Designing customer connections – by KMMRCE’s Dominic Andrews

Retail is an emotional business, and thoughtful UI development opens up new routes to consumer connection writes KMMRCE’s executive director, Dominic Andrews

Dominic Andrews executive director KMMRCE

Websites and web design have come a long way in recent years. From flat, functional data displays to immersive, creative blends of imagery, typography and animation, retail brands deliver just as engaging online experiences as in any physical store. The e-commerce medium also offers increasingly innovative opportunities to maximise influence and make noise across channels – Adidas’s recent collab with Satwa’s favourite restaurant Ravi is an excellent example of such potential.

Creating impact with headless CMS

Visual appeal is more important than ever in digital engagement. Studies show that it takes less than a second for site visitors to judge a brand based on imagery and page layout, while an unattractive website is one of the biggest turnoffs when browsing online. Retail is an emotional business, and thoughtful user interface (UI) development opens up new routes to customer connection.

Headless content management system (CMS) software emphasises design by uncoupling the back-end content management system from the front, in response to growing omnichannel interaction and the demand for customisation. This intelligent methodology removes creativity constraints because front-end developers aren’t working within the parameters of an existing template or being forced to follow a specific system’s checkout flow.

Thanks to comprehensive application programming interface (API) libraries which support intuitive, enterprise-level CMS, design teams can create modern, inspiring site designs that focus on UI and user experience (UX), knowing that the result will represent their original vision. This freedom enables studios to take a truly mobile-first view or conceptualise an omnichannel endless-aisle interface, without worrying about whether the platform has the right capabilities or if developers can customise the stack accordingly.

Moving away from template-driven solutions also empowers a brand and its designers to work more closely with the font and typography solutions that were created during the brand development process. In contrast, these may be harder to implement due to the technical limitations of traditional CMS.

Simple, relevant, and efficient UX

The use of contemporary design language and on-point brand positioning are vital pieces of the puzzle, but the system itself has to be agile enough to support those elements. That means being able to create and manage site page architecture easily and underpin it with intuitive modular content components so that the functionality lives up to the aesthetics. Unless the UI is delivered in a fluid manner, with minimum delay or disruption, customer experience will always fall short. The best headless tech stacks work hard to develop dynamic and accurate APIs to ensure site speed is optimised, and efficiency maximised on every page, in every basket, and at every checkout.

Good database design and table structure are also crucial when it comes to usability. Being able to search within seconds is a top priority for customers. There’s little use in offering an extensive product selection if people can’t find what they’re looking for. Having the right database architecture ensures that product presentation is streamlined to serve the customer better. All variants can be made available at the click of a button, plus, because sales are the ultimate aim, it can be tailored to create the least purchase friction possible depending on individual requirements.

When brands and agencies talk about positive customer experience, the only way to validate their assumptions in such a rapidly changing environment is to check with the customers themselves. Again, this depends heavily on data and, in turn, analytics. Some headless CMS systems offer A/B testing options allowing teams to run alternative UX/UI components to better evaluate the engagements and responses related to different UX designs. There are also many different digital touchpoints to consider beyond the platform, and analytics tools need to monitor engagement at each interaction, connecting all the relevant channels, including social media.

How a website is designed today affects the entire buyer journey, which is why UI and UX should always align for total satisfaction. In many ways, it has never been harder to capture a customer’s attention, convince them to buy, and keep them loyal. However, the challenges facing modern e-commerce have prompted technology, marketing and design professionals to devise exciting new ways to empower and inspire. As we continue to reimagine the retail experience, maintaining an innovation mindset is the only route to realising the future possibilities for everyone’s benefit.