1. Identify Your Market
First things first, you need to know who your target customers are before you get inside their heads. While this has traditionally been a responsibility of the marketing department, in eCommerce the duties tend to blend together, and the more a designer understands the marketing side of the business, the better.
As conversion expert Peep Laja advises, if you don’t have any hard data to rely on, start with assumptions. Your product range should offer insights into the gender, age, and general lifestyle of your shoppers, and sometimes a standard income. You can flesh out your initial theories with questions like:
- Who uses these products?
- What problems do these products solve, and who suffers from these problems?
- Whom are my competitors targeting?
- Who would prefer my store over my competitors?
Robert Cordray of IT World Canada suggests a bit of cyber-stalking. Check out the profiles of your followers on social media, or, if you’re not yet established, the followers on your competition’s social media. Note any patterns in demographics, location, or personalities that emerge. Just be aware if there’s a discrepancy between fans and actual shoppers. For example, a toy store might have a lot of children following them, but it’s the parents who use the site.
However, at the end of the day, without hard evidence this is all just conjecture. While it’s a fine place to start, you’ll need to either confirm or reject these theories through rigorous user testing.