In this guest post, design director at Engaging.io, Geoff Harper (pictured below), says too often agencies don’t value good design and are missing out on bucks because of it…
An increasingly large part of our lives is spent online. And that part will only get larger as technology makes it harder to be anywhere else.
To make money, businesses not only need to embrace the online world, they need to make their part of that world as easy to be in as possible. To that end a lot has been written about designing better usability for clients and customers, because the more they want to be in your online space, the more likely they are to spend money there.
Unfortunately, even though design has come to the fore over the last few years, it still takes a backseat in a lot of organisations, treated as an afterthought and devalued to the point of being worthless.
Which is why I love it when a business not only bucks the trend and designs for their customers first, they also prove how profitable it can be.
Walmart is not the first name that comes to mind when talking about good design, but this year Walmart’s second quarter earnings had the strongest growth in more than a decade. Beating analysts’ expectations, their shares closed at over nine per cent up on the news, the biggest increase since November 2017.
It turns out that most of this growth was due to the relaunch of a newly designed website. Which increased online sales by 40 per cent.
Walmart are traditionally a bricks and mortar business that had to make a move into online sales and their biggest rival is Amazon. Amazon has never had traditional storefronts and had a headstart in e-commerce so Walmart knew they had to pick up their online game to stay in front. And they did.
They put their users first. They listened to feedback from their customers, worked with their existing merchants and also with brands that don’t already sell with them, to design a better and more wholistic online experience.
One of the biggest updates is a focus on personalisation. Rather than use a scattergun approach, Walmart has personalised content based on the customer’s location and previous purchases. They will show trending items in the customer’s area along with available services like Walmart’s online grocery, order status, and easy reorder for re-purchasing favourite items.
Amazon have become infamous for recommending single purchase items (I don’t need to buy a collection of toilet seats thanks Amazon, one was enough), and Walmart have spent a lot of time on their algorithms to make sure recommendations are relevant. They not only use preferred categories and items that a customer prefers to shop, but also information from merchants to include trending, new or seasonal content.
Mark Lore, CEO of US e-commerce for Walmart says, ‘You want the site to make shopping faster and easier, and when you’re showing those items that customers are trending towards, you’re actually making a faster shopping journey for them, which is ultimately the goal‘.
Another inclusion for the new Walmart site is creating speciality shopping experiences for various categories. These will appear as sites within the site, focusing on tailored content and imagery, allowing a customer to differentiate between shopping for say fashion and groceries.
And based on the increasing growth in online homewares and fashion, Walmart have also partnered with department store Lord & Taylor to beef up their fashion offering. It will present a separate shopping experience while still being part of the Walmart site
Digging down into more basic changes, the User Interface (UI) has been stripped back, getting rid of a lot of the previous clutter and focusing on letting the user find what they want to find. The search bar is very prominent and easy to use, while the visual hierarchy of information means easier navigation around the site and no needless distractions.
Part of the updated UI includes improved, and more relatable imagery, simplified icon designs and refining the fonts (previously there were lots of different font sizes in lots of different colours all vying for attention at the same time).
On initial results, it looks like Walmart’s focus on design has really paid off. A 40 per cent increase in e-commerce sales is a massive improvement, moreso for a company the size of Walmart. Design can often be a hard sell, but when done well, your bottom line will love you for it.