Analyzing client & customer needs
A well orchestrated shopping experience starts with understanding what the site’s primary function is and how to take advantage of the online medium. We evaluated the purchasing process through the old site and looked for ways in which it could be enhanced. We pinpointed several weaknesses including order tracking, personalization, inventory control, and shipping optimization. Remedying these pain points became the cornerstone for proceeding with the redesign.
Planning out the design
Being the original designer of the first site, the client immediately understood the vision and helped us stay true to the mood of the work. I knew that it was important for us to establish a hierarchy for the main page based on product popularity. In addition, spotlighting new artwork would allow us to keep the site fresh while giving people a reason to explore other categories. By setting up a structure that showcased the client’s most popular work and allowing some of the newer work to percolate to the top, we were able to capture current interests. Along with that, a listing of upcoming shows was displayed which enabled us to create a dashboard summary of the gallery right on the main page. Navigation was kept simple and straightforward, providing concise options that the audience would easily understand/comprehend.
I created wireframes based on several of the discussions we had on structure. I then moved to mocking up the design, using a rich, black background pattern as a way to make the artwork pop off the screen. Collaborating at this point provided an opportunity for the client to be fully invested in the project while maintaining final veto power should the site deviate from her goals. Once the main page mockup was finalized, we moved to refining the shopping experience based on our subpage wireframes. Because there is such a wide range of products, sizes, and frame options for each piece (well over 200), it was crucial for us to consider the easiest and best way for customers to make selections. Shopping cart abandonment had been something we were looking to prevent this time around. We determined that drop-downs with sizes at the point in which the client was putting the item in their cart made the most sense. Testing revealed this to be true and we finalized how the secondary templates would look before we moved on to production.
Not only did we need a sophisticated product grid to help identify variations in orders, we also wanted to provide a way for customers to save and reclaim orders at a later date using their shopping cart. We created a login mechanism for customers that identified them based on their username. When they arrived to the site, they would be greeted and given the opportunity to review their cart. This allowed us to develop a personal rapport with the customers.
Further extending the experience, we allowed them to sign up for the company newsletter. This provided direct marketing opportunities – something that hadn’t previously existed beyond print postcards and fliers.
Our custom shipping and handling administration tools gave the power of optimizing costs when smaller items were shipped with larger ones. The overall experience with the admin panel provided a level of detail over interactions that empowered the client to truly focus on individual customer’s needs.
Success on both fronts
The admin panel became a central hub for the client’s online product management. They could now provide flexibility in terms of tracking orders and having a live status of what was available. This alone saved several hours of inventorying by hand. Shipping, which had historically been a huge burden, was now streamlined into an online process which automatically calculates weight and runs a formula to generate the best price, enhancing fulfillment and saving money.
The website now accounts for a larger number of ongoing sales and is growing. The success of the site has been followed up with supplemental projects for the client including discount code integration. This allows the gallery to offer seasonal sales to its regular customers and promotions when new stock arrives. While the client has taken over maintenance of the site, the initial work changed the game for the gallery and laid the foundation for years to come.