Website and estore design

A crucial aspect of the online branding strategy development of luxury goods is website and e-store design. Luxury fashion website and e-store design ought to aim to achieve more than basic, functional requirements, through a focus on an enhanced web experience for every visitor to the website. This is because e-retail involves a constant flow of innovative concepts of differentiation to meet the high expectations of the online consumer.

One of the most powerful pioneering tools of designing high-impact websites and e-stores is called 'web-atmospherics' or 'webmospherics'. It is the creation of a luxurious atmosphere on a brand's website to emit the prestigious atmosphere found in the physical stores of luxury brands. Webmospherics is achieved through the utilization of specific elements to reproduce the intricate 'look and feel' associated with luxury brands. The concept of webmospherics was made prominent by Knowles and Chicksand at the 2002 IBM E-business Conference in Birmingham; and Harris and Dennis in their 2002 book, Marketing the E-Business.

The elements of webmospherics are adaptations to the five human senses which, when applied, contribute to a more sensory online consumer experience. They are the following:

1 Visuals such as text, graphics, pictures, design, colours, videos, 3-D view and zoom.

2 Sound such as music, clicks and other effects.

3 Smell such as fragrance and perfume samples.

4 Usability such as interactive tools, navigation ease, 3-clicks purchase, video and sound control buttons, quick downloads, avatars, instant messaging, chat groups, message boards, online shopping assistance, complimentary products, collaborative filtering and virtual changing rooms.

5 Personalization and customization of web pages, products and services.

The objective of webmospherics is to create a high-impact web experience, increase purchase probability, aid in subsequent brand and website memory recall and retain customer loyalty in the long-term. In order to achieve the optimal effect, the features of webmospherics must be aligned and applied with exactitude according to a brand's specific attributes.

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