Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Product Photography - Make It Your New Hobby!

I'd like to do a series of articles on product photography, because it's so very essential to eCommerce, and so very often done wrong! We get to see it all, from the excellent to the "what are they thinking?" - and, trust me, this one skill can absolutely make or break you when it comes to selling online.

If you're not convinced of the importance of product photographic quality when it comes to selling online, keep in mind that over 70% of people are more visually oriented than any of their other senses. And that web commerce relies nearly 100% on VISUAL appeal to attract and retain customers. Whether you're selling cell phones, dresses, or toothpaste, making the product look appealing is nearly the #1 skill you should develop, if you haven't already.

There are a few rather technical things to know in order to take a dramatically better photo - fortunately, they are quite easy and affordable! They just require a little know-how and some practice.

Since there is much to cover on this subject, I'm planning to do an entire series on product photography, so look forward to that every Wednesday through November, and please feel free to send in your questions! We'll be covering things like: getting the best lighting, what types of backdrops to use, when (and how) to remove backgrounds, showing clarity and detail, differences in image techniques based on your product line, image editing and cleanup, cropping and web optimizing. By the time we're done, I hope everyone knows how to set the white balance on their cameras and the ideal image resolution for your website product display pages.

Trust me, when your sales start climbing, you'll be so glad you knew these simple tricks!!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Customer Spotlight: Skin Obsession

Welcome to Friday - time for a new customer spotlight!

Spotlight On: Skin Obsession
Service: New website design to match a new store name & logo

The Need: Julie recently underwent some big changes in her online skin care company, including a new name, new logo, and relocation of her shopping cart platform from ChannelAdvisor to Volusion. She needed a new look that would accomplish several goals: be appealing to women looking for a cost-saving spa experience, while still feeling comfortable for men to shop - keeping lots of homepage text and keywords for optimal SEO - and offering multiple ways to shop her specialized product line.

The Solution: We took Julie's color scheme and logo elements and blended them throughout the entire design, giving the site a very custom, professional look without sacrificing functionality or search engine optimization. She now has easily editable text areas, rotating featured item boxes to highlight her best-sellers, and features such as a newsletter signup box and links to her social networking sites - all of which will help her expand her customer base, staying connected and building trust. And that means better sales! That's what I'd call putting your best face forward.

Q & A:

Q: Do the colors used on my website really matter? If so, how?

A: You bet they do! Any good graphic designer will have some training in color psychology (sometimes called "color therapy") and will help you select colors that will best appeal to your specific target market.

There's no "one perfect color" that induces all people to pull out their credit cards all the time - if there were, the marketing world would be awash in it! But obviously, there are colors that have universal meaning (or at least, within a given culture). For example, soft colors relax and soothe, while bold colors excite. Have you ever noticed that virtually ALL the fast food restaurant chains use a combination of bright red and yellow in their logos, signage, and interiors? That's no coincidence - it's because red, orange, and yellow are colors that stimulate us to be hungry!

Q: But in your survey, you asked me what MY favorite colors are - what does this have to do with optimal design?

A: Great question! And there are a few reasons we do this:

(1) You will be looking at your own website day in and day out, probably for years. (Yes, we know your mum is uber-supportive, but will she be logging in daily? Don't think so...) We want you to feel motivated every time you see it, to feel great about your virtual space and proud of your storefront. So yes, how YOU feel about the design matters greatly!

(2) We assume that you are selling a product, line, or service about which you feel great passion. And you are probably somewhat of an expert in your line. As such, it's likely that the kind of customers you'll attract are people of like mind, who have similar tastes and interests. Yes, you could go for a generic look and try to appeal to a maximum number of people, but studies show that web businesses are actually more successful when they target a niche market directly. Therefore, your own personal tastes ARE relevant and probably one of the best indicators as to what your similarly-oriented target market will be attracted to, also.

Let us know your feedback and questions about this site design (or any of our others). And thank you, Julie, for trusting us to help you with your Skin Obsession branding online - we hope the makeover brings you oodles of new buyers!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Customer Spotlight: BLD Science

Welcome to Friday - time for a new customer spotlight!

Spotlight On: BLD Science
Service: Website makeover & relocation to Volusion shopping carts
Before Site:
After Site:

The Need: BLD Science already had a professional logo and a website catering to doctors and laboratory equipment purchasers which was doing quite well. However, the site design was extremely "templatey" and generic looking, and needed a serious professional upgrade. They also needed expanded navigation options in an organized format.

The Solution: Their new site design makes use of their existing logo design and color scheme, with a very clean and streamlined look that still allows for custom graphics, a large rotating promotion banner, highlights of their stand-out services, and loads of navigation. A fly-out menu bar allows for 3 category levels to appear in a compact space, and drop-down "Shop by Brand", "Shop by Price" options make maximum use of the Volusion platform's search capabilities. An expanded footer bar organizes lots of additional site/page navigation for this now-formidable company. Web 3.0, meet BLD Science!

Q & A:

Q: Does it benefit my website to have multiple search-by features?

A: Generally, yes! The easier you make it for your buyers to find what they're looking for, the better. For some product lines, a simple 1-level or 2-level category structure plus a search box will suffice quite nicely - for example, books or movies sorted by genre and searchable by title or author via a standard keyword search box. For other sellers, "shop by brand" or "shop by size" features will greatly improve the buyer's shopping experience. Give some consideration to how YOU like to shop for a particular product, and let that be your guide - or post an open-ended question on your blog or Twitter page and let your customers tell you themselves!

Keep in mind that some "shop by" features may be limited based on which shopping cart service you use. If a feature isn't automatically available, your trusty designer may be able to hard-code one in for you. :)

Let us know your feedback and questions about this site design (or any of our others). And welcome to the JennarationX family, BLD Science! We're so glad to have you.

Monday, October 4, 2010