Trends can make business owners anxious. While some experts point out that with so many digital storefronts there is an indication that small business is dying, I really don’t believe that’s true. Small businesses today have more opportunities to grow and thrive than ever before. But, as websites go there is no indication that ‘if you build it, they will come’ (as referred to in the movie Field of Dreams.)
Make the experience interactive
We should never forget that consumers call the shots and always expect a great product. Then, after they choose an awesome product, they expect a flawless buying experience that gives them a personal connection with your brand.
Years ago, websites were often informational and bland. Then for a while graphics became somewhat boring though colors ran rampart. Around 2007 there was a burst of big buttons and 3D gradients and shadows. After some design overload we moved to a flat design, a feature that was meant to be used sparingly. but somehow it caught on and spread to fill websites. This created a problem because we couldn’t figure out what was a button and what was text. Everything blended together and it was inevitable that we would graduate towards a more interactive and interesting experience.
Google = constant change
In 2014 Google came up with what is called ‘material design’ This is a super cool concept that incorporates a “three-dimensional environment containing light, material, and cast shadows.” It is intuitive and customizes the look and feel of your site. Last month (Link to blog) I spoke about how technology moved from mobile devices and touch screens. This concept from Google allowed for more 3-dimensional interaction with a website, utilizing thickness and shadows, providing for a purposeful brand experience.
Sidebars… what about them? Sometimes you need them and most times you don’t as they seem to clutter some pages. Blog posts tend to utilize a sidebar to help move between different topics. But you want to focus the user to scroll down main pages to learn more. The top menu and footer have enough distraction while providing information to push clients to visit other areas of the website. Keep visitors on your designated path. Let’s not even go into the fact that sidebars are either not visible on mobile devices, or display poorly and are hard to use.
Obviously there are lots of choices for the business owner, but the fact is that if you want to succeed, you must anticipate your customers’ needs. Know what they want before they know what they want. That knowledge should be an integral part of your digital storefront.
Anticipate their behavior
Technology offers products that can anticipate customer shopping behaviors. Offer the products and services that your audience seems most interested in and make these items easy to buy. Utilize technologies that make your customers comfortable, and create a unique, enjoyable shopping experience. Keep in mind that accessible design allows users of all abilities to navigate comfortably within your website.
The key to an efficient, comfortable, accessible digital storefront is to never stop improving it. Interact, ask your audience to critique, ask them what they like, accept comments and suggestions. Then top it off with customer service that rocks! Learn how to craft an unforgettable online experience.