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In eCommerce, Design Pivots Around User Needs

One of my design gurus, the former Jan V. White, was fond of saying that “design is a clarification process — not a beautification process.”

Had he lived to see the revolution in eCommerce, he might well have revised his famous statement to emphasize the importance of understanding user needs when designing websites.

For eCommerce sites, successful design in not just about what buttons to place where and in what color. You also need to understand the motivation and needs of users. And it’s not necessarily what they say they want, it’s what they expect.

But aren’t most websites designed around users? Up to a point, yes. Not all website designs delve into user needs. Most revolve around what the business thinks it wants to accomplish on a website. That is, the websites are heavily influenced by the business processes that need to be executed online.

Part of the challenge is that users can’t always articulate what they want and what they would like on a site. They just know that certain websites just “feel” right and the checkout process makes sense — it’s intuitive.

But intuitive doesn’t just happen. It requires foundational research to understand user needs, which can vary among segments and between products. At Agory, we’ve helped numerous companies improve their approach to eCommerce by looking at not just “what” a business wants in a website, but delving into the “why” of the business goals.

In focusing on human-centered design, knowing the “why” is critical. The dynamics of eCommerce are continuously evolving. The right website design must take into account the business goals, user needs, and the right technology tools to be relevant today and to carry the business into tomorrow.


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