Blueleaf MD Rob Smith and Design Director Chris Jones are delighted to be speaking and delivering a workshop at the Future of Web Design (FOWD) conference in London this April, on Monday 27th and Tuesday 28th respectively.    

It’s the second year the guys have been involved with the prestigious conference. Veronica Coats from FOWD caught up with them to get a taster for what they’ll share on the day; we thought you might be interested too.

Over to Veronica…

Veronica: Is there a difference between the needs of the mobile user versus the desktop user?

Chris: The short answer is yes, although the split between mobile and desktop users isn't as clear as it used to be. With bigger, faster mobile devices, 4G and the proliferation of wifi, devices are on a converging path.

That said, we're not at a point yet where user needs are identical across all devices. We spend a lot of time at Blueleaf researching how consumers use ecommerce websites on different devices. It isn't just about how they use the sites, it's also what for and where.

Using Laura Ashley as an example, the responsive website that we launched in November has improved sales across every device, but we still see higher sales on desktop devices, with tablet and mobile used more for browsing, comparing, getting inspiration etc. It's important to consider the fact that people still use different devices for different things.

Increasingly, we focus on tying the whole customer experience together, with services like Click & Collect and what we can do with digital to deliver amazing experiences in-store. Ultimately, the successful retailers are those that enable customers to browse, buy and return whenever and wherever they choose.

Veronica: Are there any common responsive design mistakes?

Chris: Carrying on from my previous answer, a common mistake is not recognising that customers might be using different devices for different things during the stages in their journey. If a retailer has physical stores, failing to make clicks and bricks work together is a huge lost opportunity. Not thinking through responsive UX and design fully can break the journey at specific points.

I’m also amazed at how many websites just don't work at certain widths – meaning at best they look messy, at worst crucial functionality doesn't work when clicked or completely disappears.

Responsive design is still a relatively new phenomenon; the Blueleaf team no longer design pixel-perfect "carved in stone" pages. We're designing living breathing systems that respond, grow and evolve.

Veronica: Will the Internet of Things transform retail e-commerce?

Rob: In a word, yes. A more connected world provides more opportunities, but also more noise. Cutting through all this is key. The way to do this is by being personal and building a relationship. Create a brand that people love, and then target the unique person, not the aggregate or the average. This is hard to achieve, and that's why those who get it right, win big.

Veronica: What design tools can’t Blueleaf live without?

Chris: Axure for prototyping, Photoshop for design, and paper and pen for thinking! I’m not one for new-fangled tools, I've seen a lot of "next big things" launched over the 20 years I've been in this industry. I'm a firm believer that tools are just things that help us bring our ideas to life; they can't think for us (that’s where the paper and pen come in).

I prefer to wait a little to see how tools develop and become adopted. I do think it's a constantly developing area though and the first company to create a tool that seamlessly links responsive prototyping with design and with front end development will make a lot of money.

If you fancy hearing more, there are still a limited number of tickets to Rob and Chris’s workshop Humanising the Ecommerce Experience available online.  We hope to see you there!