Web design is the new big gun in internet marketing right now, but the kicker is that proper design is not just a tough task to say — but also big time & resource consuming process. Many can feel like it is too much for their small business to undertake. That is true at some extent but not entirely. Designing better ecommerce sites for small businesses is quite possible and that doesn’t need much of resources and all if done properly.
The key to the best website design is to start small. Start with just home pages, landing pages, and product description pages. You can even choose to do just one of these at a time. This will check the amount of the work you and your IT team (if you have one) have to do.
Now divide the complete design into smaller targets. You can do that in a number of ways. Location/country based design is perhaps the easiest place to start, and this can be accomplished through either purchasing multiple domains, or using a unique domain for each physical location or geographic area you occupy, or using sub domains and metro pages to rank in the all-important Google local search results. Even if you only sell online, ranking in certain cities can be a huge advantage. To do this not only designing the landing pages by location and what might be popular in a certain area over another is important, but so is language. If your consumer base speaks more than a language, your ecommerce site should do the same as well.
While this personalization goes well beyond greeting the customer by name when they return to your site, starting with location can be one of the easier methods. There are several other ways to customize product descriptions and landing pages, and you should explore them as you expand your design strategy.
For the example above, we really need only a couple pieces of data, and this data can all be gathered within your current market. With some simple coding, you can know where the site visitor is located geographically, and if they have registered with your site before or they have visited and not deleted cookies, you probably already have their name.
If not, a simple registration request can help you gather that information and more without being too invasive.
Be transparent during this process though. Let the customer know what data you will gather and what it will be used for. Be sure you can keep that data private, and let the web visitor know how you will keep their data secure. Reassure them that you will not sell their data to someone else, and then don’t even if you are tempted.
If you do share data about your site visitors, be sure it is anonymized. There is nothing wrong with sharing general data with your industry. In fact, that is how much of the big data we use to make decisions comes about, aside from the information individuals share through smartphones, fitness wearables, and social media and web surfing.
It sounds like there is a lot of data out there, and there is. But you probably don’t need it all, at least for now. This is why you start simply and then go data-pondering at the enterprise level. There is a ton of data out there, from simple census data tied to certain locations to user generated data you can get from a cloud personalization service and more.
The thing is that your business is not going to be built overnight, and your design strategy will not be either. It will take time to develop deeper analytics and the tools you need to do so. You will have to examine data structures, from analytics tools, user reports, databases, Hadoop structures and data update processes.
Your business will also need the right hardware to access the data you gather and use efficiently and effectively. The key is not the data but the usable data: if you have more data than you need or can use, it won’t do you a bit of good.
Now is when partnering with the right people comes in. You will need experts, you surely will. If you don’t have them on your team, you can at least contract with them in the beginning. You will need to examine the way you gather and handle data now, and how easy it is to access that data — and not everything can be done by an individual. You’ll need a data expert to look at how you tie that data to your website, and utilize if for the design & marketing. As mentioned above, you will need the right hardware as well. The servers or computers you have now may not be up to the task, and if you are not self-hosting, you may need to look at where you are hosting your site, and how they will manage the additional data and coding your site will need.
While most e-commerce sites and hosting platforms are moving this direction, you may need another set of eyes to look over your strategy. At the same time, you will also need graphic designers and other content creators that understand marketing & design and also how to reach various audiences with the right voice and language.
Partnering with experts is essential to your site’s long-term success, even though it may require a big investment for you to get started.
Even though you might be small at the moment, your market will see growth, which means you will be able to expand your marketing & design strategies. This also means that in your planning, evaluation of data and how you handle it, and consulting with the right people, you will need to keep this potential growth in mind.
If you don’t plan for growth, it — either won’t happen — or you will be scrambling to manage it when it does. Having a plan in place for when it does happen instead of if will help you deal with it appropriately.
Getting off to the right start with design is vital. Keep things simple at first, and do those things well. Gather enterprise data, and don’t worry about big data until you need it. Partner with the right people, and plan for growth. Your business and your customers will thank you when your personalization strategy is right on, and meets everyone’s needs.
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