Faceted Classification Part 3: The Power to Merchandise

Faceted classification will transform your site into an experience visitors love, but it can achieve even greater feats in the hands of business owners and site administrators.

Faceted classification isn’t just about a polished presentation for your guests- it’s also about what you want to do as a merchandiser. On top of making searches quick and easy for customers, faceted classification opens up a world of possibilities for you. The more ways you can slice and dice your product catalog, the more power you have to implement persuasive, exciting merchandising strategies. Just like customers can filter in or filter out particular facets, you and you staff can use the same system to filter items for promotional codes, new ad campaigns, clearance sales, individual discount expirations and more. With a few clicks, you could group your summer inventory on a special page, offer a discount on all items from a certain designer, set up a limited-time coupon code for any of your starter kits, or whatever makes sense for your company’s objectives at the time. When products are organized and classified this way, you have the freedom to merchandise in virtually endless ways.

Faceted classification certainly improves the user experience at the front end, but it also gives you tremendous power to merchandise effectively from the back end using the same built-in structure of information. MagicLamp builds this system into your website, letting you take advantage of the simple elegance of effective web architecture. This kind of merchandising is actually more flexible and precise than traditional storefront selling!

Want to experience MagicLamp’s faceted classification firsthand? Contact us today to set up a demo.

< Go Back: Faceted Classification Part 2: Doing it Right

Faceted Classification Part 2: Doing It Right

There’s more than just one kind of faceted classification. In the world of blogs, authors use labels called tags you’ll see in a list or “cloud.” Tags are actually another form of faceted classification. Bloggers tag each article with words that describe the subject, making it easy to bring up posts with shared themes together. Tags can be very useful, but they’re also free-form entries, which means bloggers type in each tag by hand. This can create problems if the tags deviate accidentally, even slightly. Tagging one blog post under “pet snake” and tagging a related post “pet snakes,” for example, will break down the integrity of the site’s organization. If you have multiple authors working on the same blog, things can get even trickier. For the system to work right, everyone has to tag facets with exactly the same word or phrase, otherwise it’s very easy to lose standardization, which prevents reliable navigation.

MagicLamp doesn’t suffer from these problems because of the way we implement our systems. For our eCommerce framework, we use pre-defined labels instead of free-form fields. Users simply click on the filters they want to apply, leaving no room for keystroke errors or mislabeling.

Digital Marketing tag cloud, like the ones you'll see used for blog navigation. Faceted Classification is a much better system for eCommerce, for many reason we explore here.

Our faceted classification systems also work faster than others. When you look at the way platforms like WordPress and Magento implement faceted classification through tags, you can see how the limitations of those system will slow down processing more and more as you develop your site and the data grows. Click a tag for “widgets,” for example, and WordPress does a search across all of your blog entries in the text field called tags for any instances of the word “widgets.” Even for a computer, going through every single blog entry word-for-word can take a long time if you have a lot of information there! The same thing can happen with eCommerce if your product information is organized like a Magento site. MagicLamp sites are different. Since we pre-index every facet, they all become independent vectors, making searches instantaneous. Heavy user traffic is no problem at all.

With faceted classification for eCommerce, diifferent products get organized according to color, size, features, or whatever suits your needs.

Accuracy of Classification = Integrity of Navigation.
Your web developer should be able to pick the best style of information architecture for you- one that makes the most sense for your particular business’ merchandising goals and style. At MagicLamp, we’re careful to select the systems that fit best for your type of inventory, giving you the power for optimum results!

> Next: Faceted Classification Part 3: The Power to Merchandise

< Faceted Classification Part 1: The Engine of Good eCommerce

Faceted Classification Part 1: What Makes a Good eCommerce Site?

What is it and Why Do You Need It?

 

Orange, Water-Resistant, Small, USA Made, Remote-Controlled…
Every quality of an item is something we call a facet. How do you organize all that information?
ecommerce web design
Faceted Classification is something we build into every one of our eCommerce sites. It’s a powerful feature that makes it very easy for your customers to find exactly what they’re looking for on your site in a way no other system can. Products aren’t just organized by category, or sorted according to one attribute, like color, for example. Instead, each item is coded for every attribute, or facet, that a visitor might be interested in.

If you’re an online hat retailer, this means your customers can not only look for blue hats using a search based on a color facet, but simultaneously search for hats according to style, materials, level of sun or wind protection, or even sizes current in your inventory. They can also search with any combination of these facets to find just the right hat. They can include or exclude any qualities they like. If a large, blue, cotton, US-made, waterproof hat with a brim is what they want, they can look for those exact features with a few clicks on the filter categories. Our faceted classification organizes your site like department stores organize merchandise. Customers can navigate inventory effortlessly and intuitively.
In a brick-and-mortar retail store, every item has certain qualities or attributes- color, name, size, SKU number, function, price, or manufacturer, for example. Coding these facets into our eCommerce sites makes a big difference in what both you and your customers can do on the site. If you walked into that retail store, you’d find things grouped together in a way that makes it easy to find them. Websites can do the same thing, but what happens when you have some items a customer might expect to find in two or more areas of the store? In a physical shop, you could simply place the product in both areas. On the web, it can be trickier. One of the first problems developers run into is code that only allows each product to be placed in one category, or virtual “bucket.”

Our way of implementing faceted classification gets your products cross-indexed so you and your customers don’t miss a thing. If a customer searches for a V-neck shirt, for instance, you want your site to show them all of the V-neck shirts in your inventory. If you have one blue-colored V-neck that gets coded for the facet “blue,” but not the facet “V-neck,” your customer is probably going to miss it in their search, and so will you when you need to bring up those styles for administrative tasks. With our system, the shirt would be indexed in both categories and any others that applied, basically “cross-listing” it, so it would be sure to come up in a search for any of its facets.

< An example of detailed
faceted classification for hats
on Amazon.com

On the FACE Stockholm site, we designed a product catalog where customers can browse with a broad range of sorting options. Here’s how faceted classification works in the Nail Polish section of FACE:

ecommerce web design
Visitors can see the complete polish inventory in the “Full Spectrum” view, sort polishes by finish (Cream, Shimmer, Sparkle), organize them in order of popularity, or simply list them in alphabetical order.

 

“The less time and energy your
customers have to spend navigating
your site, the happier they will be.”

How many times have you felt perplexed in front of a huge shelf of products in a store? When displays don’t seem to be organized in any particular order, it’s hard to find what we want. A website with well-implemented faceted classification is actually easier to navigate than a physical retail store!

In the online world, the less time and energy your customers have to spend navigating your site, the happier they will be. A site without our kind of faceted classification is frustrating- shoppers have to invest extra attention sifting through more of your inventory than they want to. Whether or not your site has a clear, effective organization structure can easily mark the difference between a site customers return to and one they’ll avoid!


Next> Faceted Classification Part 2: Doing It Right

Regency Vacations

Magiclamp worked with Regency Vacations to come up with a redesign that is visually appealing, and better showcases their passion for Yacht Vacations. Whether it is an adventurous and energetic or peaceful and relaxing vacation you are looking for, the comprehensive search features allow you to find the perfect Yacht for your budget with over 20 destinations to choose from. In the new WordPress theme, Magiclamp included a slideshow with high definition images that give future Regency clients a small glimpse of what they will experience on their vacation. The simple design allows users to find the information they need easily, and quickly.

Before the Redesign

After the Redesign

 

Esqueleto

Esqueleto is a shop located in Oakland, CA, which offers a collection of art and jewelery curated by owner Lauren Wolf.  After designing the Esqueleto website, Wolf chose MagicLamp Networks to develop the eCommerce site.  While it was important to find a website development firm that could properly convert her clean, simple website design into a fully-functioning eCommerce site, it was also important that the eCommerce website development firm could provide a site with features such as backend Content Management System integration and a customer account portal, which would allow Esqueleto to optimize its customer service by streamlining its logistics and customer communications.

Magiclamp Networks’ Magic Shopping Cart was an optimal choice for Esqueleto.  ecommerce web designerMagiclamp fully integrated the design of the Esqueleto brand with the needed modern function of the Magic Shopping Cart, which includes integration with the custom Content Management System.  The result is a beautiful and minimalistic website whose real appeal lies in the speed and functionality delivered by MagicLamp’s custom JavaScript programming and image-based scripting. MagicLamp integrated a custom Zoom feature into the product pages, so Esqueleto’s website visitors are offered a comprehensive view of the objects, jewelry and art of the shop.
Furthermore, Magiclamp’s Content Management System provides Esqueleto with the ability to edit content on the website in a straightforward and real-time manner while maintaining proper Search Engine Optimization and web compatibility.  Click here to learn more about MagicLamp’s Content Management System.

The Esqueleto website has a completely custom appeal.  Initially, one notices the minimal design and the simple menu selections.  Along with the product display grid, the visitor can view all products within a single category without switching page views or waiting for images to load.  Images load immediately and the design is maintained across browsers, platforms and devices, including iOS mobile devices.

ecommerce web designerThe Esqueleto website provides its visitor with a very strong impression of quality and value.  In an global eCommerce environment where aesthetics and value attribution are increasingly important, Magiclamp Networks delivers a product that raises the bar in eCommerce and custom web development.  The simple, clean aesthetic of Esqueleto.com allows the website to virtually disappear from the viewers mind, so all that is left to see are the unique imperfections of handcrafted art.

Click here to view MagicLamp’s complete Web Development Portfolio.

Why Minimalist Designs Work Well for Product Sales Websites

In modern web design, the more streamlined, focused experience you can give your visitors, the better your results. Far from a niche style, Minimalism is actually key to any good professional website today.

Web design is all about appealing to your customer’s eye and drawing them back again and again to your site. In eCommerce design, the ultimate goal is getting your product purchased. A well thought-out, appealing design will keep your viewer engaged, while supporting the credibility of your product, site, and business as a whole.

As web designers, we have seen many designs become overworked, under-planned and simply unfocused. An experienced web designer learns to balance design versus functionality and simplicity versus gimmicks. While staying at the forefront of web trends is a goal for any site, an e-commerce site’s main focus has to be getting the consumer to purchase the product.

Lulu Lemon

Remember websites in the early 90’s? Busy, info-packed layouts with bright flashing colors that lit up your screen like a disco ball? Although we find those early designers’ “more is more” enthusiasm for the brand-new online world a little endearing, web design has come a long way since. Research shows us that less really is more when it comes to engaging visitor attention, and success online is all about how your site shapes people’s focus. Caption: If your site still looks like this, it’s time for an upgrade!

Minimalist aesthetics are a popular design strategy in e-commerce today. The style directs customer focus to the product immediately, eliminating any clutter that would distract the viewer. Minimalist design allows the product to become the focal point of the site. By breaking a design down to the bare essentials, you can produce a clean, but very functional site. A good minimalist designer knows how to use white space, create balance and contrast, and precisely focus the content. These types of designs guide the viewer’s eye- not to flashy ephemeral web trends, but the clear-cut star of the site, the product.

Companies sometimes shy away from minimalist designs for fear they might look unfinished or too simple, but when they’re done right, minimalist designs are some of the most beautiful, classic and engaging sites on the web.

One great example of minimalist design is MagicLamp site Odin New York. By simply showcasing their products through high quality imagery, Odin created a storefront that exudes the high class, fashion forward image it’s known for. With simple lines, clean typography, generous white space and outstanding product photography, Odin uses clean, minimal design to focus on what their site is for: selling their products. Another excellent example of using minimalist design to focus on the end goal is PosePrints. PosePrints created a cohesive site aesthetic with careful use of white space that draws the eye to the product focal point. Using a simple monochromatic color scheme, the only flashy items on this site are the products themselves. The stationary card images are the color and the “pop” that stand out on this site. PosePrints’ design gives the customers a sense of style without distracting them from the product itself.

 Pose Prints

 

When it comes to web design and minimalism, remember “less is more” and sometimes less can bring you more…revenue.

 

Introducing Magic fCommerce for Facebook

MagicLamp Networks is in the process of perfecting their new Magic fCommerce web application: a suite of applications that will allow e-Commerce businesses to seamlessly integrate their product catalogs, promotional happenings and overall web platform with Facebook.  A longtime leader in the development and design of eCommerce websites, MagicLamp is now taking their expertise to Facebook. Magic fCommerce not only allows existing eCommerce companies to translate their shops to Facebook — it even gives new eCommerce shops a platform to set up a storefront on Facebook.

The primary application of Magic fCommerce is Magic fCatalog, which feeds an eCommerce company’s product catalog into their Facebook page, and allows their customers to browse and make purchases without leaving the page.  The Magic fCatalog’s features include a variety of HTML templates, Categories and Sub-Categories, Easy Product Management, Search and Browse Products, CSS-driven fonts and colors, and auto image “thumbnailing.”  It also includes a variety of Shopping Cart features, such as HTML templates, Real Time UPS Shipping Quotes, Credit Card Processing, Automated Email Confirmation, Order Status Checking, and more.

Magic fCatalog is so much more than throwing an eCommerce product catalog up on a tab of a company’s Facebook page.  fCatalog allows you to give your catalog a variety of personalized features within Facebook.  Using quick and simple tools provided by MagicLamp, you can let your customers zoom in on products, view products within lightboxes, and “like” individual products — all within Facebook!  And, of course, with every “like” a Facebook page or product receives, the eCommerce company is gaining more and more exposure in its social network.

According to Nielsen, a whopping 22% of people’s computer time is spent on Facebook.  Magic fCommerce gives you the opportunity to benefit from your potential customers’ growing Facebook usage, and allows your customers to purchase your products without having to leave Facebook at all.

Click over to our Facebook page to see a Magic fCatalog demonstration in action, and check back soon for updates on our newest fCommerce features — such as Magic fSweepstakes, Magic fPromo and more!

 

The In’s and Out’s of Digg

Digg.com is a social bookmarking site that allows users to share stories, videos, and digital photos with other users of Digg. It’s a great way to find out what’s happening in the world of technology, politics, science, sports, or just about any topic – particularly obscure stories the main stream news may not be pushing or covering.


Digg can be an excellent way to build buzz about a big news story, funny video, or hot technology. Here’s how Digg works. You register for Digg and “digg” stories. “Digging” a story is like voting on it. The more “diggs” or votes a story gets, the higher it moves up in the ranking. The goal is to get your submission on the front page. Front page stories typically have a minimum of several hundred “diggs”, sometimes even a thousand if the stories on the front page are hot enough. So, if a submitted story gets 300 “diggs” in one day, it can make the front page, where it gains even more exposure, which can in turn lead to more “diggs”. And exposure is the key to building your brand, right? In theory, yes, Digg seems like the perfect place to submit information about your company, be it press releases, brand videos, blogs, etc. Unfortunately it is not. Below are several reasons why Digg will not help you build your brand.


1. The Digg Network – The Digg network is vast, with hundreds of thousands of users. While on the surface that sounds fantastic, and in theory it is, those hundreds of thousands of users may not ever see your story because there are millions of stories, videos, and other items that they are being asked to look at. There is simply too much information for everyone to consume at one time.

2. Shout it out! – The only way to alert the Digg network to the story you have either submitted or would like to share with other Digg users is to send a “shout” to your mutual friends network. This is fine and dandy, however your mutual friends are also receiving shouts from their mutual friends, who are receiving shouts from their mutual friends, who are receiving… you get the picture. One could literally have a thousand “shouts” waiting in their inbox. That’s a lot of stories to read and “digg”. Plus, many times shouts go unheard simply because of the volume of shouts your mutual friends are getting. And even if your shout doesn’t go unheard, there’s no guarantee your mutual friends will “digg” it.

3. Friends – As I mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of thousands of users on Digg. Well, there is only one sure fire way to get people on Digg to “digg” your story and that’s to become a fan of another Digg user. Seems simple enough, so let’s try it. Let’s say you see lots of stories posted by a user that you like, so you decide to add them as a fan. That user then gets a message saying you have added them as a fan. They can either choose to reciprocate by adding you as a fan (which makes you mutual friends) or do nothing. Here’s the problem. If they do nothing, you are simply a fan of this person and you can’t share a story with them. Since you can’t share a story with that person, you can’t get them to “digg” your story, which means lost opportunity to get your submission on the front page. You could literally become a fan of hundreds of users and never be able to share your stories with them. What’s worse is out of all the hundreds of people you added as fans, only 30 or 40 might be a mutual friend. That is not nearly large enough to get the “diggs” you need to get your submission on the front page.

4. Cool Factor – You have built up a good network of mutual friends. You have a video you want to share with them that you think is cool. Well, cool is in the eye of the beholder. Your mutual friends may view your video and not like it enough to “digg” it. It really can be a crap shoot at times.

5. Multiple Submissions – Okay, so the stars have aligned and you have everything you need to get the story you are submitting to Digg on the front page. It’s a really cool video and you have hundreds of mutual friends that you know will “digg” it. Your set and ready to go. You submit the story and guess what? Someone has already submitted the story. Digg will always prompt users during the submission process to limit multiple story posts, but it doesn’t always stop people. Sure, you could turn around and simply “shout” the existing story to your friends network, but what if you’re trying to build brand for your company and there are several submissions? Well, on the positive side there have been several submissions with several “diggs” attached to each submission, but the negative side is those several submissions with several “diggs” each aren’t cumulative. So yes, a few dozen people may have “digg-ed” your story, but without the “diggs” being cumulative, you can’t build the ranking you need to get on the front page. And without you getting your submission on the front page, you’re not reaping the benefits of Digg.


I’m not hear to bash Digg. I love Digg! There is just so much random nonsense to read about and so many videos with insane stunts or bizarre antics to watch that I just can’t get enough. Plus there’s actually a ton of useful information too. It’s just not the place to build your brand. You are excited about your product, but the users of Digg are not. They don’t care about your blog. They don’t care about the technical achievements your company has discovered. Unless you work for a large company like Sony, Microsoft, or any other corporate giant that have highly sought after product that people will “digg” in a heart beat, your chances of success with Digg are slim to none.

Advertise, Promote and Market Your Business or Website

2626Here is our compiled checklist from the book titled “Advertise, Promote and Market Your Business or Website” by Bruce C. Brown:



Ten Steps To A Profitable ECommerce Site

    1. List your goals and ideas

 

    1. Review your products and services

 

    1. Compare against competition

 

    1. Determine your target market

 

    1. Set a budget for your website

 

    1. Determine your unique selling proposition

 

    1. Create a marketing plan

 

    1. Develop a site structure

 

    1. Get all your services together

 

    1. Launch your site

 


Mistakes To Avoid

    1. Home page is unfocused or does not communicate quickly

 

    1. Pop-ups, splash pages, and flash advertising

 

    1. Poor navigation

 

    1. A website equals a marketing plan or promotions strategy

 

    1. Failure to attain online relevance and not update content

 

    1. Too many text effects

 

    1. Too many graphics

 

    1. Use Microsoft themes or other off-the-shelf templates

 

    1. Using a frames based site

 

    1. Ignoring search engines

 


Marketing

    1. Search engines

 

    1. Pay-per-click

 

    1. Keywords and meta tags

 

    1. Affiliate Programs

 

    1. Banner Ads

 


Repeat Customers / Customer Retention Online

    1. Coupons for Repeat Customers

 

    1. Contests for Existing Customers

 

    1. Newsletters

 

    1. Chat Room for Existing Customers

 

    1. Discussion Groups, Forums, or Message Boards

 



Top Three Reasons for Going Online

 

    1. Want or need information

 

    1. Want to make a purchase or donation

 

    1. Want to be entertained

 



Non-Traditional Types of Web Advertising

 

    1. Advertorials

 

    1. Advertainments

 

    1. Customer Loyalty (Ladder of Loyalty)

 



Five Ways to Improve Online Marketing

    1. Site Design

 

    1. Honesty

 

    1. Customer Incentive

 

    1. Domain Name

 

    1. Testimonials

 



Increasing Website Traffic

 

    1. What’s New Page or New Products Page

 

    1. Promotions program – free or trial products, coupons

 

    1. Contests

 

    1. Content-relevant professional articles, news events, press releases

 

    1. Viral marketing

 

    1. Signatures in Emails

 

    1. Affiliate marketing

 

    1. Include URL on all printed/electronic collateral

 

    1. Free search feature

 

    1. Win some awards

 


Benefits of Database Marketing

 

    1. Reach new customers and encourage them to try your products and services

 

    1. Reach existing customers and send them timely information

 

    1. Increased profits through personalization

 

    1. Increased satisfaction with existing customers that reinforces your relationship

 

    1. Increased potential referrals through satisfied customers

 

    1. Reduced marketing expenses through automation

 


Types of data in Database Marketing

 

    1. Contact information

 

    1. Lead information

 

    1. Sales information

 

    1. Service after the sale information

 

    1. Forecast information

 


Building A Marketing Database Plan

 

    1. Analyze your database

 

    1. Define assumptions about your market and demographics

 

    1. Plan your offers based on above analysis

 

  1. Continue to build your database

CSS: IE6 Help

after fighting with IE6 on a number of projects, I’ve come up with a short list of tweaks that can make a layout behave in IE6…



Problem #1: floats seem to have duplicated text below the float.

 

 

Solution 2: use/play with the display property



Problem #2: IE6 doubles up the margin on the first element in a set of floated elements

 

Solution: Add display: inline to the first float

 

 



Problem #3: Layout wraps columns, even when everything is supposed to fit

 

Solution: specify width and set overflow: none on all columns; this keeps potentially offending elements inside the floats from “breaking out” and thus breaking the layout




Lastly, I will reiterate a point I have made before: when/where possible, stay away from padding (especially left/right).


http://www.maratz.com/blog/archives/2005/06/16/essentials-of-css-hacking-for-internet-explorer/