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Lose Some Weight…Reducing The Size of Your Ecommerce Website Pages

There are several factors that impact the time it takes a web page to load. Some of those you can control, some of those you can’t. Regardless, you need to always be aware of how much data is getting sent to your visitors. We kept this in mind when rebuilding the demo store front that ships with our Multifront product and the result was an average page size well under 1Mb. Read more

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Website Buttons And The Power of Perceived Control

One of the most basic rules of interaction is that every action should have a response. You click a button something happens. You click a link, you go to another page. You click the Facebook icon, there’s a pop-up to your account. You click “Save” and a spinner appears. It’s common to everything on the web so we don’t think much about it…but you should. Read more

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Architecture Roadmap: MVC

When building anything for the web, you have to become proficient at frontend technologies. Ultimately this means HTML, CSS, and Javascript, but rarely are websites built with just those three things anymore (certainly not anything data-driven, which is to say, basically everything). What’s more likely is that a framework is used that makes it easy to render those things out to a user’s browser. In the .NET world, this usually comes down to a decision between two things: ASP.NET Webforms or ASP.NET MVC.

 

Perception is Everything

Similar to our new responsive storefront, one of the biggest, and loudest, questions partners and customers have asked us is “When are you going to MVC?”. You see, even though webforms isn’t going anywhere and is still a viable frontend framework, it’s generally considered “old and dying”. The perception is that if you haven’t moved from webforms to MVC, then you’re wrong. In other words, keep up with the times or customers will look for alternatives.

 

The Old College Try

We actually thought we had this nailed down a few releases ago, but we scuttled it late in its cycle because the quality and performance wasn’t where it needed to be. Many factors contributed to that decision, but it should be known the *least* determining factor was MVC itself.

Having put that behind us, we’ve made a number of architectural improvements since then that allowed us to revisit MVC and approach it from an entirely different angle. The result is nothing short of staggering. The design is thin, clean, and very easy to maintain and extend, and because all the real work happens behind our API, performance is through the roof.

 

Cross It Off the List

From a roadmap perspective, being able to check MVC off the list is a major accomplishment. It not only provides a vastly improved out-of-box experience for our customers and partners, but also provides them an exact blueprint for how they can implement their own ecommerce storefronts.

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Amazon Should Be Inspiration For User Experience, Not A Goal

Copying the designs and features of popular web sites is something we all do. I do it. You do it. It makes sense…why put a bunch of thought into something when someone has already done it for you? Making things familiar for your visitors is not a bad strategy but don’t use that as an excuse to avoid designing your web experience for your visitors.

 

Following the leader

When designing an ecommerce experience you will inevitably hear a reference to Amazon.

“That’s how Amazon does it.”

Everyone wants the success of Amazon so that means you should copy what they’ve done, right? Not exactly.

Amazon has millions upon millions of visitors every day and that means they piles upon piles of data about their customers…how they shop, what they buy, when they buy and what they use to buy. Amazon also probably has an entirely different strategy than you do, so why copy them?

You can read more about how Amazon’s business is different than your business, but the point remains the same – just because they did it one way, doesn’t mean you should do it that way.

 

A tailored experience

The experience of any web site should be tailored for your audience. If your audience is broad then you need a broad design (like Amazon). If your audience is more narrow then you can make certain assumptions and design accordingly. Every case is different. There’s no silver bullet.

Amazon isn’t “doing it right” because there is no right answer (of course, they’re not doing it wrong either). It’s working for them and that’s great…for them…not you. Don’t copy Amazon feature for feature because you’ll either miss something important or you’ll work a lot harder than you need.

Using Amazon as a starting point to talk about what will work and what won’t is the right tactic. Use the likes of Amazon for inspiration. If you find a step in Amazon’s path that makes sense, then copy it. Use it. But think about each step and decide if it really works for you, your customers and for what you’re selling.

 

One size does not fit all

And as is common for my articles thus far…lets not forget about responsive design. Amazon’s website isn’t responsive. They have a separate website for mobile devices and they also have a native app. When you’re designing responsively, some interactions just don’t translate well between “large” and “small” device sizes (namely dropdown menus), which means you have to come up with alternate solutions.

Yes, Amazon is successful and part of that success is due to the web experience, but that experience was designed for their customers and only their customers. Same goes for Target, Walmart and other big online retailers. They’ve made choices that are best for their customers and their business. Use success examples like those as a starting point for your own experience design discussions but don’t just copy them blindly. Your business deserves it, your products deserve it and your customers deserve it.