The Making of ShoeGuru 2.0 Website
This is a case study that I wrote a few years back while we were working on the second iteration of the popular ShoeGuru online shop. It didn't get included in this new website due to its length, so I thought instead of letting it go to waste, I'd re-post it in a looong blog entry for people to read it, and hopefully get educated or inspired to do cool stuff.
ShoeGuru in a Nutshell
ShoeGuru.ca searches the world for high-quality, fashionable, hard-to-find footwear for men (and now women), and with the exceptional customer service they have to offer, ShoeGuru definitely stands its own ground when compared to the bigger guys.
From the very first time we were introduced to the idea of this small start-up, to the sale of the very first shoe, this has been a great relationship which will only progress further with time. ShoeGuru is a fine example of how design can single-handedly drive an online business .
In order to stand out in the (online) footwear market, you must provide a unique and intuitive user experience. Building on an already successful website isn't an easy task. Return users/customers (31.92%) already have very high expectations. Those expectations get even higher when we tell them that we are re-building the site from the ground-up.
After almost 2 years of constant monitoring and analysis, we took all of the advice from the users we could get and raised the bar higher... way higher.
Proposed plan of action consisted of a slight face-lift, re-development and addition of several key usability features as well as a lot of work "under the hood". In fact, most of the changes were done to the back-end and the way the site functions.
A long overdue media section featuring the "Fashion Monthly" magazine (see below), various promotional videos, as well as photos collected from a newly introduced sub-brand of the company called "LacedUp", are all now updated on the regular basis.
One of the main reasons for the 2.0 update was to ensure that the website is future-proofed in terms of scalability . The company already carried 3 brands, and with many more to come it was essential that the back-end could handle a large amount of inventory. The back-end built around Drupal and Ubercart enables managers to easily update the inventory and all other website content.
Features such as redeemable gift certificates & coupons, shipping calculator, single-page checkout and customer accounts were added for improved shopping experience.
The website got yet another wave of global media attention , which eventually resulted in the website being used for the purposes of Neuromarketing research in Germany, and of course, more sales . Check out the case study.
Website Development Notes
One of the main differences between ShoeGuru.ca and other e-commerce websites is the way the user interacts with the product. We wanted to create a unique and memorable user experience that together with a great customer service would keep new users coming back.
In version 1.0 we have achieved this through the use of simplicity in the initial design stage. Version 2.0 takes the product presentation (and subdivision) a step further with the help of fashion photography . The user is now given several choices of styles and can actually see how the shoes look like in "real life" , as opposed to just looking at the product on "white background".
We have contracted Klyment Tan from Klyment.com to shoot on several occasions for many new shoe styles as well as the new "Fashion Monthly", a digital magazine that presents new arrivals in a compelling short story . We feel that this helps the user get a much better understanding of how the shoe looks like - and more importantly fits, before they make a purchase.
Up until now, ShoeGuru was strictly an online venture. Based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the idea of going local existed from the very beginning .
Now, the company is starting to make itself heard amongst the local crowd, with the help of the recent introduction of monthly customer appreciation events called "LacedUp".
We have assisted in the development of a new supporting brand that would further promote ShoeGuru as an online footwear retailer.
Customers can enjoy many free giveaways (shoes, ShoeGuru apparel, gift certificates, etc.), get more information about new arrivals, meet the team behind ShoeGuru brand, and in general just have a lot of fun. After each event, users are able to check out the photos and videos from past LacedUp parties.
We didn't forget about online customers either. By signing up to the newsletter, ShoeGuru offers discount codes otherwise not found on the website . This also makes for another great way to keep in the loop of what's coming to the store without constantly checking the "News" section.
In support to all the print material, we have developed short promo animations for ShoeGuru and LacedUp that would constantly play at all the events. Check them out below:
Flip through the digital edition of the "Fashion Monthly". Click/drag the top right corner, as if it was an actual magazine.
Tom's website also got published in a University textbook (New Venture Creation: Entrepreneurship for the 21st Century) as a case study. Pretty cool!
"350 Designs does some excellent work and everyone that I have referred seems to agree. Their approach to business is quite unique in itself, even if you have no idea what you want they deliver some of the most ingenious creative concepts you could imagine. Our business would not be at the point it is at right now without 350. They have won us numerous awards with their branding and website solutions speak for themselves. I always recommend them to everyone and know that you will too."
Tomasz Jablonski - President