User Interface

The Intimate Relationship between your Business Model & Website’s Architecture

Typically when online retailers design UIs of their ecommerce store, they think of everything to make the best out of the design, such as colors, fonts, graphics, customers, competitors, and everything needed to design a compelling shopping experience. All of these have a definite take in the making of your website’s UI/UX. But after working on the UIs and shopping experiences of so many fashion retailers, I have come to realize that many retailers don’t see or understand the intimate relationship between their website’s UI/UX and their business objective. And thus, there is often a ‘costly’ gap between what retailers really want in their site’s architecture and what their web designer, developer or agency delivers.

If your website designer doesn’t understands your business, it doesn’t matter how talented if he or she is, your website design will always fall short of what you actually need to actually run and grow your business. And to be fair to your designer, it’s not just his/her responsibility; it can be someone else in the team who bridges this gap to ensure that the business requirements get translated into the website’s UI/UX requirements.

Let me give you some quick examples to establish that there is an intimate relation between your business objective and your ecommerce website’s architecture:

  • If you’re a creating a fashion marketplace, you need a separate design architecture for your category page and designer page. The above the fold segment of the designer page should have provision to show designer’s name, country, description, lookbook images, etc because you’re not just selling the products of that designer,  but also the story of his/her brand. On the other hand, the category page can still have a standard category page design.
  • If the number of products are too less, your category page should never have a 4 column architecture, as then with less products your category page starts looking empty, and gives an impression to your customers that you don’t have enough products in stock.
  • If you’re looking to build a community, you want your designer to design a compelling welcome page to force sign-up your customers to register on your website in order to see to the home page.
  • If you have too many categories & sub-categories, you want your designer to design not a simple menu, but a mega dropdown menu which gives your customers a snapshot of all the products you sell on your website.
  • If you’re investing a lot in your editorial content, your homepage should have the provision to feature your latest editorial content on your website’s home page.
  • If your products & services are functional in nature, you need provision in your home page, category page and product page to show your products or service work.
  • If you’re a luxury brand and have invested heavily in your product visuals, the product page should have a big container to show the product images, which should take at least 50% above the fold space. And the zoom functionality should actually  work like zoom, instead of just enlarging it a bit.

I can go on and on with this list. The more ecommerce businesses I work with, the more I learn about the unique architectural requirements of each business. 

How you can bridge this gap? Well if you don’t have any prior experience in ecommerce, a good way to start would be to do your homework by analyzing the website architecture of your top 5 competitors. Notice how much inventory and categories they have, what kind of dropdowns they use, how many columns they have on their cateogry page. If you spend enough time on analyzing their architecture closely, you should be able to put two and two together and provide more intelligent design requirements to your designer / agency. And if that doesn’t work, consider finding someone who has the experience in designing UIs for Fashion Ecommerce sites.

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