Late this summer, I joined Simply Shari's Gluten Free to remotely manage their website and social media platforms. In this article, I talk about redesigning their website and e-commerce platform, something I'd love to offer to any other small business.
I started by making some quick design fixes and publishing some updates, like their new ingredient lists and retailers, to the existing website as a hold over until I finished a complete website redesign with integrated e-commerce.
As you can see, the website as it existed before I joined was a mess. There were a lot of layout bugs and the design was even worse on mobile. Only half the site was responsive. Going into old Wordpress code from 2012 to fix it was a nightmare.
On a content level, however, a 55 cent off coupon plastered all over the page really watered down the brand's image, This was diminishing its appearance as an upscale, health-forward brand, to a bargain-basement shopper brand. I knew that this certainly had to get off the front page.
Going deeper, their online shopping page was a separate website and platform entirely, and it showed in the design and SEO. It's 2016 — almost 2017; there is no reason that e-commerce shouldn't be integrated into a website itself. Worse, the platform forced users create an account in order to checkout and they couldn't continue as a "guest" like every other e-commerce website. Again, it's 2016, almost 2017, and the last thing users need is to create yet another username and password that they'll forget. There weren't metrics on checkout dropoff rates (or much of any on this platform that will not be named), but I can certainly assume they were much higher than they should have been because of this.
The final straw came when I saw the costs of running both the web hosting and the separate shopping platform. I knew that we could do much better and save quite a bit of money. I narrowed down the options and ended up going with Squarespace for business. It was the simplest and most cost effective solution for the brand who wanted something simple, elegant, and mobile-friendly. Even better, the redesign process finished a lot quicker and saved even more time and money as a result of the easy to use interface that Squarespace offers.
The old "Our Story" page shows on the left, with dead images, repeating headlines, and my old nemesis, the 55 cent off coupon proudly displayed. On right is the redesigned page (you can see it live here). I added and edited the copy, as well as provided product photography throughout the redesign process. I loved the existing photo of founder Shari Cole and her family, who she started the company for, and decided to keep that.
On the left, you can see the old e-commerce site in all its unresponsive glory. One thing you can't see, however, its the shopping cart or checkout button. Where is it? The navigation menu on the top left actually didn't offer it either at the time I came on. Of course, on the new responsive site, there is a cart that overlays the bottom and takes users directly to checkout—the way it should be. Shoppers also don't have to make an account, and everything is handled through email—again, the way it should be.
Going further, photos are displayed in much higher resolution and setup in a specified ranking order. The old platform, believe it or not, did not enable any way to readjust the order of products. I had to manually delete the products and set them up one by one to get any sort of order. Additionally, a bit of copy added to the new website reaffirms the clean ingredients and company mission in as a subtle push to action.
Overall, the Simply Shari's team and I were very pleased with the clean, aesthetic, mobile-first redesign that saves over 50% of web-related costs per year and even lowers the merchant credit card processing fee by a couple percent as well. I came in ahead of schedule and under budget. If you or someone you know would like an elegant website set up or redesigned, I'd love to get in contact and offer my services in much the same way. Visit my Info page to contact me.
For the next post, I will go in more detail about the photography and social media marketing I've provided that have helped Simply Shari's grow their online presence significantly and see higher engagement and sales.