Gift Shops of America
After Courtney Zielinski was charged with redesigning Wicati’s website, she took a look at its old homepage. One problem with the site jumped out at her: The homepage was not marketing the store efficiently. Wicati is an upscale clothing and accessories boutique in Los Angeles that targets mainly 30-something mothers, but the old landing page for the store’s website had a more brusque, masculine feel to it, says Zielinksi, a partner and senior designer at Hughes Design, a communications and design company based in Chicago. “For retailers who are considering redoing their site, they should look for a website designer who understands what their target market is,” she says. In other words, create a website that is synonymous with your store’s image.
Website as marketing tool
C.S. Wurzberger agrees. Wurzberger, who is the Internet strategist at Giftshopsofamerica.com, a business that provides consultation services to the gift industry, says a good website design is a vital part of any marketing strategy. “You want a consistent look and feel to your store’s image. It should flow right from your business cards to your brochures to your website,” she says.
Zielinski set about achieving just that. She softened the site’s look, adding more feminine touches: organic plant shapes silhouetted in the background, a different font and a lighter background.
Eve Newhart, the owner of Wicati, is delighted with the results. Wicati is named after her three children—William, Caroline and Timothy—and Newhart started the store after she saw a need for an upscale clothing and accessories boutique that was more kid-friendly. The store also stocks clothes in larger sizes, up to size 14. Newhart says Wicati’s website offers only a very small fraction of what she stocks in her brick-and-mortar store. She doesn’t exploit the e-commerce aspect of the equation as much, just yet. The website definitely serves as an informative “brochure site,” she says. As for the redesign, Newhart appreciates that Zielinski recognized exactly what she wanted and ran with it.
Image is everything?
Wicati’s website advertises upcoming in-store events and also sells a very small part of the clothing and accessories the store stocks. Distinct tabs at the top also detail the store’s story and contact information. New product arrivals are announced at the bottom of the homepage encouraging website visitors to visit the store.
Wicati’s new website meets some of the other design criteria that Wurzberger recommends: No clutter, no flashing animation, no music and no sound. While some of the other desirables were already a part of the old homepage, the newer one has significantly less clutter. This concept is particularly important, says Zielinski. “You want to create enough of intrigue on the homepage; you don’t want every single bit of information or product on the homepage itself,” she explains.
At the same time, the new website has the store’s essential product information right up front. “You want the store’s phone number, hours—all that information on the website,” Wurzberger says. “We live in an age of instantaneous information, more and more people are looking up such information on a website, and for retailers, otherwise they would be paying a sales clerk to answer the phone, taking time away from customer service and interactions with customers.”
For retailers who are into e-commerce, factors such as search engine rankings and keyword usage are also important for success in an increasingly competitive online market. Keywords are strategic words used to find useful results in Internet searches. “Website design is just the frosting on the cake,” Wurzberger points out.
Zielinski recommends that retailers who are looking to redo their websites communicate their likes and dislikes to their designers. “It can even be what sort of magazines you like. It helps convey some of your style preferences,” she says.
As for Wicati, Zielinski is happy that the project worked out well—all the pages load easily and are attractive and informational. And the homepage looks special.
“The homepage of a retail store’s website should be inviting and intriguing, just like the entrance to the actual shop,” Zielinski says. Newhart confirms that through the website redesign, Zielinski has achieved just that for Wicati.