Great web design is more than just aesthetics. Sure, you want an attractive brand site, but it’s really all about usability – great design should create a great experience for the user, even when the content is created by those users.

User-generated content (UGC) is different than any other content on a brand site, so presenting your customers’ voice in an effective, purpose-driven way presents some challenges, because…

  • …the content is complex. A review, for example, has many pieces of data: stars, bars, title, username, review text, and tags, to name a few. It can also have many interaction points: helpfulness votes, social media sharing, reviewer profile snapshot, call to write a review, etc. Good design helps keep users from feeling overwhelmed.
  • …contributors don’t share your exact agenda. UGC is personal and authentic, written by passion-driven customers who have no financial interest in conversion. They contribute to help others make decisions – use design to reinforce the personal and authentic nature of the content to help drive sales.
  • …UGC is repetitive. You’ll display your collected UGC as multiple reviews, questions, answers, stories, etc, per page. Each type of content should appear different to your users, and each piece of content should appear distinct.

Users don’t read – they scan. Here’s how good design can help them find what’s most important to them, and fast.

  1. Establish a visual hierarchy to help readers scan quickly. Visual hierarchy provides context, and makes complex information easy to understand. Creating patterns and shapes within your layout lessens the cognitive load on your shoppers. Use large review titles to separate content, and vary font sizes and styles to emphasize relative text importance.
  2. Provide anchors and contrast to draw readers’ attention where you want it most. Engaging design encourages users to interact with your site. Buttons get more clicks than text-based links. Use large, colorful stars and bars in your reviews that contrast in color with your logo and your brand site’s overall color scheme. Emphasize calls to action, like helpfulness voting and invitations to contribute, with attention-grabbing graphics and colors.
  3. Build trust through attractive design. On some subconscious level, people have been shown to view attractive people as smarter and more competent than their unattractive peers; this attractiveness bias also relates to design and usability – aesthetically pleasing designs are perceived as easier to use than their less sexy counterparts. Attractive, smart design thus creates a halo effect for your user-created content, causing shoppers to perceive your UGC as more usable, trustworthy, and authentic than that of a poorly-designed site.
  4. Make your UGC friendly and relatable. UGC is effective because it comes from real people – help them share their personalities on your site by letting them create profiles and add photos, for example.

Our designers have optimized and tested these and many other practices to create effective design that will fit in with any brand. The bottom line? We combine the best of a brand’s identity with standards that make user-generated content as effective as possible.

Boost your sales and look good doing it.

Request a demo to see how user-generated content can help you drive sales (and how easy it is to get started).

13 Responses to “Beauty and brains: 4 best practices in UGC design for ecommerce”

  1. Thanks for introducing me to that particular Web Credibility Guideline reference – Looking forward to giving it a good study.

  2. Thanks Paul. Point number 6 on Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab's Guidelines for Web Credibility has always stuck with me. It is closely related to attractive design building trust. It says one of the main filters users put a website through when determining if it is credible is does it look professional. They evaluate the visual design to determine whether a site is trustworthy.

    http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/inde

  3. I enjoyed your reference to the 'attractiveness bias' when talking about building trust through attractive design. It's interesting to compare a digital interface to face-to-face human interactions… attractive design certainly does extend the patience a user.

  4. Thanks for introducing me to that particular Web Credibility Guideline reference – Looking forward to giving it a good study.

  5. Thanks Paul. Point number 6 on Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab's Guidelines for Web Credibility has always stuck with me. It is closely related to attractive design building trust. It says one of the main filters users put a website through when determining if it is credible is does it look professional. They evaluate the visual design to determine whether a site is trustworthy.

    http://credibility.stanford.edu/guidelines/inde

  6. I enjoyed your reference to the 'attractiveness bias' when talking about building trust through attractive design. It's interesting to compare a digital interface to face-to-face human interactions… attractive design certainly does extend the patience a user.

  7. Austen Trimble

    Great stuff, as a small business operator, we can really relate to the form->function idea behind design.

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