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Archive for the ‘User Experience’ Category

Optimizing eCommerce Sites with Magento Consultants

If the world has learned anything over the past few months, it’s the value of having an effective eCommerce business. Not only are customers more comfortable making online purchases, in many ways, but the online shop also allows customers more freedom and security.

But for customers to find, like, and especially buy from your site, it has to have a solid platform and thoughtful design. So let’s talk about how a Magento Consultant at Atiba can help Magento-hosted eCommerce sites win customers and optimize their business.

What is Magento?

Why don’t we go ahead and cover the basics first, right?

Magento is an open-source eCommerce platform that utilizes PHP (which we happen to specialize in). There are tons of brands and retailers around the world that make use of Magento to reach their customers and grow their brand.

Similar to other open-source platforms, Magento comes with a wide range of plugins and themes which can be implemented to enrich overall customer experience. It also comes with a wide range of tools to assist your business with marketing, SEO, and management.

It’s also received praise from users for its robust customization and functionality. There are plenty of advanced features that need the eye of an experienced developer, but smaller businesses and eCommerce stores selling on a smaller scale often find they can get by with minimal professional assistance.

What are the Pros and Cons?

Just like any platform, it helps to run through the pros and cons of Magento. What does it do well and where could it stand to improve a bit?

Pros

Going the positive route first, let’s begin with the pros.

#1-Flexibility

Magento has regularly received praise from both developers and inexperienced coders for its flexibility. Implementing third-party plugins is easy and doesn’t require extensive knowledge to take advantage of the number of tools that are out there.

#2-SEO-Friendly

You can’t talk about websites without eventually running into SEO. SEO is a whole industry in itself and mastering the trade can take years. If you’re running an eCommerce store, chances are you don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of SEO besides a few basics.

Magento makes SEO-friendly actions easy and quick. You can modify URLs, meta descriptions, and more with just a few clicks, something other eCommerce platforms don’t let you do.

#3-Lots of Customization

When you’re looking at making the perfect site, you want it to feel like your site. Magento has plenty of options to give you the customization that you’re looking for. You don’t need to be an expert in HTML or CSS either.

Magento also comes loaded with extensions, over 4,000 by our last count, that give you plenty of opportunities to tweak and change your site here and there. It may seem overwhelming at first, but we guarantee you’ll be thankful for so many options later.

Cons

What are some of the downsides of Magento?

#1-It’s a Bit Pricey

The most obvious downside to Magento, unfortunately, is the cost. While there is a free version of the platform, for those wanting to make any headwaves you’re going to want to go with the enterprise version which can cost you a pretty penny.

Some of the extensions, which may be necessary, can also drive up costs and hurt your wallet even more.

#2-Some Customizations are Hard to Implement

One of the biggest gripes against Magento is its slow loading time and slow loading could eventually hurt your traffic and user experience. Unfortunately, that slowness extends to other areas of Magento as well.

Although there are multiple customization options, implementing many of these is quite time-consuming. Importing data from other eCommerce platforms is very slow as well, frustrating developers and webmasters alike.

#3-Small Developer Community

Unlike other platforms such as WooCommerce or Shopify, there is a much smaller pool of developers to choose from. From the outside, Magento has a large community but doesn’t have the developer supply to keep up with the community’s demands.

Plus, mastering Magento can take a long, long time so even if you find a developer they may not have the skill level that you’re looking for. That’s why you need top-level Magento consultants to help you get the most out of the platform.

What Does a Magento Consultant Do?

Atiba Magento Consultant

Let’s start things off with a basic question, what exactly do Magento consultants do?

In short, they are experts who examine an eCommerce website and know how to make it profitable. They often have many years of experience with big-name companies who rely on them.

Just because the big guys love them doesn’t mean they aren’t excited to jump in and help smaller companies thrive. Magento consultants cover a wide range of topics, such as IT and strategy eCommerce experts who take a comprehensive approach to improve large and small eCommerce sites. They understand how and why people shop online and they know how to analyze a site to find opportunities and solutions.  

While there are many aspects Magento consulting examines and considers, the process is fairly straight forward.  

They ask a few basic, but common, questions.  

  • Does the site get enough traffic?
  • Are the people who visit the site making purchases?
  • Does the site have a high customer retention rate? 

Each of these questions can lead to technical and strategic improvements that could benefit the site. Let’s talk about what that process might look like.  

How Do They Help Customers?

what-is-magento-consulting

So we posed the questions above, now what can the Magento experts do for customers?

Magento consultants help customers: 

  • Drive traffic 
  • Increase purchases 
  • Improve overall technical and strategical health  

Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have a great product available for purchase. When shopping online, customers navigate an immense sea of options. While the price is important, customers base their purchase decision on many factors.

Effective eCommerce sites do a great job making the shopping experience easy and enjoyable. Those that focus on customer experience are more likely to have a higher customer retention rate.

To become one of those sites customers love and return to is every seller’s dream. Magento hosting is a great platform for building a strong eCommerce site. Using a sound strategy and expert knowledge can go a long way in optimizing an already great platform.

If you really want to kickstart your website into a bustling sales machine, you want to consider having Magento consultants help optimize your site.

Traffic

Without people visiting the site, you have no chance of making a sale.

Pretty simple, right?

So that’s where Magento consultants are going to begin. They look at how people would find your site. By checking SEO (search engine optimization) data, they can suggest both technical and content changes. These changes can boost your visibility in search rankings, your click-through rate, and help lower your bounce rate.  

mangento consulting traffic

For example, if someone is looking for hiking socks they’ll go to a search engine and type “hiking socks.”

Hundreds of eCommerce sites that sell socks will pop up including ads and featured snippets. According to a study by SEO Hacker, the vast majority of people aren’t going to get further than Page 2 when looking for a site to visit.

How do you make sure that your page shows up high enough in those search results? And what if the customer accidentally types in “boot soks”? Would the search engine know to pull your site up?  

Ecommerce sites that don’t optimize SEO are losing their chance to even try to make a sale. BigCommerce.com in its article, Ecommerce SEO Guide: How Online Stores Can Drive Organic Traffic in 2020 Bill Widmer believes that “SEO has the highest ROI of any eCommerce marketing campaign.” With that kind of impact, the value of the improvement is huge. Knowing the right changes to make to your site is a challenging part of improving SEO.

There are tons of factors that go into SEO rankings and Magento experts can help you make thoughtful and effective changes to improve those rankings. From making sure you cover the basics so a “hiking socks” search puts you front and center to ensuring a messy “boot soks” search still brings your site and everything in between.

Making Purchases

Great! The customer has clicked on your site. Now what? Is the purchase process simple? Can customers navigate the site easily? What happens if users abandon their carts during the purchase process?  

magento consulting making purchases

Magento consultants can help with this, by looking at:

  • How people navigate your site 
  • If and when they add things to their cart 
  • Where they abandon the purchase flow 

Magento consulting can help you improve customer sales funnel so that customers who land on your site actually make purchases.  

Maybe during the customer’s quest for hiking socks, one of your pages didn’t load well on a mobile device. Those precious hiking socks were left in an abandoned cart. Do you have a strategy to bring that customer back?

page speed magento consultingMagento can help you see and fix that slow loading page and create a marketing plan to reach out to customers who almost bought your socks.  

Salescycle.com data shows that “cart abandonment data from 2018 puts the global average cart abandonment rate at 79.17% across all sectors”. That’s a lot of opportunities for eCommerce sites to optimize the process and capture more sales.

Finding and fixing those abandoned carts and other sales flow opportunities could mean a major payoff for you and a better experience for your customers. Which leads us to repeat business.

Customer Retention

You’ve come up with a plan of how to reach out to customers who abandoned their carts. The customer came back and ended up buying those hiking socks, fantastic!

As a business owner, will you be happy if a customer buys a pair of socks and then rides off into the sunset? No! You want them to come back and continue buying socks from your store.

As well as some boots, a tent, a fishing pole, and even a ukulele. But they never come back to your site, why?

magento consulting acquisitionYou worked hard for your customers and you don’t want to lose them in a single sale. Remember, acquiring new customers is always more expensive than retaining them. In his article, What is a Repeat Customer and Why are they Profitable? Alex McEachern says “The average eCommerce store devotes more than 80% of their marketing budget to acquisition.”

That’s a huge investment lost when customers don’t return. Magento consulting creates meaningful and customizable marketing that’s paired with effective data analytics. Those tools help you create a purchase experience your customers love and return to again and again.  

 

 

Mistakes to Avoid

When you want to optimize your eCommerce site, there are a number of mistakes that you need to avoid in order to get the most bang for your buck.

Conclusion 

The eCommerce world is dynamic and competitive. While in many ways it’s still new, some people have a wealth of knowledge, experience, and success making eCommerce sites robust and profitable. You could spend a fortune tinkering with a site and through trial, error, and likely significant expense, find success.  

A partnership with Magento consulting can remove significant time and guesswork from your approach, giving you the leg-up your site needs to compete online. Working with Magento consultants can help you better understand why and when your site functions most successfully.

There’s a lot that’s unknown in the world but one thing seems for sure, people are spending more money online than ever before. The sooner your site is found, the sooner you’ll see the benefits and the profits Reach out to Atiba today to optimize your Magento-hosted eCommerce website.

Overwhelmed by Software Development

Software Development – Where to Start?

One would not generally associate custom software development and healthcare but stay with me here …

Having previously spent 15 years in healthcare it’s been my observation that many people don’t know what to expect before (or after) they, or a loved one, experience a health event.  They may become overwhelmed, frustrated, and even apathetic when a health professional talks to them regarding a change.

Apprehension and/or decision paralysis seems to set in and they put off taking that next step even though it might really improve their quality of life.

It is easy to be in that same boat when it comes to understanding technology and moving forward with custom software or website that could significantly improve your business.

It is a goal of the fantastic Half Geek Half Human folks at Atiba to help demystify technology and be customer-centric.  If you are thinking about custom software development or design, but are inundated by the information out there … hopefully, this article can offer a new perspective.

An Illustration

Using a general healthcare example, let’s say a person is thinking about getting a knee replacement.  This process is not as simple as walking into the hospital and requesting the surgery, is it?  <Insert Laugh Here>

There is the progression of doctor visits beforehand – likely the general practitioner examines and recommends some exercises and maybe an anti-inflammatory medication.  Then, typically, comes a prescription for physical therapy or stronger pain medication.

Eventually, there is a referral for surgical intervention.  A couple of orthopedist visits are likely next to determine candidacy for a knee replacement and what type of procedure needs to be performed, etc.  Consulting with insurance to see what will be covered and which providers are in-network is also part of the process.

As the journey continues, the surgery is scheduled (hopefully there has been a case manager involved by this point).  A list of best practice recommendations is often provided for maximum results.  Some of these directions may include a list of exercises, medication instructions, pre-registration information, pre-op bathing instructions, etc.

Decisions such as transportation to and from the surgery, time off work, and aftercare plans for therapy must also be made.  The surgery hasn’t even happened yet and there has been so much “front-end” preparation already.

It’s the day of surgery and the “back-end” work begins…no one can really see what’s going on inside the knee except for the surgeon & the team doing the operation.  The possible risks were explained and signed off on beforehand; such as the risk of undergoing anesthesia, risk of infection, risk of defective replacement appliances, etc.

Then the procedure begins and there may or may not be complications along the way.  For example, what may have been planned to take 2 hours, maybe takes 5 hours because of an unforeseen complication.

After the operation, the incision is inspected, ice packs applied, and precautions are put in place to minimize the risk of infection.  Immediate and continuous physical therapy must ensure to get an adequate range of motion back in the knee.  Perpetual monitoring and modifications to treatment are essential, including adequate nutrition, constant quality assurance, medication adjustments, reapplying bandages, etc.  All these little tweaks can be time-consuming and seem exhausting, yet, are vital to the overall success of the operation.

How again does this tie into software development?

Most custom software development requires a lot of planning and follow-up that many people may not incorporate into the initial cost or time expectations.  As with medical procedures, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the process and frustrated with unexpected complications.  Good communication, like in healthcare, is essential on both sides of the equation.  Expectations need to be made clear, however, maintaining flexibility is also important.

As a Case Manager in healthcare, a Project Manager can be helpful in navigating the unknown territory.  Project managers can aid in establishing the timeline, being a single point of contact, and keeping the project on target.  However, just like with the above-mentioned surgery, unforeseen complications, or “bugs” can surface and delay even the best-planned project.

The Process

Think back to the knee replacement example given above…custom software development/web design can loosely be broken down into two parts … front-end and back-end development.

Front-end work usually includes design content and coding skills that affect what the user sees and interacts with on a web application, it also includes developing what is known as UX/UI experience.  It is the work done that makes the interactable part of software development user friendly & efficient.

User interface know-how is combined with languages like CSS, HTML, JavaScript, XML based languages, Java, Objective C, and iQuery to name a few. Deciding a CMS (Content Management System) platform (examples: WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, Squarespace, or Magento to note a few) can be important if the data entered on the website needs to be pulled to a database.  Other programs like Photoshop and Adobe can also be utilized as well for front end work and design.

Back-end development involves making sure the web application can communicate with the server so that changes can be made in the desired database.  This involves making sure the code on the front end is supported and using additional programming languages (like PHP, Ruby, Python, ASP.net, C#, ColdFusion, Haskell, etc) on the back-end so information can be relayed to the servers and Database Management Systems.  Then when someone clicks on the website or is using the custom software program the information can be generated immediately when summoned for the user.

This construction takes time.

Continuous quality assurance and testing must be performed, either by the customer or the provider, but it must happen.  And just as the incision needs constant monitoring & cleaning so no infection sets in… the code will need frequent testing as “bugs” pop up and patching needs to occur for the program to be continually functional.  It will be an ongoing process that needs to occur over the lifespan of the code… (Which is why apps, programs, and operating systems need ongoing updates).

Software Development … The Take-Away

Yes, there are a lot of moving parts to technology, just as in healthcare.  As patients must trust doctors, hospitals, and healthcare teams, be assured that a project manager/software development team uses the best tools to create websites and custom software based on individual situations.

It can seem overwhelming, but just remember how to eat an elephant – one bite at a time.

Fortunately, the great folks here at Atiba can help get you started on the journey and walk you through every step of the way when it comes to custom software development and web applications!

Don’t put off improving and growing your business any longer!  Give us a call (615) 353-1921 or send an email to info@atiba.com

 

 

 

A Day in the Life of a Nashville Angular Developer

A Day in the Life of an Atiba Nashville Angular Developer

Sharing what we do Atiba so both clients and potential employees can see the behind the scenes of what’s it like being a coder in Nashville is part of our culture.  AngularJS / Angular coding along with ReactJS has been some of the main coding we have been working on for our clients the past few years.

Here’s a peak at a day the life of an Atiba Nashville Angular developer:

  • We did our stand-up meetings with clients and/or internal development teams first thing every morning at 8 am each day.
  • From there, I usually connect into Jira to look at the user stories I will be working on for the day
  • I started in Angular but now I have been focusing in Angular 2.x development.   I have 2 main projects I am working on.  One is working on the front-end of an intranet site and the other is for a large public website we developed and support called Guitars.com.
  • Lunch! We usually pickup lunch (we have a Microsoft Teams Channel we use to coordinate lunch plans.  Sometimes we all go out / depends on the day.
  • After lunch I either keep the Angular coding going — or depending on deadlines I will use some of my learning time that Atiba builds into the week to study new tech (currently working on learning PHP Laravel)
  • Wind down ~5 pm or so, some days stay later others done a bit sooner.

I have been working at Atiba for 7 years.  I started as a C# coder and still work on some .Net but have enjoyed mixing it up a bit!

Atiba has some of Nashville’s best front-end developers with a crew of JavaScript gurus doing Angular, React, JQuery and more.   Let us know if we can can ever help you with you project!

 

 

3 Ways Heat Mapping Can Improve Your Website

screen shot of heat mapping tool applied to Atiba homepageIf you’ve never used a heat mapping tool (like the ones offered at CrazyEgg or HotJar) you’ll probably be surprised, and maybe a little overwhelmed, at the amount of insight you can glean. Being able to see and digest user behavior, whether it be how far the average user scrolls or where most clicks are happening on a particular page, can be invaluable in understanding the effectiveness of content placement or calls-to-action.

These tools typically display data in a few ways. Areas of a web page that get more activity, whether it be through user scrolling patterns or actual click behavior, will be colored to help visualize the activity. Orange and Red are typically used for areas with more activity. Blue and Black are for “colder” areas that garner less attention from users.

We typically utilize heatmapping tools before a client’s website redesign, mostly because they can offer insights that may be harder to detect from Google Analytics. But there are also other reasons why this can be an incredibly effective tool.

Here are a few ways that these tools can offer actionable insights of your web page:

Deciding on the most effective placement of key calls-to-action

Seeing the scrolling patterns and click behavior of users is usually pretty eye-opening. It turns out, that call-to-action below the fold that you thought was beautifully written and incredibly intuitive? 90% of your users never see it. Understanding the placement of calls-to-action is just as important as how they are written and/or designed.

Ensuring the best possible user experienceheat mapping tool example

We often find that our clients are surprised when they see where clicks are happening on their site. Things like images, addresses, and phone numbers are usually assumed by the average user to be clickable. Using imagery and higher value content pieces as gateways into a conversion funnel can help nudge your user toward the end goal you’ve set-up. Seeing content pieces of a page (such as images or text) that are being frustratingly clicked on over and over that don’t link anywhere usually has the effect of jump-starting an audit of all page content.

Understanding the highest value referral sources

Though this information is available through Google Analytics, it can sometimes also be helpful to see the exact actions taken by users from a particular referral source. For instance, being able to visually map the users coming from Google as opposed to Bing, or your preferred paid marketing channel over organic traffic, as it relates to activities or clicks on a call-to-action can sometimes offer insights that are a little harder to deduce from looking at hard numbers or graphs in Google Analytics.

In summary, any tool that helps us gain actionable insight into user behavior for our clients is incredibly valuable to us. We’ve found that heat mapping tools can be an incredibly helpful resource in helping understand user behavior and assist our clients in making the necessary changes to raise conversions or meet marketing goals.