Talking Design: Effective Fashion Websites

Talking Design

Websites for fashion brands are delicate projects that often have specific, unique requirements in order for them to be successful. I recently sat down with three members of the Blue Fountain Media team to formulate a comprehensive understanding of what makes an effective fashion or beauty website. Account Director Rachel Kador, Creative Strategy Director Mary Elise Chavez, and Marketing Manager Adrienne Rhodes each chipped in their unique perspective for making a fashion oriented brand succeed online.

What one element is most important to consider when launching a fashion website?
I would say that one of the most important aspects for fashion website design is product display and how the catalog is presented to site visitors. This begins with high quality product photography. Studio shots, model shots, lifestyle shots—having a consistent product catalog helps support every step of a sales process from homepage messaging to a product page’s design.
- Rachel Kador, Account Director

How can tone come into play with fashion or beauty websites?
Fashion is aspirational by nature; the majority of brands are packaging a dream or identity that customers feel they can adopt by purchasing their products. Beauty brands concentrate focus around the promise of looking younger, fresher, firmer, while Fashion brands promise curves in the right places, complementary lines and cool-kid-in-the-class syndrome. Brands that are more on the luxury end of the spectrum, like Burberry, sell a lifestyle. Elements that are significant for these verticals include brand positioning, audience marketing, aspirational messaging and consultative selling commerce models.
- Mary Elise Chavez, Director of Creative Strategy

What helps a fashion oriented website sell? Are there specific, unique elements that help spur sales and increase conversion rates?
Beautiful product photography is an absolute must for fashion website design. It's important for online retailers to visually convey the quality of the product and build confidence in the shopper. The user has to believe that what they see is what they’re going get. Although it’s a significant investment, video production is a great way to achieve the same goal. Zappos offers product videos in which their customer service staff displays the product and explains the benefits:

zappos-video

And I can't emphasize enough the importance of a pleasant shopping experience. A poorly designed shopping cart will result in a high cart abandonment rate because users either lose interest or lose trust in the company.
- Adrienne Rhodes, Marketing Manager

Would you say there are any unique challenges in launching a website for a fashion or cosmetic brand?
A big challenge with fashion and beauty websites is developing a consistent schedule for updates. Most fashion and beauty companies have frequent product launches and it is important to have a plan in place to promote these new items. For this reason, i think it is best for a fashion or beauty site’s homepage to be dynamic, easy to update, and flexible based on your current offerings.
- Rachel Kador, Account Director

Where should online fashion brands spend their ad budget? Is there a marketing medium that you find particularly effective for drawing new visitors?
We are in an era of visual sharing on social media. In terms of driving traffic to fashion and beauty sites, image and video content is hugely effective. If you have attractive product photography, Pinterest is an excellent outlet and drives immediate traffic from a highly targeted audience looking to buy. Editorial shots do particularly well although product photography can work too depending on the trendiness of the product and quality of the photograph. For beauty sites in particular, video tips are highly sharable on YouTube, which is great for branding, but may not result in a significant amount of instant site traffic.
- Adrienne Rhodes, Marketing Manager

How can brands in the fashion/beauty industries increase repeat site visits and retain customers? Is there site functionality that encourages return visits?
There is! Offering detailed sizing information or tools that allow users to “try on” the product helps to bring the in-person shopping experience online. Warby Parker does this well, allowing visitors to virtually try on their glasses by uploading a photo to see what the glasses look like on their own face.

warby-glasses

They also offer free shipping for 5 pairs of glasses to try on at home, which aids in the purchase decision. This is an unparalleled method of instilling trust in the user and the engagement factor of the virtual try-on helps bring people back to the site and encourages them to share with others.
Another great way to bring people back to the site is by having a "wishlist" feature, giving customers the ability to save an item without committing to buying it immediately. Modcloth.com offers this feature and then uses email to follow up and remind customers about the items they’ve saved, bringing them back to the site to close the deal.
- Adrienne Rhodes, Marketing Manager

Do you have a favorite fashion or beauty website?
Burberry is the mothership of effectively marrying retail with digital. Their seamless integration between their brick-and-mortar shops and online marketing is thoughtfully constructed to provide a high-touch and value-add user experience and commerce model. Having a clear identity and brand message that is carried cross-platform is key for diverse brand models. From the start, you need to consider all consumer touch points and craft those experiences to help drive conversion and extend lifetime consumer value.
- Mary Elise Chavez, Director of Creative Strategy

Are there any site features on fashion or beauty sites that you find especially effective? Let us know about your experiences with beauty and fashion websites in the space below or Tweet us @BFMweb. We'd love to hear from you. 

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Comments

  1. Maneet Puri said:

    Great article! Fashion websites are entirely a different breed of websites, which rely on quality imagery for loyal client following and conversions. Fashion websites are the ones that stress on quality images equally as they do on the content, presentation ofcourse playing an important role in improving conversion. As you mentioned Pinterest is an exciting option when it comes to social media marketing, however other options like Facebook and Twitter are not a bad option either as you may find fashion enthusiast there too!

  2. John said:

    Good post.

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