Strategy Centre

IRP Design Guidelines

24 October 2013
22 February 2016

IRP Design Guidelines

"You only have one chance to make a first impression..."

Visual design is a huge area of ecommerce and is a deciding factor in the success or failure of a business. This is because it impacts on the conversion rate and CPA% of the business.

There are many factors that are involved in design, not least pure visual aesthetics. When using the IRP, it is important to remember that the customers arriving at your site can be very diverse.

Therefore, rather than designing messaging for one market, over time you are designing individually for every country that you are marketing to.

Design covers the IRP site designs (mobile and web), but it also should cover all touch points with the customer — from email to collateral and the experience of the customer opening the package when it arrives. In this multichannel world — design is key.

Like never before, time is of the essence

In an online world, attention spans are short — time is critical to the sale. In our view, all information and messaging must be geared quickly towards SELLING.  Online messaging should build confidence, clarity and remove objections in all areas. All pages and all elements of an IRP site are selling opportunities. A Returns page, or a security message, is just another key opportunity to sell positively.

Five core concepts should be built into all thinking around IRP Design:

1. Design messaging needs to be clear and fast

Very few companies online have time to be subtle.  All sales are time sensitive. The value proposition must be put forward very quickly and clearly on an IRP site.

2. Answer questions before they are asked

Key information like Shipping, Prices, Security and Returns should be conveyed quickly and accurately.  The "value proposition" should be gathered quickly from any page on an IRP site. Once a customer begins to look, they are too easily lost.

3. Faster is always better

One undisputed fact in ecommerce is that fast page loads are better than slow.  It is therefore key to make sure that all files are optimised for speed — with images compressed to minimise file size but still appearing completely crisp.

4. The customer is interested in themselves — you need to be interested in them

Online customers can come from very different places geographically. So it is key to market to each one based on what they need to know to make a purchase.  An IRP site should be tailored to suit each country.

5. Decisions are made quickly

In online selling, people make decisions very quickly.  Unlike a retail store, where the person has made the effort to visit, in the online world they have clicked through and in seconds will decide whether to stay or go.  Sales need to be fought for. All elements of design need to be geared towards selling.

Where can design take place in the IRP?

All aspects of IRP design are covered in the "Interface and Design" section, and also, for text content, in the "Interface Translations" section. Areas such as "Email Marketing" also require additional design. You should bring the principles described above into all design in an IRP.

The "Interface and Design" section has 7 core areas:

  • Banners
    This is where you create core messaging banners. These cover all areas of the IRP and should be there for your key country markets.
  • Images & Interface Folders
    These allow you to change the icons and images on a site.
  • Interface Settings
    These control whether you show or hide navigations and the structural configuration of a site.
  • Home Pages
    Controls the home page section of an IRP.
  • Navigation (the top tabs and the bottom areas of the site)
    Allows you to change the links and information at the top and bottom of an IRP.
  • Custom Content
    Freeform design of the content type pages, such as About Us, Returns pages, etc. These are key selling pages. Only customers who may purchase are interested in this information.
  • CSS Design (the style of the site)
    This allows you to change the overall colours, backgrounds and font styles of an IRP.


Having a great looking website is key to success in design. Look current. Always be selling. Have a reason for all design. Remove objections.

Always remember your customer. Be aware of what they need to hear to close the sale.

Great design means increased conversion rates. Conversion rate is the keystone of a profitable business — and design is a fundamental component of conversion.

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