That voice can be anything as long as it feels authentic TO YOU.
The web is very good at finding and amplifying DISSONANCE. When you try to FUNK IT UP and aren't really funky it shows like you are wearing the wrong decades fashion (painful). Your customers are your audience.Set the stage anyway you want, but do so with an eye toward YOUR TRUTH.
The closer you stay on the tiny beam of "authentically us" the more success your web design has. This is why there are no web design maxims that apply all the time. What works for Emigre is very different than Digital Invaders but both work, both are authentic and have that hard to describe but know it when you see it TRUTH great web design must have.
The "Web Design" category of general interest covers its fair share of ground. Informative articles on everything from UX to client management, to conversion psychology,...
YES, seeing all 10 of these trends from flat design to content ISN'T king anymore (not true) and SEO isn't getting easier (true).
If you were to ask me what’s the best way to showcase your creativity, then I would definitely say that it is in designing a website.
I love the "behind the scenes" honesty and accuracy of this Smashing Magazine post. Smashing Magazine is a trusted source for me and this post is true to my experience of creating hundreds of websites and helping Curagami.com clients to create thousands more.
The article I was looking for was how to design for constant change, for the smaller iterations we take now. If you now of a post like that please share. If I can't find it after more searching I will just write it since it feels like content marketing and web design have changed.
Content marketing is about QDF now (discussed recently here: http://www.curagami.com/featured/how-quality-deserves-freshness-changes-content-marketing/
If you have insight or resources that help explain how to design a web environment for maximum flexibility and an ease with the constant change we labor within these days please share. Thanks, Marty
Best In Class From Conversion IQ
The other day I complained about "pretty picture' ecommerce sites that make conversion harder. So much of ecom is ditch digging. Ditch digging to make sure you have things such as:
* Email subscription form (prefer presence to popunders).
* Clearly ECOM - looks like a store with things to sell not content to read.
* Social (easy to find theirs and easy to contribute).
* Content Curation from social / comments / reviews (should feel like a party with people who share love / interests).
* Offers, deadlines and a sense of time (of the year today is Columbus Day for example).
These examples from Conversion IQ are closer to "ditch digging" ecommerce websites. Conversion either BUYING or into a list are easier, more clear and so these designs make more money than the pretty picture websites I shared last (http://sco.lt/4ijZIH ),
This infographic illustrates what responsive web design is, how it works, and why you should make the switch.
Responsive Web Design
Here is an email I wrote to a friend this morning about responsive:
NO ONE understands mobile seo btw (lol). Not a huge leap to think that what makes a site responsive could also confuse the spider. Could also HELP the spider since the re-imagining of the information architecture should do things like:
Best Black & White Web Designs
Color is a tough master. Color sends many conscious and unconscious messages. Some websites strike out to create beauty with a simple palette.
Using only black and white these web designs show how powerful those two colors can be. Favorites include Sofa and Marck Ecko.
I LOVE Blue as a web design color. When I was a senior at Vassar I painted a common room in Main the blues of Keith Jarret's album Arbor Zena (in image). Took a week, but the room shared some of the same reasons I love blue for web designs.
5 Reason Blue Rocks Web Design
* Sends trust, strength, grace and beauty signals.
* Easy to manipulate ( shades of blue work online see LoewyDesigns).
* Works as accent or background.
* Images pop off of blue nicely.
* There are many text and font options with blue.
Here are my 3 favorites from the examples:
* LoewyDesigns (shades of blue).
* Black Sea Fisheries (for way blue caries type and fonts).
* Z-Index.it - for how calming blue can be to chaotic multiple image Pinterest-like heroes
Jenny Odell is a gifted artist, web designer, writer. The icon page in the Red Bulletin with a tiny name was intriguing enough to prompt a Google search. The Red Bull Bulletin is one of my favorite publications.
The Bulletin is visually stunning but that's not all. The Odell page is a great example of the intelligent and very NOW sensibility Red Bull's Bulletin uses with such grace.
To intrigue, take advantage of how the world is not how it was and engage is so important in today's social / mobile / connected world. Red Bull's publication and core branding GETS IT.
The Jenny Odell page of tiny icons such as the Eiffel Tower, Spiral Jetty and squiggly lines requires WORK to see and decipher. Work to find out what the page is al about. Red Bull GETS that their customers are connected so they build in hooks to those capabilities.
Brilliant marketing I wrote about for Curatti in Red Bull's Branding Lessons: Why We Are All Media Companies Now:
Jenny Odell's site