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UX design helps beauty brands create websites that bring aesthetic appeal to their digital presence, communicate with diverse audiences and tell compelling brand stories. Design matters: Research from Adobe notes that given 15 minutes to look at content, two-thirds of people would rather look at something beautiful than something plain. The user experience is equally critical. Marketing Week reports that seven in 10 buyers won't return to a website after a bad experience. When your audience — whether they're looking to shop, get advice, find a job or invest in your company — comes to you with beauty in mind, it's important to provide a visually stunning and seamless user experience. 

Balancing visuals and the user experience 

The Estée Lauder Companies and e.l.f. Cosmetics have both been recognized as leading sites in the beauty category — both were nominated for IR Magazine Awards in 2017, with the Estée Lauder Companies winning in their category. Each utilizes a different approach to effectively communicate their brand values, offer the right level of visual appeal and prioritize the user experience.

 

The Estée Lauder Companies site offers a portfolio experience that makes it easy to see how different brands come together to create the "House of Prestige Beauty." A highly visual, abstract video with beauty references introduces various brands, from Bumble and Bumble to Clinique. When hovered over, a product image panel displays a short description of the brand and takes visitors to a brand page. The site doesn't sell directly, but it is easy to find links to social accounts and retailers that carry the brands. At a high level, the site makes it straightforward for investors, consumers and the public to understand the brands behind the company.

 

Another beauty brand, e.l.f., offers an investor relations site that, like the main corporate site, is easy to navigate on mobile and desktop. Visually, the site shares the same clean, fresh, forward-looking aesthetic of the brand's consumer-focused corporate website, and content is organized well, making it easy for investors and prospective investors to drill down and find the information they need. The site not only contains all the financial and company data you would expect on an IR website, but it also puts the brand's mission and values front and center, telling the company's story through compelling imagery and thoughtful text.

Strategies for redesigning beauty brand websites 

1. Build your UX design around what your audiences want: A KoMarketing study found that 86 percent of website visitors want to find information on a company's products and services, and 64 percent want to see contact information. During website redesigns, it's important to balance aesthetic considerations with ease of use. Take the time to understand what different people do on your website and map those activities to your layout and architecture. Evaluate website analytics, conduct A/B testing and use data to understand how user intent translates to design choices.

 

2. Make it easy for visitors to find what they're looking for: e.l.f. Cosmetics' main corporate site makes choices that put e-commerce front and center. For consumers, it's easy to find products, learn more about them and quickly buy them. And, for those looking to invest in the company rather than the hottest makeup trends, the site clearly signposts how to navigate to the IR area.

 

Estée Lauder takes a unique approach, helping visitors learn about each individual brand and its core products. However, each brand page immediately takes users to social media accounts or allows them to search for local stores carrying those brands. Whether you sell online or offline, your website should power those efforts.

 

3. Show your true colors: Anyone looking to connect with your brand wants to gain a sense of your aesthetic and what makes you unique. Are you an edgy brand with the latest colors, or a pinstripes-and-pearls high-end brand? Incorporate pictures of models wearing your makeup — or, better yet, let your fans do it. e.l.f's #playbeautifully campaign invites customers who buy their play beautifully® Box to post pictures of themselves wearing the makeup and mark them with the hashtag. Showing your audience that your customers are engaged speaks volumes.

 

4. Optimize the user experience for multi-platform digital experiences: Focusing on your website is just one component of an effective communications strategy. Beauty brands must communicate with investors, job candidates, consumers, media and other target audiences through different digital touch points, from the website to social media. Take the time to ensure your brand message is consistent across every digital platform you leverage. Incorporate your brand color palette, logo, standard corporate copy and contact information in every channel.

Liz Alton writes about technology, marketing and business for enterprise audiences. She's a Forbes contributor and her writing has been published in Inc, USA Today, Entrepreneur, the Huffington Post, Mic, Harvard Business Review blogs and the WSJ. She holds an MBA and a BA in journalism, and is completing a masters in Journalism at Harvard.

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