UX design is a combination of several subsets, including, but not limited to, Information Architecture, visual design, usability and user experience. Ultimately, UX is problem solving. By going through a discovery phase around business needs, problems and shopper personas and expectations, limitations and problems are discovered and identified. The UX process breaks each of these points down and solves the problems with an interface, feature, function or flow.
We believe that UX is more important than creative or visual design. The ROI of great UX and great design tends to always fall on the UX side of most importance. Great UX will allow shoppers to overlook complex flows and missing features/functions that other merchants do by default which clutters the experience. Great UX will delight shoppers in either a noticeable or sometimes unnoticeable way.
Our approach starts with questions...lots of questions. These questions will not only force the merchant to identify needs they did not realize they had but also move some requirements that were first deemed primary as secondary requirements. This is an important first step - to identify the needs and prioritize.
Next we focus on personas. Most merchants do not have enough data on their customer base or else they tend to provide vague shopper details. It's hard to ask probing questions or design site flows when the answer to "who is your primary customer?" is "everyone." Personas will segment shoppers into groups and then identify what is important or not important to each of those groups.
Once personas are identified and requirements are clear, a sitemap is developed and approved and then wireframe design begins, which provides a combination of best practice and understood requirements. These page designs go through the primary pages first (homepage, category page, product page, cart page) and then focus on unique pages, functions or features. The outcome should be a visual wireframe package that supports the written approved requirements for the business' backend and shoppers' frontend store.
Every wireframe package is a bit different depending on needs and scope. Here is an example of a wireframe design: Demo_wireframe.pdf