misty brown

The art of eCommerce design by Misty Brown

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Misty Brown have designed a lot of digital things from iPhone apps to websites and complicated SaaS products. Early days in my career I was a gun for hire designing high-end fashion and corporate blogs for clients around the world.


Being a specialist in the crowded blog market, I attracted the interest of fashion brands and ended up working pretty closely with a few of them.


Blogs turned into websites and websites into online stores. I’ve seen the evolution of these companies from mates at markets dabbling in online to global distribution and the inevitable bumps in the road that come with fast-growing fashion brands.


When I sit down with our team and start to plan a new eCommerce design, I’m not just trying to design something that looks good. I’m trying to solve a business problem creatively.

The art of being a good eCommerce designer is understanding the subtleties of a brand and selling online.


How does technology fit in?

Next we research and think about how your customers buy your product online as opposed to in-store. Do they have any particular reservations about buying online that we need to overcome?

Mobile is a big consideration. Is it the type of product that you sit on the couch and buy through your mobile? If you see it on the train on the way to work are you comfortable buying it online or is it complex enough that I need to craft a mobile UX that makes it more likely for you to email it to yourself or save to a wishlist to check back later on a device that you’re more comfortable making the purchasing decision on?


Do customers know the brand or do we have to educate them?

An educated customer shops differently than someone with no knowledge and perception of the brand and it’s products.

Purchases from established brands or for stores that you’re likely shopping at already knowing 70% of the detail about a product require a different user experience. Both the design and content focus need a greater emphasis on education.

We research the role and intricacies of social proof in your market and determine whether strategies like using testimonials, ratings & reviews, influencer endorsements, media logos, client lists or social shares would positively increase the customer’s decision to purchase today.


Am I selling one brands products or several?

We design stores for resellers entirely different than brands that we work with directly.

If you’re selling several brands and have large product lines, I want to know your eCommerce strategy and why I’m buying from you over others online. I need to know what to emphasise to buyers and craft the UX so that they’re hooked at the perfect point in the transaction.


Whats your strategy

Am I getting my product delivered faster through you?
Is your range better?
Can I better relate you to my lifestyle rather than just being a place to buy product?
Are you more trustworthy and a place I can feel more comfortable shopping from?
Or are you cheapest?

How is the store I’m designing meeting your USP and goals as a business?

It’s easy to design you an online store that looks great and you can brag about to your mates at the pub. Great eCommerce designers have an inherit knowledge of business and like to take responsibility for your store adding to your brands value.


Why your photography makes or breaks your online store

Brilliant photography helps craft your narrative and sets the right tone for your store.

One of the first conversations we have with potential clients is “Do you have a quality photographer ready to go?”.

Photography makes or breaks your customer’s site experience and in turn directly affects your online sales conversion.

Customers don’t want to browse through a ho-hum site – they want to experience it.

In many cases, a customer’s first interaction with your brand will be with your site, and in a world where first impressions last, you’ve got to impress them first up.

Amateur photography rarely does your brand justice and this is why we strongly recommend commissioning a professional who truly understands your brand and can portray your unique story.


misty brown

There are 2 distinct disciplines of ecommerce photography…

1. Brand & Lifestyle Photography

Harrison James clearly define their upper-class, go-getter look.

Summercamp clearly define their exploratory, outdoors look & feel.

In my opinion, this is the most important photography to execute to attract the right customers and keep them engaged on your site.

Customers need to aspire to be part of your brand’s tribe by falling in love with your strong, targeted brand aesthetic; otherwise they’re shopping elsewhere.

Customers also need to see your product as a true reflection of their values or who they want to be. You need to help customers picture themselves using your product and if done well, this will reduce or completely remove any price objections.

The best online brands use expert storytelling techniques and pull back the curtains to showcase: who they are, how they make their products and why they are in business.

Wootten showcase their unique tailoring process.

The Wootten company’s heritage told.

Wootten’s services explained and production process featured.

2. Product Photography

Grovemade showcase their products so elegantly.

Simply put, this is how your product is displayed on the ‘shopping pages’, namely product category and individual product pages.

It’s a no-brainer to use clear, high quality images shot on a white (or consistent) background, removing all distractions and allowing your customer to focus on the product and make a buying decision.

The best online store examples we see show a single product from as many as 5-7 different angles, removing almost all customer product questions.

At a minimum, we recommend you include Front On, Behind, Side On, On Model/In situ and close up.


A real life example of great photography making the sale…

This was my recent experience whilst shopping for a basic white t-shirt on 2 different sites. It bodes as a cautionary tale for online retailers and one you’ve most likely experienced (or similar) yourself… For the record, I had my credit card out and was ready to buy.


My thoughts on Site A:
“When I landed on the site I really liked the lifestyle imagery of the brand and I could picture myself in one of their highly desirable scenarios, that being on a beach relaxing with friends. The white t-shirt on the model in the lifestyle shot looked great for my athletic/nuggetty build, and the close up images showed the detail and quality of the stitching. I could definitely see myself wearing that shirt.”

My thoughts on Site B:
“When I landed on the site I felt underwhelmed as the site lacked any real lifestyle or aspirational photography. I had to conjure up a scenario of myself wearing it in my mind. Yes, the shirt looks great by itself but what would it look like on my type of build? Would it be too long, tight or baggy? The site also didn’t provide any close up photos so I’m not sure what the stitching quality is like. ”

Result: As you could assume, I chose to buy from Site A.
They made it easy for me to picture myself in the t-shirt, being part of their tribe and didn’t leave me with any hanging product questions.
In the future, I’m going to purchase from Site A again for other items of clothing because they made me feel comfortable and understood my online purchasing needs.

Many online retailers without even realising don’t paint the full picture for their customers and lose sales.


In closing…

A photographer worth their salt will typically specialise in either branding/lifestyle imagery or product photography as they are both unique disciplines.

It’s important to ask your photographer which they specialise in and see examples of their work in that discipline before commissioning a shoot. It’s rare that one photographer is excellent at both.

Remember, online shopping removes your customer’s ability to touch and feel your product before purchasing, they don’t know your product’s quality or brand story like you do.

Using brilliant photography to tell your brand’s story and showcase product quality will boost your site’s sales and help your loyal customers share your brand with their friends.