We got the chance to face lift a CBD e-commerce store recently.
They had been operating for some time in WooCommerce, combining plugins and solving their functionality and design problems as needed to meet their goals, but as with everything, there comes a responsible to grow.
We looked at where they were at and constructed a game plan.
The first part of the problem we focused on was establishing “visual trust” with clients. Design always plays a role in improving the sales output of an e-commerce experience because it quickly, emotionally conveys that a business has it together, and you can safely use your credit card here.
As an example, here are a couple screenshots of the original above the line display vs. the new face of the site. When a designer gets involved, there are lots of little details in color selection, fashion, spacing, and interface that get accounted for.
The next thing to focus on with this client is all the technical tweaks that need to happen. For one, the original version of the website was running on less capable shared servers. This is fine for any store starting out trying to validate their idea and gain traction, but when there’s significant traffic and thousands and 10’s of thousands of dollars rolling in a month, it’s time to make sure your infrastructure is reliable and available.
Since this is a WordPress installation, we always use WP Engine when we want to make sure our client’s stores are going to run properly under all conditions.
They just have the best developer friendly tooling, support, and everything else. Can’t say enough good things about those guys.
To step up the foundation of the E-commerce experience, we reached for the plain vanilla WooCommerce storefront theme, and then layered a child theme over it to customize the experience with our own design and structural modifications.
Whenever you’re modifying an e-commerce website and a content management system, there are two customers: the people buying the products, and the people using the content management system.
For the people using the content management system, we aim to make it as simple, understandable, and powerful as possible.
One of the most powerful tools for doing this is Advanced Custom Fields (ACF). Without it, WordPress installations can either feel limiting or incredibly convoluted.
But with a solid forethought and development, ACF allows developers to tailor content and structural elements that meet the intent of the designer, but are still accessible the client to make changes as the site grows and needs change.
Another notable plugin I think everyone should know about is Widget Context. Widget Context provides a simple way to show/hide content elements depending on where a user is. As a site grows in complexity tools like this become essential for putting the right elements in the right places.
In our case, we had a set of blog and content specific tools we wanted to show up on the content components of TerpHouse, and we also had e-commerce specific things we wanted to happen like displaying the current shopping cart on every product and product category page.
Sales and Marketing
Every brand needs to tell a story and take a customer on a journey. The elements of story, they hero’s journey… whatever you want to call it.
Here are the steps:
- Identify the customer (the Hero of the story)
- Introduce the problem
- Assert your brand as the guide through the problem (not the solution)
- Provide a believable plan
- Call the hero to action (the buy button)
- Give the hero a vision of the future should they complete the quest
- Warn them of what they’re missing out on if they don’t
Once we establish this story for a brand, it lays a nice foundation for making sales and marketing decisions.
In this case, the Terphouse is identifying and appealing to athletes, and within athletes, MMA fighters. The obvious problem being addressed are the day in day out pains that go with training.
The brand is asserting itself as a guide by demonstrating involvement in the MMA community and demonstrating enthusiasm for the niche. Also while demonstrating transparency and experience with CBD products, which it proposes as a plan for coping with the inflammation and stress from training.
The ever present buy button serves as the call to action, and the imagery of athletes engaged in training at full health is the backdrop that reinforces the athlete’s future vision of success, communicating that the brand and the athlete have the same goal.
In this case, pain and inflammation is sort of it’s own punishment, so there isn’t much of a point in driving home the consequences of inaction in the sales copy.
Managing Project and Client
Handling the important meta details of a project can never be overlooked, and we’ve made a science of it. From the start of a project we always need to meet the client where they’re at, find out where they want to, and then it’s our job to step in and get them there.
That means giving designers the right input come up and a look and feel that represents and elevates the client’s business, it means communicating with marketers to put together a content strategy, and it means working with developers to make the right technical decisions to build and deploy in a reasonable amount of time with reasonable technology choices.