EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 335 - May 19, 2013 - ISSN 1528-6703     2 of 6

Web Design Challenge: An Ecommerce Makeover

By Julia Wilkinson

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Did you ever wish you could give your ecommerce website a fresh new design that would spur more sales and address your current business roadblocks? Now is your chance to get some free, professional design advice as part of a new feature kicking off on EcommerceBytes.

HGTV has its "Designers' Challenge"; now EcommerceBytes is kicking off its first Web Design Challenge. We're going to put three designers through their paces and see which one comes out on top. Not only could your site be the direct beneficiary, but all readers will gain a better understanding of the principles of good design.

Simply submit your ecommerce website for consideration using this link to Survey Monkey. In the next issue, we will announce the finalists, and you, the readers, will vote on which one you think most deserves the new design.

Once you've chosen the lucky merchant, the three designers introduced below will each do a mockup of a new design, which we'll show in the "reveal." They will also explain their reasoning behind why they made the changes they did - incredibly valuable advice for all readers!

Readers will then vote on the most effective redesign - which of the following three designers will come out on top in our EcommerceBytes Web Design Challenge?

Designer One: Kevin Richards, founder and CEO Ventura Web Design
Being an early Internet Entrepreneur, Kevin Richards opened his first E-Business in 1990. Before the Internet was widely used, computer users would log into local computer systems to send email, conduct business, and play games online. Seeing an opportunity, Kevin opened one of the first online bulletin board systems in California.

Kevin attended California Lutheran University CLU, where he was a Presidential Scholar and graduated in just three years with a Bachelor of Arts degree, specializing in Business, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship.

In 1997, Kevin founded Ventura Web Design. With high profile clients such as Sodexho-Marriott Services (now Sodexho Alliance), VWD was able to grow very quickly into one of the world's largest Yahoo! Store design firms. Ventura Web Design now serves over 1000 Yahoo! Stores and is responsible for over $100,000,000 in revenue generated for those clients.

Ventura Web Design's specialties are: Yahoo! Store Design, Conversion Rate Optimization, Website Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Advanced Programming, Ecommerce Consultation, and Usability Analysis.

Designer Two: Peter McNally, Senior Usability Consultant, Bentley University
Peter McNally is a Senior Usability Consultant at the Design and Usability Center at Bentley University and has over 20 years' experience in usability, information architecture, accessibility, and software engineering.

Peter has designed and evaluated user interfaces in the healthcare, financial services, government, education, energy, manufacturing, defense, and electronics industries. Prior to joining the center, Pete was a Principal Consultant in the CSC User Experience practice, Senior User Experience Architect at HP Enterprise Services, Research Officer at University of Hertfordshire, and Senior Software Engineer at 3M Health Information Systems.

He holds a BS in Computer Science from Northeastern University and a MS in Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), and Peter is a member of the International Usability Professionals' Association (UPA), ACM CHI, Boston UPA, and Boston CHI.

Designer Three: Andy Carlson, Web Graphic Genius, Redhead Labs
Andy Carlson is a strong believer in the art of showing and not telling. He is a highly experienced web graphic designer. Somewhat an enigma, Andy's skillset derives from a varied background including time as a classical pianist, jeweler's apprentice, accountant and personal trainer.

Andy started his career in the web world as a coder, so each design is built on the foundational understanding of how the design will be coded. In addition to artistic skills, he has a strong background in math and science, which translates well into color balance and pixel perfection. Andy has been with Redhead Labs since 2010.

Redhead Labs is an ecommerce development firm, located in Tulsa, OK. Its primary goal is to help clients build successful online businesses. Redhead Labs is known for visually rich websites, efficient user experience, and plainspoken marketing expertise. Where Art and Technology meet, Redhead's team combines a unique mix of individual talent, including traditional art, graphic design, marketing, business development, sales, and public relations skill...a combination that delivers powerful results for its clients. Redhead's personable and responsive team of ecommerce experts build stunningly successful websites.

If you would like the chance to have your website reviewed by these three designers, go to the submission form on and tell us about your website, what elements or features of your site's design you want to change, and your main goals in redesigning your site.

Whichever site is chosen, you'll have the opportunity to hear what these top designers have to say about good design for ecommerce websites and put some of that learning into practice on your own online store. And after the reveal, you'll get to vote on which of the three redesigns is most effective.

About the author:

Julia Wilkinson is the author of "The eBay Price Guide" (No Starch Press, 2006) and "eBay Top 100 Simplified Tips & Tricks" (Wiley, 2004-6). Her free "Yard Salers" newsletter is at available at where you will also find her latest ebook, Flip It Again.

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