Content, navigation key to luxury Web site design: Pod1
The Internet is a crucial touch point for luxury brands as more consumers are shopping online than ever before, but many luxury brands have been slow to adapt.
A recent study from eMarketer found that 72.6 percent of Internet users will buy a product online in 2011. As the amount of branded Web sites continues to increase, brands must have an intriguing and compelling Web site to attract consumers.
“First of all, it is now critical and not an option these days to ensure that a Web site looks good,” said Fadi Shuman, cofounder of Pod1, London.
“Now the sites we are developing are a brand’s global flagship in terms of the revenue they are creating,” he said. “[The sites] are quickly becoming the biggest revenue-driving shop.
“The design part of [a site] is even more important for luxury brands because it is important to ensure a balance between design and practicality.”
Pod1 is a creative digital and web design agency that has worked with Harrods, Net-a-Porter, John Varvatos, Honora Pearls, Movado and Mulberry.
Luxury brands must remember that practicality is key when designing a Web site.
Many brands get caught up in creating videos and Flash sites, but sometimes the download speed and the time it takes to actually get to a product page turns consumers off, per Mr. Shuman.
A luxury brand needs to ensure that its Web site looks professional while also serving the needs of its customers.
For example, people who have shopped on the site before and know the brand want to get to the products in the quickest route possible.
These people also appreciate suggestions as to what else they might like based on their previous purchases, most likely because it helps consumers save time rather than browsing through the site.
Aspirational consumers enjoy the videos and behind-the-scenes looks, but they do not usually purchase anything from the site.
Therefore, sticky content is still an important feature, but it cannot interfere with usability and practicality, per Mr. Shuman.
“When we work with luxury brands, we have found that what works best is keeping the site simple but high-impact by using campaign assets and photoshoot images,” Mr. Shuman said.
“This gives the consumer an immediate feeling of where they are and what brand they are in and it gives a nice entryway into the Web site,” he said.
Check it out
Many brands have recently redesigned their Web sites or ecommerce sections.
For example, Balenciaga is targeting fashion-savvy, social media-adept shoppers with its newly-redesigned, blog-like Web site (see story).
In addition, Nars Cosmetics revamped its digital strategy to ensure a more meaningful experience for luxury consumers by redesigning its ecommerce site and highlighting a new wardrobe feature (see story).
There are a few best practice that brands should keep in mind when redesigning their Web sites.
Brands need to know who their consumers are and what they want to achieve, and then think about how can they help them achieve this, according to Mr. Shuman.
In terms of the ecommerce section, brands need to ensure that the product is the hero on the page.
Checkout pages should not be cluttered and brands should not force consumers to register or enter information that is not critical to the sale, per Mr. Shuman.
Lastly, a brand needs to have some sticky content in dedicated areas on the site that allows it to engage with the customer, whether it be an outfit builder, personalization factor or a blog.
Blogs and editorial content also help the brand with search engine optimization.
Despite the impact that the Internet has on consumers’ everyday lives, not to mention the global reach of the Web, Mr. Shuman finds that luxury brands are still hesitant to adapt.
“Luxury brands are a little bit far behind when it comes to Web design,” Mr. Shuman said.
“They are taking an old-fashioned route into it and they aren’t investing into the site,” he said. ”They invest more into a full-page ad in Vogue than they would on a Web site.
“But I think that is starting to change and things are getting a little better.”
Kayla Hutzler, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York