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What is commercial design? And how can it help you sell more of your products?

Today my guest on the podcast is Lucianne Soley of Soley Creative. Soley Creative empowers people and brands to be seen, heard, and understood through commercial visual communication and brand guardianship. They build brands that thrive in the present and the future. 

Lucianne joins me to explain what commercial design is and how it can help you as a product creator sell more. We discuss the importance of making sure that everything that you produce visually has a purpose and functions well, whether that’s getting people in your email list, or making sales on your website. Lucianne also shares some valuable insights into customer profiles and behaviours learnt from her years of experience supporting major household brand names. 

It’s a fascinating topic that we’ve never covered before, and I am sure you will come away with lots of ideas for this you can do to tweak and improve the performance of your website, emails, social media and more. 

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Transcript
Vicki Weinberg:

Welcome to the Bring Your Product Idea to Life podcast. This is the podcast for you if you're getting started selling products, or if you'd like to create your own product to sell. I'm Vicki Weinberg, a product creation coach and Amazon expert. Every week I share friendly, practical advice, as well as inspirational stories from small businesses. Let's get started. podcast, I'm talking to Lucianne Soley from Soley Creative. Soley Creative empowers people and brands to be seen, heard, and understood through commercial visual communication and brand guardianship. They build brands that thrive in the present and the future. So we've talked about branding on the podcast before, but the reason I wanted to invite Lucianne along is that she talks about branding and also about commercial design. So basically what this means, and Lucianne will explain it much more succinctly than I do, is making sure that everything that you produce visually has a purpose and meets the purpose, whether that's getting people in your email list, whether that's making sales. And she talks a lot about the functionality of your design and how well the assets that you create help to actually sell your products. I'm completely underselling this episode. It was a fascinating talk on a topic that I've never really heard spoken about or even considered myself. And, um, I'm not doing it any justice. So I would love now to introduce you to Lucianne. So, hi, thank you so much for being here.

Lucianne Soley:

Thank you for having me. I'm really excited.

Vicki Weinberg:

So can we start with you please giving an introduction to yourself, your business and what you do?

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, sure. So I'm Lucianne um, I run a business called Soley Creative and we're a small design studio based in South London. And we create branding, websites, email, social media, essentially any kind of visual communications that a small business or medium sized business might need to amplify their commerciality.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much. And I've invited you here today to talk about commercial design. So before anyone thinks that we've already spoken about branding, this is sort of a bit more than just branding. But before we get into that, Lucianne, I would love to hear a little bit more about your background and how you got to where you are now, if that's okay.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, definitely. So my background is in the fashion industry. Um, but actually my story kind of starts at university. So I did a fashion promotion and communications degree, um, with an edge on leaning into graphic design, really. Um, and when it came to my final year, I really was considering what I wanted to do next. And most of my year group took up doing women's wear and focused fashion products. So whether that was magazines or, um, apps and things like that. Um, now my dissertation was about, we were in a recession at the time, which is probably apt for now. Um, but it was about how couture as a very expensive investment survives in a recession. Um, cause we never really hear about huge fashion houses going under during recession. Um, and that led me into consumer psychology, why people buy. And interestingly, it was mostly focused or my paper was mostly focused around men. And in that particular recession, Vivian Westwood had opened a men's only store in the heart of Mayfair, which I found fascinating because I was drawn to the idea that men are shopping, um, more expensive products in a time where they might be actually worried about their income, their money, what's going to happen in the future of their careers. Um, so. It kind of piqued my interest into men's consumer psychology and I ended up leaving university and going off to work at Topman, um, which was fast fashion, obviously completely different to Vivienne Westwood. Um, but I was really interested in men, the men's side of the fashion industry. And it's something I hadn't really explored until that last year. Um, so yeah, fast forward, I've got my job at Topman and I'm working on e commerce. So my job there was to translate the print designers work and for all the window displays, like leaflets, flyers, all of those things, uh, into online experiences with the team there. So I was, um, junior member of the team and working on The, like, original, um, email tool was, I think, gmail or something, which, which we've come a lot further on from since those days, um, and we had a bespoke, uh, CMS, uh, called ECMC. So it was all learning on job. Um, and then after a couple of years, I moved over to the opposite end of the fashion street at La Perla, uh, selling 24 karat gold bustiers and bras, um, as well as focusing on launching their men's line, um, during the pity show that year. After that, I went on to Monica Vinader, which is a, um, Demi fine jewelry company, and their focus really is on personalization of jewelry. Uh, so stacking, styling, engraving, all of those things. And, um, my real kind of focus there was redesigning the website into something fully responsive so that any device you looked at, it would look like the same website, which was quite new at the time. And we went about that in a way that would help future proof the business by going completely modular. So each row of the website became a row that you could use on any other page across the website, which made it super user friendly for all of our team. Um, and we also integrated a engraving tool. within our website that then spoke to the machines at the depo where everything was packed and wrapped um to tell the machines what engraving would go on what order which obviously made things a whole lot easier and smoother logistically um so that was really exciting a bit different and and I actually ventured into the print space during that time so events dinners, uh, store design. Um, so light boxes in store window displays, that kind of thing, which I absolutely loved. And then finally, in my in house journey, I went to Kurt Geiger. Um, so at group level, Kurt Geiger, I've got a lot of brands, um, they own Carvela, they own licenses for Steve Madden now, Vince Camuto, Nine West. Um, as well as Carvela, and their kinda miss KG, mini miss KG. So, um, we became like a mini agency in house, um, serving all of those brands and kind of anything the business needed from email design to website updates. to, like I said before, in store experiences and events. And yeah, at the end of 2019, I was actually made redundant, um, which was, uh, had a really interesting phone call with my best friend, called her, said what had happened, and she went, well that's brilliant, you can be, be freelance now, that's what you've always wanted to do. I was like, oh, yeah, that's a really good point, and completely changed my, like, um, brain and attitude towards the redundancy. So I became really, really excited about what I could do next. And since then, um, I've been freelancing and during, um, pandemic obviously was when our business was really getting started. So kind of fortunately I hadn't experienced much time before lockdowns before the pandemic, and it meant that. This was all I really knew. And so I had to make it work with what I had. Um, and my husband actually at the time was doing an MBA and he told me that there was a hundred thousand new incorporations of businesses in the UK during 2020. And that was my sweet spot. Spot helping new businesses. So it was brilliant. We were getting phone calls from people saying, Oh, hi, I'm an estate agent, but obviously I can't work at the moment, but I've realized what I'd really like to do is become a florist or a makeup artist or whatever their passion was suddenly was becoming a reality for people. And that's what I absolutely thrived on. I loved helping people in those instances. So yeah, now we've got a small studio, it's just me and my colleague Jess, and we're out helping people be seen, heard, understood, and be commercial with their design choices.

Vicki Weinberg:

That is so interesting. Thank you so much for sharing your story. I found that really fascinating. And one thing I picked up on actually, as we were speaking is there were so many examples you gave of things you were doing. I think when I say ahead of the time, what I mean were, seemed to be Basically, you know, the timelines we're speaking about, you seem to be thinking about a lot of things before they were the norm, if you see what I mean. So for example, you were talking about making sure websites worked on mobile and that wasn't actually a thing, was it, for a long time. In fact, even now I still see websites that don't work on mobile. It's more rare, but yeah, it feels like you were, yeah, sort of forward thinking in a lot of these areas.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, I was lucky actually, because the kind of brands I was working on, and if I go back to the top man days, obviously fast fashion, fast moving kind of a leader within that high street space at the time. And um, even we had a separate website for desktop and one for mobile. And in fact, we were then designing an app and each of our international countries that we launched in. So we had the German speaking website, for instance, that would also have two websites, one mobile, one desktop. And, um, They were forward thinking enough to know and be monitoring mobile traffic to the website. And every meeting that we'd have on a Monday morning, which I think is kind of nostalgic for anyone that works at Arcadia, the Monday morning meeting also, and you found out everything for the week. Um, we would be tracking that, that metric and that what percentage of traffic is coming through mobile. And we were just seeing it rise. Week on week season on season. So it became more and more paramount to take action on that and make that experience as seamless as possible. And everywhere that I went after that, that was the frame of mind. And I think with retail, in comparison to any other industry that I've worked for as a freelance designer, they are so on top of the trend because they're looking at consumer behavior. They're directly interacting with people day in, day out. And if we're taking advantage of that knowledge and that information, you can pivot your business just ahead of the curve.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And that leads me really nicely into what I want to ask you about next, which is what is commercial design? So I know that's something that you are really focused on, and I think you've actually already given us some examples based on my understanding, but I would love for you to explain, um, in the simplest terms you can, what does commercial design mean and how is that different from branding and from having a brand and having nice visuals?

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, I think that's a really good question. And it's, it's not necessarily common language within the graphic design space. Um, so I'm really trying to champion that and help people understand what it is. Um, commercial design for me is taking your aesthetic and your vision of your brand and turning it into something that truly makes sales. So, for instance, we might be designing an email, and that email might look beautiful, but the commercial aspect of that email design is making sure it delivers to everyone's inbox, that there are points that you can convert people to click through to your website and ultimately buy a product or use your service. Um, excuse me one second, sorry, I'll start that again. Um, so email design, uh, if we take email design as an example We might have a beautiful looking email, but the commercial aspect of that is how it's truly going to convert. So, will it get to everyone's inbox? Is there enough points of reference to visually stimulate the reader that they know where to click to go through to your website and then purchase a product? Does that link go through to a page that is the right link for that product, uh, rather than going through to, say, a product listing page with lots of products on one page, does it go through to that specific product to reduce the number of clicks so we can get it in their basket and purchase without them getting bored or distracted Someone aren't like ringing the doorbell and we want to make that that as seamless and quick as possible. Um, it also might be down to legibility. Can everyone read that email or use, um, a device that might read out the email to them if they're partially sighted, for instance? Um, are there alt tags included behind the images that if the images are not pulled through, the reader still gets a sense of what that email is about. And it really helps them to convert into doing what your aim of the email is. Does that make sense? So if we're trying to sell a product, it would help sell a product. If we're trying to get them to sign up to a waiting list, they want to do that. Thank you. That makes so much sense. I guess, so I guess it's about, commercial design is more about looking nice. It's about enabling your customer to take whatever action it is you want them to take. As you say, whether that's sign up to a waiting list, whether that's, you know, Buy something from you, whether that's click and look at your new product, whatever the thing is, I guess it's having a goal and design or the, I don't know how to say this properly, but the email as an example achieves the goal as well as looking beautiful. So you don't have to look at massive email that where the image is so big, it doesn't get to people's inboxes as an example. Exactly. Yeah. And there's a fine line between beautiful aesthetic design and design that is commercial. And I think the kind of sweet spot is finding a balance between the, between both. So I think because my experience is working halfway between e commerce teams that are focused on metric and numbers and conversion rates and marketing teams who are focused on brand equity and brand building and how beautiful does something look to keep a customer coming back. I've always had to find a balance between those two things and make sure, yes, the numbers are delivering and yes, the brand looks beautiful as well at the same time.

Vicki Weinberg:

That is so interesting because it's making me think about all these things that as a business or as a customer, you sometimes just don't even. Consider until they're not done well. So I have an example based on something you were saying, I opened an email recently and it was talking about a new product and it did exactly what you said is when I clicked on the link, what I thought was taking me to the product, it took me to like a random page or about 20 things on there. And then I was really frustrated because I couldn't see in the thumbnails, the thing that I'd clicked through to see. And I just clicked off the website because I was just like, Oh, you know, I thought it was going to be like a 30 second. thing. And it was frustrating and I immediately clicked away. So I guess that is an example of the sort of thing you're talking about where design isn't, doesn't have a commercial aspect to it because it was very beautiful. As I said, I clicked through, I really wanted to, but as soon as it didn't work, I just got bored and left.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah. And you give up and you become frustrated. And then it also might mean that. If that was your first impression of that brand, and you're like, Oh, wow, this email is beautiful. And I really want this brand really aligns with me. And I want to buy something from them. And you go through in the experiences and upheld. It's really disappointing. And then we have that lasting impression of disappointment when we might next see that brand. And we might not even remember why, but it goes down in our estimation. Um, so we want to keep that experience really optimal and make sure that everything we're delivering from wherever our customer comes in is commercial is really satisfying and does what we need it to do as a business owner, which is obviously make some money.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And I think we've touched on some of this before, but I would really like, so phrases I've had, and I think I know what they mean, but I would love for you to explain what they mean, because possibly I don't. So I've heard about UI and UX. Can you start by explaining what that means? Because I think that all plays into commercial design, if I'm understanding correctly.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, to the point that now within the graphic design space, um, these roles didn't exist when I was back at Topman, but you do get UI designers and UX designers, and those are whole roles. Um, whereas everything came under e commerce designer. Back when I was working in house. So it's important enough that people are hiring specifically for this skillset. So yeah, I think it's really important to discuss this. UX means user experience. So it's our experience of the brand and to end, um, we're really thinking human first. So we have to become kind of customer obsessed and really get into the nitty gritty of what's my customer's life. How does my brand slot into their life? How can I make that experience wonderful? Like I was saying before, from the moment that they find us to the moment that they're buying, and even the after purchase experience. UI, in comparison, is user interaction. So that's much more about, it's like a more granular level. What colors of font am I using? Is it legible? What color buttons am I using? Is it really obvious that those are buttons and clickable? So it's, um, it's the experience and interaction that go hand in hand to make the whole thing commercial. Thank you. And are you able to give us some examples maybe of how small businesses might apply this? Because a lot of smaller businesses. Particularly if, um, with small teams may not, well probably don't in fact have a UX expert. Are there some things that smaller businesses can think about when it comes to UI and UX, just simple checks they can do or, or things to consider even that would be helpful? Absolutely. Yeah. I think the easiest thing comes to, um, kind of sharing the load a bit. And so whenever we're doing brand design, website design for a client, one of the first emails I send with the first draft of that design says, please share this with someone else. Get someone else to look at it and get them to test it as well. Someone that might not know your brand inside out, or someone that is a different generation to you, whether that's older or younger, because I think we get really good insights from seeing how other people use something we're seeing every day and all the time. To us just going, yeah, that looks right and not really investing the time to test it. So if I take again, email, for example, if I send myself a test email, I'm going to look at it. I'm going to make sure that it looks nice on desktop. I might take my phone and look at it on Gmail on my phone. What does it look like here? Then I might start clicking through and seeing if those links go to where I expect them to go. And then the insight comes if you had someone else to check it, even if it's your colleague sitting next to you or your husband or wife, whoever, and they get that email and they click through on a link and they go, is this where it was supposed to go? That might be an alarm bell. You kind of need to sense check at that point and say, oh yeah, that is, that is the right place that, that should go to. Or they say, oh, my email looks like this and it's all just alt text and no images at all. Then you can do an investigation as to why that is. Um, and I think just asking people for any feedback on what they don't like about the, the asset or whatever the, um, kind of project is, gives you a lot more insight than saying, what do you like about it? What don't you like makes them really sit back and think because ultimately they probably know you. They want to like help you. They want to support your business. They're going to go, yeah, yeah, it looks great. But by asking what don't you like, oh, well, this is a bit odd, or I can't really see this color, or you get that kind of feedback. That's actually probably more valuable to you in the long run.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's so helpful. Thank you, because I think we've probably all had those experiences of emails that don't work on certain, um, email providers or websites that look strange on certain browsers. I've definitely had the experience of something not working in Chrome, but works on Safari, for example.

Lucianne Soley:

And it's just these things that if you're the only one testing, you could possibly go quite a long time without it. Just without just realizing because exactly, yeah, you realize when it's too late and the email's gone out and you start looking at your metrics and go, Oh, no, one's really open that email or, Oh, that hasn't gone to as many inboxes. I thought it was going to go to, um, which is obviously disappointing and all the effort that you've put in to get that email ready, which I'm sure any small business owner knows that the investment of time is so valuable. So we really want to make sure those things are converting when we send them out.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you. And you mentioned earlier, email deliverability, and I haven't prepped this question, so I hope you don't mind me asking, but what are some of the things that stop our emails getting sent in the first place? Because I'm sure we've all had that experience of going into our email provider and seeing that a certain percentage have bounced back or haven't been delivered, or you get marked as spam. Is there anything that we can be doing to help people get them in the first place?

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, absolutely. So design wise and really commercial design wise, I think a good example of this is a story that I'll share with you. And one of my clients, uh, we do retainer, um, email design for, so every month they share some ideas of what they like to do. They write us some briefs and we come back and deliver those email designs. And the example that she shared from me for with me, excuse me, was, um, a high end hotel. And she said, absolutely love this email. It's absolutely beautiful. Do you think we could do something like this, this, this month? And I looked at the email and said, you know, yeah, we can definitely do something like this, but I wouldn't do it exactly how they've done it. And the reason was this email was stunning. But it had end to end images, there was no live text, there was no buttons, it was just blocks of images put into an email side by side. Now, it looked like there was text in the buttons on these images because they'd been embedded into the JPEG that had been uploaded, rather than as a separate module. Now, that's all well and good because aesthetically it looks beautiful. However, by having just images in an email, lots of email service providers will mark that as spam. They think that they're not sending anything of value because there's only one type of module in that email and it gets marked as spam. So the deliverability I would guess on that email that she shared was quite low. Not everyone is going to get that email because lots of email service providers, Hotmail, Outlook, Gmail, those kinds of things are going to go, that doesn't look right. Let's put it straight into the junk folder. So what we need to do is forge a balance between having images, live text, buttons, um, possibly product. Um, modules with lots of products to be shopped straight through to as a mix in every email. The second thing that I would recommend is that, um, we keep our emails quite succinct. So a lot of the time we want to say a lot to people that we might have really wordy, um, blurbs or blog posts that we want to share about ingredients or features or benefits. Now, the best way in email to do this is to shorten down that information or create things like icons that visually demonstrate what we're trying to say in a lot less words. The reason for that is places like Gmail will start to clip emails after they are 100 kilobytes. So we want to keep under 100 kilobytes when we're designing an email to ensure they're not clipped, that they're not marked as spam, and they're super deliverable. And we're getting our customers to see the emails, how we've designed them, because we've been finding if you have a clipped email, Gmail, and you click through to see the whole email, because it says To view entire message, click here. All of the rendering of your font choices, um, alignments, might suddenly shift. Um, and that's due to the internal programming at Gmail's side. But to avoid that click of view, uh, entire message, we want to make sure the whole email comes through just from the get go and they don't even have the opportunity to do that.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's so helpful. Thank you. I really like that. Some really practical things that people can consider because I think you're right. We can, all of us can get really carried away with making things look nice. So I really liked the fact you're getting us to think beyond that as well, because, um, yeah, that's so important. And you also mentioned Things being legible. And I remember we had a guest on, I think a few years ago now talking about the importance of making sure that anyone can, you know, we talk about alt text and clear fonts and clear colors. And I think all of this sort of builds together really nicely to just make sure as many people as possible can actually do whatever it is you want them to do.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, absolutely. And that comes into branding and commerciality. So for instance, testing contrasting colors and whether a font can be read, say it's in purple and the background is in green. Is that differentiation enough to be legible? What about people that are colorblind? So when people are thinking about branding, commerciality can come into that as well from an accessibility point of view. It's fascinating, isn't it? How all of this just ties together. But I think obviously the ultimate goal of all of this is to be commercial and to sell products and make money.

Vicki Weinberg:

So I would love to know, so Lucianne, how, how do we do this? How do we take everything that we've, Learn today to actually make some money, whether it's from our website or emails, maybe even social media as well. We haven't actually touched on social media, so I'd really like your thoughts on that as well, if that's okay. I know it's a big question, but we can break it down. Should we maybe start with social media because we haven't covered that.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, sure. So when we're talking about social media and commerciality, I think you need to consider your purpose of whatever you're doing on social media. So as you know, we'll have organic social media, we're posting things regularly, um, to talk about our content pillars. So, um, maybe our products, maybe our values, features, benefits, those kinds of things. Then we might have paid social media, which is advertising. And that might be for Instagram, for instance, on our grid or on stories or on reels. So those two areas have different purposes. The ads is much more about finding a new customer and helping them to convert or become a follower of your brand. And the organic is possibly to. Add value to your current customers, encourage returning customers and create brand equity, which is much more of a marketing exercise. So in terms of design here, I think you just need to critique your own brief when you're going into design a social media ad, for instance, what is the purpose of this ad? Is it to highlight a sale? If it's to highlight a sale, have I got the right information that I need here? What's the percentage discount that's offered? Is there a time limit on how long this is going to be? Am I using my brand effectively? So making sure I'm using the same fonts, the same colors, possibly a color that you've assigned for sale only, but ensuring everything is consistent and cohesive. What about the safe zones? So when I say safe zones, I mean on stories or on reels, there's lots of little buttons that will ask you to like something, to comment on something, to share something. There might be space allocated for where the caption sits. If all of our texts about our sale is behind that caption, it's impossible to read it. And it's such a shame because that ad goes out, we've spent money on the ad, we've spent time on designing the ad, and then no one can understand what the ad is for. And possibly it doesn't convert as well as it could. So again, looking at the, um, the safe zones, Brand application and wording are all really, really important. And then having someone, if you can cross check it or just come back to it 20 minutes after you've done it and check it again before it goes. Because I think always double checking things that are aimed to make you money is invaluable. That's so helpful. Thank you. Cause I think like you say, especially when we're busy, it could be so tempting to create the ads or whatever it is and then set it live. And then you might check in with the metrics, but I think very few of us actually go back and look at the visual and the text and think, can we improve this? And often I think if I'm talking from my experience, I can't be talking to everyone, but I've certainly had experiences where maybe ads haven't performed as well as I'd like. And I've gone and I've looked at the targeting. I don't think I've thought, okay, is it actually the wording? Am I not being clear? Is it the image? Um, yeah, I think a lot of us perhaps do miss that. Okay. Yeah, definitely. And actually something that we've been offering recently to our clients is called brand guardianship. And this is, um, really going to be something that I champion this year and going forward, because I think it's so important and is exactly what you've just said. It is considering our output one, making sure it's on brand two, making sure it's commercial and three, making sure it's on target for the goal that we're trying to achieve. And it would, for an example to give you, lots of people might work with a social media agency or an email agency or a marketing agency, and their metric is to generate a click through or open rate or um, You know, sales for instance, which is all really important, but we don't want to on the other side of the, um, commerciality coin to have all of those things and degrade our brand at the same time. So, uh, my client came to me and said, our agency want to put this bright orange across all of our, um, social media ads. And orange is not one of their brand colors. And the reason for it was they think it will be really eye catching and stand out. Now that's great. If we're looking at metrics only. But for me, I'm a, I'm looking at myself as a brand guardian to my client. And I said, I don't think that that's a good idea because it's not one of our brand colors. We've just launched our new branding and we don't want to dilute it. We want to be known. within our brand colors for all the reasons that we chose those brand colors for. If we now introduce orange, the customer's going to get a bit confused about who, what this brand is. Is this a special offer? It wasn't, it was just a seasonal color that wanted to be used. Um, and they might lose kind of that brand recognition that we've been building up. Now, if you're a super established brand like Selfridges or Tiffany or someone like that, then yeah, they might play a little bit with color or do a collaboration with another brand where I don't know, Tiffany suddenly becomes Burberry tartan and they do something together. Now that's kind of disruptive and iconic and there's probably a separate conversation, but when we're just building up, we really want to build brand recognition. And brand equity, which adds to the value of our business as a whole. So as much as we want to be commercial and possibly do something really flashy to get the metric return, we don't want to diminish what our brand is doing in the longterm. And that's where that brand guardianship piece comes in and how to keep our brand commercial in the longterm, not just in the short term, that makes a lot of sense. And there's so much consider that something I'm really picking up in this conversation is there's so many aspects of. Design. And then when you add the commercial element on there as well, there's just, there's just a lot, but thank you for making it sort of making it sound and making it simple.

Vicki Weinberg:

Um, the final thing I'd like to talk about, if it's okay, when we're talking about how to make, how to make money in the commercial side would be website, which we've touched on. Um, uh, what's your advice to having a website that's not only looks beautiful, but it's actually, you know, commercially does what it should do as well.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, definitely. So I think where possible hiring a website designer is great because they already know all of these things and they'll be able to execute them well on your behalf. Now that's not accessible for everyone. There's a lot of brilliant DIY website tools out there like Squarespace, Shopify, all of those places. And I think what they do really well is help you to identify the different parts of your web page that might be needed, um, and also what those pages are. So in terms of commercial design, when it comes to website, one thing that I always do at the beginning of a website project is look at the pages that we require. So that might be a homepage about us contact product detail page and a product listing page. So let's go with those six for now or five, five for now. Um, so what I will ask myself about each of those pages is what is the goal? What is the goal of my homepage? My homepage is there to drive traffic to where they need to go. Am I talking about the products that I've got a lot of that I want to move stock off? Am I talking about my best selling products that I know is going to guarantee me some money coming in? Am I talking about newness? Am I encouraging repeat customers to come in by talking about newness? Am Is there anything about me as a human behind the brand that someone could go through to? Because the homepage isn't just for converting customers. It might be for a brilliant journalist or an agent that is actually going to really help you out in the future. We want them to be able to get in contact with us as well. So that's my homepage. I've identified those goals. I'm going to include those areas on my homepage. Same with the contact page. What's my contact page there for? Is it for customer service? Is it for press inquiries? Is it for help? Is it for warranties? I need to define that goal so that I can make the content of that page work really well for its purpose. Then when I come to designing, I'm going to think about things like legibility that we've said before, but also things like imagery. Now, we haven't really touched on imagery yet, but something that we talk to our customers about a lot as business owners is the expense of a photo shoot. Now with product based businesses, there are different types of photo shoots we can do. There's lifestyle, there's campaign that might have a model or a talent that is known in, in my sector. Uh, there's pack shots of just the product, possibly on a white or gray background. Uh, and then there's user generated content where, uh, we've got lovely photos of people using our products in their day to day life. So what I would do is put together a small brief or a guideline for when you're creating that imagery, um, and think about your website design and what it looks like. So often when we land on a website, we've got a hero banner, which is that big top banner at the top of the homepage. Sometimes it's a bit of a slideshow. Um, but what we need to take away from that is It's very wide landscape image. And then something that we run into time and time again is when we want to update our homepage for our client and the client sends through lots and lots of beautiful portrait images. Now, what am I going to use on that homepage? Unless I'm zooming in really, really close on that portrait image to get a bar out of it, essentially like a letterbox. I'm looking through the letterbox at this image, or am I going to collage those images together? Or is there something else I can do creatively to make the most out of the portrait images? Now, if my client originally in the shoot had shot a series of landscape images and cropped into them to make portrait images or square images for social media, that's given me the opportunity to use that extra wide image in a homepage banner, possibly at the top of a product listing page. I might have an image banner up there, even places like LinkedIn, like social media, we might have. image spaces that are long and thin, um, display advertising on Google. There's lots of long and thin different shaped boxes to consider. So my top tip for commerciality, really for email design is think about your imagery and how you're shooting it. Can you shoot in landscape and then crop into it for every instance you need? Does that give you enough breadth of your, um, shoot and possibly a bigger return on investment because you can use it in lots more places. So yeah, sorry, that was a bit of a tangent, but I think it's really important.

Vicki Weinberg:

That is such a good tip. Thank you. And I didn't find you can go out the landscape thing myself until I was having a shoot done a hedge headshot shoot recently. And then my website designer said to me, Oh, make sure you get some landscape shape, landscape headshots, because obviously if you have just portrait exactly, as you've said, you're really limited how you can use them. And yeah, I think that's brilliant advice because I think I certainly, when I have my product business, I think all of my original product photos were squares. Right. Partly because I took them myself and I was just putting them on a white sheet and yeah, and choosing squares because that's what I thought you did. So this is useful because I think you're right, especially if you're investing money, you want to get as much as possible. And I really like that advice because as you say, a landscape shot can be turned into portrait. It can be turned into a square. It can be, you can play around with the dimensions depending what platforms you're selling your products on. So I think that's brilliant. Thank you.

Lucianne Soley:

You're welcome. A lot more capabilities out of landscape than anything else, for sure.

Vicki Weinberg:

Before I move on to my final question, Lucy, and we have covered so much today, is there something you touched on earlier that I just wanted to ask you about? And you mentioned that a long time ago, I think it might've even been when you, at university, you were looking at buying behaviors and the differences between men and women. If you don't mind just touching that briefly, I think it might be useful because a lot of listeners will, will be You know, know who their ideal customer is. And I just think that just might give them an added, I don't know, insight into their customers potentially.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, definitely. And I guess we're kind of going to stereotypes a little bit here, but I can share the information that I found out from, um, when I wrote my paper. So, um, I guess the most curious thing that I found out at the time was the difference between a value customer and a premium customer and a luxury customer. So, um, During a recession, the middle, that premium customer tends to fall away into either a value camp or a luxury camp. And interestingly, a lot of men fall more into the luxury camp than women. So during recession, there's something that comes into play in a men's, in a man's psychology called peacocking. And essentially that means having a brand written across. A top, a jumper, whatever the item is, I'm talking fashion here, um, They will buy something that is a higher quality and a higher price point. So they buy once and buy well, essentially, whereas women, if they're concerned about money, they might go further into a value purchase. So they might buy more items to make them feel like they're still able to purchase. Um, but that might be a much cheaper price point. So in that recession, we were losing things like French connection, um, which I know is kind of. become a phoenix and risen from the ashes slightly. But, um, those kind of premium point brands were falling away because they didn't have the, uh, esteem of say Vivian Westwood, and they weren't cheap enough to buy multiple items off. Now that's, Very sort of stereotypical to say women go into value and men go into luxury because there's definitely people that do the opposite. It was just, um, an interesting finding that at that time, lots more men focused luxury stores were opening up to serve the market that had become apparent during that recession. Um, I think what's also interesting about recession or Um, possibly like downturns of the economy is the lipstick effect. So a lot of luxury brands start to sell a lot more lipstick or entry price point product. So if you are feeling slightly insecure about what's going on, um, In the, in the world at the moment, you might be looking at having a bit more self care in your life. And often that comes into, I don't know, having a face mask at home or a new lipstick that makes you feel great when you go out or a spritz of perfume that makes you feel really kind of confident. Luxury brands know that, and during times of downturn and recession, they will buy more inventory of lipstick, um, entry price, uh, accessories, and, uh, perfume, to basically bolster that market, because people want to buy a little bit of luxury without spending Breaking the bank on something like a coat or a handbag and those kind of things. Um, so it's always something to consider that if you are a premium brand, there might be worth having, uh, some kind of designated entry price point product that someone who aspires to buy the full price coats that you offer can buy into originally and warm up to those bigger, longer standing pieces.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's so interesting. Thank you. And I know, as you say, I know that part of it is stereotyping, which we were not intending to do, but I just think it's really, I love anything psychology based. So I think it's really just fascinating to look at. What the data tells us about buying habits. And as you say, I think it's now, it's probably like really relevant timing too.

Lucianne Soley:

Yeah, definitely. And I work with quite a few gifting brands, so jewelry brands, lingerie brands, that kind of thing. And something we've noticed with men and women is that majority of the time they have a female customer basis. But during gifting period, so coming up to, you know, the end of the year festivities, um, we get a lot more men that coming in, um, as gift buyers, right? And something that we did at La Perla that is possibly helpful for your audience to consider is how do we make a shopping experience easier for someone that is buying a gift, whether they're a man or a woman, but let's focus on men for, for this conversation. Say a man is buying a piece of jewelry for someone and they're not 100 percent sure what they want to buy and they know kind of what this person might like, but they might not go into the details like we do as women. So I don't know. I always wear gold jewelry, so I'm not sure that my husband would remember that I always wear gold jewelry, but my best friend definitely would. So we have different kind of approaches when buying gifts. Now as a, um, Uh, a product, um, brand, what we could do is put this tool in place that helps them decide what product to buy and simplify that process. So for instance, at La Perla, we created a send a hint, um, module within the lingerie brand. So the idea was as a woman, I would go on, I would make my wishlist. I'd save all my sizes in there. And I would send an email that would say, Lucianne sent a hint. And that would essentially list my underwear sizes so that the person I sent it to could go in and buy the appropriate items for me without worrying, Oh, it doesn't fit. I've sent them something too small or too big, or I've offended them, et cetera, et cetera. And the same thing with jewelry brands. It might be a wishlist functionality tool or a quiz that someone can go on and say, right? The gift is for my aunt. Does she like gold or silver? Oh, I hadn't really thought about that. Let me look at some photos and see what she's wearing and kind of stimulate the filters to help narrow down to less products and make that process quicker to purchase.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's a really good, that's a really good tip. And I've actually, so there are some sites that do things like that, aren't there, really well. And I actually think this is made to be the best example. I was buying a card recently and this card site that I went to did this really well because when it came up, when you went to buy the card, first of all, it asked you who it was for. So I think it was, I think it was first of all, started male, female, and then you could narrow it down. This is my sister or my mom. And then it was today like a cute, are you looking for cute cards, funny cards? Do you want cards? Yeah. swearing or not, and there were quite a few filters, but you tick, you know, tick through them down and then you're not left with, because obviously when you buy a card, you can have thousands, you know, there were thousands to go through, aren't there? A hundred percent. Those websites are huge, aren't they? Yeah. So this may not be the best example, but I actually do think I was looking for fairly quickly just because I was able to go. I don't want it personalized. I don't want to add a photo. I don't want any bad language and then you can just, it did, you know, yes, you're still left with a lot, but at least you're only looking at things that are relevant. That may or may not be the best example, but it was one I can think of that it did make the process of buying a card, which can be a bit overwhelming unless you're going to walk into a physical card shop. It did make it quicker, I think, than if I just gone on. to the homepage, gone to birthday cards and just scrolled and scrolled and scrolled.

Lucianne Soley:

Absolutely. Yeah. So great filtering there from that company. And if you gamify it by putting into a quiz, it's almost more appealing to do it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Yeah, definitely. So I think in all of these things that I think I wanted to share that example is just because I think a lot of, a lot of sites do this really well, but there are also, I'm sure opportunities. For those who haven't considered that to go, Oh yeah, maybe I could organize things like this. Or maybe I could add that filter because I don't know about you, Lucianne, but I know when I shop, I rely heavily on filters because

Lucianne Soley:

Oh, a hundred percent. Yeah, me too. And it's almost annoying when you go somewhere and they don't have that, like using the jewelry example, I only wear silver jewelry. So if I ever go to a site that sells jewelry and they don't have a filter to filter out, The metal. I find that really frustrating because I'm scrolling through lots of gold jewelry. And again, that's a, any sort of point of inconvenience means if you get distracted or you just ran out of time, you might just give up. And then that's that sale lost. Yeah, absolutely. I think with that as well, when filters don't work properly or the product isn't tagged well, and I want to filter only silver jewelry, and then I've got three or four gold bits, I almost don't trust it. I'm like, well, am I missing silver bits that might be in the gold category? And that's really frustrating as well.

Vicki Weinberg:

So yeah, you've given us so much to think about. Thank you so much. I'm going to be thinking of examples all day now. I think, um, so thank you so much. I've got one final question before we finish, if that's okay. And I ask everybody this, and that would be based on all we've spoken about today. What would your number one piece of advice be for product businesses?

Lucianne Soley:

I think my number one, and it's probably really obvious is to consider commerciality. So try not to go down the route of being an aesthetic led only brand or a metric led only brand and try and find that happy medium of something that is beautifully formed and very commercial and create sales, which means your business can thrive.

Vicki Weinberg:

That's really helpful. Thank you so much, Lucianne.

Lucianne Soley:

Thank you. so much for having me. I've loved it.

Vicki Weinberg:

Thank you so much for listening right to the end of this episode. Do remember that you can get the full back catalogue and lots of free resources on my website, vickyweinberg. com. Please do remember to rate and review this episode if you've enjoyed it and also share it with a friend who you think might find it useful. Thank you again and see you next week.