GUEST BLOG FROM Steffen Breinholt Hedebrandt of Elance.com
Elance.com, the world’s leading online work platform, just spend three busy days in Dublin. Here we met a lot of inspiring and determined Irish people, who despite the challenges of the current economic environment are now launching new businesses.
Dublin has within the recent years been hailed as one of Europe’s most promising StartUp hubs, not least thanks to the
good work of Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Internet Association (IIA). But there are also challenges: around 1,500 IT developers are urgently needed, while on the other hand there is a high unemployment.
Elance.com offers a potential solution to these issues. Every month, more than 100,000 jobs and projects are posted on
the platform, by businesses looking for freelancers. The jobs range from IT development to Creative tasks, Marketing, Virtual Assistance to Translations, Accounting, Book keeping and Engineering. In fact, as long as a job does not demand a physical presence, it can be completed through Elance. For businesses facing the challenge of finding niche skills that can be immediate applied to projects Elance can provide the skills they need. On the other hand, for those who have been made redundant during the financial crisis, Elance is a place to apply your skills and find work.
How Elance has helped grow a Dublin business
Pat Walsh, a Dublin based Elance user has been hiring freelancers for five years on Elance, which has enabled him to grow
his Irish Businesses, amongst others, the Sky Business Centres network of Services office centres. Pat Walsh says “Elance has enabled Sky Business Centres to access a global talent pool as and when we need it. We have access to 24 hour workers and can upsize and downsize our development teams to suit whatever our current project commitments are.
In addition to providing Irish businesses access to a global workforce, Elance provides the opportunity for any Irish unemployed person with an internet connection to bid on the 100,000 jobs posted monthly on the Elance.com platform.
Areas in Ireland which have been hard hit by unemployment including administration, legal, architectural, and engineering
are in high demand on the global Elance platform. There is strong demand for native English speaking freelancers with professional skillsets.”
Start as a freelancer, become an entrepreneur – Elance Freelancer
If you are in the unfortunate situation that the financial crisis has left you redundant in your company due to decreasing turnover, there is a solution available online that might lead you to the next step in your career. Local Dublin-based business A-Cubed Software Limited had been using Elance.com since inception and Aditi Bhattacharya, their Head of Technology Adoption says: “Elance.com is a platform that takes your local business to a global audience and market. It is one of our main sales avenues with a genuinely low initial outlay (towards membership fees) and definitely proven return on investment. It’s almost like having a Sales team work for you as they bring a lot of buyers from around the world. It’s safe for the businesses to use too because Elance.com provides the basic checks on the prospective clients and offers the escrow facility which
means none of the project works will ever go unpaid. The feedback facility is an added bonus for serious businesses such as ourselves where we can showcase with conviction the skills and talent we have.
We see Elance.com as a strong tool for growth and already more than 50% of our revenue comes from outside Ireland thanks to Elance.com’s global reach. Kudos to the Elance.com team!”
How does the future look for online work?
The advantages of Elance, while very relevant to the current situation in Ireland, also reflect the wider global changes taking place in the way we work. Thanks to innovative and disruptive technologies, geographical location is a far less relevant factor in getting a job done. Dr Johnny Ryan of the Irish Times says:
“Anything that removes geography as a hiring impediment is a good thing for project teams. The bones of the Internet itself, the protocols that govern how machines communicate across it, were developed decades ago by people working at remote
locations and swapping reference documentation. Now that power of remote collaboration is open to businesses of all sizes, the market for labour and skills can be tapped in a way that suits agile businesses working on novel projects.”
Smart businesses and freelancers are reacting to this trend. By harnessing the power of remote collaboration, Irish businesses and those individuals affected by the downturn can turn the situation to their advantage.
www.buyersclub.ie Launch Scholarship Programme for the Irish Internet Association (IIA) Diploma in eCommerce Management
Today: Buyersclub.ie, Ireland’s first social superstore, has today (13th February) announced details of a new strategic partnership with the Irish Internet Association (IIA). Buyersclub.ie is to provide a scholarship programme for three candidates to undertake the IIA Diploma in eCommerce Management combined with a six-month internship programme.
The eleven-week, part-time diploma course starts on February 28th, with all course fees paid for by buyersclub.ie.
Speaking at the launch of the scholarship programme, Dara O’Mahony, founder and CEO of buyersclub.ie, said “Buyersclub.ie is delighted to provide this opportunity to support those wishing to upskill from offline to online retail. By collaborating with the Irish Internet Association, we know that candidates will experience the highest quality course lecturers, breadth of modules and learning outcomes that will deliver precisely what we look for in terms training and knowledge for a great eCommerce Manager. We are looking for candidates who are seeking to move from offline to online retail. Following
an interview process, we will place three successful candidates on the IIA eCommerce course and also offer them a six-month internship as part of this strategic partnership.
He added: “We know there are people out there who have significant retail experience in the market but who have also lost their jobs due to the downturn in traditional retail. Rather than have these skills leave our shores, we believe that we can retain these skills by offering a Jobsbridge place with buyersclub.ie while supporting them in formal training. Buyersclub.ie will be paying all the course fees for the successful candidates and we will support them in the workplace by allowing them to rotate experience across all aspects of an eCommerce business from warehousing and fulfilment, to digital marketing, to product buying and customer service and sales. As a fast-growing company, we believe that we will also be able to offer a full-time position to successful candidates once the programme ends.”
CEO of the IIA, Joan Mulvihill, highlighted the scale of opportunity within online sales in Ireland. “With €4billion being spent online by Irish shoppers annually, the growth opportunity for Irish retailers is enormous and with that comes increased demand for eCommerce professionals. Businesses such as buyersclub.ie are challenged to find candidates with the requisite skills. The very fact that buyersclub.ie have come forward to pay course fees for three candidates is testimony to their commitment to the sector and, indeed, to the scale of the skills challenge faced by so many retailers. For those considering the course, the value of combining the Diploma with an internship is a great way to optimise their career prospects. Other member companies are also offering internships in the hope of securing a full-time, talented
employee at the end. This is a truly industry-led programme”.
Mulvihill added: “For anyone wishing to avail of the internship, we would encourage them to send us their CVs as soon as possible. There are three scholarships available on the Diploma course starting in two weeks but also a number of other
This scholarship will be granted by BuyersClub.ie directly, and, along with the internships on offer, will be subject to interview procedures. This course has been designed by the Irish Internet Association and its leading industry expert lecturers and practitioners.
Course enrolment is now open and all details are available on www.iia.ie/eComDip
For further information, please contact:
Joan Mulvihill, Irish Internet Association: 01 5424154 / 086 389 7552 firstname.lastname@example.org
Karen White Hume Brophy, 0867713326, email@example.com
Patrick Donohoe, Hume Brophy, 0860293726, Patrick.firstname.lastname@example.org
IIA eCommerce Working Group Members
Tracy Glynn…………………………………………..Releax Payments
Graham Merriman…………………………………Carrickane Consulting
Kevin Murray…………………………………………Nightline’s ParcelMotel
Gordon Newman…………………………………….Life Style Sports
You may have read about it or even seen the bright orange, mobile training unit in your area but for those of you who haven’t, Digitise the Nation – A nationwide digital inclusion campaign is back and on the road!
The IIA have launched “Digitise the Nation” for 2012. The bright orange, mobile training unit has been taking to the road ensuring that all members of society have training and access to all the benefits that being online brings. This stand-out orange training unit will be visiting towns throughout Ireland over the coming twelve months and the IIA welcome everyone to get on board to get online.
A unique aspect of the Digitise the Nation Campaign is the number of sponsors involved and the breadth of industry collaboration. Microsoft, Independent.ie, Bonkers.ie and RaboDirect are coming together in a very hands-on way to support delivery of this training. No other digital inclusion initiative has enrolled such a range of supporters and the IIA is delighted to be the fulcrum for such a gathering.
The mobile nature of this Digitise the Nation training means that anyone from anywhere is invited to contact us via our www.digitisethenation.ie website to find training dates and locations as well as request training for their own locality.
Digitise the Nation has been designed to deliver the following;
- How to get started on email and internet calls to stay in touch with family and friends
- How to use the internet to find value and save money
- Using the internet to find jobs, news, information
- Building confidence and feeling included
Record number of entries for Dot ie Net Visionary Awards 2012 – Shortlist Announced and Public Voting Opens
Tuesday, 21st of August, 2012: The Irish Internet Association (“IIA”) announced the shortlist for this year’s Dot ie Net Visionary Awards and online voting is now open. It’s the start of award season and the fully refreshed IIA awards are the first off. With huge thanks to our headline sponsor in IE Domain Registry Limited (“IEDR”), new categories, a stunning venue at the National Gallery of Ireland and a record number of entries, up 30% on last year, these awards are the ones to watch.
The IIA have been setting the agenda all year – eCommerce strategy, BRIC export market opportunities, cloud standards, development for accessibility and much more. We’ve reflected these issues in the new categories; Best International “we’ll conquer the world” Irish Technology Business, The Bravest and Best “brick to click” Business, Most “joyous to look and splendid to use” Web Design, Most Indispensible Cloud Service for SMEs. These awards are more than just trophies, they are coveted titles.
Joan Mulvihill, CEO of the Irish Internet Association, is particularly pleased with industry reaction. “The sheer number of entrants was overwhelming. It’s a great sign of the positivity, determination and creativity of the sector. We are truly grateful to our panel of expert judges who have had the tough job of shortlisting the nominations to go forward for the public vote”.
She added: “Now that the shortlist is announced, the voting is open to the public, This year, for the first time, we are combining the public vote with the judges score to determine the ultimate category winners. This new departure will ensure that the winning entry is regarded by customers, peers and judges alike as the very best in class.”
The Dot ie Net Visionary Awards are so named in honour of IEDR as headline sponsor for the second year running. Commenting on their involvement, Angela Butler, IEDR Finance and Operations Manager says, “The IE Domain Registry is delighted to again be the headline sponsor for this year’s Dot ie Net Visionary Awards. The fact that the judges scores will be combined with public votes means that the Awards will provide a clear picture of best practice in the Irish Internet community, while also serving to highlight the most popular, useful and notable websites in Ireland. The IEDR are delighted to see an increase in entries and awards categories. We are always keen to promote and celebrate dot ie websites which can be used as quality benchmarks for Irish businesses and individuals to guide them in improving their own online offerings.”
The Dot ie Net Visionary Awards, now in their 14th year will be held on Friday, 28th September at the prestigious Wintergarden at the National Gallery of Ireland – perfectly befitting a celebration of the creativity and genius of the industry. Category sponsors for the awards include: RSM Farrell Grant Sparks, Fexco, Paypal, Telecity Group, Digital Hub Development Agency, Elucidate.
For further information and ticket details please visit http://www.iia.ie/net-visionary/
Joan Mulvihill’s response to Irish Independent article “Irish consumers to spend €20bn online by 2020 but strategy needed” please click here to read.
This is an interesting article. The stats are ones that have been touted for quite some time so there is nothing new there. What is interesting about this article is not what it says but rather what it does not say. There has been talk for ages now of a National Digital Strategy, which according to this article is “underway” and will be implemented in the “coming years”. And yet, it is not even this rather slow pace that is of interest to me. What interests me is the dearth of even headline ideas/concepts or indeed the nature of the ‘brave decisions’ that need to be made. My sense is that some of the strategy makers believe that supporting Irish retailers to have ecommerce websites is the answer to the problem. If only more Irish retailers would sell their products online then people wouldn’t shop from overseas anymore. I’m unconvinced.
The IIA has long supported Irish businesses developing their online sales proposition to enhance their relationship with their customers; through the provision of better value, better range and more choice. But that is not to say that every retailer should have their own site. Some need to take a more creative approach to channel management.
An understanding of consumer behaviour is required. Shoppers are not buying from Amazon or Net-A-Porter or ASOS because of the dearth of books, toys or clothes to buy from Irish retailers online. They are buying from Amazon, Net-a-Porter and ASOS because of their breadth of range, their pricing and ultimately free or comparatively low cost to ship. It costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town when I’m shopping. It definitely costs less to have something delivered from Amazon than it does to park in town, buy something and post it to New York to my godchild for her birthday. And so if I look online to Irish independent retailers, it is clear that they are hampered and disadvantaged by expensive shipping costs relative to the price of the item and short delivery times are a serious premium.
It is incredibly difficult for Irish retailers to compete. The National Digital Strategy element that deals with ecommerce has to encapsulate the infrastructure that supports ecommerce. And that infrastructure includes a lot more than quality broadband.
The size of the Irish market is small. Irish retailers’ capacity to reach scale and enjoy any economies of that scale requires vision for developing an international presence. We solicit the best tech companies in the world to set up in Ireland, many of whom provide online sales services. Is that the kernel of a solution? I want to support Irish independent retailers by ensuring they have the tools that they need to market their products/services but unless we sort out the infrastructure and the ambition for international retail then only a small number can achieve the scale needed to succeed. Perhaps our best bet for getting the Irish consumer to buy online from businesses in Ireland is to attract the ecommerce giants to HQ in Ireland. We’ve secured the tech companies that support them so why not secure them directly.
The strategy for achieving this would be predicated on having the best online sales specialists, fulfillment/operations planners, designers, digital advertisers and customer service operators based in Ireland with localised fulfillment centres overseas. We could incentive these businesses to operate through Ireland with a special online sales tax incentive and develop Ireland as an ecommerce hub for the sale of goods AND services online. Combined with the digital content strategy of the IDSC, ecommerce for digital content (books, music, film) in addition to the sale of physical goods might all be funnelled through Ireland as the uniquely placed global ecommerce hub.
This is what interests me. This article might not be revealing anything new or insightful but it stimulates thought. Creativity exists within the cracks.
Posted by Joan Mulvihill, IIA CEO
Fresh from the standing-room only IIA Ecommerce Breakfast Briefing at Irish Times Training, I’m still reeling from the number of subscribers, the cool and insightful presentation stylings of Graham Merriman and Vinny O’Brien and the smart interrogations from the audience Q&A.
So where do I start? In 1995. I know that’s a while ago but it’s when I started my working life in Woolworths in London and when I discovered that my passion for retail extended to both sides of the counter! It’s a passion that’s stayed with me. Retail, etail, potAtoe, potatoe! I’m three years in the Irish Internet Association and its all still so much about digital marketing and not so much about online sales. Marketers, my apologies! The role of the digital marketing professional is critical but the stalwart 4Ps are as important now as ever. All very retro but as Graham Merriman of Carrickane Consulting asked the WWDDD question (What Would Don Draper Do?), I reckon I have earned some latitude.
Both of the speakers are retailers. Yes, actual retailers. They are people who sell stuff. People who pack stuff, put them in boxes and deliver them to customers. One of this morning’s messages was a clear shout out to lose the jargon, its retail not rocket science. Is it about SEO or is it simply about how to get the most from your website. Is it about UX or is it simply about the customer journey? Maybe that’s just semantics if you’re in the know but there’s a world difference if you are the provider of services to an offline retailer who’s trying to grow their online sales. Vinny O’Brien from Arnotts was clear on this point. Keeping the lights on in your ecommerce business is half the battle as you sink costs at the start to achieve your long term strategy. You’ve got to keep the business leader with you.
So what about the customer? I love a good debate but it’s equally reassuring to see two speakers in synch. Graham recommends knowing them. You need to know them, know why they are coming into your store and equally know why they are coming onto your website. You need to know what they need, want and expect from you and you need to know how to manage their perception of that. Then it’s easy. Just find a way of giving it to them. Profitably. Vinny may have said this more than once but in case you missed it, here it is again. You can’t beat research and statistics! “Retail is detail” is the old adage and whether it’s online or offline, it still holds true.
So keeping it kitsch, let’s talk Eurovision! Graham made the point best with the Jedward case study. Everyone in Europe knew who they were. Big tick in the digital marketing ‘awareness’ box. But did they convert? Alas no. Our Eurovision hopes dashed for another year. Conversion is the name of the game. A great digital marketing campaign will acquire followers and fans but it needs to acquire sales by converting fans to customers. This is retail and retail is about competing for sales not competing for popularity.
And it seems that the key is to become popular AND sell your products. The guys were unanimous in citing pricing and service as the big drivers. When is a price promise not a price promise? When it excludes website pricing! 42% of people going into stores are using their smart phones to compare prices so be careful about making promises that you’re only ‘kind of’ keeping. And just when you’d gotten your head around your pricing strategy across online and offline, Graham dived right into the challenges and opportunities for cross-border selling. Online is the first real ‘common market’. It’s the first time we’ve experienced real price transparency and product fulfilment across borders – even if only 8.5% of European consumers are actually doing it.
Service is the big online -offline differentiator. In the offline world, the service element is more or less over when the customer has taken the product to the counter, paid for it and has gone home, happy. Online, the outbound customer journey becomes a much bigger part of the game. How quickly can you deliver? How cost effectively? How do you deal with returns? They’ve left your online store but they haven’t ‘gotten’ anything yet. The service journey is a long way from over and the onus of the experience is heavily on the retailer.
And speaking of service, the last word goes to Vinny, the aforementioned research and stats advocate, who is just as adamant about embracing customer feedback. “We’re in a constant process of refinement in an environment that’s changing constantly”. Two virtuous circles of iteration in perfect synchronicity? Feedback from customers should not be seen as not an opportunity to test the crisis management capability of your PR agency or the ‘diffusion-in-140- characters-or- less’ capability of your in-house tweeter. It is rather, an opportunity to refine your product and service offering to ensure repeat customer conversion – sales. Did I mention that it’s all about sales!
The presentations from Graham Merriman of Carrickane Consulting and Vinny O’Brien of www.Arnotts.ie are free for download from the IIA website www.iia.ie/resources and of course feel free to join the Irish Internet Association by going too www.iia.ie/join-now to benefit from the IIA member discount for our Diploma in eCommerce Management.
Your website is now live! What’s next?
Search engine marketing, social media, newsletters and email marketing activities?
For what return? Does it work? Why? How? When? What worked? Etc..
Thanks to web analytics software such as Google Analytics, website owners are now empowered with big data presented in a user friendly interface.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool. Google Analytics is free, user friendly, easy to install on a website or a blog, easy to integrate with the range of Google services such as AdWords, AdSense, Doubleclick, GWT, etc… This makes Google Analytics very popular et probably the most popular web analytics software on the market.
At TargetOnlineMarketing.com, we decided to review Google Analytics’ usage worldwide in 2012. Our technology partner W3techs.com explains how: “we investigate technologies of websites, not of individual web pages. If we find a technology on any of the pages, it is considered to be used by the website.“ W3techs.com’s CEO Matthias Gelbmann adds, “We include only the top 1 million websites in the statistics in order to limit the impact of domain spammers. We use website popularity rankings provided by Alexa using a 3 months average ranking. Alexa rankings are sometimes considered inaccurate for measuring website traffic, but we find that they serve our purpose of providing a representative sample of established sites very well.”
According to Netcraft, there are around 700 million websites in June 2012, of which 190 million are active. On average, Google Analytics is installed on 55.8 per cent of websites – Google Analytics is installed on 100 million + websites -, giving Google Analytics a whopper 81.5 per cent market share of the worldwide web analytics software industry. The second place goes to LiveInternet with 5.4 per cent and ranking third is CNZZ with 4.1 per cent market share.
Some numbers about the use of Google Analytics worldwide:
- In Europe, we love Google Analytics, just under 62 per cent of all websites have it installed
- Only South America beats Europe to the top spot with 66.9 per cent
- In Iraq Google Analytics is used by 3.4 per cent of websites, making it the lowest ranking
- Macedonia is the Google Analytics top ranking country in the world with 83.3%
- Asia is the only region of the world with a Google Analytics usage below 50 per cent with 43.5 per cent. CNZZ would have a much higher usage
- under a third of all .mobi websites use Google Analytics as a web analytics tool – 29.4 per cent to be precise
- just under two third of newly created .xxx TLD websites use Google Analytics with 62.2 per cent
- 84 per cent of .ie sites use a traffic analysis tool vs. 68 per cent worldwide
- Google Analytics is installed on 78 per cent of .ie websites
- Full Circle Studies ranks second on .ie websites
- 5 per cent of. ie sites use Adtech vs. 0.3 per cent worldwide
- Adtech ranks third behind AdSense and DoubleClick
See TargetOnlineMarketing.com infographic ‘Who is using Google Analytics in 2012′
Good design informs our decision making. It is often the most influential factor when we are deciding what we buy, where we go and what we do. This is because the way objects, systems and services work and look, throughout their evolution and life cycle, are the result of people designing the underlying plans, processes and build specifications.
Our individual experiences with the functional and aesthetic qualities of objects, processes and services, consciously and subconsciously, acts as the basis for our personal benchmark for what is good design. And that benchmark not only evolves because of new experiences, it also changes depending on a wide range of variables, including environment, mood, whether we are working or relaxing, etc. When we are faced with a new experience or a purchasing decision we refer to the logical and sensori-emotional (aesthetic) values we associate with our most relevant benchmarks for what is good design.
This means that there are no hard and fast rules about what makes for good design. There is good design, bad design and ‘that’ll do’ design. However, designing your product and/or service and support systems should always come at the end of the development process, not the beginning. This is true whether you are designing a product/service to sell; logo and stationery; website; brochure; tender submission; etc.
Pre-Design: Research; Evaluation and Concept Development
There are many ways of approaching the pre-design stage of any project but it can be simplified down to three steps: Research; Evaluation and Concept Development. By thinking in these terms you can make the process as straight-forward and fast-moving, or as complicated, as you want.
A good designer/developer will do the heavy lifting for you, and steer you through the process in round table discussions and by asking key questions. If you decide to take it all on yourself, you should find a friend or colleague who can offer you a client’s perspective, and is willing to ask difficult questions, as you progress.
To make the most of the pre-design stage you should use a range of decision making models. Among the most widely know analysis models are ‘SWOT’ and ‘PEST’ but looking at resources like ‘The Decision Book: Fifty Models for Strategic Thinking’ by R. Tschäppeler & M. Krogerus will help you find models that are a good fit for you. By evaluating the existing service/product providers and the service/product alternatives in diagrammatic form you can quickly see shared traits and trends. It also means you can easily update the profiles as products, services and the market adapts and evolves.
As part of the Evaluation and Concept Development steps you should look at Design under two key headings: Functional and Aesthetic.
Under the heading Functional Design analyse how the products/services work throughout their lifecycle. How intuitive, robust and enjoyable in the user experience (UX) from the perspective of the target user? How intuitive, reliable and flexible is the UX from the perspective of the people building, maintaining and evolving the service/product?
If you are looking at Logo Design you should be asking how legible the logos are when reproduced at different sizes, in different contexts and on different materials, and the inherent production costs. If you are looking at Website Design you should be looking to identify the target audiences; how easy the sites are to navigate and, in terms of structure and content, are they optimised for the UX of the target audience or for the site owners and managers.
Aesthetic Design is all too often dismissed as being far less important than Functional Design. This is not the case. Our initial reaction to any proposition is a sensori-emotional one and a negative reaction will inform all subsequent decisions. Research has show time and again that people make their mind up about products and services within seconds, often ending the interaction there and then. An existing relationship with an owner or advocate of a product/service can alleviate some of the negativity but a sense of doubt will linger.
An analysis of the effectiveness of the Aesthetic Design of the products/services under review should look at how their sensori-emotional values compare to those of the products/services that are the most likely benchmarks for the target audience. It is about drawing up a mental model of how people would expect, and want, the products/services to work and then comparing it to how products/services actually work. The analysis should also include an exploration of the visual language, including the underlying semantics, of the services/products.
If you are looking at Logo Design, Website Design, etc. you should be looking at the balance achieved between friendliness, familiarity, surprise and professionalism, with the hierarchy of these traits being informed by the sector and type of product/service. Additional traits such as angularity or roundness, hardness or softness and solid colour or gradients should also be considered.
The attributes of the typefaces used are very important. Do you think the typefaces were chosen because of a then-current trend or are they appropriate for the product/service and the target market? Following a trend can prove to be a very costly mistake. In 2010 the Waterstones launched a new logo, presumably to convey a more modern, dynamic identity. Only 25 of the company’s stores were rebranded before January 2012 when the company launched a new new logo – the pre-2010 logo without an apostrophe – because they realised the sensori-emotional values of the 2010 logo were not in keeping with the company. James Daunt, managing director of Waterstones said: “Waterstones is an iconic brand deserving a capital W, and a font that reflects authority and confidence — Baskerville does just that.” (see http://www.logodesignlove.com/waterstones-logo)
Colour is also a very important consideration as in certain contexts and cultures it can have significant meaning. In some sectors dominant brands are seen as ‘owning’ certain colour, e.g. Vodafone is Red, O2 is Blue and Meteor is Orange. You should also be looking at the tone of the language, use and type of images, the hierarchy of images and text, etc.
Concept Development: Setting the Design Brief
As part of this final pre-design step you should review your evaluations and map out the desired Functional and Aesthetic traits of your product/service. The resulting Design Brief should establish guidelines that you believe will ensure your product/service will appeal to your target market while at the same time differentiate you from your competition.
A guiding principal is that you strive to compete on your own terms while ensuring the payoff to your target audience, from their perspective, is at least equal to the payoff they get from your competition. This applies to all stages of the interaction between you and your audience, starting with the payoff they’ll get for giving you their time and attention.
The Design Brief should set guidelines and minimum standards for the Functional Design of your product/service. How do you approach delivering an intuitive, reliable, flexible and enjoyable UX for all stakeholders, within the constraints of your budget? What is the realistic lifespan of your product/service? What aspects of the functional design can you carry through to other products/services to help you move people from being product/service advocates to being brand advocates, open to other products/services?
When deciding on your approach to the Aesthetic Design of your product/service you should look at the pros and cons of designing to your audience’s mental model of how your type of product/service works and the visual language, including the underlying semantics, employed. Challenging these preconceptions so as to create a sense of surprise and personality can work to your advantage. It can establish a reputation of being ahead of the curve, not following it, and – as in the case of Apple, Google and Facebook – allow you to make changes without needing to firstly get the buy-in of focus groups. At the same time, the majority of products/services rely on communicating an impression of ‘responding to the market’. As both approaches work you need to decide which is the best fit for you and then just go for it wholeheartedly.
The Design Process
All design projects are subject to constraints but leveraging Functional Design and Aesthetic Design has been proven to pays dividends. Throughout the Design Process you should alternate between focusing on developing and testing the functionality of the component elements and building in the desired sensori-emotional triggers, until you have achieved the optimum balance possible.
Enthusiasm, inventiveness and attention to detail will ensure the Design Process is enjoyable, and the resulting sense of achievement can be immense, if you trust yourself and your approach. And remember, there are no hard and fast rules. There is good design, bad design and ‘that’ll do’ design.
The IIA in partnership with Irish Times Training are delighted to launch a brand new Diploma course in e-Commerce Management.
This Course covers everything you need to know to run a successful ecommerce business. Click here for more information.
Module 1: Planning your e-Commerce Customer Proposition
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori – The Costume Shop
Module 2: Business Planning
Lecturer: Fionan Dunne of CFO Services
Module 3: Effective Website Design
Lecturer: Gareth Dunlop of Fathom
Module 4: Driving Customer Traffic – PPC, SEO, Affiliate Marketing and E-Mail Marketing, Deals Management
Lecturer: Ronan O’Brien of Zatori
Module 5: Transaction Management
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 6: eCommerce Customer Services: CRM – Relationships and Returns
Lecturer: Bob Curran of Buy4Now
Module 7: eCommerce Customer Services: Deliveries and Deadlines
Lecturer: Rory O’Connor of Scurri.com
Module 8: International e-Commerce: Translations & Transactions
Lecturer: Mark Rodgers of Cipherion Translations
Module 9: Metrics / Analytics
Lecturer : David Murphy of Amplify
Module 10: Content – Images and Copy
Lecturer: Fiona Ashe of FlasheForward Communications
Module 11: Mobile Commerce
Lecturer: Sian Gray, Mobile Marketing specialist (Nokia)
FREE Module : Breakfast Briefing Managing Customer Information: Your Legal Obligations as an eCommerce Manager from Gary Davies, Assistant Data Protection Commissioner
If you’ve got customer information on file you will need to know in what form and for how long you can store it. You will also need to know for what you may use it. You will need to be fully aware of your obligations as a retailer vis a vis Trading Standards etc.. This module is painful but necessary!
This is a guest blog post contributed by Chris Byrne of Newsletter.ie.
So youʼve used email marketing tools to send email, are comfortable with designing effective newsletters and you track email open rates for your campaigns. So whatʼs next? This article on welcome series will show how you can produce more effective and meaningful results than just knowing who opened your email or clicked on a link.
Whilst a single welcome or activation email is useful, a welcome series is a more effective strategy to continually engage, connect and up-sell with your subscriber over time. Let’s admit it, we’ve often purchased something online, then months later cannot recall where we bought it, right? This lack of recall could, and very often does, drive your hard-won customer to the competition. A Welcome series can help avoid that. Let’s look at an example of how this might work:
Amy buys a pair of running shoes online on Monday. Great, she gets an activation email with the usual shipping and returns info. All good so far. Now let’s look at how a Welcome series differs to sending repetitive promotional emails that could drive Amy away from your product.
On Wednesday Amy getʼs the running-shoes and goes for her first 10k in them; all is good. The next day she gets an email asking “How was your run?” and reminds her of the basic steps to share her running experience online. 3 weeks later Amy gets an email survey asking for feedback “How are the running shoes working for you?” and “Here’s some great stories from other runners just like you” . A special offer for a sports bra is included; f this were Keith, heʼd have an offer on running socks. 6 months later Amy getʼs an email with an offer on the latest running shoe and because sheʼs purchased before, a coupon code is included that she can redeem online or bring in-store. So how do we do that, without sending the same email to every subscriber or worse, in the wrong order? With Autoresponders, you can set these messages up ahead of time and create the rules that will only send the relevant email at the right time and importantly, in the right sequence. And knowing gender with integrated apps like Rapleaf saves some embarrassment too; Keith would not be too impressed with a Sportsbra email !
These welcome series emails can be completely automated if your email platform supports this and can be easily integrated with your transaction systems. Communications which are relevant to your subscribersʼ preference and behaviours are more likely to result in repeat purchases from you -not your competition.