5 things to avoid in responsive web design

Piranha Designs - Thursday, March 29, 2018

We’re sure many of you reading this will be well aware of the term ‘responsive web design’, which is the practice of designing a site so that it renders well across multiple devices.

Today, it couldn’t be more vital for any ecommerce firm to have a mobile-optimised site, and responsive design has long been deemed the best route to take to achieve this goal.

However, with the increasing prevalence of responsive web design, has also come many an error in its implementation that should be easily avoided. Here are just a few of them.

1. Overly small call-to-action buttons

While it’s understandable that you will wish to ensure every element of your website fits onto a small smartphone screen, this brings the risk that the call-to-action buttons will be too small for visitors to easily tap.

If customers continually accidentally click the wrong button or have to zoom in simply to tap it, such a compromised user experience could lead to them exiting the site. So, be sure to design a site with call-to-action buttons that are neither too small, nor too close to each other.

2. Support for only one image resolution

The detrimental effect that overly large images have on the loading times of a mobile site should mean that your own site design alters the resolution of its images based on the user’s device.

The good news is that there are many ways to ensure this happens automatically, such as the picture HTML5 element or various WordPress plugins.

3. Non-responsive emails

As wonderfully responsive as your main site may be, major usability issues can be created if the emails that your company sends are not also responsive to match.

You won’t want a situation where your mobile users find it difficult to even review their order details or browse through the list of products you’ve recommended to them in an email. Emails need to be treated as the key customer touch point that they are, being given their own role in the responsive design and testing process.

4. Giving mobile users less content

Presenting mobile users with a ‘second-class’ version of your desktop website isn’t a great idea, not least as they may be seeking information with their smartphone that they saw earlier on your desktop site.

Statistics show that the vast majority of online shoppers use more than one device. You therefore need to have a website that is generated dynamically in accordance with the size of the user’s screen, instead of simply hiding vital content.

5. Slow loading times

Mobile users are especially likely to want to take swift action. This means your page size should be kept as small as possible, which will necessitate you carefully considering what content is actually required on the page. Are there certain images, buttons and text that you could dispense with?

Remember that we aren’t contradicting our earlier point here; this isn’t about making your mobile site an inferior counterpart to your desktop one. If certain content must be kept at least somewhere, consider separating it across different tabs.

Would you like to benefit from a gorgeously responsive site for your ecommerce business? We are highly experienced and skilled in CMS website design, and through our packages at various price points, can provide the solution that suits your firm’s needs and ambitions.

Great tips for taking your own eye-catching product images

Piranha Designs - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

If you have spent any time running an ecommerce site, you may have at least been tempted to take your own images of certain products being offered on your site. However, there’s more to impactful self-made product photography than simply setting up a camera and tripod and snapping away at subjects on a white background.

That’s because, as important as the time-honoured product photography rules are, it also helps to subtly break them occasionally if you are to produce the most memorable images. Take a look at some of our below suggestions to see what we mean.

Hang products

You may well be quite accustomed to seeing products pictured hanging when browsing ecommerce sites, so this isn’t necessarily a hugely distinctive tip. However, there are so many ways to creatively hang products, ranging from hanging them upside down and sideways to suspending the item from wires and ropes that also serve as an integral part of the photo.

Don’t be afraid to show a sense of humour and experiment with approaches. The lighting of your images has to be consistently impeccable too, of course.

Macro shots

‘Macro photography’ refers to the practice of taking extreme close-up shots of what may actually be very small items, and there’s no question that these can be very impactful. However, we would also urge you to use such images next to more ‘standard’ product shots so that the viewer has a good sense of what the item really looks and feels like.

Again, lighting is really important here, as macro photography is at its most impressive when even the tiniest and most intricate details are visible.

Keep the background in focus

The conventional wisdom in product photography is that when you have an off-focus background, the viewer’s eye is naturally drawn to the main product in the foreground.

But there’s little to stop you preserving a clear background while also still placing your product slightly in front. You may, for example, place a food product alongside similar items to indicate how it may be used.

Make use of reflection

You can make an otherwise boring image more interesting by applying a reflective effect. This can be done with a mirror, but there are also other ways of doing it.

You might place the product in a shallow pan of water, for example, combined with interesting lighting effects. Or what about using image-editing software to show reflections in water and other surfaces? The result can be more subtle – but still interesting – than you presume will be the case.

Combine these product photography tips with our far-reaching know-how in ecommerce website design here at Piranha Designs, and you can give your brand an impressive online presence that belies the relatively little you might have spent on it.

The features that your site’s search function should have

Piranha Designs - Friday, March 09, 2018

If you were online in the late 1990s or early 2000s, you may remember Ask Jeeves, which was a search engine that in many ways, presaged what Google and other search titans today attempt to do: provide a useful response to specific user questions, instead of merely keywords.

It was certainly a compelling concept in its day – the eponymous ‘Jeeves’, by the way, being a gentleman character based on the fictional valet of P. G. Wodehouse character Bertie Wooster.

The character used to appear on the site’s homepage, but the delivery of the question-and-answer functionality was as clunky as you might expect given the times, and Jeeves himself was sent into retirement in 2006.

But with all of the design and technology innovations that have happened since, there’s now a lot more scope for the modern online business owner to ensure their own site’s search function produces robust and relevant results. Here are some of those that we would suggest.

Spelling assistance

Imagine how time-consuming and laborious it would be to manually input all of the conceivable ways in which a given search term could be misspelled. This feature, then, has to be something that can intelligently understand potential user mistakes by itself.

Automatic filtering of common conjunctions and articles

Conjunctions like “and”, “or” and “but”, as well as articles such as “the”, “a” and “an”, can be filtered out of users’ searches, unless one of these words is part of the name of a product.

Alternative words, aka “Did you mean?”

Shoppers may not know the exact terms used in the name of the product they are looking for, or may not understand the correct meanings of certain words. Whatever the situation, incorporating this function into your site search helps to prevent you missing out on sales.

The ability to enter alternative terms yourself

While we made the point above that an intelligent search feature should be able to accommodate many alternative spellings or terms that a user may enter, this work can’t be solely left to the search tool. After all, new alternative phases gain popularity all of the time, and you will be able to identify these through search data, so it helps to be able to incorporate them into your search feature.

Relevant recommendations

It does happen, from time to time, that a user enters a term that delivers zero results. In such a situation, rather than your site presenting your user with a largely blank ‘sorry’ page, you might want to ensure other products or categories are presented to them to increase the likelihood of a sale.

These aren’t the only key features that are incorporated into the most sophisticated search functions of today’s ecommerce stores. When you turn to the team here at Piranha Designs for our custom website design services, you can discuss with us in more detail what form your own site’s search feature could take.


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