November 23, 2010, 2:26 PM

Designing on a dime takes due diligence

A higher-end look on a budget depends on homework.

Lead Photo

There are plenty of ways to add sophisticated features and functions to a major web site redesign without breaking the bank.

But in order to save money while at the same time selecting e-commerce technology that delivers a superior customer experience, retailers first need to do their homework and develop a list of priorities, says Judy Foster, executive creative director of design firm Grand River Interactive.

Foster, who will be speaking at the Internet Retailer Web Design and Usability Conference in a session titled “Tricking out the online store: A high-low approach to design from 11:15 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. on Feb. 16, says more expensive stand-alone e-commerce applications such as for site search—updated with guided navigation or a rich media tool with product zoom—can be replaced with more bundled e-commerce technology packages or software built using open source programming.

“If you are redesigning a web site, there are a lot of bundled platforms that now include excellent modules for guided navigation or product zoom,” says Foster. “You have to take a look at your budget and ask: ‘What’s really cost-effective for my budget and works best for my customer?’”

Several open source applications, particularly for better site search, rich media, advertising banner management and behavioral analytics, are available on the e-commerce technology market. Some tools may even be available for purchase for about $500, Foster says. “A retailer needs to spend their time doing the right due diligence on the right product,” she says. “An open source tool can save money in the long run, but it’s very important to pick just the right tool for the job.”

Internet Retailer’s editors asked Foster to speak because she has broad expertise in strategic planning, brand and customer site experience. She has worked with leading retailers including Ann Taylor, Coach, Neiman Marcus and Godiva, to create sites that speak to the soul of the brand and the heart of online shoppers

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