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Ecommerce Hot Seat with Danial Dashtizad, Creative Director at Miva. Catch Danial at the MivaCon 2017 Miva Keynote talking about product discovery, personalization, and how to harness design to express your brand.
How important is design to your ecommerce site, and how does design done right separate true champions from contenders?
These are the questions we sought to answer with Danial Dashtizad, an award-winning creative who’s led teams and influencers to design the future of software and tech for the past seven years. Danial stepped foot into Miva’s doors three years ago, adding momentum to a major shift re-centering on customer experience. Today Danial has directed—and doubled—the design team at Miva, finessing function to launch beautiful and effective storefronts online.
In this week’s Ecommerce Hot Seat, Danial Dashtizad, Creative Director at Miva, poses the essence of good design, forecasts industry trends, and shares key ways to hone your brand story.
Finish this sentence: At Miva, I help clients and my team by: problem solving through compelling design and experience.
Expand upon that. In a few sentences, explain what you do at Miva. I am the Creative Director and head the design team in Professional Services. My team and I partner with businesses of all sizes to create custom ecommerce experiences. We fuse their intimate knowledge of their industry with our expertise in user experience and design to solve business issues that result in beautiful and effective online stores.
What brought you to Miva? A couple things. First, I recognized that the core values were not merely aspirational hopes framed on the wall, but a real foundation which the company is built upon. Historically, Miva didn’t have customer service in-house. When the new leadership took over, that was the first thing they did—brought customer service back 24/7/365. It was this culture of caring about the quality of service to the customer, as well as about each individual employee, that really drew me in.
Second, I believed in the product and saw a great opportunity to evolve its design and presence.
“The way the product is built reflects that careful attention to our clients and is fully thought out to provide a quality backbone for them to build upon.”
Along with its quality product, Miva has a great roster of clients: The Paper Store, NHS Fun Factory and Santa Cruz, MZB, and Kauai Coffee, to name a few.
What’s the biggest design challenge you’ve faced, and what’s the biggest win? The biggest challenge with ecommerce for us has always been finding the delicate balance of performance and design. How do you create a memorable solution that is visually stunning, yet doesn’t disregard the conversion rate and profitability requirements?
“The number one goal of a business always is to sell product as efficiently and effectively as possible, and we strive to accomplish that without sacrificing aesthetic quality.”
The biggest win is when a business decides to take risks with us in the design process and sees big gains in their analytics.
Tell me about your team. What do you look for when hiring a designer? Passion, character, and a never-ending desire for growth. So much of design is problem solving, and as the industry evolves with rising and falling trends and technologies, it becomes ever so important to reject complacency. If you have the work ethic, character, and passion, the design ability will follow.
Now let’s talk about design and the future of the industry as it relates to your clients. What do you think are the most important things an ecommerce retailer can do in 2017 from a UI/UX perspective? Know your audience and make data-driven design decisions that will benefit your business beyond just that first sale. Knowing the different user journeys specific to your industry will guide the design of practically every page.
“Beyond just a coat of paint, design is functionality; design is how a user experiences your brand.”
You’re in a room with the top 500 enterprise businesses. The mic is yours. What do you tell them? Technology will be a driving force for future approaches and will ultimately dictate many of our industries.
“With innovations in automation, drones, and chat bots, it’s important to not lose what makes your brand human.”
Do use innovations such as machine learning to assist the user journey, but don’t lose sight of the emotional connections your audience has with your brand.
Can you expand upon that, say, with the recent fervor around VR and AR?I think virtual reality and augmented reality are going to invade our spaces soon. I’m excited about the opportunities, but [the technology] is still premature.
“Don’t forget why users are choosing your brand. That’s your story: what you represent, and the experience you’re providing.”
If VR and AR are added as complements to the brand experience, wonderful. If you’re relying solely on [technology] and your brand has no soul or character beyond that, your business could fall as one simply trying to capitalize on technology.
Take Spotify for example: arguably the most popular music streaming service today. They’ve built a great catalog and have marketed themselves in a really effective way, and are complementing this foundation with technology like machine learning, which delivers and serves Discover Playlists for listeners based on their taste and history. When you use technology to build upon an already established message, service, and experience, it produces great results.
As a Creative Director, you anchor so much of what you do on a story. How can a brand hone into the essence of who they are, if they haven’t yet? Never forget why your business exists, or was started, in the first place. If it’s solely to provide a service or offering at a cheap price, that’s how the direction of your website will be tailored. But if you’re someone like Santa Cruz Skateboards which carries a big following and you want your story to be heard, you’ll be looked to as an industry influencer, and will rely on superfans as social influencers.
“Assess who you are, don’t forget who you are, and use data to enhance the customer experience—the results will follow.”
If you have data that tells you to add a giant orange button to the corner of your website, what will that do to your brand? If you’re, say, an independent company that’s heavy-handed on your marketing or sales approach, that will turn off your customer base who will essentially see you as a big sellout. Know and respect your audience while using data to improve the experience and improve results for your business.
What drives you to keep doing what you do for your clients and your team? Never losing sight of the importance of every project, regardless of the client’s budget. That and a constant desire to make our next piece of work, our best.
What questions do you have about ecommerce design? Comment below and take a look behind the curtain at the latest and greatest from Miva’s design and Professional Services teams.