Malvern Blog Series Part 3: Points of view

Malvern project development part three
The first meeting in person with a client is always the most engaging. Up until this point, it’s potentially been across conference calls and crossed emails (that initial pitch has been long forgotten), but now is our chance to really connect with our customer and find out exactly what you’re looking for.

We’ve done the first draft of the designs based on our brief, and we’re looking for feedback, but it’s never that easy is it? Because in actual fact, the most difficult thing about the first meeting is the communication.

Now hold on, in my last post I said how conference calls were challenging for this very reason, and how much better it is to talk in person, right? Well, perhaps when there’s only a couple of you, but when 17 of you are in the room, things become a little more hectic.

The consideration when dealing with large companies is that there are so many opinions to listen to and so many points of view to balance; all are necessary with their individual piece to add to the debate on designs, categories, translations, filtering and so on, but controlling that environment and reaching conclusions is no easy task, and shouldn’t be underestimated.

The Customer Is King

From the start of their project, Malvern Instruments have reiterated the absolute importance of the customer experience, and upon meeting them, this came across even stronger as a concept. It is key to maintaining their sales, not only in terms of the purchase process itself, but in the look and feel of their site.

They made it clear to us how most of their traffic comes from their main site, and they don’t rely as heavily on SEO, so it was crucial that their e-store kept those recognisable elements to appeal to current customers and ensure that trust is retained. Customers have come to know Malvern as a straight-talking brand, and one place where they were keen to see this continuity is in terms or product descriptions; people don’t want to have to look at different tabs to find the information they need, so the idea of separating the specifications of a product was out of the question.

They also made it clear that they didn’t want consumers to be directed to a PDF download of descriptions – the object is to drive them to purchase rather than send them here, there and off the internet reading a manual. The solution? A one-click, simple description was needed, which is exactly what we added.

It is interesting to see the level of detail Malvern delve into so that this consumer experience is seamless and enjoyable, right down to the prominence of search and filtering, which was a key conversation point in the project meeting.

Using your search capacity in the right way can be one of the most useful assets of your eCommerce platform. If a customer finds it too difficult or if there’s too much choice of how to find something, then they’ll leave. Of course, we didn’t want to second-guess how their customers search, so we came up with several tools for their catalogue, such as left-hand search, top bar categorisation, filtering, smart-search functionality and so on. 

You need make the experience for the consumer as easy as possible, and our smart search facility can be a good way of ensuring this. Intelligent search is where your search function recognises the products in its catalogues which correspond to any letters typed, and this can be further exploited if you choose to have specific offers come up in those drop-down results. The most important thing is that your customers find what they want, so there is a definite need to narrow down all navigation. This is where our team advised the use of one main intelligent search bar and left-hand filters, as it is the format most people have become used to.

There are many different options available for search, and it is entirely dependent on what you want, how your customers use it, and ask yourself: do they know what they’re looking for?

Decisions, Decisions

The goal for Malvern is to start moving their consumables, accessories, training and so forth, so given the huge variation in the type of customer and browsing pattern that they are likely to come across, there is a real need for future-proofing. It can be difficult with so many opinions to determine the best way to do this, but if you take time to discuss the initial architecture of the site, you’ll save yourself a lot of time having to re-do everything later, and this is something that any software developer should take the time to help you with.

The project continues.

Click here and read "Part 4: The usual state of affairs" right now!