UX and user-centred design has to take priority. To sell more through your website you need to know your audience inside and out. Research, data and analysis fuel high conversion rates. You need to have all the data in place to build User Personas and a User Flow which in turn makes the process easier and more precise.
Why is this step so important?
Let's say that your ecommerce website is a car. To build a car you need to know its purpose and who will be driving it. This will define the size of the car, the type of engine and gearbox, number of seats and type of upholstery etc.
Car manufacturers know that they must cater for several different driver personas, for example, the single professional who needs a small car with an economic engine to get around the city, the self-employed tradesperson who needs a van to transport their equipment from site to site, or the family that needs a larger car to use on a daily basis.
Each of these car models will need a unique approach when it comes to designing it. The majority of the parts of the car are not visible but they work together to contribute to a good driving experience.
Similarly, your ecommerce site should be tailor-made for your clients. You have to understand your visitors’ online shopping habits, why they might abandon the shopping basket or how you might prevent this from happening in future.
A customer can’t see the millions of lines of code behind an ecommerce site working really hard to deliver the best shopping experience, but they will notice when this experience does not meet their expectations. Sometimes just one 'test drive' can discourage a buyer from returning to your website.
A user-centred design process is quicker and easier to implement when the research, wireframe and prototype stage happens before the design stage. This process will improve site performance by eliminating user errors, increasing the number of return visitors, and of course increasing product sales. It will also reduce any future redesign and development costs.
Choosing a paint colour for the car is the last step of the car manufacturing process, so is ensuring that your website is beautifully designed. Think about the user first and everything else will fall into place.