After finding a niche, it was important to start by understanding potential customers. What are their problems, needs, motivations? I spoke to friends and family, and took a poll at the office. I narrowed the field to a few archetypes to determine the problems my store needed to solve for people:
Mark is father and passionate environmentalist; he's fashionable and likes looking good. He wants a product that can deliver on both fronts.
Katie is on the look out for new styles and wants something unique and stylish. Quick customer service matters to her too.
Information Architecture and Wireframes
Next it was time to map out the experience and block out the major elements of the store. I dug through store after store, taking notes and carefully analyzing the shopping experience. I even took a strange diversion down the rabbit hole of Amazon's dropdown menu design and algorithm.
An e-commerce store must get your attention right away. By adding a large hero image along with several colorful callouts, I wanted to grab the user before showing them actual product. I set out to create striking visuals that fit the tropical, tiki-style theme typically associated with bamboo. The logo is a simple and elegant bamboo shaft--I didn't want it to overpower and distract attention away from the product. This section of the site grabs the user's attention and helps them understand the benefits of shopping here. It should be immediate and understandable from the start.
Using set collections is an important UX tactic. By creating a "Color" collection, for example, people may be more inclined to purchase multiple items within the set vs. just seeing them in a large product catalog. Additionally, most e-commerce stores have a method of segmenting product. Some do it much better or worse —all in an effort to break down content into manageable chunks and boost sales. I designed several collections to serve this purpose.
Key to designing a successful e-commerce store is making sure the purchase flow is easy. Purchase call to action should be clear and contrast with the background. There must be some feedback mechanism so the user knows the item has been added to their cart. The checkout flow must have large, clear input fields and be multi-step to reduce feeling overwhelmed. We also ideally want to grab the customer's email address so we can confirm receipt and delivery as well as follow-up with via marketing campaigns. Staying connected with the site's audience is important and email is a proven high ROI channel. I also set up a Facebook page and integrated their Facebook Messenger to allow site visitors to get real-time help. Frictionless, easy communication is a definite product differentiator and a must-have per one of our personas.
Close with Features
A good e-commerce experience has three major "containers." Starting from the top, you're hit with the WOW, then see product, then close with product features. Most users should ideally be interested by the time they see product, but this final container is designed to grab the holdouts and skeptics. Why Bambu sunglasses? They're polarized, they're solidly constructed from real bamboo, and they protect your eyes with UV shielding.