How to make a Shopify website in 9 steps

Shopify may be easier than other website builders, but that doesn’t exactly make it easy. Optimizing a site always takes some effort, but that goes double with ecommerce, where you have to align your sales strategies with your design choices. Even if you’ve built a Shopify website before, you may have missed some opportunities you never knew existed.

Whether or not it’s your first time making a Shopify website, it helps to start with an actionable battle plan. Below, we outline the nine steps to building a Shopify website for your ecommerce business.

1. Familiarize yourself with the Shopify website builder

First things first, you have to make sure Shopify is the right choice for you. As we mentioned in our ultimate guide to website builders, it’s best to do your own research before settling on a decision.

Explore the Shopify site, the Shopify theme library, and the Shopify app store to get a general idea of what’s involved with making a Shopify site. While you’re there, make a list of any themes and apps that catch your eye for later—don’t forget their prices, too, so you can estimate your Shopify website cost.

Luckily, Shopify offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card) so you can tell for sure whether or not you like it. Take it for a “test drive,” and pay particular attention to its usability and navigation—can you do everything you want to do and find everything you want to find? Just be aware that if you do not put money down after 14 days, you will lose all the progress you’ve made, so only start your trial when you can commit to a decision within two weeks.

2. Plan your website

Once you get a feel for how the Shopify website builder works, you can use that as a background for when you plan out your website. Shopify has more restrictions than, for example, making a website on Wix. That’s why it’s best to familiarize yourself with its system beforehand, so you don’t waste time planning anything Shopify won’t let you integrate.

It’s crucial at this time to know your sales strategies and have a good idea about your digital marketing campaigns—some of these require special apps or work better with certain themes. For example, if upselling is important to your business model, you’ll want an app that adds the Frequently Bought Together feature. The sooner you know what you need, the better—you don’t want to find out too late that you can’t implement something.


You may also need other media, such as personalized photography or branding assets like a logo. The cost of these is variable and while some assets are really important—like your logo—others are completely optional—like videos or motion graphics. But if you’d like to include them in your site, it’s best to start planning for them early.

If you’re worried about money, now is a good time to calculate your Shopify website cost. All of Shopify’s paid themes and apps list their prices outright, so you can make an accurate budget of one-time costs and recurring costs before actually spending anything. Of course, a large portion of your budget depends on your Shopify pricing plan, which brings us to Step 3…

3. Choose your pricing plan and sign up

Now’s the time to cross the threshold. Shopify offers three main pricing plans to accommodate small, medium and large businesses—although technically they offer five plans, if you include Shopify Plus for enterprises and Shopify Lite for adding products to existing sites or blogs. Most people will be interested in the main three:

  • Basic Shopify — $29/month
  • Shopify — $79/month
  • Advanced Shopify — $299/month

Each plan, even the basic, includes all the essentials: unlimited product range, access to sales channels, 24/7 support, SSL certificate, fraud analysis, Shopify Point of Sale Lite, gift cards, discount codes and abandoned cart recovery. In terms of differences, Basic Shopify does not include professional reports, and only Advanced Shopify can calculate third-party shipping rates at checkout. Also the number of staff accounts and synced storage locations increases with higher-tier plans.

So what’s the real difference between Shopify plans? Shipping and transaction fees. The percentage amount that Shopify takes per sale gets lower with higher-tier plans—the less you pay upfront, the more you pay at each sale. Shopify also charges a “penalty” fee if you use a third-party gateway instead of their native Shopify Payments, and that penalty fee also decreases at higher tiers.


Basic Shopify


Advanced Shopify

Online credit card rates

2.9% (+ 30¢)

2.6% (+ 30¢)

2.4% (+ 30¢)

In-person credit card rates

2.7% (+ 0¢)

2.5% (+ 0¢)

2.4% (+ 0¢)

Penalty for not using Shopify Payments




As you can see, your pricing plan should depend on your sales volume—how much you sell in a given time period. If your sales volume is high enough, you can conceivably save money by buying a more expensive plan, considering what you’d save per sale. Again, that’s why it’s so important to plan out your sales strategies beforehand.

It’s also worth mentioning that higher-tier plans get a greater discount on shipping when using DHL Express, UPS or USPS. Depending on how heavy your products are and how far away your main customers live, this could also impact which plan is best.


Basic Shopify


Advanced Shopify

Shipping discount

up to 64%

up to 72%

up to 74%

On the plus side, you can always upgrade or downgrade your plan at any time, so if you err in your budget, you can always correct it for the next month.

4. Pick your theme

Once you actually begin using the Shopify website builder, your first task should be to finalize your theme. Choosing your theme is vital for all website builders, but it’s especially important with Shopify—Shopify doesn’t let you change much about your appearance and layout, so which theme you choose determines a lot of your design decisions.

You’ll still be able to customize your images and text no matter which theme you choose, but where those images go and what fonts your text uses are fixed by theme. Definitely take advantage of the search filters at the left side of the theme store: you can search for only themes with the features you want, or use ones built specifically for your industry.

Of course, all Shopify themes suffer from the same drawback: stores run a high risk of looking generic. On top of that, other stores can use the same exact theme as you, making it difficult to set yourself apart, especially if you’re using a free theme.

One workaround to get a unique and personalized Shopify site is to hire a 99designs designer to customize a theme specifically to fit your needs. We even have designers who specialize in Shopify in particular—here are our top 9 Shopify designers.

5. Install your apps

Next, you want to install all your apps so they’re in place when you begin customizing your site. You can find everything you need at the Shopify app store, and if you already planned out which ones you need, this step should be a breeze.

Just like with the theme store, you want to take full advantage of the filters for more efficient searching. For apps, your best bet is to search by category—design apps, marketing apps, shipping apps, etc.

And don’t worry about getting all your apps at once—you can always come back and add new ones or replace old ones later. Knowing which apps to use can give you a head-start at the beginning when you launch, but if you miss something or make a mistake you can correct it at any time.

6. Personalize your store

Finally, we come to the big step: personalizing your Shopify website to make it your own. As we mentioned before, Shopify makes this process easy and convenient—it’s more or less filling in the blanks after choosing your theme and apps.

Most of the customization options can be found in Sales Channels > Online Store in the left navigation menu. Each of these options (Themes, Pages, Domains, etc.) offers a new set of customizations options, so we recommend going down the list one-by-one.

Editing your Theme is the big one, where you can personalize your homepage. Click on Theme on the left and then on the Customize button to bring up the editor.

All the areas you can change are listed on the left of the screen, with a real-time preview of your Shopify website on the right. In the upper-right corner, there’s an icon where you can switch between the desktop and mobile versions of the preview, ensuring both look how you want them to.

Just go through each entry on the left and enter your custom text or upload the images you want. You’ll see clearly labelled fields for each area, along with other options like text alignment. Again, it comes in handy to prefer these assets beforehand. Although they offer free images, you want to keep the shared assets you use to a minimum in order to mitigate the “generic” look of your Shopify website.

Before you start populating your site with your products—our next step—there’s also more customization options in the Settings section at the bottom of the left menu. These are the more technical details of your business, often the behind-the-scene areas, including:

  • General preferences (currency, location, business address, etc.)
  • Payment providers
  • Shipping and delivery
  • Store languages
  • Billing
  • Taxes

… and many more areas. Although many of these options are minor choices, they can have a major impact on your business, especially payment and shipping. Be sure to take the time to go through each one and customize them based on your personal site goals.

7. Add your products

Now you can add all of your products into your Shopify website, but depending on how many products you offer, this might now be good news. Each product must be entered individually, one-by-one, so this step could take awhile.

To enter a new product, go to the Products section of the left menu, and then click on the Add product button.

The next step is simply filling in the template. You have fields for everything you need:

  • Title
  • Description
  • Availability
  • Organization (product type and brand name)
  • Media
  • Pricing (including a separate section for “Compare at price”)
  • SKU and Barcode
  • Quantity
  • Shipping information (including weight, shipment origin and HS code)
  • Variants (like Size or Color)
  • SEO tool
  • Tags

You also have the option here to place products in custom Collections, which are groupings of items you can use for a variety of different sales methods. Collections can be made manually or automatically.

8. Buy and set your domain name

There’s tons of areas you can customize before you launch, but there’s one that’s practically a necessity we haven’t talked about yet: your domain.

Your URL, or domain name, can be a powerful branding tool and help with recognition as long as you use an original one. While Shopify by default provides you with one of their domains (, if you’re serious about your ecommerce business, we recommend investing in your own domain name. Luckily, that’s a service they provide as well.

To buy and set your Shopify website domain, go to the Sales Channel > Online Store > Domain in the left menu. You can type in the URL you’re looking for, and they’ll search to see if it’s available and how much it will cost. They’ll also display alternate options (.net, .org, etc.) in case there’s too much competition.

You can both buy and apply your new domain in this section, so this step might not take that long… unless your top choices are fiercely competitive.

9. Launch and sell!

With your domain name in place, everything is ready for launch! And by “everything,” we mean the bare minimum!!

Let’s be clear: your work is far from over. Even if you followed this guide to the letter and went through every customizable section, there’s still all the external areas that are crucial to ecommerce success, like marketing, customer profiling and promotions. Many of these areas you can’t even start until you’ve made your first sale.

Shopify makes these areas as easy as possible, allowing you to connect your campaigns to your store and offer a variety of different promotion types. And if Shopify’s native features aren’t enough, their app store adds even more options. You’ll get a clearer idea of what you need once you begin selling, but at this point you can still look around to see exactly what you can do in the future.

However, one thing you want to do as soon as possible is test out a sample order. By that we mean, order a product from your store just like a normal customer and see if any problems arise. If there’s a mistake or something was overlooked, it’s better if you catch it instead of your very first customer!

Is Shopify too easy?

Shopify is a particular niche for site builders—it’s designed to be easy and user-friendly, at the cost of customization options. While that’s the perfect fit for a large number of online retailers, it’s not for everyone.

If you want more customization options and don’t mind putting more effort into building your site, check out our comparison guide of the 10 best ecommerce platforms. We go through the most popular choices for building an online store, explaining what makes them different and whom each is recommended for.

About the Author!

Matt Ellis is a freelance content writer, specializing in web design and ecommerce. For over a decade he’s been sharing his industry knowledge through ebooks, website copy, and blog articles just like this one. You can learn more about his career and writing services at

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8 Rules to optimize for homepage conversions from top Shopify websites

The homepage plays a crucial role in the customer’s buying journey. If you have created an effective home page, visitors are less likely to bounce. Once they click on a product, they are more likely to buy. Imagine walking up to a restaurant, you’re more likely to go in and check out the menu if the restaurant looks inviting. Perhaps it’s bustling or shows you appealing dishes on a handwritten board outside. The restaurant’s exterior and façade is like the homepage of any ecommerce business. The homepage doesn’t convert visitors to buyers on its own. Instead, the objective is to get visitors to click or view a product or category page to bring them ‘in’ to your store.

To optimize the homepage, you have to understand the psychology of your visitors and potential customers. The purchase intent of a visitor who lands on your product page is usually higher. So the goal of any homepage is to encourage the visitor to view a category or product page.

In general, there are two main challenges to solve with homepage design:

  • Many different products means different customer segments. How can a homepage appeal to different customers given its limited real estate?
  • The chance of closing the sale for visitors who have clicked/viewed at least one product is much higher. How could we create a homepage that encourages as many visitors to click on a product?

Let’s look at some successful Shopify stores and look at how they solve it.

To start, we’ll review the most important elements that a high-converting homepage has.

1. Clear unique value proposition

What makes you different? To attract first timers and build loyalty with repeat visitors, you need to make this clear. Why should someone buy from you? Are your products unique? more affordable? Or do you have the fastest delivery? a unique style?

Communicate this clearly on your homepage to make the most impact once visitors land on your site.

A great example is Allbirds, Once you go to their homepage, the first message that pops out is “Light on your feet, Easy on the planet”. So you are aware that they have high-quality shoes that are good for the environment. This immediately draws attention and invites visitors to click on a product.

Figure 1 Allbirds has a very clear value proposition front and center on their homepage

2. Add category images for clear navigation

In any given e-commerce website, the more products you have, the more diverse your customers and what they look for. Humans process visuals much faster than text. When the visitors land on your homepage, they may not have a clear idea of what they want to buy. For this reason, relying on them to navigate your menu bar or search function to discover products they might like could lead to lost sales opportunities.

A better way is to showcase your popular categories on the homepage. Remember the goal of your homepage is to get every visitor to take an action, to view a category or product page. Therefore every element on your homepage should help you achieve this. Start by thinking about different customers that you have and if you can put them in different buckets. If you’re running a furniture store, it could be a different style they are after (Nordic, vintage, minimalist etc.) or occasions if you have a fashion store (party, wedding, job interview etc.).

Figure 2 Fashionnova shows bright and attractive images of their main categories on the homepage to get visitors to view the category page

If you’re already doing this, the next step is to show different images to each visitor based on their interest.

Using an app like DataCue, you can upload all your category banner images in one place. The app will then automatically show different images on your homepage to each visitor based on their browsing history.

Figure 3 Inspirations Dancewear shows each visitor different images based on their last category and product views and purchases.

3. Use personal history for personalized recommendations

Your e-commerce website sits on valuable insights about your visitors, namely what they are interested in and their preferences. Done right, you can mine this information and use it to show each visitor only products they would be interested in.

After all, 45% of visitors are more likely to buy from an ecommerce website that offers personalized recommendations. The benefit of personalization extends beyond improving conversion. It’s a great way to improve customer loyalty as they feel that you understand their needs and they’ll remember you when they’re ready to buy again.

Figure 3 Personalized product recommendations improve conversion and average order value

If you’re not using any personalization solution at the moment, you can easily get started by featuring trending or the newest products. While this is not the best example of personalization, it shows your visitors what your best products are and gives them an idea of what to buy.

Most e-commerce websites offer some sort of product carousels on their homepage. However, we’ve found that the best practice for high converting product carousels includes the following:

  • If you’re selling fashion items, the product visuals should be of someone using or wearing it. This kind of image helps your customers imagine how the product could look on them.
  • Consider increasing whitespace between the products and completely eliminate borders to reduce noise and keep everything clean
  • Add price, an add to cart button and reviews

Figure 4 Colourpop’s product carousel includes price, add to cart buttons and customer ratings

A Shopify app like DataCue allows you to achieve exactly this. It’s a no-frill personalization tool that personalizes content on every page including the homepage for every visitor. The tool changes banners and product recommendations automatically based on who’s looking.

4. Personalization via localization

Personalization is not only based on specific browsing history. It can also be other general observations such as location, currency, season and time. If your customers are from different countries, you can adjust the currency and time to deliver automatically.

Doing this will reduce friction for your visitors to convert the price and shipping time on their own.

5. Drop the banner slider

Banners are great, sliders are not. While they might be useful at giving you more opportunities to show more offers and products, the benefits stop there. Carousels are distracting, slow to load and worst of all, they are not mobile friendly.

John Stutt from VaporFi ran an experiment by swapping the slider with static images. He found that the static images led to 12% revenue increase per session. Time on page also dropped significantly which is a good sign that visitors spent a short amount of time deciding which products or categories to view next.

A similar experiment found that after swapping carousels for static images, the click rate went up to 40.53% compared to 2%.

6. Design for mobile first

Transactions through mobile will reach 73% of all ecommerce sales in 2021. It makes sense to prioritize and keep mobile UX in mind when you make any changes to the homepage.

Take a look at this example on mobile. Notice a very prominent search bar that’s integrated with the latest Instagram posts as well as the top CTA for a 10% student discount.

And this is their desktop version.

There’s no doubt Tony Bianco has designed their homepage experience with a ‘mobile first’ attitude. And it makes perfect sense when their customer base are young women who are constantly on the go and always checking their phones.

Other things to keep in mind when designing for mobile include:

  • Big and friendly CTA
  • Hamburger menu
  • Make search bar prominent
  • Design for a finger tap (i.e Design big, avoid pinch and zoom at all cost)
  • Easy to navigate

7. Keep it simple

Online retailers have traditionally tried to communicate everything on their homepage and its products. Many A/B studies have shown that having competing messages is too hard to process. What do visitors do when they get confused? They leave.

This is related to Point 1 which is a clear value proposition. Decide what it is and make sure that your homepage screams the DNA of your brand. Make sure that it’s consistent and easy to follow. Your homepage needs to offer a clear flow for visitors to do next, whether using a search bar, clicking on the product recommendations or viewing the category pages.

8. Create urgency

Most visitors will not buy in the same session. They will browse around, compare prices and might come back to your website once they decide to buy. While they’re making the decision, you want to stay on top of their minds. The way you do this is through relevant communications through different channels such as:

  • Desktop notifications to remind them of your brand
  • Countdown SMS to create a fear of missing out
  • Seasonal and promotional SMS to bring visitors back

Pura Vida Bracelets customers subscribe to push notifications via a message on their website, they then receive a welcome message

And when they come back to your website, you can impress them with relevant notifications which show you that you understand their needs and what they look for.

A tool like Firepush allows brands and merchants to automate push notifications without the hassle. Customers automatically receive different push notifications at different stages of their purchase journeys.


The Homepage is the most prominent page of any ecommerce website. Yet, it receives less attention that it deserves. The goal of any ecommerce homepage is to get visitors to click on an image or product on the homepage and bring them ‘in’ to your store. Personalization and creating urgency are two great ways to optimize the webpage to ensure high conversion. A high converting homepage is easy to navigate, helps visitors discover products they like and brings visitors back again and again.

About the author Ann Pichestapong

Ann is the co-founder and CEO of DataCue. Her unique background as a data scientist and an ex-management consultant helps her use technology to solve real business problems for ecommerce. Her passion is to open up the power of personalization to everyone.


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User Attention: 10 Psychological Facts to Help You Design Better UX

Our environment has become noisier than ever. People have to carefully select what they pay attention to in their overstimulated daily lives. As a business, you not only compete with other businesses but basically everything your audience pays attention to. How can you have their undivided attention? Can we even ethically drive people’s attention? In this article, I will introduce some basic psychological principles about human attention, and give guidelines for creating usable and delightful products.

Year by year, more and more content gets pushed at us. After reaching a threshold, it just cannot get through the bottleneck of attention.

Humans behave in extremely complex ways. This means we cannot reliably predict our own or even our users’ behavior per se, not even as UX researchers.

To know how to get through the bottleneck, we have to understand how human attention works.

  • First, we’ll look at some facts and concepts.
  • Then, we’ll take a look at what we designers and researchers can do to create the optimal fit for their attention with our product.

Using psychological principles in design

“Digital innovations must survive the psychological bottlenecks of attention, perception, memory, disposition, motivation and social influence if they are to proliferate.” – says David C. Evans in his book.

Using psychological principles, by the way, also speaks to the sustainability of UX research. Of course, we shouldn’t skip talking to customers. Still, we can solve some challenges in product design simply by keeping aware of psychological principles related to attention.

I recommend it to every UXer. I strongly believe that becoming knowledgeable about these theories in context and then putting them into practice for screen or service design can result in a better fit for your customers while saving you a lot of time and energy.

Human Attention Distractions

10 psychological facts about human attention

Our mobile devices come with their data connection and endless possibilities available 24/7. This makes it ever more difficult to concentrate on a meeting. Or to wait for your order in a restaurant. Or to watch a movie on TV.

Teachers take away mobile phones in class. We UXers cannot and should not do that. When we want the user to interact and focus on our app, we can’t remove their moms talking to them or turn off the Netflix playing in the background.

Rather, we should design products with this context in mind and optimize tasks, user flows and the interface design for our users’ hypothetical level and type of attention.

In this section, I’ll introduce you to 10 psychological facts about human attention to keep in mind when designing digital products.

1. Attention comes in different types.

Human Attention Table

Let me explain about the different types of attention. What makes this important? You have to think about the context your product will be used in.

Can people really concentrate and pay attention to your product? It depends on the type of attention needed in the specific context.

1. Sustained Attention

Human Attention McDonalds

Let’s consider a kiosk which customers place their orders with in a fast food restaurant. Imagine yourself in this situation. OK, this busy place has lots of noise and other stimuli, but also consider the social aspect.

People are waiting in line behind you; you want to eat and so do they. They would likely get angry if you lost focus, wandered around and took more time than necessary to complete the task everyone is waiting to do.

Most people in this situation would like to avoid confrontation, so they probably won’t pull their phones out to check their Instagram feed while placing the order. The design of these kiosk programs purposely makes the flow easy, simple, straightforward and fast. They don’t steer attention away with unnecessary newsletter signup popups.

2. Divided attention

Human Attention Driving

Now let’s explore another scenario on the other end of the spectrum. Imagine you’re using a navigation app.

In this context, the focus of your attention can determine life and death. You can’t constantly stare at the screen – sometimes you have a split second to look at the navigation. That gives you long enough to see whether to go left or right, but your focus needs to stay on the road.

Because you can’t look at the screen, you pay attention to what the navigation tells you. It might even prompt you to look at the screen quickly to double-check that you are taking the correct exit while still focusing on the technicalities of driving: putting your indicator on, steering the wheel to slightly turn left and switching to a lower gear.

2. Not much differentiates us from a goldfish.

Your mind has wandered off by now… Did a Slack message pop up? Or did you remember something you wanted to check? Did you just smell freshly brewed coffee and steer away? Anyhow, if you are still keeping up with me or focused on reading this, give yourself a pat on the back! These days, this might qualify you as extraordinary. Even superior to a goldfish… Wait, what?

Human Attention goldfish

Time article titled, “You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish” didn’t exactly boost our self-confidence about our cognitive capacities. It features a Microsoft study that found that our attention span had dropped from twelve seconds in 2000 to eight in 2009. A fun fact for comparison: A goldfish goes nine.

Should we just accept this depressing data and deal with the fact that we have to live and do our best with this ridiculously short amount of time for which we can focus on one thing?

3. Our attention might be shrinking … or evolving.

Despite the outcome of this research, many specialists doubt that our attention span is shrinking. Many argue that our attention span is not decreasing, but the way we pay attention is. Some would say that because of the mobile age, our ability to multitask has improved.

Others very firmly dispute this and say no such thing as multitasking exists. We can switch to another area to focus on or shift our attention. We can’t purposefully and actively pay attention to multiple things at the same time and process that information.

Human Attention Multitasking

Those who say that our attention spans are not shrinking believe we merely react to technological advances and our overstimulated environment. We do that by evolving and developing better selective attentional processes. We learned to tune out things better and shift more quickly.

Another important argument measures up against the catchy but inaccurate “goldfish example”. It says the span of attention depends greatly on personal characteristics, but even more so on context.

Your products’ target audience most likely will have both the extremes. Some want bite-sized content and usually disengage with content in a matter of seconds. Others instantly look for substantial content backed up by a lot of detailed information with reliable sources and statistics.

Most people fall somewhere in between. Only continuous research will tell you how your audience interacts with your product in its context of use.

4. Content helps capture attention.

The Hungarian presentation platform Prezi released their 2018 State of Attention report. It found that for all generations, the key for engaging content lies in providing a compelling narrative and stimulating, animated visuals.

Human Attention Prezi Attention

People participating in the survey reported improved focus over time in spite of all the distractions around them. Another important finding relates to multitasking or multi-device usage: “52% of responders admitted that splitting their attention across two or more pieces of content has caused them to watch, read or listen to something multiple times”.

Also, we constantly need to improve our ability to focus in order to retain information and get things done quickly and effectively. Out of more than 2000 respondents, 49% said they’d become more selective about the content they consume.

5. Attention-related differences have arisen between generations.

Besides the overall numbers, generations differ noticeably. Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials, who in some situations have to work side by side, develop very different patterns when it comes to attention.

The study showed that Millennials generally shift their attention away, multitask and lose focus more often than Boomers and Gen-Xers. However, they also felt subjectively that they could concentrate and focus more effectively and for a longer time.

That said, we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the opportunity there. Millennials expect and enjoy a great story or a theme, as well as visuals representing and backing up the information. One-third reported they only engage with content if it has a great story, as it keeps them interested.

6. Attention and memory go hand in hand.

When it comes to information-processing, a lot goes on in our brain until we actually get to the point of making sense of the information presented to us.

Our working memory plays a big role in what we can process and the amount of information we can manipulate. But before all that, we need to divert our attention to the stimuli for us to perceive the sensory information – whether auditory, visual or even olfactory.

To sum up, attention links closely with short-term memory and working memory. The ability to manipulate information we work with makes up a mutual effort between focusing our attention onto something and also keeping those units of information in our working memory.

Human Attention Working Memory

7. The brain: A biological machine with the best compression algorithm.

Many researchers set out to measure and learn about the human information processing capacity to learn how our nervous system transmits and decodes messages.

Shockingly, they found that even though 11 million bits of information come through our sensory system every second, at maximum capacity we can only process 50 when performing conscious activities such as reading or playing the piano.

This huge discrepancy between the portion of transmitted and processed information does not mean that more than 99% of the information just goes missing. This involves powerful compression. How does that happen? How can we compress all this information in such a short time?

First, note that we don’t have to make a conscious effort to process information and do this compression. It happens unconsciously, automatically. Second, a half-second delay occurs between the processing and the compression. Thanks to the multitude of connections between our 100 billion brain cells, that gives us just enough time to make that powerful compression happen. Amazing, right?

Human Attention Scan

8. The Cocktail-Party Effect

We spend so much time online that we begin to safely assume we’ve developed new ways and techniques to filter out the irrelevant. We face countless marketing messages a day, personalized advertisements target us non-stop, and fresh new content bombards us every second.

Saw something mildly interesting in your feed? Too late. You switched apps because it couldn’t keep your attention. Or you didn’t have time to read that article at that time. Next time you open it, the feed refreshes. Good luck finding your post. The bottom line: No one has it easy. Not the user, the provider, nor product or content creator.

That said, we do have an amazing innate capability to tune things out and focus on what we consider important at that moment. The famous psychological phenomenon of the “cocktail-party effect” backs this up.

Human Attention

Usually, people at a party tune out the background noise and perceive it as a murmur in order to concentrate on their conversation partner. If they wish to, however, they can eavesdrop on other people’s conversations. But at that point they are not paying attention to their conversation partner anymore.

This proves that humans can only focus on one stream of attention and can’t divide it, at least when it comes to understanding speech. You can have a dim awareness of the music playing in the background or the approximate number of people around but still you can only perceive and pay attention to one stream on the level of assigning meaning.

9. Inattentional blindness: We don’t see everything in digital products.

So you have carefully crafted the design and the user experience of your mobile app or website. You didn’t want to burden and overstimulate users. Also, your business model didn’t even require ads. Uninterrupted flow, clean, simple, flat design – everything to think that your users will easily complete their task efficiently and without interruption.

But unfortunately, it doesn’t work that simply. Putting something on the small or large screen doesn’t mean they will process everything that has been going on in there.

Like with reading, even though we focus our eyes and attention on a small amount of space with only two bits of information per letter, we cannot process, notice and interpret all the written content on that page in a matter of seconds.

We typically don’t process the information from areas and functions on the screen that fall outside our attention.

Human Attention Hotjar

10. Netflix and cooking go well together for balancing cognitive load.

I think we all have examples like that from our daily life. Most days, we face the challenge of finding the things we direct our limited and valuable attention to. Sometimes all the talking, visual cues and messages overstimulate us. In those situations, we learn to tune out many things and do some of our recurring tasks completely automatically.

Some of the inputs go together well enough. To mention a personal example, I can listen to music while reading or working or watch a series while cooking. I can’t however look at the screen of my tablet to check the recipe and do some precision work with my carrots in the meantime.

Two conscious processes with a considerable amount of cognitive load don’t go well together. Essentially, you cannot multitask two demanding tasks.

Designing for attention

Think about how the time we spend daily on the internet increases every year. Even though more and more stimuli surrounds us, with technologies taking a bigger part of our lives in general, our attentional capacity is not changing

From an evolutionary perspective, it could take centuries before neural pathways in the brain change significantly.

So we have to design for what people can do cognitively. We have to accept and take into account when designing digital products that human attention has its limits as a resource. Our ability to pay attention for a number of seconds is not changing.

Our actual activity is.

Profit-focused vs. user-centered design

The way we pay attention and how quickly we switch from one source to the other has a big effect on professions like marketers and UXers.

As one way to get their attention, we can simply force content and products on users with pop-ups, push notifications and sounds. With another, we empathize with them and alleviate the stress of over-stimulation at least inside our product, service or webpage.

This presents a great challenge: You want your business to strive, so you’d have to get your product in front of the user. But you also want them to have a delightful experience.

Human Attention Cat Pictures

Designing for limited attention

UX designers have the responsibility for exactly what happens to the user inside of a product, how they comply with the human psychological bottlenecks, and how to align their product design with it.

We don’t want to take their attention away from more important things, and we don’t want to rob them of their attention. We just want to alleviate the cognitive load by requiring exactly that amount of attention required in that context to accomplish their goals. So, what can we as designers do?

I’m not going to tell you how to grab user attention. I’d argue that we can’t do it ethically. First, really understand how your users feel in the various contexts of using your product and service and design for that specific situation.

That said, some basic principles can help you not make your user think more than they should. People don’t like when they have to do more things or contemplate more than necessary.

1. Remember: The dial-up internet era has ended

Back in the day, we had to plan carefully what pages we wanted to visit and for how long. We had to “call in” to connect to the World Wide Web, and it had its limits.

Human Attention Slow Internet

Nowadays, most people don’t live with these limitations thanks to wifi and unlimited data plans. Because our habits have changed, how we interact with our devices has too.

We have to keep some changes in mind. We no longer have barriers and limitations like in the time of dial-up. So in creating your design, we have to remember that the user can go away and switch tabs in a browser or apps on their phone anytime in milliseconds.

2. Provide your users with only what they need

Clearly, state what pain your product solves so you know their desired outcome precisely. But how do we find that out? With research, of course.

You need to gather data on users from the most channels and methods possible: usability tests, user interviews, surveys, observations, heatmaps, recordings, AB tests, click tests and so on. Read about the UX research methods our design studio uses most here.

When you have found out users’ desired outcomes and identified their focus, you can highlight the information they need to accomplish the task at hand. Then weed out the distractions from the flow and the interface design.

Human Attention Website has a lot going on in a single page, it is hard to focus on our task during the booking process

3. Find out your users’ goal – if they have one

Our goals direct our attention. That means that if we have a clear goal at hand, we will direct our attention towards those signals in the environment we find essential to move towards our goal. We tune out the rest like noise and consider it a frustrating distraction. We call this functioning task-positive.

Human Attention Navigation
When we are focusing on driving, an advertisement on a navigation app can be frustrating and distracting

However, if we don’t have a clear goal, we don’t know exactly what to ignore and what to focus on. These situations make us receptive to anything that comes our way, except when it requires a lot of our cognitive capacity, conscious effort and concentration. The latter “mind-wandering mode” supports a broader, non-linear processing of the information around us – in other words, a task-negative mode.

Human Attention Apps
Even though there is a lot of visual content on a Pinterest dashboard, the task-negative mode of browsing pictures requires less concentration

4. Vary the types of content

Spice up long texts with images, GIFs, or videos – an app or a website or a presentation. No one wants to read long texts with no visual relief. We have books for that.

Also, a clear visual hierarchy makes the content easily scannable and comprehensible. For the visual hierarchy and the content you present, use very well-crafted and thought-out words. You can achieve it with UX writing and microcopy.

Human Attention Fashion Site
A clear visual hierarchy makes the content easily scannable and hints to the next step

We know that people tend to willingly keep their attention on something they find more exciting. Scientific evidence shows that a page full of relevant visuals – images, infographics, catchy videos – provides much more excitement than a full body of text.

It has also shown that executives who don’t have the time or drive to read through corporate websites will much more likely dedicate time when presented a video. One with captivating, informative visuals that convey all the information but not more than needed at a certain time can make all the difference.

5. Pare it down

Give your users the minimum information they need to process. Even if you initially think you need a certain amount of text, minimize it. Remove words and even sentences.  

Human Attention UI
Forms on Typeform let you focus on one question at a time

Removing the clutter also helps you achieve that pared-down effect in your interface design. Provide that breath of fresh air for your user between all those crammed-in products and other stimuli from the environment fighting for their attention.

6. Reduce users’ cognitive load – Use patterns

People already have a hard time determining where to direct their attention. Sometimes they struggle with unintentionally steering away because of all the distractions.

We UXers have to take it easy on them! Minimize the cognitive load for users while they interact with your product.

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Rely on patterns, users’ already existing mental models, and design principles. Apply Gestalt principles, use on well-known UI patterns, and go for that intuitive design!

Louder user attention
Don’t waste time and effort trying to do something that has been already done well

But beware! Before you test it with real users, you can only assume they’ll find your interface intuitive. So make sure you see how it resonates with users and ask about their subjective experience.

7. Use observation and exploratory research

Without experience research, you can’t know if you have nailed the previous steps.

For measuring attention, don’t ask your users in a survey or make them think out loud in a usability test setting. Instead, conduct exploratory research and observe people in the natural context in which they will use your product.

Although no one has clearly laid out the methodology yet, lightweight EEG headsets like Emotiv can help capture attention levels amongst many other useful variables. Users wear the headsets while they perform tasks on a digital product and we get clear data on their attention level and cognitive load from brainwaves.

Human Attention Emotiv
EEG headsets can help capture attention levels with contextual human brain research. Source: Emotiv

8. Always keep ethical concerns in mind

We can’t consider the topic of the intersection of human attention and design without taking a look at it from an ethical aspect. Many people say that tech giants today aren’t trying to sell to us anymore. The roles have changed, as we get sold and our data and digital profile has become that product.

Human Attention Stats
Google started a series of features on Android Pie to support ‘Digital Wellbeing’

I think many of us can’t help but notice this as emails, pop-ups, push notifications and nudges constantly bombard us. Keeping business goals in mind, we still have to put the user first. Not robbing them of their attention span by overloading them unnecessarily makes up part of that. If you want to read more about how to produce successful but ethical designs, check out this article by my designer colleague Attila.

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UX Roadmap: How To Plan Your Product Design Activities?

A good product roadmap is a very simple list of high-level goals you want to achieve in the next 3-6 months. This UX roadmap will guide your team (and everyone else) in the right direction. You also need to plan the next steps you take, which means planning the design sprints. Last, but not least, you have to define how designers and developers will work together. In this article, I will share how to do all these things.

A young product manager pulled me aside with huge excitement in his voice. He proudly showed me what he did the day before: a detailed product roadmap. It was a sophisticated Excel sheet, with every big issue highlighted with different colors, and the design and development of different features planned with precise dates.

I saw the joy on his face while he opened different sections and drilled down into specific details. And it just saddened me. How will I tell this enthusiastic guy, who just tried to do his best, that his roadmap is worthless?

This poor guy basically did everything you should NOT do with a product roadmap.

The inconvenient truth about creating a UX roadmap

There is an inconvenient truth about roadmaps that many people fail to understand. These detailed plans never survive the test of reality. When the first obstacle arises, they fall apart.

You can easily recognize it when participants start blaming each other regarding deadlines, and what was a dream project before, suddenly becomes hell.

So it’s better not to set exact deadlines. Remember, in agile the only things that have exact delivery dates are the things in your current sprint. Everything else is just an estimation.

Listing-specific features in a roadmap also don’t make sense. You can decide what business or user needs will be solved in what order, but in many cases, you don’t know what features will be affected in this early stage.

If your goal is to raise the conversion rate, for example, it can affect many parts of the product. Remember, our goal is not to deliver certain features in time. Our goal is to create a product that satisfies real user needs. And it is not always as simple as coding a few features in time.

So be careful if you meet a product roadmap with the following warning signs.

5 signs of a bad roadmap

  • It has specific features in it
  • Everything has an exact deadline
  • It is a complex plan, with many details
  • It looks like a Gantt chart
  • Certain features are designed and developed at the same time.

How does a good product roadmap look like?

A good product roadmap is made up of themes. A theme is a high-level goal we want to achieve. It can be a business goal, like increasing certain numbers. It can be an engineering goal, like terminating tech debt.

And, of course, it can be a user-centered goal, like solving a pain we have recently discovered or designed a new user onboarding flow to the app.

UX Roadmap Themes
A UX and product roadmap with themes.

In the roadmap, we prioritize these themes. Instead of adding strict deadlines we put down the order of the themes. It tells the story of how we go from the current state to the product we are dreaming of.

The roadmap is a high-level, strategic document. It should be very simple, with just a few themes in it in the right order. And that’s all. If done right, the roadmap can be used to communicate our product and UX strategy easily.

A roadmap is not a static thing. It has to be reviewed every 2-6 months, depending on the industry and product you work with. Roman Pichler has a nice graph about that. I recommend updating your roadmap together with your team on a ux strategy workshop.

UX Roadmap Planning

As you can see, the roadmap is a product-related thing. There is no such thing as a UX roadmap. The roadmap lays down the direction the whole team goes. And we plan certain design or development tasks only for the next sprint. But this planning is not easy either.

Difficulties of planning the design phase

Design takes place in the early phase when everything changes fast. So design is difficult to predict. As we go through the process and get closer to the pixel-perfect UI design, it becomes easier to estimate the time needed for certain design tasks.

Let’s say we design an email marketing software. We have done some interviews lately, and it turned out that one of the most important pain point of marketers is presenting marketing results to stakeholders. In this super-early phase, we don’t know how we will solve this problem.

The solution can be either just a small new feature in the statistics module, or we might have to redesign the whole stats thing from scratch, or even create a new standalone product to solve this pain. It is nearly impossible to estimate the time we need for the design and development at this point.

After making and testing some prototypes and deciding how to solve this need, we can decide on the features the solution will need. When we have a feature list, we can estimate the time needed for design and coding, but it will be inaccurate, for sure. During the design phase, we will iterate on wireframes and user tests to find and solve usability issues, and we never know how many rounds we will need.

After we got the wireframes ready, and we agreed on the look and feel, we are able to estimate the time needed for the detailed UI design quite easily.

So the big question here: how to handle all these uncertainties and how to plan the design activities?

The solution: organize risky tasks into a simultaneous track

To solve the uncertainties of the early-phase design tasks we can organize them into a separate “track”, where product discovery progresses simultaneously with the design and development of the more mature features.

Some companies have dedicated discovery teams, others have dedicated time for these tasks. This highly depends on UX team structure.

After the discovery is ready (so we have a validated feature list that solves a user pain), we can pass the issue to designers and developers who will then create and publish the new features. We call these two discovery and delivery tracks.

UX Roadmap Dual Track Agile

The discovery phase is basically done by UX researchers and designers. They collect user pain points by doing discovery methods like interviewing and validating solution ideas with landing pages, fake door tests or testing prototypes.

The delivery part is done by designers, researchers and developers. In the delivery phase designers design low-fidelity wireframes first, test and iterate on it to eliminate usability issues, then do the detailed design and pass it to the devs who build them.

This dual-track system makes sure we can act on user needs fast, as we do product discovery continuously. The discovery team just passes validated, reasonably well-defined features to the delivery team, so the delivery team’s work is relatively predictable. They can have a good plan for the next few sprints.

UX Roadmap Dual Track Backlog
Backlogs and roadmap in dual-track agile

Questions to uncover hidden design tasks

When the vague part of product discovery is done, and you think you just have to design the interface of the features, well, it can still be full of surprises. To avoid these, try to answer the list of questions below before you plan your next sprint.

  • Will the new features affect the settings or the admin part?
  • Do you need a user profile, or will the new features have any effect on the profiles?
  • Will you need empty states?
  • Will there be a dashboard?
  • Do you need unique icons or a logo?
  • Do you have to experiment with the general look&feel of the product, or will you just follow the existing brand’s look?
  • What platforms will you design to? Mobile? Desktop? Native or web?
  • Do you know all the steps of all the flows? Can there be a hidden step or a branching somewhere?
  • Look for listing-details-editor triplets. If a piece of content has its own page, there will probably be a list and an editor too.
  • Do you need any animations?
  • Are there any screens with heavy use of interactions (panels opening and closing, drag and drop, etc.)?

Another important learning I always highlight is that you can not code and design the same feature at the same time. Believe me, we have tried it and it always ends up in chaos. Give developers features to build, when the design is ready.

Designers and developers should also agree beforehand in what format they will hand over the design documents. The handover shouldn’t be just an email, they should sit down and go through the flows to make sure everyone understands everything. And when something is developed, designers should check it whether it works as it should.

The 4 things you need for a UX roadmap

To sum it up, here are the things you will need for your UX roadmap:

  • Do product discovery continuously and simultaneously with other activities to uncover people’s pains and needs.
  • Hold a strategy workshop every 2-6 months where you collect and prioritize the pains you want to solve.
  • The result of the strategy workshop should be a simple, high-level roadmap with themes.
  • Give designers the time they need to iterate on prototypes. When you plan sprints for developers only count with the functions that are over the wireframing and testing phase, therefore you can easily estimate the UI design and dev time needed.

I’m sure many of you thought it would be easier to put together a UX roadmap. With this article, we hope that you will be able to put together a UX design project roadmap template for yourself, which you will be able to come back to each time you get stuck.

It probably is really easier to create a good old waterfall project plan. But this method with the strategy workshops and the discovery part will create a process that can generate business value continuously in the long run.

And what is your experience with roadmaps and UX? Please leave a quick comment and share it with us.

Take the next step to improve your website’s UX

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Planning a design OR a research project soon? Get in touch with UX studio and find out how we can help you conduct usability research and create a powerful UI that will appeal to your target audience.

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Product Design Process: Steps To Designing A Product People Will Love

UX professionals can choose from a myriad of methods when it comes to the product design process and development. This article will give an overview of the product design steps and UX frameworks we consider to be essential. We’ll also provide a toolbox you can pick ideas from when designing a Minimum Viable Product, the first version of a product with just enough features to create value and provide feedback for future development.

The ideal product design process can vary depending on different factors, such as the UX project scope, the size of a company, budget, or deadlines — just to mention a few. In a good design process, the business requirements meet the user needs, which are satisfied within the feasible technical possibilities. Even UX studio’s product designers don’t have just one crystal clear guide for design processes. 

Our UX designers often get together and share the experience and knowledge acquired from different UX projects we do for our clients. This helps us improve our design processes effectively, to meet the requirements and demands of the market. This is not only useful for a UX professional’s continuous development but also helps in designing a product that serves a client’s business needs the most. 

During the product design process, we encourage an agile style of work, working in design sprints, but we are flexible if needed. If you need help with product design, reach out to us, and let’s discuss how we can help you.

Steps of a user-centered product design process

We utilize the Double Diamond product design process with four phases: Discover, Define, Develop, and Deliver. The product design process starts with the product discovery phase. We do not define anything yet; our UX designers and researchers look into the problem space, pinpoint the problems that should be solved, and determine a direction for the next product design process steps based on their insights.

The second part of the diamond — Develop and Deliver — is mainly based on the product discovery findings. However, this is not a linear process. The Discover and Develop tracks can run simultaneously and support and feed into one another at regular intervals.

the double diamond product design process

The Double Diamond product design process model

Based on the Double Diamond model, we follow four steps during the product design process in a flexible, non-linear way. In the next section, we will look into these steps in more detail:

  • Step 1: Product discovery
  • Step 2: Narrow down – Define
  • Step 4: Brainstorming solutions, defining and prioritizing features
  • Step 5: Narrow down – Deliver

Step 1: Product discovery

What problem we want to solve and for whom

Product discovery is the first phase of every human-centered product design process. Its purpose is to base the digital product idea on actual demand. While UX research is an essential part of this step, let’s not forget that carrying out research is not only important at the beginning of the product designing process but at any given product design phase. 

Whenever there are too many open questions and uncertainties, different UX research methods can provide solutions and validate ideas, which, in the long run, will help to avoid burning money and waste time. UX professionals reach out to both the stakeholders and the users to explore the problem and opportunity space and find the fundamental pain points that need solutions.

In this section, we’ll look into two product discovery activities our UX professionals frequently use at UX studio:

  • Kick-off workshop
  • Exploratory research and user research 

Market research findings are also important. At UX studio, we concentrate on UX research but if you’re curious about the differences between user and market research, check out our article on this topic.

Kick-off workshops

Meet your client, understand the current state of the project and the additional knowledge needed. Kick-off workshops are great for acquiring domain knowledge in a topic and get acquainted with the stakeholders. 

To create the first draft of our roadmap, we start every product design process with a kick-off workshop that usually takes about one to two days. At this time, we get to know the company, its processes, and roles and gather all information we can about the project. 

If our client already has some quantitative and qualitative data — about the market, client segmentation, competitors, target group, or buyer personas — we go through them, make a common understanding of the objectives and facts, and build assumptions and hypotheses. 

The best way is to involve the widest variety of expertise we can and get as many insights from different company stakeholders as possible. It’s important to understand previous solutions and key business objectives such as KPIs or success criteria.

Kick-off workshop techniques we frequently use:

At this point, most of the workshop deliverables are assumptive, and that’s fine because we’re going to research what we need to validate or change.

  • Assumption matrix
    We collect the stakeholders’ insights on different topics, find the most important ones, and high-risk “leap of faith assumptions” so we can validate these with research and find out if they’re real.
  • Persona workshop
    Assumptive personas are our best guesses on who will use the product and why. It helps us to recruit for interviews and for the client to empathize with their future users.
  • Customer journey workshop
    These workshops help us get a view of how people navigate through the product or service. It is also an excellent opportunity for knowledge sharing with our clients.
  • Value Proposition workshop
    We map out the perception of the value of the product identified by users.  We also validate assumptions and thus Value Proposition for each customer segment. This provides vision and guides the design.
  • Brand Vision, Mission, and Values
    The best way to reveal the vision is by asking the brand’s key personnel why it was created. For every answer they provide, we ask them to explain the why. After a few rounds of back-and-forths, we get to the heart of the matter. At the end of the kick-off workshops, we should have a clear overview of what we don’t know but should do so we can create a research plan to kickstart our discovery.

At the end of the kick-off workshops, we should have a clear overview of what we don’t know enough about but should do, so we can create a research plan to kickstart our discovery. If you’d like to learn more about how to organize a kick-off workshop, check out this article.


There are various research methods out there. The simplest method that requires the least experience and professional knowledge is desk research. It is available for anyone with a computer with internet access, an account for social platforms, and some time to dig up the pain points of online communities and find opinions and reviews shared in social platforms, forums, mailing lists, or blog comments. Diary study can also be useful in some cases. If you want to gather data on a larger scale, you can use online surveys — preferably with a mixture of open-ended and closed questions — that can be used with qualitative insights from other methods.

Research methods we frequently use: 

In the discovery phase of a product design process, we don’t aim to evaluate possible solutions yet as that comes later with usability tests. Still, we may already have assumptions to validate, and we certainly need to have a well-defined topic and a target group that is interested in our topic. At the same time, it’s crucial to keep an open mind to be able to discover entirely new aspects and problems of our audience.

  • Semi-structured user interview 
    We use this method most frequently in the discovery phase of the product design process, as it’s relatively easy to organize and provides great insights. Starting with ten to fifteen interviews, usually provide enough understanding to move forward. We try to recruit interviewees from each segment or target group we defined earlier and involve the stakeholders in writing the interview script. Our researchers evaluate the previous results before each interview and iterate the questions to get the most useful answers from the remaining interviews. If necessary and our collaboration has the resources, we do follow-up interviews to dig deeper into sub-topics.
  • Competitive research 
    It is very likely that by this point of the product design process, the product team already gathered the main direct and indirect competitors from stakeholder meetings and user interviews. More knowledge about successful competitors can aid us with feature ideas or design inspirations and can help us to position our client’s product. Even if there is no in-depth competitive research, we should at least maintain a competitor list in a collaborative spreadsheet or any cloud-based tool.
  • Field research 
    Field research is an extremely reliable method as it is based on observing user behavior in their environment. But for this very reason, it’s harder to organize and conduct without influencing the users’ behavior and interfering with the natural way of executing their daily tasks.

Step 2: Narrow down – Define

This step of the product design process involves making sense of the data, synthesizing them, choosing one main goal to solve, and figuring out the “How” and the “What.” 

By the end of the discovery phase, we are likely to have enough insight to synthesize our findings, refine our previous assumptive deliverables or create new ones by user analysis, define the core problem we want to solve, build themes, and deduce potential fields of action.

From the many possible synthesizing activities, we’ll look into three methods — the ones we use the most at UX studio — in more detail:

  • User personas
  • Jobs-to-be-done
  • How might we

These exercises can be used at various points of the product design process; at the beginning, in an assumptive way, it can help with synthesizing the research data and define the project scope, but it can also be applied when ideating about solutions. The when and how depends on the team, project, and available insights.

User Personas

User presonas are fictional yet realistic representatives or archetypes of our key user groups with certain goals and characteristics. We use personas to help us understand and map out the main segments of our users, with their different goals and motivations. We can also use them to help us empathize with them in order to design a product that is the most suitable for the users.

At UX Studio, we create assumptive, theoretical persona mock-ups at kick-off meetings. If provided, we can use already existing research data, such as survey results, built buyer personas, or other related market research findings, to start off with, but at this point in the product design process, our personas should be validated and based on real user research data. 

There are many contradictory opinions out there about whether it’s good to give names and faces to personas, if demographic data is relevant, if it needs to be printed, if it should include an empathy map, and so on.

How we create personas:

  • We would rarely need to go above three to five personas, but the number depends on the project scope and product type; the broader the target audience, the more persona you may need. However, it’s better to iterate on categorization to avoid having too many personas as it can jeopardize the design process in the long term. It’s pretty hard to design for too many people with different sets of characteristics.
  • We don’t spend hours and days creating stylish persona posters to hang them on the wall because we know they’ll change and get refined, so there is no point in wasting hours on this during the process.
We love how these stylish persona artifacts look, but they become pretty useless, pretty fast, when new findings force them to evolve.
  • Our persona sheets include goals, motivations, frustrations, behavior patterns, background, and context-specific details (details relevant based on the project, e.g., which mobile platform they use). We also add a profile image, name, some personal details, and demographic data to help with building more empathy and make them easier to remember.
We use a great online collaborative tool, Miro to create, share, and update our digital personas.

There are plenty of methods for synthesizing information, but we only dig deeper into the ones we use most frequently. You can find our downloadable persona template here.

Jobs to be done (JTBD)

JTBD is another framework we can use to find out more about the users’ needs and preferences. It is compatible with user personas, so we often use them together.

The personas focus more on the users’ behavior and attitude, thus help with empathizing and segmenting the different types of users, while JTBD places a more significant emphasis on features and aims to discover the reason why people choose a product in order to solve a specific problem and fulfill a need.

Jobs to be done structure

A famous JTBD example is connected to the milkshakes in McDonald’s. When the company wanted to increase the profit on their milkshakes, they first started interviews with representatives of persona groups, the customer types they knew to be the main milkshake consumers.

The researchers tested the temperature, the viscosity, and the sweetness of the milkshakes with this group, but they couldn’t find out how to improve the product. So they tried another approach.

They started observing and interviewing consumers on-site in McDonald’s restaurants. It turned out that people bought milkshakes mainly to keep them full till lunch and entertain them for the whole journey of driving to work. As a result, McDonald’s made the shake thicker in order to last longer while commuting.

They also moved the milkshake machine from behind the counter to the front, where the customers could easily and rapidly buy a milkshake with a prepaid card when rushing to work and avoid queues. Solving the real job to be done resulted in a sevenfold increase in the sales of the milkshake.

The HMW exercise is a great way to narrow down problems and discover possible opportunity areas. 

We are not looking for exact solutions here yet, but rather brainstorm, explore questionable areas of core challenges while keeping an open mind for innovative thinking. For this to work, first, we need a clear vision or goal, a Point of View statement based on a deeper user need discovery. The POV should be human-centered, neither too narrow, to sustain creative freedom when brainstorming, nor too broad, so it remains manageable. 

For defining the POV statement, personas and JTBDs we made earlier in the design process come in handy. By synthesizing the essential needs to fulfill, we make a template to create a statement.

In short:  [User . . . (descriptive)] needs [Need . . . (verb)] because [Insight . . . (compelling)]

Once we have the POV statement, we are ready to form short questions that can launch brainstorming on actionable ideas. For example:

  • How might we…? 
    What’s stopping us from…?
    In what ways could we…?
    What would happen if…? 

Then we may ask follow-up questions on the previous questions to examine the angles a bit deeper. By completing HMW sessions, we can get one step closer to forming ideas about exact solutions and executing the best ones.

By this point, we should have a condensed brief of research findings, a strategy, and a clear idea about what problem we want to solve.

At this stage of the product design process we’re far from creating high-fidelity prototypes and design systems, but it’s important to set a couple of broad, basic directions to have a general idea of where we’re heading and keep nurturing the creative imagination as we progress in the design process. Creating moodboards or a brand wheel can be a useful way to summarize our findings and have a point of reference during the next steps.

Moodboard and Brand wheel

Depending on how many designers are working on a project, we can share the workload and either work on the same design or split up the tasks and progress simultaneously (e.g., one does the prototyping and the other building the design system and hi-fi part).

Step 3: Brainstorm solutions, define and prioritize features

The techniques we mention here can be done or can at least be started way before this step; remember, this is not a linear process, and it is possible to use these techniques in a different order or at different times of the project timeline.

The ideation phase begins when we have a good understanding of the project goals, and we narrowed down what we want to solve first.

If there are still open questions about what features we should start with, the Kano model and the Impact-Effort Matrix can be helpful aids.

Impact-Effort Matrix – To fasten up decision-making about what to implement.

User journeys and customer journeys

User journeys and customer journeys are tools for mapping out the flows users go through when using a service or an application with one specific task to carry out. 

Customer journeys and experience maps encounter the online and offline aspects of the users’ flow, providing a more holistic view of the process. As the output, the customer journey diagram lays out a big table. The columns of the table represent different phases or steps a customer goes through. These can be unique in every project, but most customer journeys contain three phases: before, during, and after the usage of our product.

Opposed to customer journeys, user journeys analyze a smaller part of the journey, focusing only on what happens in the application, for example, during a sign-up process. At UX studio, we mainly use user journeys, but for longer projects with a bigger scope, especially if there is already existing user data about the customers and there is a journey that goes beyond application usage (e.g., arriving at the airport and using a ticket machine software), the customer journey is the preferred tool.

How we make user journeys: 

  • To start off, we determine the two or three most important goals the product should achieve. Every journey must have a task, motivation, and context.
  • It’s also good to include a simplified empathy map nested within the journey map, indicating what emotional reaction the user has at each step. These are good indicators for us on which points we should handle with extra care or improve. These emotions can be assumptive but can also be based on solid data we gathered from our product discovery and research before. 
  • Creating user journeys is still part of the experimental phase. We don’t stop with one idea but try out different paths, reorganize the steps, complete the ideas, and explore. 
  • We want to find many different versions for each journey, as sometimes there are great first ideas, but oftentimes these are not the best solutions. For this reason, we create at least three different journeys for each goal. Then, once we come up with several solutions, decide on the winner.

User stories

User story creation is a good way to define features with stakeholders. What we want to accomplish in the product, why, and as what kind of user. It helps us stay focused on what features are necessary to focus on during the upcoming product design phases and reminds us what could lead to a “feature creep.”

High-level example:

As a sales agent, I want to turn more leads into customers so I can increase my income.

And a more detailed version of the example above:

As a sales agent, I want to keep track of unprocessed hot leads so I can make sure I don’t miss out on an ‘easy’ deal.

We can create user stories in several ways and styles. If we work on it with developers, it may become more technical and scrum-oriented.

Building the IA, sketching and wireframing

Building an Information Architecture is basically creating the blueprint of our design structure, the foundation of our first wireframes. IA is formed by creating a hierarchy and categorization of the information we gathered during the product designing process that results in a coherent, meaningful, navigable system.

How we sort out the features, functions, and available data in our product will significantly impact the user experience. Our best intentions with features can vanish if users don’t find them. 

Card sorting is a great technique to validate our information architecture. We can do it on paper, but there are some online tools that can be very helpful too.

Example of card sorting


We can start sketching early in the product design process when the first problems gain their shapes. Sketching is great not only because it can serve as a base when building something, but it also helps understand a problem. It also makes sharing ideas within the team easier.

Sketching on paper, where complex interfaces and functions of the software don’t limit or distract us, is an effective and rapid way to explore ideas and spot any design problems early on. 

We don’t need to be skillful sketch artists or graphic designers who can draw and paint photo-realistically. The point here is not to create refined artifacts but to focus on ideas, flows, and possible layouts and use simple placeholder boxes for images and text. It’s about exploring execution ideas, so we don’t need to worry about the copy either at this phase. 

It’s very useful to showcase the first sketches and wireframes with developers and other team members early on in the process.  When we do so, they can share information on what is technically feasible and what is not, saving us from unnecessary rework.

Wireframe in Sketch

The output of sketching is a wireframe, which is basically the skeleton of our upcoming prototypes — a barebone, static structure that will soon evolve into a refined design. A blank paper and a pencil are all we need, but using mock-ups for guidance can be helpful. Wireframes can also be made on digital platforms, using tools such as Axure, Adobe XD, Sketch, Figma, or even Photoshop.

By this point, we have a clear concept of what we have to do to design a product successfully, our strategy, and how to prioritize. We defined our MVP, the core features, and the core problem we want to focus on solely.

Step 4: Narrow down – Deliver

Prototype, test, iterate, implement.

This product design phase is all about doing the right thing in the right way. Reaching our goal, refining our MVP, and implementing the solutions.

Low-fidelity Prototyping

Making our ideas tangible with quick prototypes and test them as soon as we can save a lot of time and resources. For the sake of definition, what we call a prototype here is a modest-looking clickable digital product that resembles the features we aim to develop but in a simplified way. 

Paper-based prototypes exist too, but we prefer the freedom and opportunities digital solutions can provide. The goal here is to find the usability issues before starting the detailed designs to avoid wasting time and doing unnecessary reworks.

Low-fidelity, interactive prototype for testing
How we build prototypes:
  • We mainly use Axure for interactive low-fi prototypes. With Axure, we can add dynamic elements, Javascript, or create databases. These are uniquely complex features in the world of prototyping tools.
  • There are always three essential questions the user should be able to answer on every screen we design: Where am I? What can I do here? How can I move forward?
  • Forget lorem ipsum and be scarce with dummy text. A sensible, contextual, guiding copy is just as important as visual hierarchy and affordances.
  • We follow UI patterns and keep best practices in mind.
  • We keep it simple. We’re testing the usability of layouts, key user flows, and navigation at this point. We don’t test refined visuals yet unless it’s not an MVP and we are testing already existing features in a live product.
  • We design for mobile first if the project allows.

We create the first prototypes as soon as we can and evaluate them for usability tests. Refining the prototype iteratively after every usability test until we’re confident that we ruled out every major usability risk is a must. Of course, later on, we continue usability testing before and during designing every new feature.

High-fidelity prototyping

Now that we have the base of a usable product, it’s time to add the visual attributes, colors, icons, shadows, and images and refine the look and feel. The product’s design language has to be in harmony with the target audience, and it should be aligned with the brand’s vision. When testing the high-fidelity prototypes, visual elements are also important, and they lead to creating a stable, harmonized design system that we can rely on. 

Quick tips for hi-fi prototypes:
  • Create and maintain a design system based on brand guidelines and vision. Design systems facilitate effective collaborative work, alleviate decision fatigue, and assist designers in keeping consistency throughout the product. Even if it’s an MVP, the goal is to scale up the product if everything goes right, so building a design system is inevitable at some point when managing a successful product design process. It’s better to start building it sooner rather than later. 
  • We mainly use Figma, Sketch, or Adobe XD at UX studio, however, the choice often depends on the preferences of our client’s team and the technical requirements. 
  • Some tools, like Figma, have a built-in collaborative feature, but Abstract also can be a great complementary software for version control and storing files in the cloud. We export our design files to Zeplin for the developers.
  • Ideating and prototyping should be an iterated process, such as continuous discovery with user research beyond MVPs.


Launching the minimum viable product doesn’t mean the job is done, and the product design process is over. Testing and designing should be an ongoing, iterative process. This is the key to improve the product and bring it to success.  

Follow along with the metrics. Get client feedback, use analytic tools and heatmaps, do A/B testing, and measure the success of our choices.  

This collection of ideas and steps we went through are not set in stone, simply an overview of available tools and methods we consider necessary to start off a product design process. The whole process becomes super iterative when working in a dynamic, agile environment. 

The main takeaways are to make the process user-centered, apply design thinking, and execute it as a non-linear, iterated process. Do user research whenever possible to design with the people, not just for them.

Searching for the right UX agency?

UX studio has successfully handled 250+ collaborations with clients worldwide. Is there anything we can do for you at this moment? Get in touch with us, and let’s discuss your current challenges. Our experts will be happy to assist with the UX strategy, product and user research, and UX/UI design.

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Color Psychology – Brilliant Helping Hand in UX Design

How does color psychology affect users’ attitudes and behaviour? There is a master trick, which can help to build a digital product which works more effectively. Psychological effects of color on our experience and decision-making matter, so let’s see how this affects the users and what sort of principles exist when designing experiences.

Color is an essential instrument in any designer’s tool stack. Studies covering color psychology and more specifically, psychological effects of color on human behavior show that it takes 90 seconds for a customer to form an opinion about a product and 90% of the time, this opinion is influenced by colors. In spite of the fact that color is usually viewed as only an aesthetic decision of the designers, it is a core element of the emotional and cognitive impact of a design on users.

Color is also the easiest element to remember when it comes to encountering new things. The concepts of color psychology can be applied in user experience design as well as marketing.

Color Psychology and Color-Emotion Associations

Research shows that light and color can affect our mood, sleep, heart rate, and even our well-being. An interesting example can be seen in our daily lives: blue and green light (e.g the nature and sky) encourage us to wake up in the morning. This is why many doctors and scientists recommend against using our mobile devices before going to bed as the screen’s light keeps us awake and can even cause insomnia.

Psychological effects of colors

Considering that there is a vast amount of possible color mixtures that can be created, it might be difficult to determine which one will have the greatest influence on a website or app. It would be too complex to examine everything, but there are a few tricks and related trends on how color affects users’ attitudes and behavior. 

A well-considered color palette can upgrade a design from good to great, while a mediocre or lousy color palette can lessen users’ overall experience and even intervene with their ability to use a site or app properly.

Colors can stimulate the emotions of many people. Check out the following color psychology figure below to see some of the impressions and themes traditionally associated with colors:

If you’d like to learn more about color meanings, and the psychology of color in advertising, check out Canva’s interactive tool on the meaning and symbolism of colors.

Color preferences

Depending on their age, gender, and the impulsivity of their actions, users have different reactions to colors and shades. Although color preferences are not universal, there are universal differences between genders’ preference in some colors over others. Also, color preferences can depend on the age. In the following sections, I will discuss color preferences depending on age, gender, and how they can be perceived differently in various cultures.


When marketing your business, it is necessary to know who your target audience is, in order to tailor your marketing efforts accordingly. When researching users and their demographics, age is an element that should be examined carefully. Your target audience’s age influences their perception of marketing materials, especially considering that color taste and preference varies based on age.

Psychological effects of color on human behavior

In the book Color Psychology and Color Therapy, Faber Birren investigates which colors are desirable for different age groups. Considering the color psychology of blue and red, he found that blue is consistently preferable throughout life. Yellow is preferred in childhood, which preference tends to decline as we age. As people mature they favor colors of shorter wavelength (blue, green, violet) rather than colors of longer wavelength (red, orange, yellow).

As the chart below shows, while most audiences like energetic and saturated colors, older people often think that garish bright colors are repulsive. So when designing a product or marketing material for older users, you should be cautious with bright colors — too vibrant can decrease the conversion.

Gender differences: Men vs Women

Is there a difference between genders with regard to their response to color? Although findings are ambiguous, various studies continue to indicate that men and women have varying preferences when it comes to masculine and feminine colors choices. Research on color perception indicates that men favor bright, contrasting colors, while women prefer softer shades. Both men and women like blue and green, but many women adore purple while this color repels men.

Psychological effects of colors

Cultural Differences in Color

Besides age and gender, one more factor that influences our color preferences is our cultural background. For instance, in most Western cultures, the color white is linked with aspiration, innocence, chastity, and hope. But in parts of Asia, white is associated with bad luck, death, and mourning.

It’s crucial for those involved with web and user experience design to look at the cultural connotations of the color palettes based on the relevant target audience for the website or product. For instance, designers can pay less attention to the implications the chosen palette may have in other cultures when the product is primarily targeting a particular culture. To prevent negative cultural connotations, for products that target a global audience, a balance between the colors and imagery is required.

The 60-30-10 rule

The 60-30-10 rule is a theory for making color palettes that are aesthetically pleasing and adequately balanced. The purpose is that one color, usually something rather neutral makes up 60% of the palette. An additional supplementary color makes up 30% of the palette. And then a third color is used as an accent for the rest 10% of the design.

Psychology of color in advertising

This approach makes it much simpler for designers to set up the trial and error with original or uncommon color palettes without going too much beyond the anticipated norms within a business brand or industry. Choosing a set of some uncommon hue can lift the aesthetics and design. Additionally, it can be the first move toward generating a brand palette that is much more progressive than the one of its competitors, thereby setting the brand apart, making it more distinguished and remarkable.

Color psychology & visual hierarchy for UX 

When it comes to setting a brand apart from others, the brand’s choice of color is a fundamental element that reinforces both its personality and the qualities of the products or services it offers. 

Also, one of the vital roles of color in the field of marketing, user experience, and behavioral design is using it to influence where people look. If users don’t look at your navigational system, your product won’t be usable. In digital psychology, one of the fundamental skills you need to master is the art of controlling where your users look. In most design work, we control user attention by increasing and decreasing the salience of visual design elements.

Impact of color on conversion rates

Okay, let’s delve into the exciting stuff, the psychology of colors in business and the colors that increase the purchase rate. In other words, the colors that sell. How can we use color theory and psychology to get people to click on a button? What colors are really going to boost the conversion rates and improve the bottom line?

There’s always been a debate between conversion rate optimization experts, arguing whether the color red is more eye-catching color for a button, or green because that means “go.” There are plenty of A/B test results that show how a change in the color of a CTA button made a drastic impact on signups. HubSpot shared the following famous test from their early days when they were known as Performable:

The psychology of color in marketing
Source: Hubspot Button Color Testing

Even though Hubspot initially estimated the green button would lead to a higher conversion rate and perform better, the red button outperformed by 21% more clicks. 

The bad news is that there isn’t a magical color that consistently performs best for all websites. However, there are some general rules that can help you use color to your advantage. Here at UXStudio, we work with clients to ensure that their products and services are designed with the target audience in mind, and therefore implementing color and design elements that lead to the highest conversion rate.

Questions for testing color choices

Here are a couple of test questions you can ask users when you’re testing out your color choices. Although, you are not going to ask about colors explicitly but you can figure out users’ perceptions of your brand and design with the following questions.

  • Before visiting (this website/app), please tell us how do you expect the site/app to look like?
  • How would you describe this site/app?
  • What are your first impressions? The first keywords that come to your mind when you see the web/app.
  • Where would you click/tap first? why?
  • On a scale of 1 (very unpleasant) to 5 (very pleasant), how did this site/app make you feel?
  • How likely or unlikely would you be to trust this company?
  • Can you think of any other companies that have very similar offerings? How would you compare this company to them?

All in all, trust your eyes

As a recap here is a short list to keep in mind for a well-colored digital product:

  • Color can affect on everyday behaviour as well as stimulate emotions in people, what is more, every single color has a special meaning. Before deciding the main colors of an app, checking a color palette will definitely help you to find the perfect matching tone with the right message.
  • There are universal differences between genders’ preference in some colors over others, additionally color preferences can depend on the age too. Take care of your target audience while choosing the perfect color for your digital product.
  • Color is just one thing, but people who will use your product are more important! Remember HubSpot’s Call To Action’s color test and the fact that there are no magic in the field of colors just a well defined target audience.
  • Use the given questions while testing your color choices!

Continue learning with UX Studio

As UX/UI Designers and Researchers we know why people will love your product and which techniques will help you to create fantastic websites/apps that people will love to use. For more read our other post: Designing Apps For Seniors: 5 Traits Worth Considering

For additional reading, check out our Product Design book by our CEO, David Pasztor. We ship worldwide!

Make sure to check out this great guide by Design Wizard on Color Theory. It explores primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors, and monochromatic colors. There is also a detailed section on the meaning of colors, and branding!

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The 10 Apps Your Shopify eCommerce Store Needs Today!

Have you just set up your Shopify e-commerce store? 

Do you plan to set up one? To know how a stellar shopify ecommerce store looks like, click here to see superlative ecommerce platforms built by us.

Then you’ll certainly face the challenge of finding the best ‘Apps’ for your Shopify store!


Want to create a Shopify ecommerce website for your online store, click here to start your project now!



What are the best Shopify apps and why do you need them?

Shopify apps are the driving force behind the e-commerce shop. Your e-commerce shop would struggle to work without them. They encourage you to show the details you want, perform your sales in a specific manner and also help you build your business! They are the instruments you need to ensure your business flourish wisely.

Why no other app but only the Best Ones?

Imagine setting up your home. What will you need? How will you divide it up into components? There will be a kitchen, bedrooms, a living room, dining room etc. How will you set these rooms up? You’ll certainly need furniture to make your house cozy, windows and doors to safeguard your home, home decor things like sculptures, etc. to make it look elegant and the list goes on. So here, furniture, doors and windows are the resources you need to set up your place. Similarly, these apps are also tools for you to set up your stellar e-commerce store. And if you don’t install the right ones, odds are you’ll have consequences later! So here is our pick of the top 10 Shopify apps you must have when you set up your Shopify store.


This app is for you, for someone who indulges in dropshipping. Oberlo offers you a way to directly add items to your e-commerce shop and sell them directly! Yeah, you’ve read that right. You will have the option to directly add items to your store and to promote and sell the product separately. Just add your dropship products from AliExpress and Oberlo Marketplace and eventually begin to sell. With Oberlo, you don’t have to think about packaging and delivery because Oberlo takes care of it for you!

Shiprocket India

Is shipping one of the most critical features of your business? You’ve got ShipRocket to solve all your transportation problems! Shiprocket is India’s leading supplier of e-commerce logistics and shipping solutions. By only registering with the site, you can ship your goods to over 27,000+ pin codes throughout India and over 220+ countries worldwide. And not regular shipping, shipping at discounted rates, and with 17+ courier partners! In addition, you will now be able to sync our marketplace with the panel and handle your order even more effectively! You can use Shiprocket for free or also upgrade to higher plans based on your requirement.


Sixads is a must-have app that helps Shopify traders to push high-quality traffic and make marketing simpler. This app is great for those trying to save time and money when running Google, Twitter, and Instagram ad campaigns. Sixads is an easy-to-use app that can help you get greater results from your marketing campaigns by super-targeted advertising ads across all major channels. Only pick the product you want to advertise, settle on a regular budget (at least $2) and start your campaign with a single click. You can also use the Sixads Ad Exchange Site to provide free higher-quality traffic.

Klaviyo: Marketing Automation

‘Welcome aboard my e-commerce store! Buy the best only from here!’ – If you’re looking to amp up your sales through such regular pop-ups and emails, Klaviyo is the tool for you! With Klaviyo, you can simply plan and deliver automatic cart abandonment emails, welcome emails and order follow-ups! Many of these are pre-built, too. You can also template your emails or select from a range of emails available on Klaviyo. Klaviyo will also give you space to segment your users and help you decide who gets what kind of interaction!

SEO Image Optimizer SEO

Did you know the world’s second most used search engine? It’s Google Images (Not technically a separate brand though). But it’s imperative that the items still rank high in Google Images.  After all, you’re going to use stunning pictures to market your products, and why shy when they can bring value to your web presence? With the SEO Optimizer software, you can effortlessly install the app, apply the ALT tags to your image once and continue on. The software will automatically develop them for you over time! It’s perfect for beginners who don’t really understand SEO but need help


Want to create a Shopify ecommerce website for your online store, click here to start your project now!

SEO Manager

SEO is a major factor in deciding the ranking of your store in search engines! SEO manager makes this task easier for you. Loaded with features like edit titles, ALT tag optimization, Google page speed integration, Google mobile-friendly test, 404 error logging and many other SEO features, you can make sure your store ranks well in the scanners of Google and other search engines! At a nominal price of $20, you avail great benefits for your store with this!

Privy  Exit Pop-Ups & More

Privy is your solution to easier marketing! A tool that is trusted by many e-commerce store owners, Privy offers you automated marketing tools like no other. If you’re concerned about reducing the number of exits on your page, you need to get your hands on Privy! With awesome conversion tools like exit-intent pop-ups, bulk coupon code incorporation, aim campaigns and many more ways to solve your needs! Privy gives you exclusive campaign designers, messaging capabilities and campaign stimuli to produce better results and make smart choices about your shop! Reviews

Criticism is evidence that you’re working, and peer reviews are proof that your store is selling! reviews give you access to the capture different types of customer reviews so that your shop can attract more revenue and expand! You can collect customer ratings and feedback in the form of emails, search reviews, video reviews, and a number of other forms to help the company stand out with ease.

BEST Currency converter

This little application can give your online sales a big boost!You will quickly earn brownie points for your shop by showing consumers from different countries the rates in their native currency! If you choose the option, the currency converter will run quietly in the background without the purchaser even knowing it. You can showcase up to 160+ currencies and convert prices to any device or theme! Currency prices are also revised twice a day. And you don’t ever have to think about the dollar’s rise and fall several times a day! Install this for easier currency conversion and to tap a larger audience across the world.

Whatsapp Share

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if your users can promote the product among their friends and acquaintances directly through your website? Now that is possible! Install this app to feature a Whatsapp share widget on your store so that your buyers can easily share your store with their friend’s circle! Choose from a variety of widget designs to display on your home screen and attract more visitors to your e-commerce store!

Product page Tabs

An organized web page is a treat to any user! With the product page tabs application, you can create tabs based on headings for your product description and organize your page like never before!

Optimize your product pages with a brand new interface and experience and make your store a great experience for your users too!

Using this application, you can customize your tab and provide them with an aesthetic feel to match your store. Play around to make your store more fun!

With these, your store is bound to get a facelift. Install these for a better experience with Shopify!

To build a stellar online Shopify ecommerce store, contact us with your requirements at [email protected]


Want to create a Shopify ecommerce website for your online store, click here to start your project now!



 We are certified Shopify experts and a leading website development agency based in Mumbai. We aim at providing a stellar website presence for your brand. We truly focus ourselves to our client’s success and value their business needs.

We are a seasoned team of thinkers and doers who will provide creative ideas, powerful insights, and strategic approaches to make your Shopify brand relevant to your customers.

We are located at: F-23, 1st Floor, Gate No 2, Profit Centre, Mahavir Nagar, Kandivali West, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400067

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How to Find the Right Shopify Expert Agency to Set Up Your Online Store

When you start an online store, there are a lot of moving parts to analyze, plan, and set up. In times when consumers are choosing to shop online, it’s become more important than ever to start an online store. But starting an online store isn’t just about setting up a website. There’s a lot that goes into analyzing the market, setting up the products online, marketing and selling them, and establishing a name for your brand in the market. 

Whether you’re a solopreneur or a small team, things can go from exciting to overwhelming all too soon. That’s where Shopify experts come in. 

In this article, we’re sharing all about who these Shopify experts are, why and when should you start looking for them, and how to choose the right expert who can actually help your business grow. 

Who are Shopify Experts?

Shopify experts are certified professionals who provide every possible service that an eCommerce merchant needs and are vetted by Shopify for their expertise. They have their own field of speciality— design, development, branding, etc— and use their experience to assist merchants to start an online store and help them grow, covering the 4 pillars of taking your business online and towards success – start, sell, market and manage. 

For instance, if you want a customized design for your Shopify store, you can hire a Shopify web design agency to build this for you. Similarly, if you want someone to help you with marketing, you could reach out to one that is specifically experienced in marketing. 

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So you can either reach out to an agency that specializes in one area, or you could choose to hire separate experts to help you out with different things. 

Note: Shopify experts are third party companies/ agencies/ individuals who have experience in using the eCommerce platform to help merchants start an online store. They’re not a part of Shopify.  

hire a shopify expert agency

When should you hire a Shopify Expert? 

With Shopify’s intuitive build and easy features, most merchants are able to do things themselves when starting an online store. Right from the design of their store to installing apps to enhance the experience for their shoppers, the budget constraints lead them to manage similar tasks in-house – until they grow. 

The two main reasons why we see merchants reach out to Shopify experts are:

  1. They don’t have the expertise to build a “professional” Shopify store that their customers begin to expect 
  2. They don’t have the time as starting a business is much more than just launching a website 

But other than that, as your online business grows, your day to day tasks increase and so do the expectations of online shoppers. Here are a few more reasons why you, the merchant, should choose to then work with Shopify experts and agencies: 

  • You don’t have time to manage multiple tasks and want to outsource it to a full-service Shopify agency that can handle all aspects of your store design, marketing, and management
  • You require customized Shopify design and development for your store
  • You need to migrate their site from another platform 
  • You want to outsource their marketing to a specialist to optimize their spends 
  • You want a consultant to help them with their sales strategy to avoid spending too much 
  • You need professionally shot photos of products or are struggling to make them look enhanced on the product pages 

And the list just goes on! 

Why should you hire a Shopify Expert? 

1. Saves time and your take to market is faster 

Outsourcing the work to an expert can help you save time. For instance, instead of spending a large part of your week setting up marketing activities, you can outsource this task to a specialist who will not only save time but provide assured results.

2. Quality work that helps your brand stand out 

With Shopify experts, you’re sure to get quality work delivered to you. Experts will help you achieve the results you were looking for with the kind of quality that only they would be able to provide.

why should you work with shopify experts

3. Ongoing help as your store’s needs change 

Once you’ve worked with a Shopify expert, you can reach out to them and get support for the work they did. This way, you don’t have to worry about getting stuck with your work. For instance, when you hire a Shopify developer for a custom store, you can later reach out to them to make tweaks and changes to the store.

4. Outsourced instead of hired is cost-effective  

When it comes to the amount of resources (money) you need to spend, a Shopify expert agency is cheaper to hire than a full-time specialist. Imagine having someone in-house who needs to be paid on a month on month basis, as compared to someone you need to pay only when you avail a service. When you’re starting out, you need to optimize your monthly expenditures to accommodate spend on growth-focused activities. 

How Can You Hire a Shopify Expert?

Finding the right Shopify expert for you is easy when you have a process in place. With just 5 steps, we’ll help you find a Shopify expert for your needs.

choosing the right shopify experts

Step 1: Create your requirement brief (optional) 

Although not compulsory, knowing what you need help with before you reach out to someone can save you a lot of time. 

If you’ve been researching similar brands and what they’re doing, and have a list of expectations or needs, remember to document them and write a brief of your requirements. This can become a conversation starter with the agency or expert you reach out to, and they can further help you refine it. 

Here’s a templatized example to help you start. You can copy this structure and create your own brief:

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RequirementWould require a marketing specialist or a Shopify agency to work on the following functions:Email marketing (1 newsletter every week)Facebook adsSocial media management, including content creation
ObjectivesEmail marketing: Build loyalty among existing subscribers/ shoppersFacebook ads: Recover abandoned cart and build awarenessSocial media: Establish brand and build relationships
Ongoing or one-timeOngoing 

If you’re not sure where to begin, you can simply reach out to an expert and ask for a consultation first.  

Step 2: Browse Shopify Experts from the Marketplace

Now that you have your requirements, you can start looking through the Shopify experts and find experts that match your needs. The profile of each Shopify expert includes the range of services they can provide, their cost, the rating and testimonials they have received from other merchants on Shopify. 

Pay attention to two things when you’re shortlisting experts to reach out to – ratings and testimonials, to ensure authenticity. 

Depending on the category, you can also see a portfolio of the expert’s work! It’s a great way to see if they have been able to deliver something similar to what you’re looking for. 

If you want to filter Shopify Experts to include just the ones based in India, you can click here to view them

Step 3: Understand your budget

Once you’ve looked through a few profiles, you’ll understand the cost of hiring a Shopify expert. You can then finalize your budget or a budget range which you can allocate to this.

Step 4: Contact shortlisted experts

Contact your shortlisted experts and arrange a call to understand their expertise on the topic and how they can deliver. 

Step 5: Finalize the expert based on your conversation

Based on the conversations, you can finalize the Shopify expert you want to hire. And voila! You’ve successfully found the right Shopify expert for your requirements.

Work with Shopify Experts and Get Assured Results!

When you’re figuring out how to start an online store or when you’re trying to troubleshoot or scale your growth, you sometimes need a helping hand. We hope this guide helps you understand the reasons to hire a Shopify expert and what you can expect from them. 

Whether it’s Shopify design and development, marketing needs, or you need a full-service Shopify agency to handle every aspect of your store, you can find the specific Shopify expert/agency to do the job for you!

To get started, you can browse from a range of Shopify experts on the Shopify Experts Marketplace

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Select the Right Freelance Web Designer to Create Your Stellar Brand Presence

Choose a professional freelance designer for your website

Now that you’ve decided you’re ready to build a website for your business, how to do it is the concern. It seems like these days, anyone from a 14-year-old child to a 70-year-old works as freelancers to create website design.

Many people would inform you that you can also create the platform yourself and use some inexpensive coding program to become a freelancer. However, is this the way you really want to go?

Don’t cut corners when it comes to design. If you want your website to look good, hire a professional freelance web designer.

Hire a Pro freelancer for Your Website Design

You should try recruiting a competent freelance website designer or website design company in order to get a professional-looking website. Consider the example of learning to play piano. You can select an informative book and easily learn to play a few chords with a little trial-and-error. Yet you need a great deal of experience and wisdom, practice, and talent to really create music.

It takes a great deal of knowledge on graphic design, the different kinds of web design tools, programming and coding languages and software, and internet marketing expertise to build a quality website.

Furthermore, a good freelance website designer will know the specs of different browsers and computer platforms as well as how search engines spider through websites. Failure to make the correct choices on architecture or programming and you risk making an obsolete website.

Choosing Among Web Design Firms in Mumbai

How do you choose a web design firm or a professional freelance website designer? There are so many!

Mumbai city, where I live, we have hundreds of website design firms and freelance web designers even in a very trivial region of the city. Now just Imagine! How much web designers and freelancers would be across the 1.84 crore Mumbai population? You can finish counting stars, but not them! It can be overwhelming choosing the best web designer in Mumbai  for your needs.

A quality web designer should be able to create a website that is attractive, functional and able to grow along with your business.

Nothing, of course, suggests that you need to choose a Professional web designer right in your own town. You may use resources such as Skype and email to connect with someone in another city, state or country. 

Here then are the key factors to consider in choosing someone to design your website:

So when to choose a Web Design Company or Freelance Web Designer?

Want to create a stellar website for your brand click here to start your project now!


Web Design Firm vs. Freelance Web Designer – Do you simply need your website designed or will you also need assistance with copywriting the content, marketing your website and website hosting?

A freelance website designer or a freelance graphic designer can satisfy the design angle, but you may need a larger, more sophisticated web design firm to meet all the criteria.

Coding – Coding and website development are substitute for programming. Some web designers, particularly if they use a well-known platform such as WordPress, are proficient in coding the sites they create. Freelancers, however, can rely on a different programmer to enforce their design.

Make sure to get clarity on the skills and duties of your web designer. You’ll probably want to know whether you need to get involved with another vendor, a programmer, and whether that means incurring more costs.

Credentials – Does the web designer have professional qualifications  or certifications in graphic design, web design?

Experience – How long has the web design company  or Freelancer been creating websites for business in Mumbai? Have a look at the architecture of their own website and the other designed pages. Do the text and colors look balanced?  Do the links actually work? Does the web page load up quickly? Is it easy to navigate? Will they have a pulsating look on all the pages?

StyleWeb Designers have a personality of their own. You’ll want to pick a Web designer  in Mumbai  whose style you appreciate, because art is in the eye of the beholder. To find out if the websites they have created for others, and even companies not in your industry, seem interesting to you, check out their portfolio.

Every web designer has his or her own style. Align yourself with someone who’s work you like.

Testimonials – Ask the Freelance web designer’s clients for referrals. Perhaps a list of these clients’ testimonials is readily available. If not, inquire for contact details and then call a couple of clients based in Mumbai . Skinny, good or evil, they’ll teach you about the website designer.

You can also Google the web designer’s name in Mumbai  to see if any reviews have been posted online.

Technology – You want someone who understands the web design framework and terminology that you use to make your website as operational as it is enticing.

Make sure your developer is familiar with them and has the requisite programming tools if you choose to use modern technology on your platform, such as database integration or e-commerce capability.

SEO – Search engine optimization is a necessity if you want your site to appear on Google. Your web designer from Mumbai should know SEO best practices to be able to make your site search engine-friendly.

Mobile Friendly – It is possible that many individuals will access your website on their mobile or tablet. You want to collaborate with a web designer who knows how to make the site intuitive, which ensures that on any device and any screen size it can be displayed properly.

If your site is not responsive, Google may not rank it as high, as mobile friendliness is one of the factors it considers in displaying search results.

Services – Be confident that all the services you need are provided by the website design company or  Web design and development freelancer you choose. Among the questions you’re going to want to ask: Will they help you get a domain name? Would hosting be handled? Will they provide the site’s users with a form reply page for queries? After it’s been built, will you be able to upgrade your website and add content yourself or will you rely on them?

Copywriting – Web designers are not copywriters. They’re artists. They rarely write the content that goes on the websites they design. However, they may be able to assist by providing a recommendation for a copywriter they’ve worked with in the past.

Pricing – Web development costs vary from freelancer to freelancer in Mumbai. Before calling on web designers, aim to create an outline on your own, or you would have trouble obtaining quotes that help you to equate apples to apples.

As this is typically a monthly charge, make sure to figure the cost of hosting within your overall budget.

That is, you wouldn’t want to save a little on your website’s design only to spend much more over time in monthly hosting fees.

Establish an ongoing relationship with your web designer. As your business grows and changes, so should your website.

Payment Terms – Of course, every company and freelancer is different. However, my experience has been that most web designers demand at least partial payment (usually 50% of the total) up front before starting a project.

They will wait until you are completely satisfied with the final website design and it is online operating smoothly before billing you for the balance.

Ongoing Support – More so than any other kind of marketing medium, web pages need constant upgrading to be most effective. Support ensures that you know that if you wish to address a technological problem or make changes to your platform, you can call your website designer and get timely service at a rational price.

Wrapping up!

Think of your website designer as a partner in your business. The job he or she does could have a powerful effect on whether you are successful. Do your homework and select wisely; you will be pleased that you have done so.

Want to create a stellar website for your brand click here to start your project now!


It’s a good idea to reach out to, correspond with and even interview several designers in your search to get a sense of how they work, how they communicate, and any ideas or recommendations they have for your project.

If you want to build a STELLAR and an ALLURING website, Please visit us: We are a digital agency based in Mumbai. 

We provide all kinds of services from website design to branding and digital marketing

Start your project now with 

Drop us your requirements at [email protected]

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A Complete Guide to Instagram Marketing: Get the Playbook That Drives Results for Instagram’s Top Profiles

Across the globe, there are over 1 billion Instagrammers — more than 500 million of whom use Instagram every single day, sharing an average of 95 million photos and videos per day.

Those are huge numbers. And no matter who your audience is — age, gender, occupation, anything — you’ll be sure to reach them through Instagram. So the question becomes …

How to promote your business on Instagram?

How can you stand out among the other 95 million photos posted each day? How can non-designers and amateur photographers create beautiful content for Instagram?

These are all questions we’d love to help you answer in this guide.


We recently launched one of our biggest product enhancements, Buffer for Instagram, to help you plan, track and amplify your Instagram marketing.



The Complete Guide to Instagram marketing

Everything you need to know to create a killer Instagram marketing strategy for your business.


Why Instagram?

Keys to a successful profile

How to create a content strategy

The 7 elements of high-performing Instagram content

How to increase growth and engagement

How to measure results


First things first: Why use Instagram for business?


Boasting over 500 million daily active users, Instagram has huge potential for marketers. But the potential in Instagram lies more in the user behavior than the numbers.

Instagrammers like to connect with brands.

Research shows that brands enjoy a number of distinct benefits and advantages on the network:

  • Instagram, brands enjoy regular engagement with 4 percent of their total followers. On networks like Facebook and Twitter, engagement is less than 0.1 percent. (source: Forrester)
  • 70% of Instagram users report having looked up a brand on the platform (source: Iconosquare)
  • 62% of users follow a brand on Instagram (source: Iconosquare)
  • Only 36 percent of marketers use Instagram, compared to 93% of marketers who use Facebook (source: Selfstartr)

Social media has been proven to influence purchase decisions. And if you can find the right mix of content, your audience will soak it up – and even buy from you – without the need for a hard push or sales pitch. It’s the marketers dream.

Still need convincing? Let’s take a look at what marketers have to say about the platform.

What marketers are saying about Instagram

The numbers and research above all sound great, but what are marketers  – the people who use Instagram to drive business results – actually saying about the platform? Here’s what marketers from brand like Birchbox, and Ben & Jerry’s have to say about the platform:


Mike Hayes, Digital Marketing Manager of Ben & Jerry’s“Since its launch, Instagram has provided us with an amazing platform to connect with our fans and tell our story visually.”

Jessica Lauria, Director of Brand Communications Chobani: “Instagram is a great platform for Chobani. It allows us to show how people actually use our product and inspires new ways to savor.”

Rachel Jo Silver, Director, Social Marketing & Content Strategy, Birchbox: “Instagram has been an incredibly effective engagement-driver among our current customers.”

The formula for Instagram success

Success for businesses on Instagram relies on more than simply publishing a few nice-looking images. You need to also have these elements:

  • Clear vision and strategy
  • Consistent frequency
  • Familiarity with your audience
  • Clear visual style

When you combine together these ingredients, Instagram can deliver huge results for your business.

Madewell is a great example of creative Instagram marketing. The fashion brand has amassed a hugely engaged audience on Instagram (over 700,000 followers and 7,000 to 10,000 likes per post). The platform has become a key marketing channel for them, enabling them to connect with thousands of potential customers on a daily basis.


So, how do Madewell and other successful brands stand out on Instagram? We put together this guide to help you craft your own Instagram marketing strategy that’s based on a clear vision and results that you can measure.


How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy


Why are you on Instagram? Choose 1-to-2 main goals

Whether you’re completely new to Instagram and preparing to share your first post or are already established and looking to boost your presence on the platform, it’s important to start with clear goals in mind.

Setting goals will help you to define your strategy on Instagram and create content that will help you to achieve your targets.

Here are some common ones that brands, teams, and individuals tend to choose:

  1. Showcase your products or services
  2. Build your community
  3. Increase awareness of your brand
  4. Showcase your company culture and values
  5. Advertise to potential customers
  6. Increase brand loyalty
  7. Share company news and updates

It’s best to choose one or two goals for your Instagram profile, either from the above list or a custom goal of your choosing. To help decide which goals make sense for you, it can be good to consider the following questions:

  • Why are you using Instagram?
  • How can Instagram assist you in achieving your overall marketing goals?
  • How much time or budget can you commit to Instagram?
  • How does Instagram offer you something different to other platforms?

Here at Buffer we have two main goals for our Instagram marketing strategy.

Our top goal is to build and nurture an engaged community of Buffer users and supporters.

To ensure we reach that goal we have a set target of reaching out to and featuring the work of four-to-six Buffer community members per week. If we do that 52 weeks per year that’s between 208-to-312 people that we’ve connected with one-on-one.

The second goal for our Instagram marketing strategy is to continually increase engagement on every one of our posts.

Currently, our engagement rate (avg. engagement per post/number of followers) is about 1.75% which is a bit higher than industry standard. We’re focusing on producing the highest quality Instagram content so that our engagement rate stays at or above this benchmark.

Which members of your audience are on Instagram? Search the demographics

Marketing is all about delivering the right message, to the right people, at the right time.

Click To Tweet

And understanding the demographics of a platform is an important part of ensuring you’re hitting your target audience.

Pew Research released a breakdown of Instagram demographics and I’d love to share the key findings with you here.

Instagram user demographics - Pew research

Age and gender of internet users on Instagram

Roughly half of internet-using young adults ages 18-29 (53%) use Instagram. Here the full breakdown of age groups:

  • 53% of 18–29 year olds use Instagram.
  • 25% of 30–49 year olds use Instagram.
  • 11% of 50–64 year olds use Instagram.
  • 6% of people 65+ use Instagram.

Also, slightly more of Instagram’s users are female:

  • 29% of online females use Instagram.
    22% of online males use Instagram.

Location of Instagram users

  • 28% of Instagram users live in urban areas.
  • 26% of Instagram users live in suburban areas.
  • 19% of Instagram users live in rural areas.

Instagram education demographics

  • 31% of Instagram users have some college experience.
  • 24% of Instagram users are college graduates.
  • 23% of Instagram users are high school grads or less.

Instagram income demographics

  • 28% of adults making less than $30,000
  • 26% of adults making over $75,000
  • 26% of adults making $50,000–$74,999
  • 23% of adults making $30,000–$49,999

Now that you have your goals in mind and know which members of your audience are active on Instagram, you can get started on building out your presence on Instagram. First step: optimizing your profile.


How to optimize your Instagram profile


Your Instagram profile is essentially your homepage on the platform. It provides you with space to share a little information about your business and also gives you the chance to drive some traffic back to your website. In this section, we’ll guide you through how to maximize your Instagram profile and drive as much value as possible from it.

Your bio/description

Your description is very personal to your brand, what you choose to share here should be representative of your business and show your followers what you do as a company. Most businesses tend to include either (or both) of the below:

  • Brand slogan or tagline (e.g. Nike’s “Just Do It”)
  • An outline of who you are and what you do

Some large brands also choose to include a brand hashtag within their bio (for example, Nike Basketball below).

Here are a few examples:



Nike Basketball:


Sheraton Hotels:


Profile picture

Your profile picture is one of the most important parts of your Instagram profile and the best way to showcase your branding on Instagram. When someone views one of your posts or clicks on your profile, it’s great if your brand is instantly recognizable.

For many brands this tends to mean using one of three options:

  • Logo
  • Logomark (the logo, minus any words)
  • Mascot

At Buffer, we keep it simple and use our logomark over a plain white background on Instagram and all other networks:


Unlike many other social networks, Instagram doesn’t allow you to add links to every post. Instead, you only get one link, and that’s the one in your profile. Though accounts with more than 10,000 followers can also share links within Instagram Stories.

Most businesses tend to use this link to drive traffic back to their homepage, and this link can also be a key way to drive traffic from Instagram to campaign-specific landing pages or individual pieces of content.

Gary Vaynerchuk does this to great effect on his Instagram feed. Whenever he publishes a new piece of content online, he’ll share a relevant image or video to Instagram and update the link in his bio to reflect it.


Creating a content strategy for Instagram

How to build content pillars for the type of content you share to Instagram


Content is the heart of Instagram. The 95 million photos and videos shared daily to the platform are the reason more than 500 million people open the app every day. And content should be at the core of your strategy, too.

But what should you post about?

Before you get into thinking about your visual style, it’s good to have a clear vision for the type of content you’re putting out.

Some brands focus on their products. For example, Nike Running often make their trainers and running equipment the focal point of their content:


Whereas other brands, such as WeWork, put more focus on their community and culture:


At Buffer, our Instagram marketing strategy is to post consistently quality content that aims to build Buffer’s brand while also connecting on an individual basis with our community members. We believe strongly in the power of one-on-one interactions and connections.

In that spirit, we’ve created the hashtag #BufferStories which allows our community to tell a story about what they’re passionate about both personally and professionally. Instagram is a tremendous medium for short-form content, but there’s also the possibility for relevant, long-form content. Our audience has responded quite well to the passionate stories of others.


There’s no hard and fast rule for the best angle to take when it comes to your strategy — it’ll vary from business to business. What’s important is to focus on creating content that aligns with both your audience and your goals. This starts with defining your content pillars.

Build your content pillars

The foundations of any strategy are built on solid content pillars or themes.

Every business, no matter its size, industry or location has a wealth of potentially brilliant content to share on Instagram. Whether it’s stories from your employees, culture-focused content, or product-led demos, there’s a whole host of opportunities and worthy subjects for your videos and photos.

Some example content pillars include (but aren’t limited to):

  • Behind the scenes content
  • User generated content
  • Product demos / showcase
  • Educational (e.g. the best social media tips)
  • Culture focused (showing the human side of your company)
  • Fun / lighthearted
  • Customer stories
  • Get to know the team
  • Team member takeovers

What I love to do when it comes to defining themes is to open up a notepad and throw around some ideas. Starting with some key company values, I then scribble down everything that comes to mind. From these notes, you can then start to formulate ideas for your key content pillars.


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For example at Buffer, here are the themes we work with:

  • User generated content
  • Digital nomad lifestyle
  • Productivity and motivation

3 successful brands on Instagram and their content pillars

1. Saturday Night Live

Saturday Night Live’s Instagram feed focus on two key pillars: Taking fans behind the scenes of the show and sharing exclusive clips. When fans check Instagram they can expect to see a fun-filled photo or video of their favorite SNL stars or get a sneak peek at what goes on behind the cameras to get the show out there.


2. FedEx

FedEx’s feed consists of photos based around the theme of FedEx’s delivery drivers, vans and planes out in the wild. they often feature images shared with them by followers, too – a great way to keep their fans on the lookout for FedEx vehicles to photograph. Their feed also gives off a vibe of high-end, artistic photography.


3. Oreo

Oreo put their product at the heart of their Instagram content and manage to do so in a way that’s fun and highly engaging. They often use entertaining copy within the images themselves and use solid, vibrant backgrounds to make their posts stand out within the Instagram feed.


How do Instagram Stories fit within your content strategy?

Instagram Stories is a feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours.

More than 400m accounts use stories every day. Stories content is full-screen, and can be enhanced with playful creative tools such as stickers, emojis and GIFs.

Instagram research found that people turn to stories for two main reasons:

  1. When they want to see what friends are doing at the moment, which indicates that stories function as a way of bringing people closer together in real time.
  2. When they want to see unfiltered, authentic content – which could mean everyday moments or even “non-moments”.

For brands, this creates a ton of opportunity to connect with your audience in news ways. For example, you could use stories to share the day-to-day moments at your business like design agency, AJ&Smart:

Or you could use stories as a way to share more user-generated content with your audience like Kettlebell Kings:


Further reading: The Complete Guide to Instagram Stories

Want to know how stories work and how your business can make stories a part of its social media strategy? Check out our Instagram Stories guide here.


Creating a content plan

The 7 keys to cohesive content to drive exceptional results


Once you have your content themes in place (you can always test and adapt themes to see what works best), it’s time to bring it all together into a content plan. A content plan should help you define the style and aesthetic feel of your posts, alongside how frequently you’re going to post to Instagram.

Let’s begin with a look at how to create your Instagram style guide.

1. Style guide

One of the most important parts of any social media strategy is the style guide. Why are they so important? They ensure consistency across all marketing channels and throughout every piece of content you produce.

Style guides contain all the necessary information for a piece of content from beginning to end — from the design and layout of post to the copy and hashtags that accompany it. When it comes to Instagram you should consider the following items:

  • Composition
  • Color palette
  • Fonts
  • Filters
  • Captions
  • Hashtags

2. Composition

Composition refers to the placement or arrangement of visual elements or ingredients in a work of art, as distinct from the subject of a work. Not every marketer is an expert photographer, so it can be great to define a few quick composition rules.

These can include things like:

  • Solid background color
  • Main focus of the picture set to the Rule of Thirds
  • Extra space at top/bottom for text

Amy Tangerine, a company that shares “a slice of the sweet life” through an array of scrapbooking products and lifestyle services, is a great example of a clear visual style and composition. Its posts often feature a solid background color or texture allowing the focal point of the composition to stand out clearly.


3. Color palette

Picking out a color palette will help keep your feed consistent and focused. Having a palette doesn’t mean that you can strictly only use these colors, but it will help your posts have a nice consistent, familiar feeling. It can feel great to keep your color palette in line with other areas of your brand, too.

Frooti, the largest-selling fruit drink brand in India, uses Instagram to showcase their distinct brand personality. A key part of this aesthetic is the vibrant color palette used by the brand:


In contrast, Everlane uses a much softer color palette across Instagram, staying true to their brand’s signature grey/black/white look:


4. Fonts

If you’re going to post quotes or text overlays on your Instagram images, you should try to keep the fonts consistent with your brand by choosing the same fonts you use on your website or other marketing materials.

Headspace is a great example of keeping fonts consistent across posts. The mindfulness app regularly shares text-based posts, and by keeping the font in-line with the rest of their brand, followers can instantly recognize Headspace’s content within their feed.


5. Filters

Instagram filters can make amateur photographers feel like pros. And if you don’t have high-end photography equipment or editing software, they’re a great way to enhance photos with just a few taps. Filters can drastically change the look and feel of a photo or video, so it’s important to use only a few that you feel best represent your brand — and stick to the few you’ve chosen. Using a different filter for every post can quickly make an Instagram feed feel a little disjointed.

6. Captions

Instagram captions are limited to 2,200 characters, and after three lines of text they become truncated with an ellipsis.

Captions are a chance to enhance your content further and there are plenty of ways brands use them. Some choose to treat captions as a place for sharing stories and micro-blogging, others use them to add a short, snappy headline to a post and others use captions to ask questions and encourage replies. The possibilities are endless. What’s important is to ensure the copy is aligned with your brand.

Mailchimp is well known for its unique brand voice – they even had a website dedicated to it — and their fun-loving tone is carried through into their Instagram captions, too:


Everlane is again a great example of how to use Instagram captions. The brand uses captions to convey a funny, familiar voice that their buyers can relate to. For example, the below post (shared in winter time) is captioned: “About how cold we feel right now.”


7. Hashtags

Hashtags have become a uniform way to catagorize content on many social media platforms. Hashtags allow Instagrammers to discover content and accounts to follow. Research from Track Maven found that posts with over 11 hashtags tend to get more engagement.


Top Tip: If you would like to avoid adding too many hashtags to your caption, you can also add hashtags as comments. For example, you can see below how Amy Tangerine adds additional hashtags to the photo in the comments:


When it comes to choosing the right hashtags for your content, it’s best to do your research and see which hashtags people in your market are using and which are most active.


How to get noticed on Instagram: Master design with these great tips for non-designers

If you’re looking to take your Instagram images to the next level and become a better marketer, check out this design dictionary for a crash course on how to better understand design.

Further reading:

How to Create Engaging Images for Social Media: A Simple Guide For Non-Designers
Images have never been more important in social. They’re the key to driving greater online engagement, much like a great headline in advertising. This post shares 3 key design principles that will help you create engaging social images every time:

Click here to read now >

47 Amazingly Talented Artists and Designers to Follow on Instagram
To help provide you with some creative inspiration, we’ve curated a group of 47 super-talented artists specializing in a range of disciplines. Follow these insanely accomplished artists and designers to stay ahead of the curve and inspired day-after-day.

Click here to read now >


How to find your best frequency and timing on Instagram

Best practices and data tips for maximizing your chance for success

There’s a lot to be said for consistency on social media. Consistency and publishing frequency can help your audience learn when to expect new content from you, and keeping a consistent schedule makes sure you maximize engagement without hitting any lulls or stretches without updates.

study by Union Metrics found that most brands post to Instagram daily. In fact the average was 1.5 posts per day. The study also found — and this was really interesting — that there was no correlation between increased frequency and lower engagement, meaning brands that posted more than twice per day didn’t see any ill effects.

Our best advice here is to aim to post at least once per day on Instagram and experiment with additional posts to find what works best for you.

What time should you post to Instagram?

With Instagram’s recent change to an algorithmic timeline, timing is now one of many elements considered by the algorithm when it decides what content to show you. So it’s important to post at the times when your content is likely to pick up the most engagement. Our hunch here is Instagram’s algorithm may then determine this post should appear near the top of your follower’s feeds.

CoSchedule collected research from 16 social media studies to come up with these best practices for Instagram:

  • Mondays and Thursdays drive the most engagement
  • The time of day with the most engagement is 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern

It could be best to treat these best practices as guidelines and times to test out since the best time to post can rely on a bunch of factors and vary from profile to profile. For example, we’ve found that our best time at Buffer is 11:00 a.m. Pacific.

How to ensure consistent posting on Instagram

Once you’ve determined your content themes and the frequency at which you’d like to post to Instagram, one of the best ways to ensure you stick to your strategy is to create a content calendar that tracks which posts will be shared and when.

The Instagram API doesn’t quite allow scheduling just yet, which means you cannot schedule posts directly on Instagram. To post consistently with Instagram, we schedule Instagram reminders in Buffer (our Instagram marketing software). Here’s how it works:

  1. Find, edit, and upload a beautiful picture to Buffer. Add a caption with hashtags, mentions, and emoji. Schedule for the ideal time.
  2. Receive a push notification on our phone at the scheduled time.
  3. Open the notification, select Open in Instagram, and preview the post.
  4. Make any final edits (filters, geolocation) and share from the Instagram app.

Buffer for Instagram works by adding a post through Buffer and having a reminder pop up on a user’s phone when it’s time to send it out.



Dive deeper: How to Find the Most Timely, Consistent Instagram Schedule with Buffer

Researching the best ways to get your brand seen on Instagram, we discovered a pair of common themes: Share your post at the right time to gain traction in the feed, and share to Instagram at a consistent rhythm. Here’s more on how we’ve maximized these two elements (plus 6 more).


3 tips to help increase your growth and engagement


1. Embrace user generated content

Instagram users provide a wealth of potential content for your business. Curating content from your followers can help you to build a vibrant and engaged community and user generated content can also incentivize your audience to share their own creative ways of interacting with your products, services or company.


Must read: Learn how we used user generated content to grow our Instagram audience by 60%

In under 3 months, we grew our Instagram account by 60%  – 5,850 to 9,400 followers. A large percentage of this growth was down to user generated content and in this post, Brian shares our exact strategy.


2. Include some faces in your posts to boost engagement

study from Georgia Tech looked at 1.1 million random Instagram pictures and discovered these two really interesting bits of information. Pictures with faces get:

  • 38% more likes
  • 32% more comments

This is something HubSpot does very well in its feed to showcase the people behind the company:


3. Try sharing your Instagram posts to Facebook

A Buzzsumo study of over 1 billion Facebook posts from 3 million brand pages found that images posted to Facebook via Instagram receive more engagement than natively published images:


Must read: How to Gain a Massive Following on Instagram: 10 Proven Tactics To Grow Followers and Engagement


Measuring your results

How to learn what’s working with your Instagram marketing


Tracking your performance and results is essential to any social media strategy. This enables you to decipher which types of content your audience finds most engaging and allows you to optimize your strategy as you move forward.

Paying close attention to your audience growth, and the number of likes and comments your posts receive will give you clues as to what’s working and what could maybe be improved. If you’d like to dive even more in-depth, you can work out an engagement rate for each of your posts.

How to calculate engagement rate on Instagram

The engagement rate is calculated by taking the number of likes + comments and dividing that number by the number of followers your account had at the time of posting.

Here’s an example:


The above post received 210 and 8 comments. At the time of posting, we had 12,343 followers. So the engagement rate would be worked out as follows:

  • 210 (likes) + 8 (comments) = 218
  • 218 / 12,343 (followers) = Engagement rate of 1.76%

Buffer for Instagram analytics

Buffer’s analytics enable you to check in on your key metrics for networks like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. With Instagram analytics on Buffer paid plans, you can sort every post by the most popular, most likes, and most comments. You can also select any custom timeframe or from presets like 7, 30, or 90 days. This is a fantastic way to keep an eye on trends and what’s performing.


Buffer’s Instagram analytics can also help you to find the perfect sharing frequency. Using the ‘Posts Per Day plus Likes’ function you can see how the number of posts per day affects your engagement. Here’s a quick snapshot from our account:


In addition to these stats, you can also use Buffer for Instagram to:

  • Track post-performance
  • Monitor Instagram trends
  • Track comments and hashtag usage
  • Measure audience engagement
  • Report across multiple profiles

Analytics can help you judge the effect of your content, schedule, and frequency of posting on Instagram and measure how it affects important Instagram metrics such as likes and followers.



As you progress with your Instagram marketing strategy, you’ll begin to notice some trends and what types of content help you to reach your goals. It’s never easy to build a loyal, engaged following on any channel, but with the right approach and enough experimenting, you’ll find a great fit for your brand.


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