Designing For Accessibility, Inclusivity, and Conversions – Ilana Davis

In this episode, we talk to Ilana Davis, an independent ecommerce consultant, to get her best advice for designing a website that is not only accessible and inclusive, but also optimized for conversions.

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About this episode:

In this episode, we talk to Ilana Davis, an independent ecommerce consultant and advocate for accessibility, inclusivity, and equality.

We talk about Ilana’s flagship service, the Website Rescue, and how she communicates with clients who land in her inbox saying, “I want to improve my conversion rate…what should I do?”

After going back and forth on CRO philosophy and strategies, we dive into the importance of considering accessibility and inclusivity when you launch a new product or review your store design. Neglecting this topic is literally costing you money.

So, if you’re looking for a playbook for auditing your site and identifying areas where you can make some small usability changes to drive a significant improvement in your conversion rate and revenue, this is the episode for you.

Here are a few resources that we covered:

  1. Ilana’s Website
  2. Amani Coffee Company
  3. Fetch Roasters
  4. Answer The Public
  5. Hair Love by Matthew Cherry

Want to be a guest on our show? Have feedback or ideas for how we can improve? Send your thoughts over to We’ll be keeping an eye on that inbox. 🙂

The Ecommerce Insights Show is brought to you by The Good, a Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) consultancy specializing in helping ecommerce businesses accelerate their growth through better research, testing, and design. Learn more about our team, our work, and our services at

Episode transcript:

[00:00:52] All right. A lot of thanks so much for coming on the show. I’m really excited to have you on. Let’s talk about all things e-commerce and we’re going to do a little conversion rate optimization and undo, do a little future trends and technology. We’re going to do a little bit yeah. Of customer experience type stuff.

[00:01:05] But before we get into all of that, I’d like to give you the opportunity to, you know, if we skip the full life story and just keep it to a couple of sentences, like, who are you professionally and personally, and what are you working on today? 

[00:01:15] Ilana Davis: [00:01:15] Yeah. Thanks so much for having me for sure James. I’m really excited to be here.

[00:01:18]Basically in a nutshell, I rescue websites. And what that means is over a two week period, I make a handful of tweaks and small changes to your Shopify site that increase your conversion rates. And typically that also means providing better SEO and attracting more visitors, all at a fraction of the cost of a full redesign, which is where many people tend to invest their money.

[00:01:39] And for me, I just believe you could put your money elsewhere and then fully redesign. 

[00:01:43] James Sowers: [00:01:43] Right. So you get more mileage out of what you already have. You’ve got this nice foundation. There’s no need to throw it all out and start all over. Let’s just find areas of opportunity that you can capitalize on and make some small tweaks to take advantage of those.

[00:01:53] Is that right? Exactly. Yeah. Awesome. Well, I love the model and as I was doing some background research, cause you’re one of the first guests that I didn’t already know personally, like I knew the name, but I didn’t know the person yet. And so I was doing a little bit of research and I saw on your website, you have an area that says the six, most common mistakes that websites make.

[00:02:08] And I’m assuming those are oriented around like conversion killers, right? And so we can definitely get into all of them, but I want to frame the question in terms of like, if you had a magic wand that you could just wave and you could eliminate one of these and never hear about it again, because every client, every e-commerce brand out there starts getting it.

[00:02:21] Right. Which one is like the biggest pain point or annoyance that you, that you just want to see disappear 

[00:02:25] Ilana Davis: [00:02:25] from the world. Yeah. I mean, so for those who don’t know, let’s talk a little bit really quickly about those six pieces, the six common mistakes. So the first one is no one knows what you actually do.

[00:02:35] The second one is your website. Isn’t engaging at all. The third one is that pages aren’t readable. The fourth one is that you lack the CTS. And the fifth one is that you lack descriptive content. And number six is that you’re not responsive from Opal. So if I had to pick one of them that I wish I could just solve and is never a problem for anyone would be that your pages aren’t readable and what that really ties into is UX user experience.

[00:03:05] And web accessibility. Now I have a background in HR and so I did HR for over 10 years before I moved into e-commerce. And I brought my knowledge of the ADA American with disabilities act, and it’s not transferable to web design yet. So a lot of people struggle with that. And a lot of people struggle with user experience, which they are very tied together.

[00:03:30] So if I could literally make something disappear, it would be to solve the accessibility issue with Shopify stores and. I don’t even know, like you can’t educate in the entire world, but like, if I could just make user experience, like the thing that everyone thinks of first, so that there isn’t friction on sites, like that would be, but two top things that I would take care of.

[00:03:53] James Sowers: [00:03:53] Yeah. I love that. I feel like maybe the best way to approach that you’d almost have to go to the theme developers and teach them what accessibility means and how to design for it because. The vast majority of Shopify stores are run on an off the shelf theme that has some customizations done to it. And it’s not built from scratch from the ground up.

[00:04:07] And so maybe the best approach would be to go talk to the theme developers, but they’re probably not listening to this show. 

[00:04:12] Ilana Davis: [00:04:12] I mean, there’s actually multiple problems with that. Yes, theme developers need to be held accountable, but it’s also app developers.

[00:04:18] It’s the merchants themselves, the store owners, the person who’s doing the design, the marketers Shopify as a whole. It’s not one person’s problem. It is everyone’s problem. And that’s why I say that’s the hardest one to achieve. And so if I could. Do one thing that would eliminate it, it would be like, that’s it because everyone has this problem.

[00:04:37] And it really is just a lack of knowledge across the board. People just don’t know what it means. And 15% of the world’s population that has some sort of a disability and imagine. The look on their faces when they can actually go through and make a purchase on your site without running into issues. And then also how much money could you make when you start thinking about accessibility?

[00:04:58] Not, and again, not just from the store owner, but from across the board. So it touches every piece of e-commerce and yet. It’s highly difficult and ignored. Sadly, 

[00:05:08] James Sowers: [00:05:08] can you give us a tangible example of an accessibility failure or a shortfall, right? Like, cause some people might hear accessibility and just think like, Oh, somebody can’t even use my site with a poor internet connection or on their mobile device or whatever.

[00:05:20] Like, that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about accessibility for. Potential customers who are coming to your site and they have some kind of a limitation or disability in terms of how they interact with the site itself that prevents them possibly from even making a purchase. So what’s like a tangible example of a website design choice that doesn’t work well in terms of accessibility and possibly maybe a simple fix or at least something that you could pursue to make it better.

[00:05:42] Ilana Davis: [00:05:42] Yeah.  You mentioned simple fix, right? There are the hard problems of the theme development or Shopify or apps like those are harder to accomplish. But when you look at it from a design standpoint and I could talk about accessibility for hours and this could be a whole episode, but two common things that I often see that I always tell people is font size.

[00:06:03] If your font sizes are too small. You can’t read it and they look at it from themselves. Oh, I can read this 14 pixel font. So it’s probably fine. It’s like, no, there are plenty of people that have a visibility issue or they have some sort of a, a limitation where they can’t see small font and they just ignore it.

[00:06:22] So increasing your font sizing to at least 16 pixel makes a world of difference. It feels huge on your site when you go up, like when you actually see those changes, but after a while, you don’t even realize that it’s. Bigger. The other issue that I see most common that I wish people would realize is the contrast between text and the background color or the picture.

[00:06:46] So if your background is a light blue and you use. I dunno, a teal color for your font. Like it’s really difficult to read and imagine if you’re outside it. So it’s not even about disabilities, right? It’s if you’re outside and the sun is beaming down on your phone, trying to make a purchase, you’re not even able to see what the text is that’s there.

[00:07:06] So those are just two really fast wins that people can do. That they don’t realize because in their experience they can see it. So they assume that it’s fine. But when you consider the user’s experience, right, the UX of things and how someone else might experience that, it’s the eyeopening thing that you’ll never get 

[00:07:25] James Sowers: [00:07:25] back.

[00:07:26] The example of the font size, because we see that all the time. And I think the full pod that happens there is you design for the desktop primarily. And then. There is a font size that’s set for mobile because of the responsiveness of the theme you’re using that is this default size. It’s like 10 pixels.

[00:07:41] And on your phone, it gets worse. If you have a paragraph of text, because then it’s all condensed down in here. It’s not like a little soundbite and that is the worst. And that’s the thing we see over and over. And it’s like, that’s one of those things where I’m sick of hearing about it. You know, when I do audits for clients and stuff, and it’s just like, if I can make that go away alone, just make it legible on a mobile device or a smaller screen then.

[00:08:00] That’s one step forward, right? So that’s, we always talk about getting 1% better every day. And then at the end of the year, you made a lot of progress. So that’s one thing that you can change pretty quickly. Just go into your theme settings or your CSS, and set a custom style for mobile font size. And there you go.

[00:08:13] And you know, test it, test it with an actual customer that has a disability or something like that, and make sure. That it’s working as intended. So I love that about the accessibility point, you covered five other ones. One I’d like to double click down into, I guess, is your site’s not engaging. Like how do we define that?

[00:08:27] Right? Like there are multiple aspects to a site being engaging. So I’m curious how you think about that and how you advise your clients on that. 

[00:08:33] I 

[00:08:33] Ilana Davis: [00:08:33] think a lot of that ties into some of the other areas that we talked about. Like, what do you do? And is it descriptive enough? Do you have the right content it’s on your pages?

[00:08:42] So if you’re literally like, Hey, shop my store. And that’s it. And then it’s just a bunch of pictures. I’m like, okay, who are you? I don’t care. Like, what do I want to do with this? That’s not engaging. Right. But when you have personality that shows up in your site, when you have something that tells me why I should buy from you over the next person, That becomes engaging.

[00:09:03] Right? You make that personal connection and it’s a lot easier for your customer to be like, Oh, I want to support this company. And one of the things that I did recently is I was looking for a new coffee that I wanted to try. And those of you who are watching I’m drinking coffee right now, and I drink it all the time.

[00:09:21] And I wanted to switch coffee providers and I was looking for the right blend for me. And I’m like, I have no idea. I used to just buy this off the shelf thing, but I wanted to invest in a Shopify store and I was searching and searching and searching. And then finally I was trying to find the right blend, but using like, how do I define what this blend is?

[00:09:38] And everyone’s like this palette of a flavor or whatever. I don’t know what these flavors are. And I found this website that had a questionnaire of how do you drink your coffee and based on how you drank it. This is the type of coffee that you should get. And so that was engaging, right? They were answering a question that I had to solve my problem.

[00:09:56] And based on the content that was on their site, I was pulled in and I wanted to invest more and they absolutely got my business and they still get my business today. So that’s what I mean by saying it’s not engaging. It has to pull the customer in and make them want to buy from you. 

[00:10:14] James Sowers: [00:10:14] Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

[00:10:15] And I love how you said I had to change coffee providers. It felt like health insurance to me. Like, it just felt like such a big ordeal because that’s such a huge part of your life. I’m right there with you. I mean, I’ve got a cup next to me. So I just, I, that stood out to me as something a little bit humorous, but in terms of the actual substance of what you were saying there, sorry to take a tangent, but giving somebody a reason to care, right?

[00:10:33] Like I think a lot of people might call that like a differentiator or whatever. Like what’s different about you. And a lot of people say, My product or in the worst case, they might say, it’s my price, right? I’m the lowest price. I’m the most affordable or whatever, but really, I think the most powerful stuff is like your mission that people behind your story, the customers, you serve , like you see this all the time to use a coffee example.

[00:10:51] One of the folks that I know is a Moni coffee company and. They have an exclusive relationship. I’ll have to look up the location, but there’s some remote, like rainforest type of tropical area in the small little village. And they have an exclusive right to export beans from that area. And so all a portion of the proceeds goes right back into that village to build Wells and build homes and give people jobs.

[00:11:08] And they pay exorbitant salaries compared to what people can earn locally, because it’s a us company. And so like, that’s an example of. Doing well, but also doing good. Right? And so to me, that’s something. So you keep the coffee example going that like makes me want to be a customer of theirs over say Folgers or even Starbucks or whatever, like whatever your default brand is, that feels better to me.

[00:11:28] And I’m willing to pay a little bit of a premium to support a cause like that. So maybe that’s a good example of , Telling that story on your website is a way to be engaging beyond just the default, shop our store, buy our coffee, start your subscription, yada, yada 

[00:11:40] Ilana Davis: [00:11:40] yada. And that was actually one of the reasons why I did end up buying.

[00:11:44] So this is fetch roasters. So those of you who are local to , Portland, Oregon, or you want it to get a ship she’s. Right here in Portland called fetch roasters. And she does the same thing. She donates part of her proceeds to the Oregon humane society. And I was like, okay. So not only is there a website engaging and did you solve my problem and you answered my questions, but you’re also going to donate part of the proceeds.

[00:12:04] Take my money, like go. 

[00:12:07] James Sowers: [00:12:07] Yeah, that’s great. I love that. Let’s do maybe one more of the six common mistakes. I think the one that jumps out at me, unless you have another one you’d really love to dive into is the people don’t know what you do. And I think that’s part of like what we’re talking about here, but it’s, I see so many sites that in the hero section, they have some aspirational stock photo looking thing that.

[00:12:22] Maybe he doesn’t even have the product in there, or like maybe it has one of their products, but it doesn’t show the entire suite. I don’t know much about makeup, better shows their concealer, but it doesn’t show anything else that they offer. And so like, they kind of know what you do, but some of these mission-driven companies I’ve seen they’ll have like the picture of the village.

[00:12:38] Right. Which is great, but they don’t have the coffee. And so like, what are you selling? Are you selling huts? You know, like, what are you, what are you selling it? So are you selling the shells that everybody’s wearing or the jewelry? Or like, what is it? So I’m thinking that’s probably where you’re going to take this, but you might have something more 

[00:12:51] Ilana Davis: [00:12:51] substantial.

[00:12:51] Yeah, no, I think this isn’t even e-commerce this is every single business that’s out there. This is the same thing. And I was joking with my husband a while ago when I was building out my site and. I was looking at all the different Shopify partners that are out there. And he made a comment to me that has really stuck.

[00:13:09] And he said, could you change your business name to anything else? And would they realize something’s different? Meaning if I go to the goods website and I. Change the name from the good to something else, for example, would it matter? Like, does it feel like it’s the same descriptive of who you are and what you do on every single website?

[00:13:29] And if it feels like it’s the same thing on every website of your competitors, you’re not individualizing yourself right now. So when you look at that top piece of the website, I have to know what exactly you do and why you’re so important and what sets you apart from somebody else. Otherwise you are literally just like every other skincare company that’s going to be out there.

[00:13:51] And I, I get that a lot. Right. Skincare is skincare is skincare, but what makes you different? And what makes you someone that I should buy from? And that’s really where it becomes key. Like if I can copy and paste names into your site, you’re not an individual. You are the same as everybody 

[00:14:07] James Sowers: [00:14:07] else. That’s right.

[00:14:08] Yeah. And I think maybe a good example of that hate to bring it up. Cause everybody talks about it is like Nike, like Nike, the brand name inherently has no definition of like what that company would even do. Right. It’s not the athletic shoe company it’s just called Nike. And if you didn’t already know them, then you might not know what they do.

[00:14:21] But I bet if you go to their website, you’re going to see athletic apparel over there. And you’re even going to see probably like some combination of LeBron James and your average everyday jogger and the message that they’re trying to send at least I think is like, we give you performance that the professionals.

[00:14:34] Aspire to, but we give it to you at a price that’s accessible for the average consumer. Like to me, that’s kind of like the messaging I take away from Nike. And I think they do a great job at it. Of course, they’ve got a huge budget, but I think that’s conceptually, that’s what you should aspire to. Like when somebody lands on your site, independent of the URL or the brand name, they should be able to like navigate your homepage and say, this company provides X for these people.

[00:14:54] Right. And that’s the key takeaway. And if you change the name or you change the logo or you change the URL, it shouldn’t make a difference because they know exactly what you do. And what your value proposition is. Would you say that’s 

[00:15:03] Ilana Davis: [00:15:03] fair? Right. And it’s basically niching, right? Yeah. That’s why everyone says you have to niche.

[00:15:07] If you’re a generalist, then everything to everybody, and it’s no different than the next person. But when you niche, when you specialize in what you do, when you make products that are so special that no one else does. And you emphasize that on your website, then it’s clear and it’s easier for somebody to know exactly who you are.

[00:15:25]James Sowers: [00:15:25] Are there any common mistakes that you see outside of the six that you’ve decided to package up neatly that people are making in terms of the actual website design, like the structural presentation or the pallet or the branding or whatever else they might be using to present themselves to the world.

[00:15:39] Is there something else that you see frequently that you just like, say, Hey, store owner was fix this or stop doing this? 

[00:15:45] Ilana Davis: [00:15:45] Yeah. You know, I always try to touch on this one, especially when I see it across websites. If you are using product tabs, for example, on your website for your product pages, those are often conversion killers because what happens, especially if they’re like actual tabs that go like right to left and horizontally versus the vertical, oftentimes the way that those are built.

[00:16:08] They are hidden from something like Google, right? Google is crawling your site. And trying to determine that when someone asks a question that you have the answers on your product page. And so if you’re hiding that information behind product tabs, Google doesn’t know that they’re there, but also from a usability standpoint, most people don’t click on those product types or they don’t see them.

[00:16:28] And so it becomes a huge kind of fo paw that I like to address on every website that I touch that has them. And they just don’t convert very well. So I would say product tabs is another one of those really bad usability designs that someone created at some point, because marketers did it, probably because they wanted it to be able to condense more information on the page.

[00:16:49]And only show the most important things. But guess what people will scroll down. They will look farther down on your page. Look at Amazon right now. They don’t have product tabs. You can scroll down and you can see all the information and yet they make a ton of money. So you don’t need product tabs.

[00:17:04] You don’t need to condense your information to only show what’s above the fold. If you will, you can do whatever you want, but stop doing product tabs 

[00:17:14] James Sowers: [00:17:14] point taken. So if a client comes to you and they have product tabs and you’re making the recommendation that they get rid of them, What’s kind of your playbook for addressing that.

[00:17:21] Is that something that’s a custom theme tweak or like, where are you putting that information to otherwise? Is it going further down the page in a different format? Like how do you typically 

[00:17:28] Ilana Davis: [00:17:28] address? Yeah, that’s a great question. I’m so glad you asked it. I think it depends on how they’re built. So some people will build product tabs within HTML as part of their.

[00:17:38] Description and the product page itself that can easily be converted into headings. Right? So instead of having a tab where the top of it says care, for example, turn that tab of care into a heading, and then your eye is drawn because your headings are going to have different weights to it, meaning it was bold or they’re italic or different color or something.

[00:17:59] So you’re still able to see that information, but it’s directly on the page, but yes, it just goes farther down the page. And if your page becomes. So long that it’s excessive, right? It’s just super long. Maybe you have too much content. I don’t know that I would ever actually say that, but maybe you do, but maybe there’s other ways that you can, can change it up.

[00:18:18] So there are stores for example, where they have to have ingredients listed on their site. And so that does absolutely draw. The content to be much larger. So it could be that you’re farther down. It could be that you create, depending on the theme that you have something that is more visually pleasing towards the bottom of your product page, but maybe it’s also that you have just a long page.

[00:18:43] Like there’s nothing wrong with that. Some places where it’s like, If you have your shipping policy, but as part of your product page, maybe you make that where it’s a single line, for example. And then for more information on our shipping policy, go to our shipping page, and then that way you’re also only updating one page with all of the major content that’s happening on your actual policy page.

[00:19:06] And then there’s just a snippet on your product page about that policy, for example. 

[00:19:10]James Sowers: [00:19:10] So how would you give that type of information priority over or behind stuff like social proof, right? Like reviews or testimonials or featured in inquire or GQ or anything like that in terms of hierarchy on the page, you’re going to have the product photo and the description and the checkout button, that kind of thing.

[00:19:28] And then what falls below that, ideally in terms of , what would typically be on a product tab, but would go further down into the body of the page, so 

[00:19:35] Ilana Davis: [00:19:35] to speak. Yeah. So ideally your reviews for example, are linked toward the top. So usually on a product page, you’d have your stars with X reviews or whatever people can click on that.

[00:19:46] And it takes them to the bottom of the page. That’s typically how reviews would work. Meaning that, that content that we’re talking about that would be in those product tabs is still towards the middle of your page, right? It’s not on the top. It’s not on the bottom. It’s right in the middle so that people can see all the information that they need to be educated before they decide their purchase or not.

[00:20:05] And that’s really the key point. They have to be educated enough to know if. The product is going to fill their need or not. And if they make a choice and they purchase your product, but they didn’t get to see the information that this is actually a dry, clean, only products, or like caring because you hit it behind a product tab, then you’re not only dealing with a return, but now you’re dealing with an angry customer.

[00:20:28] So it’s really important to have that information visible that they can see it, but I would absolutely still have that content in there, but maybe your reviews are at the bottom sometimes. There are going to be, if you have social proof, for example, maybe that gets put up a little bit higher and then you have more of care information underneath that.

[00:20:46] I don’t think that there’s a blanket statement with how I would exactly organize that because it really does depend on the product. If the product requires that knowledge of the social proof in order to help sell it. Then that takes higher priority over that. Maybe the ingredients, for example. 

[00:21:02] James Sowers: [00:21:02] Yeah, that makes sense.

[00:21:02] So there is no single one size fits all answer, but you know, use your best guess test everything, that kind of thing. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. To me. We’re basically doing an audit or a live build up a product detail page here right now. So it’s in the weeds. It’s good. I think it’s valuable, but let’s say like you do these website rescues and let’s say somebody comes to you and they say, Hey, I need your website rescue.

[00:21:23] My website is not converting. Like I hope it would. And I can’t really figure out why, what is your thought process or what’s your playbook for approaching like a bigger, I’m guessing you start with some kind of an audit and then put together some recommendations then implementation, but in a more detailed sense, how do you even go about diagnosing the problem?

[00:21:38] When the presentation of the patient so to speak is like, Hey, my website is just not converting my conversion rates too low, or it’s dropping or it’s stagnant and I can’t get it to grow anymore. Where do you start? 

[00:21:48] Ilana Davis: [00:21:48] Yeah. So every rescue that I do, every website rescue the ideas, what’s up with the kickoff call.

[00:21:53] And there’s a reason for that. It’s because I’m asking a ton of questions, trying to understand. So when someone literally said, it says my website, isn’t converting, what do I do? There’s question that I started with. And that’s how much traffic are you getting? For example, what is your conversion rate now?

[00:22:08] And where do you think it should be? Why do you think it should be that way? Did someone tell you you should have this magic number and it’s not realistic? Or have you been there before and you wanna figure out how to get back up to that number? There’s also, what’s your abandoned cart rate. That’s another big question that I have.

[00:22:24] Meaning are people dropping off your site at checkout or are they dropping off your site? Right after they look at your products, meaning that they’ve clearly, we’re never going to buy from you, right. That was never there plan. So there’s different reasons why you might be losing. Your visitors as he go through.

[00:22:40] But then I ask questions, like, how are you obtaining your customers? Are you using ads? Are you using SEO? Is it through word of mouth or content creation or audience sharing those sorts of things because all of these factors have a impact on your traffic and your traffic impacts your conversion rate.

[00:23:00] So if you are doing ads may be your ads are really. Kind of sporadic and they’re not targeted or you’re attracting the wrong people. The people that we’re never going to buy from you in the first place. So there could be a lot of reasons why your conversion rate is low. The law of numbers as the more people that you have visiting your website, the less people are actually going to convert.

[00:23:23] It’s not possible to convert everyone that comes across. So you have to make sure that you’re attracting the right people. And anytime you do ads , you’re bringing more people to your website and not necessarily the right people, as I mentioned before.

[00:23:36] So when you do ads, sometimes your conversion rate drops and that’s okay. Ads should be more about awareness and not about actual conversion rates. So. I usually ask a lot of those questions because it then ties into the actual experience on the site. So if I understand how you’re getting people to your site now, it’s is your user experience poor.

[00:24:00] That’s where I started doing my research within a rescue, right after I’ve asked those questions. I’m looking at the research, I’m analyzing their site. I’m trying to understand where people are dropping off and why they could be dropping off. And that’s usually around the user experience. Because that’s where you can get a hundred thousand people to your site, but if they can’t check out, if there’s something preventing them from doing that, or if there’s something preventing them from clicking a button, you could attract all people in the world.

[00:24:27] You’re never going to get your conversion rate up. 

[00:24:29]James Sowers: [00:24:29] What I love about that answer and the reason I ask the question is because we have people come to us with the same question, what’s a good conversion rate. Our answer is always one. That’s always getting better. Like, I can’t tell you that if it’s three or six or 12, like, I don’t know.

[00:24:39] Without knowing more about your business and your product and your customers. Right? So what I love about how you laid things out is it, it feels a lot, like I think of it like a doctor visit you present, you say, I don’t feel well. Right? Well, the doctor doesn’t just give you a medication off the shelf.

[00:24:52] They start looking at your symptoms and they say, do you have a runny nose? Like, how do your ears look? Cause your throat inflamed, what’s your temperature, all these different things they’re trying to take. Stock of what might be contributing to the end problem. But without doing that first, you’re going to apply a solution that may or may not be a good fit and it’s more likely it’s not going to be a good fit than it will be a good fit. Right. So it really is like a diagnostic process. And then you can get into like the prescriptive fixes. So love the answer to that question. If you think about like a time that you applied that process to a client situation.

[00:25:21] So they came in, you did the audit, you propose the fixes, you implemented the fixes. What’s the success story of that in practice, right? What was the beginning state and what was the end state? What was the life-changing kind of moment? Presumably that happened from applying. Your playbook to their 

[00:25:35] Ilana Davis: [00:25:35] business.

[00:25:36] Yeah, I actually have to, well, one of them is actually not a customer of mine, so I will say that one second, the other one actually had nothing to do with their numbers. So one of my clients, their name is animals matter and they’re a manufacturing organization out of Southern California. And they essentially make companion beds, for example.

[00:25:55] And then they have a lot of other products too, but there was specific companion beds that they were constantly getting phone calls about. And they were frustrated not about their sales, not about their conversion rates or anything like that, but it was. They just wanted to make their site better. Like that was their whole point.

[00:26:13] And one of the goals that we set as part of a rescue was to reduce the number of customer service, phone calls. And they didn’t have that number. They weren’t tracking it. So it was more anecdotal for them, but the issue was actually their product tabs. So they had information about sizing for their companion beds, hidden in a product tab and people couldn’t find it.

[00:26:34] And so they were having issues with customer service calls. And when I looked at their site, I’m like, well, that’s because you’re hiding it and people can’t see those. So they’re calling you, asking you for help. So as soon as we took that information out of the product tab and put it on their page and we created a header around the sizing and how to care for it, their customer service calls dropped dramatically.

[00:26:54] And I remember the. The first weekend where he had no phone calls about their pages. And he was like, this was the best weekend ever. Like we actually got to enjoy ourselves. Like they didn’t have to do any customer service calls. And so I think that’s why I say, like, I asked these questions because it’s not a one size fits all.

[00:27:10] It really is depending on what the store is experiencing and then what your customers are experiencing. And in this case, I had no analytical data. I could only do. Anecdotal. And he was like, this is the best thing ever. And he just had no idea that that was even a problem. 

[00:27:26] James Sowers: [00:27:26] That’s a great example. And what I love that it highlights is, you know, we’re talking about conversion rate optimization, we’re talking about website design and people think like, I’m just trying to sell more widgets.

[00:27:34] Right. But there are secondary and tertiary benefits to that. Like it reduces your customer support volume. Maybe it increases the number of reviews that you get or the product feedback that you get, because. People are not buying the wrong thing and having to return it. They’re buying the right thing from the start and they’re loving it because it’s a good fit.

[00:27:50] So like making these intentional decisions about how you present yourself to the world and how customers interact with your website, doesn’t just improve your conversion rate. It also improves the customer experience, which frees you up to focus more time and energy on other things. So I think you said you might’ve had two examples there, but maybe I misheard you.

[00:28:06] Ilana Davis: [00:28:06] Okay. Yeah. The other thing that I wanted to talk about, and this is not a client of mine, but it’s a huge success story that I’ve seen with someone who has taken a lot of time and effort into understanding their audience. And the website is called a kid’s book about, and again, they’re not a client of mine, but Jelani, if you’re listening, I want to work with you.

[00:28:26] So a kids book about is only a year old and they just turned one, I think earlier this month or late last month. And. His plan was to write. One book is called a kid’s book about racism. And it was going to be a small venture, but in this past year, they have published 27 books and a kid’s book about racism is now on the number one bestseller and their whole mission of what they’re building is to make kids books that matter.

[00:28:53] So their goal is to help kids learn more about the world and treat them like. The little people that they are and not like kids. So they talk about topics that kids can really handle, like racism, creativity, empathy, disability, failure, lots of books. Right. But I’ve bought four books myself, two more on pre-order and I could just buy all of their books.

[00:29:17] And it’s because they have a mission that is meaningful and that is impactful to a family, for example, and the world that we’re in today. So it’s one of those stories where they’ve really looked at who their customers are trying to understand the problem that they have and what problem needs to be solved and has created a product that really solves that issue.

[00:29:37] James Sowers: [00:29:37] Awesome. That hits home for me because we have this book of the month subscription for our daughter. Who’s almost three. And they sent us a book a couple months back called hair love,  it’s a great book because it’s about an African-American family and the mother is away on a work trip and the father’s home alone with a daughter.

[00:29:51] And he’s exhausted from taking care of her by himself. And so he’s trying to style her hair in a special way to make her look great for mom when she gets home. And it talks about the different, like why the texture of the hair is different and the different hairstyles have to be different because of it.

[00:30:04] And all the hair products are different. And my daughter who is Caucasian , like she just latched onto that. And we had to explain to her, like people have different styles of hair and different colors of skin and different lifestyles that go along with both of those things and how they manage themselves and take care of themselves.

[00:30:18] And like she’s three years old and she’s latching onto this. So. The mission of the company that you just shared really strikes a chord with me because I want to talk to her about other aspects of life that are considered adult topics. But the earlier you can present these things. And , in my experience, if you talk to kids like adults and be reasonable about it, but you know, you got to water things down a little bit, but if you treat them in a way that is mature, they want that, like, they’re thirsty for that, right?

[00:30:40] Because there’s a part of their life where they love cartoons and they love the animations and the high voices and the colors and everything. But there’s also a part of their life where like they see what you do every day. And they want to learn more about that because they know conceptually that that’s their future.

[00:30:54] And so I love that example. Thank you so much for sharing that. And you know, I think to date in our conversation so far, we’ve talked mainly about onsite experiences, right? We’re talking about accessibility, conversion, rate, optimization, user experience, stuff like that. I’d like to shift gears a little bit and talk about the marketing side of things and filling that funnel or attracting traffic or whatever.

[00:31:12] Let’s say you encounter a store owner, one of your meetups, or they just come in to your inbox and they want to have a kickoff call or a discovery call. And they say, look, I have enough time or energy or budget or whatever, to focus on one aspect of marketing. That’s all I’ve got because I’m operating lean or I’m short on time.

[00:31:26] I’m doing this all myself. Where do you recommend folks spend most of their time and attention? Is it SEO? Is it. SMS marketing, email marketing, paid ads, like partnerships, influencers, whatever. Like, there are a million things you could do. Let’s say for the next 90 days, somebody has enough time or money to do one.

[00:31:41] What do you default to? 

[00:31:43] Ilana Davis: [00:31:43] Yeah. And I should clarify, I’m not a marketer. Marketing is not one of the services that I offer, but I do get this question all the time and I also get it in a way of like, I need to improve my conversion rates. How do I do that? Well, what are you doing for marketing? How are you doing those things?

[00:31:56] So I do ask a rhetorical question. To the people that are listening right now, it’s more of a self-reflecting question. Are you looking to invest in something in the long run or are you looking to invest in getting sales right now? Because. That answer. What’s how you are. I think you should go. And if you’re looking at sales right now, it’s probably ads of some sorts because it’s more of an immediate response and immediate action to make a purchase.

[00:32:23] If you’re looking at something for the long run, it’s typically going to be SEO. And I mentioned earlier about if you do ads. It’s really difficult because you could be spending money on the wrong audience, for example, coming to your site. But with SEO, if you’re doing it right, you are already targeting the right people to come to your site.

[00:32:43] And remember with SEO, the way that this works is that the customer types, something into Google. They’re asking Google a question and Google responds with. A site or a link or information based on the question that they’re asking. So if they say I’m looking for a book on hairstyles, right. Then if you have content on your site that addresses this exact question, that’s what SEO is.

[00:33:09] It’s optimizing your site to answer questions on Google or other search engines. I should say that too. Then you’ve invested in that long-term because SEO takes six to 12 months or longer for that to really start paying off. And to give an example, I did a search. I think it’s called ask the, Oh gosh. Now I can’t remember.

[00:33:27] The site is that I was using it’s like, you could type in a two word thing and it’ll show you all the different types of queries that people put into Google. But I looked up, I was something a while ago, for example, on transferring your Squarespace domain to Shopify. Because I used very specific SEO keyword terms on my title and in my content, that is my number one hit on all of my traffic pages.

[00:33:53] And so you can target people in the long run to find you based on the questions that they’re asking in Google. So SEO is a long run, but it’s also something you have to keep doing. So when you’re investing in marketing, it should not be a one and done thing this quarter, maybe you invest in SEO next quarter, maybe you invest in email marketing next quarter.

[00:34:15] You going back to SEO the quarter after that you go to ads, whatever that might be, that mix is, but here’s a quick tip with SEO and email marketing that I love. And many people don’t realize this. If you’re already writing emails, for example, turn those emails into articles on your website, which then help you with your SEO because you’re answering questions that people have.

[00:34:38] If you don’t already write emails, but maybe you want to, or you have articles on your site, turn your articles into emails so they can be working together so that you’re spending less money, but you’re getting the biggest bang for your buck. 

[00:34:52] James Sowers: [00:34:52] Yeah, I love that concept. Repurposing is something that I advise people on over and over again.

[00:34:56] Like if you take the time to create something in some original format, like we’re doing a podcast right now, when we hang up this call, I’m going to go turn it into an article. I’m going to turn it into social media posts. I’m going to take the video and put it on YouTube. I’m going to take the audio and drop it in the podcast feed.

[00:35:08] Like. There’s a million different ways that this can be repurposed and that’s not just applicable to agency life, right? Like that is applicable to e-commerce businesses too. So whatever you’re already doing, give it a second or third life in a different format. I love that advice. And maybe I’ll take this opportunity to drop the resources that we both kind of missed out on here.

[00:35:24] So I think what you were referring to for the SEO side is answer the public. I’ve used that one before. Yeah. So it’s called answer the public. It’s an answer. The and then the book I was referred to hair love is written by Matthew Cherry and Karen Tolliver. So look that up. It’s a great read.

[00:35:38]But let me get back to your answer here. So I love your answer. Typically, what I tell people is if you picture like three concentric circles, there’s one for your business goals. There’s one for like your skillset or the skills that you can hire for. And then there’s one for like where your customers are even hanging out and how they like to be approached.

[00:35:52] And wherever those three things meet, that’s generally where I say like, you should start. So if your business goal is short term sales and you’re good at Facebook ads and your customers are already on Facebook because I don’t know, they’re stay at home moms and they’re a bunch of support groups there and they love to sell their baby clothes on.

[00:36:05] They’re like, Then go run a Facebook ad campaign. That’s your solution. But what I love about what you shared, it’s like you’ve got a long-term vision and you’ve got a short term vision and you pick the one that’s right for you. And I think that maybe SEO in my mind at least is something that should be kind of part of your operational cadence, right?

[00:36:19] Like you launch a new product page, you should do the onsite optimization for that. In the moment you write a new article, you should do that in the moment. And those things accumulate and they build up over time. You don’t necessarily have to invest in SEO this quarter. You’re just doing it all the time.

[00:36:32] And you wake up a year from now and your traffic’s up 35%. You don’t know why. Well it’s because of all that work you’ve been putting in day-to-day goat’s finally recognizing it and you’re on. 

[00:36:39] Ilana Davis: [00:36:39] Exactly. Yeah. I think that’s a really good point is that people assume it’s a one and done thing and it’s like, no, Every time you put up an image up on your site, add that all text, as soon as you do it.

[00:36:49] For example, every time you create a product page make sure that you’re highlighting the proper words that people are going to be searching for within your product description. If you use words that people aren’t using right. It’s not going to help you in any way. So I think that’s a really great point to say, there’s a difference between spending money on SEO, maybe that’s with an agency or a consultant or something like that.

[00:37:11] And then just part of your day-to-day operational expense. 

[00:37:14] James Sowers: [00:37:14] Yeah, I totally agree. Listen, maybe before I let you go, I got one more question for you. So you work with e-commerce brands day in and day out, just like we do. And so you interact with a lot of founders and senior executives at these places. Are you seeing any trends and maybe that’s more of a softer thing, like just a movement or a mindset or something like that around e-commerce or it could be something more tangible, like emerging technology or best practices .

[00:37:36] Is there anything  out on the horizon that you’re looking at as you interact with clients that has got you excited because it’s kind of coming around the corner and it might shake up e-commerce in a big way. 

[00:37:44] Ilana Davis: [00:37:44] Yeah. You know, we’ve talked a lot about web accessibility and I think it’s not going to be solved right away, not in the next one to two years or probably in the next 10 years, it’s a hard problem to solve, but the trend is.

[00:38:00] Becoming more and more aware of the need, the same thing with inclusivity. When you’re talking about how you’re putting your business out there and how you’re presenting yourself, making sure that you have an inclusive business that is not just attracting people that are just like you it’s attracting many people that maybe aren’t just like you, that look different than you.

[00:38:19] I’m white. I’m a female. I am the same gender that I was when I was born. And yet when I. Talk with other people. I work with an organization called PDX women in technology. And the whole organization is built around women in tech and keeping them in tech and building an infrastructure that allows them to feel comfortable.

[00:38:41] And this is not just women. It’s those who identify as women. And we also support those who don’t identify as women. But the point being is that there is a lot more awareness in the need to be inclusive. To the greater public. And I see that as a trend that is becoming more and more prevalent, and I hope that we can see that be more important as e-commerce develops, and that as people are developing their sites, they’re focusing more on web accessibility.

[00:39:11] As Shopify builds out their platform, they make accessibility a higher priority. They make the. Desire to be more inclusive with different race and genders and sexual orientation. Like all these things need to be a bigger priority. And I think it’s getting there and I’m really excited to see that come into the e-commerce industry.

[00:39:31] James Sowers: [00:39:31] I really hope it sustains momentum too, because it’s critically important and it’s the right thing to do. But it’s also good for business too, because like you said, 15% of people have some kind of disability. I’m not sure if it was all people were online shoppers, but either way, you’re significantly writing off 15% of potential business just by not making accommodations or making preparations to adequately serve those folks.

[00:39:51] And in the same way, if you’re only focusing on one societal demographic for your product and you’re excluding everybody else, either intentionally or unintentionally. Like that’s a lot of potential business left there and you know, it’s not about the money, it’s the right thing to do, but it also happens to have a financial upside for your business.

[00:40:05] So it’s the smart thing to do too. And I’m standing here as somebody who’s upper middle class, white male, like I’m about , as standard as you can be. And what I know about inclusivity is , it takes work. Like you have to be intentional about it. And I hope that people walk away from this and make it part of their.

[00:40:21] Quality assurance process or the product development process or something to constantly be thinking about. Are we making this new product detail page accessible for everyone? Are we considering different perspectives when we designed this new product? Like if you make handbags or something like that, are you considering people that might’ve had a limb amputated or something like that?

[00:40:37] Like they still need bags, right? Like still need to carry things around, but their experience might be different. And so I know in my experience, like, as I prepare for this podcast, I tap my personal network and I put a list of like 40 people out there. Lot of women. Lot of men, they pretty much all happened to be white.

[00:40:51] And like, so I I’m intentional about trying to expand my personal and professional network to include more people with diverse backgrounds. I just think that e-commerce owners have to do the same as they operate their businesses. I’m so glad you brought that up because it is so important, but it doesn’t necessarily get.

[00:41:06] Brought up as something that is on the horizon, gaining steam, but we need to continue to be diligent about, so thank you so much for sharing that before I let you go and get back to your day. Can you tell the listeners where they can go? I mean, we’ve covered so much today and we could have gone really deep into accessibility.

[00:41:19] We may, we’ll do another episode just on that and get really technical from a user experience design and user interface, design perspective. But before we let you go, where can folks go to learn more about Alanna Davis and all the good work that you’re 

[00:41:29] Ilana Davis: [00:41:29] doing? Yeah. So I’m on Twitter Allana Davis, HR or on Facebook, you can search for website rescues and you’ll find me there.

[00:41:37] Awesome. 

[00:41:38] James Sowers: [00:41:38] All right. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show Alon. I really enjoyed having you and we’d love to have you back sometime to get a little bit more technical about some of those design aspects, if you’re interested. Thanks, James. I 

[00:41:45] Ilana Davis: [00:41:45] appreciate it. Cool. Thank you. 

[00:41:47] James Sowers: [00:41:47] Hey everybody. This is James again.

[00:41:49] And before you go, I just wanted to invite you to join one of the coolest things I get to work on as director of marketing here at the good. It’s called the e-commerce insiders list. And it’s a private version of this podcast feed that gets you access to tons of additional bonus content, like extra interviews, Q and a sessions, website, tear downs, and anything else we can dream up.

[00:42:06] It doesn’t cost you anything, but your email address. And we promise to always respect your inbox. This is just our way of forming strong relationships with our listeners and making sure that we produce content that is actually valuable to you. And to your business. If you’re interested, you can join the rest of the e-commerce insiders by going to the and dropping your email into the form at the top of the page, we’ll follow up with directions for how to access the private feed and you’ll be off and running.

[00:42:30] Like I said, this is one of my favorite things that I get the opportunity to work on because it lets me interact directly with e-commerce founders and leaders. Just like you. If you’re interested, I’d love to see your name pop up in my notifications. Until then keep an eye out for the next episode of the e-commerce insight show.

[00:42:44] And we’ll talk to you soon.

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James Sowers

About the Author

James Sowers

James Sowers is the former Director of The Good Ventures. He has more than a decade of experience helping software and ecommerce companies accelerate their growth and improve their customer experience.