We are happy to have for our interview Rick Wilson, President of Miva. Miva is a provider of ecommerce software and services to small and medium-sized companies. In today’s conversation we will discuss the latest ecommerce design trends for 2015.
Hello, Rick. Thank you for finding the time and answering our questions. Could you describe us in a few words what the Miva platform is? What distinguishes it from other ecommerce platforms and what kind of businesses does Miva suit the most?
Rick: Miva is an ecommerce platform focused on large SMB’s and the “entry level” enterprise market. Our average customer processes about $650k in annual online sales via their Miva storefront. Our largest customers process up to $100 million in annual online sales via the Miva Platform.
Miva provides the type of customizations and flexibility that’s normally only seen in an Open Source platform (like a Magento) but in a more SaaS type of hosting environment (although we also support On Premise installations as well).
Our sweet spot is a combination of successful B2C stores (usually with larger or more complex Product SKU sets) as well as very complex B2B store offerings.
Online commerce is a rapidly growing industry, how would you describe a current state of ecommerce?
Rick: Ecommerce is still in it’s infancy across all segments and especially in both Direct to Consumer brands as well as Business to Business ecommerce sites. We’ve seen something approaching maturation on the commodity side of the B2C Ecommerce space (anything you can buy via Amazon or WalMart) but the rest of the industry is just getting started.
Mobile is the biggest trend right now which dictates how ecommerce site should look like as well. Can you name top 5 elements in ecommerce web design that will change as a result of that trend in 2015?
Rick: Mobile has vastly influenced modern web design and will continue to do so for the coming years. A lot of designs start out as “mobile first” which means instead of designing for the desktop and taking things away to get the mobile site, you start with the mobile site first and build from there. This forces you to really think about what needs to be on the page. Then you add elements to get the tablet and desktop site. But reversing your thinking brings mobile to the forefront.
Specifically these areas:
- The data structure of categories and products where it will take no more than three click to get to category page which displays products.
- Better product quality product imagery.
- More use of partially collapsible elements to better optimize screen real estate.
- Device targeted data and/or elements.
- More reliance on client-side functionality to reduce page reloads.
Speaking about web typography, what fonts do designers recommend to use on ecommerce sites?
Rick: Speaking from a technical perspective, modern web technologies such as Google Fonts have given designers and developers access to thousands of fonts available to use on the web. 5 Years ago you would have been limited to just the common fonts supported by the browser. Today the options are wide open thanks to CSS @font-face which allows you to easily call in any font library. That being said, from a design perspective the rules of font selection that apply to print still apply for the web. You should not be using more than 2 fonts in your designs to keep thing uniform and consistent.
Personalization of user’s experience is frequently mentioned these days. Can you provide some examples of how online retailers could customize user’s experience on the site?
Rick: Personalization is all about providing your customer the best user experience on your website and ultimately increasing conversion rates. Amazon is the master of personalization. The benefit of ecommerce is that everything is trackable and measurable. This wealth of data allows for a wide variety of uses for personalization. Examples include:
- Product Recommendations
- Personalized Promotions
- Segmenting Customers (New customers may see one banner while returning customers may see another)
Are there any current trends in web design that seem to you just a fade and, actually, don’t improve conversion rate and site functionality in any way?
Rick: I would argue that you need to be cautious all new trends really. The only true way to know if a design idea is going to increase conversions on your site is to perform and A/B test. If you’re not doing that, then no matter how cool the new feature/design is, you’re just guessing.
I have seen thing/ideas that we were sure would increase conversions but after A/B testing that proved not to be the case. Just because it is popular now does not mean your site should actually implement it.
Some things that come to mind:
- Homepage Sliders
- Parallax Page Animations
- Sticky Headers
- 100% Width Pages
Do you have a personal list of your favorite ecommerce stores? What do you like about them? Which sites would you advise to check as an example of up-to-date and convenient stores that meet the needs of the users in 2015?
Rick: I like scottevest.com both for his site, which he tends to keep on the bleeding edge in most cases as well as for his products. I really like a lot of ecommerce stores, so I’d have to put them in buckets. Scottevest is a favorite as I mentioned in the specialty retailer category, I think BTOSports.com does a good job (especially for their vertical) and they’re managing almost 1.3 million unique SKU’s for a highly specialized vertical, so that’s interesting.
What principles of user behavior and psychology should small businesses keep in mind when start developing an ecommerce site from scratch?
Rick: One of the key things I like to remind people is that most of your shoppers won’t come in the “front door” (your home page) and most won’t be on the same computer, browser, and monitor as you are. So don’t assume that the User Experience is the same as you’re personally experiencing. You have to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and imagine coming in from a deep landing page on a different screen, device, etc… and walk through from multiple usage angles and walk all the way through buying to make sure the process is seamless and designed for their convenience.
Could you share with us some of Miva’s plans for this year? For example, what new features should we expect to see?
Rick: We have a very aggressive Development Road Map for 2015, we expect to do 5 releases this year with features ranging from the marketing side, to CRM to a more full featured wallet (a la Amazon)
Thank you, Rick, for your time, it was pleasure speaking to you. I’ m sure everyone learned something interesting and new. We wish you good luck and lots of progress!