7 Skills Ecommerce Companies Need in a Design Agency
As a growing ecommerce company, it can be hard to find a strong design agency to be your partner as you scale.
Here are 7 skills that we’ve found to be crucial for success that you should look for…but might not expect.
1. Holistic View
If you think design is just about visual design, think again. No matter how big or how small of a role that you plan for your agency to have, it is important that they have a holistic view of your business. They don’t have to DO everything, but they need to understand everything that you’re doing as a company so that they can design elements that fit.
2. Business and Conversion Focus
For an ecommerce business, you don’t just need a high quality visual design that is appealing to the eye and connects with your audience. You need a design that converts. There needs to be a balance between visual appearance and structure and functionality. At the end of the day, your website needs to be designed to sell, so make sure your design agency understands how to make customers convert.
3. Strategy Knowledge
Your design agency must be able to translate your business needs into solutions that work. This requires an understanding of basic business strategy, and ideally experience in business strategy themselves. Beware of the freelance designer who is focused on their love of design, but lacks a business focus. Your agency should be asking you questions about your business, your customer, your overall business goals and your goals for this specific design element before they even begin working.
4. Branding Expertise
As an ecommerce business, building your brand is very important, so every design element must be consistent with your brand. This is easier said than done, especially if a design agency is designing critical elements of your ecommerce site. This will be your primary place of interaction with your customers, so the design must represent you well (and accurately) to your customers.
5. Customer-First Mindset
Design should be led by a customer-first mindset. Your customers’ experience, whether with an ad or on your main website, is vital to your success and must be consistent across all touch points. It is important that your design agency understand the full customer journey and is intentionally creating an experience that resonates with them and is easy for them to use.
6. Technology Understanding
But wait, this is a design agency, right? Well yes. And your design agency may or may not have a development department. We recommend you select one that has a strong development team. But here’s some recommendations either way.
If your agency does not do development, they still must understand what is possible and what is not possible technically. If they are designing features and campaigns, they must understand how a feature will work. The last thing you want is for your agency to design an experience that simply can’t be built (or can be, but is way outside of budget).
If your agency does have development resources, then it is important that they are not simply “theme hackers.” You need an agency that will develop something stable and scalable and that will work well a cross all devices and platforms. And for an ecommerce business specifically, it is important that your agency have platform knowledge.
Check out our post exploring several of the most popular ecommerce platforms.
We prefer Shopify. Thought that Shopify was just for small stores? Tell that to Radio Shack. We use Shopify for everything from startups to enterprise level clients.
7. Marketing Sense
Inevitably, your ecommerce store will be advertised, and your agency needs to understand how your marketing efforts will feed into your site. For everything from content to headlines to search engine optimization, this all needs to be build into your designs.
Find an agency with all that? There’s one more thing that would be icing on the cake.
BONUS: Analytics and Insights
You can design the most amazing ecommerce site in the world, but if you don’t know what’s working and what’s not, you are selling yourself short and missing out on additional revenue. And simply dropping in Google Analytics code isn’t the solution. It’s just just about tracking all of the data…it is knowing what to track and how to gain actionable insights from this data. The key is to ask the right questions and determine what means success for your site.
This doesn’t fall into your agency’s role. If it doesn’t, make sure you have someone within your company focused on this. Once your site is up and running, this is an incredibly vital component.
Check out this article on why analytics are so important to your site and your marketing budget.
We highly recommend hiring a design agency with a full team that represents this entire spectrum of skills. No one person is going to be good at all of these things. And design is incredibly integrated across all other functions, whether that be strategy, marketing, sales, or even analytics. So find an agency that has that holistic view and understands how all of these things play together.