Ep. 5 Why research & data make for a successful Shopify Build 


In today’s episode I want to dive into a topic that I am really passionate about, and it’s also something that has gotten on my nerves a bit lately AND Its also the topic of a recent instagram post I did about choosing a Shopify theme based on strategy not just because It looks pretty….

I’ll start by saying this – it’s one thing to Learn shopify, it’s another thing entirely to do it well. 

If you are embarking on the journey of learning this amazingggg & exciting Platform that has the potential to earn you ALOT of profit inside your Studio – please make sure you are learning to do things the right way….

Let me explain.

So if you’re anything like I used to be, I would maybe jump on a call with a Client, ask a few questions around how many products, how many pages and sort of fumble my way through the call,

I’d do a Proposal and send it across to the client, and cross my fingers & toes in the hope that they’d go ahead. Given the amounts I was charging back then (I’m talking under 5k) of course they’d say yes….

Cool, so I have secured a client, I’d get all the assets I could from the them, they’d email them over, and inside a really messy inbox, Id collect all their assets I’d attempt to flesh out a nice site. I’d choose a theme, usually based on the fact it might be a fashion store I am working with, so I’d choose the theme that closely resembled something like a Fashion site and on I’d go through the project…

Can anyone guess what is wrong with this picture?

There are so many, and it’s only been since really refining my processes and constructing my step-by-step signature method in the last 2 years (which i teach inside my Shopify Course) that if you want your client to send you referrals, if you want to truely watch their Brand grow and if you want to provide them with such an elevated experience that prepares them for well into their future, then you need to be making strategic decisions for the good of the Brand & your studio.

So how do we do that? And what does this involve?

It really comes down to all the design decisions you are making along the way inside the Project, and making sure are coming from a well researched and data-backed strategy.

April, again what do you mean I hear you say?

Ok, here is an example….

It begins at the onboarding stage, you’re not just going to have a casual chat with your client, get a rough idea of product numbers and devise a proposal from that.. You are deep diving into the Brand, their goals, their vision, how prepared the client is, what assets do they have, what is their vision for growth over 6 months, 1-2+ years down the track, who are their competitors, what inspires then, how do they want to tell the brand story, what websites do they love/not love.

The goal for this discovery phase is you want to gain a 360 degree view of the Brand and the business as a whole,

One of the other benefits of this is – You can then price yourself better (but that is a podcast for another day)

From here your client approves your proposal and the research phase can begin, you set up your Project in whatever PM tool you use, I use Asana,  and you begin sourcing the assets from the client. 

Once you have the assets (Im talking branding photography and copy) then I allocate time to begin research and I teach this in my course through workbooks, but essentially you are going to get a visual snapshot of up to 5 websites in the same industry, we are going to breakdown a few aspects of the website & collaborate this data into our workbook.

You are now gaining an insight not just into the brand you’re working with, but the industry as a whole. We then analyse aspects of the sites, and gain an understanding of how they are communicating elements of the brand, and then we revisit our Brand and see what things we need to communicate and display… For example, I have a Skincare Label ScorpioxSun and I am designing out the Shopify site for this inside of the course, and as I go through my exact method for this Brand, I can identify in the research, that on the product pages of research websites, there is a large focus on the ingredients and the benefits of the products, 

So when I look at the copy I have written for my Brand, I can then interpret my findings, see that I need to ensure my ingredients list & the benefits for each product are really clear, I might make design choices around these to not hide them behind accordions, but perhaps make them more prominent. And Even before this, I might make sure that when I am choosing my Shopify 2.0 theme, I have these certain data points in mind.

And if you’re fearful of feeling like you’re copying – you are not. There is a big difference in analysing sites to gain perspective and insight, vs. copying a style, or wording or Brand colours, you are instead gaining a deep insight into what consumers are already used to seeing and what information they are digesting easily, so you can leverage this and ensure you’re designing out the clients site strategically.

Making design decisions backed by data also gives you another really imperative component of a successful Shopify Build – and thats confidence.

You see if a client comes back to you, with a tonne of changes based on a website they love (that probably doesn’t even relate to their industry)  and they just want it to look pretty or do a certain function, with confidence you can analyse their request and decide if the change the client wants is worthwhile and valuable for the overall outcome of the website build, OR you can provide better solutions for the client, and explain your decision making from a data/research perspective rather than fumbling your way through design changes, because your choices around theme or design was backed by nothing more than your ideas on what looks cute…