When it comes to fashion, most developers like us couldn’t tell Levi from L.L. Bean. Nerds aren’t traditionally known for being on the cutting edge of fashion… So some of the merchandise at Downtown, a hip and rather exclusive fashion boutique located in the heart of San Francisco, has always been a bit of a mystery to us. (Cobweb Kimono Cardigan? What does that mean?)

But we know Magento and eCommerce design, and we could tell that there was a problem with conversion on their edgy, though unconventional, homepage. We needed to bring down the bounce rate and get people into the site to see and feel the whole collection. To save on time, we decided to go for a fairly simple redesign of just the homepage, while leaving the category and product pages relatively untouched with the exception of some fonts.


Our new design…

Our first goal was to reduce the rate of dropoffs from the homepage. People just weren’t getting to product pages to see the detailed images, descriptions, and sale pricing. For the two months prior to the launch, dropoffs from the homepage were averaging 53.3 percent. We were able to bring that down by more nearly 10 percent in just the two months since the launch by adding a couple new elements to the homepage: featured products/links to product pages, blog content, and a monster dropdown. Although the new features added a more eCommerce-y feel than Downtown was used to, our theory was that users needed a more conventional eCommerce look and feel online than the previous Downtown homepage provided.


Before our Magento Makeover

We also wanted to redesign the homepage so that potential customers could get right to products in a single click. We proposed a rotator with multiple ensembles and close-ups to highlight detail, as well as a tabbed new product feature to highlight a few key items from their most important categories. Now, if a certain sweater or piece of jewelry catches the user’s eye, they can get directly to it and snap it up.

Part of Downtown’s pull with their very loyal customer base is that they carry a number of highly exclusive designers with a specific following worldwide. Again – fashion designers are not one of our strong suits. But we wanted to find a way for online customers to get to those designers quickly. In their previous design, it would take a couple clicks to get to a designer category page. And with nearly 60 designers, it was a challenge to get them all some real estate on the homepage. Solution: The “Monster Dropdown.” If you’re really into Alessandra Marchi or Avant Toi, you can get right to all of their products from the monster dropdown rollover on Clothing. For added SEO juice, we made sure to include a full listing of the designers in the footer.

Our third major update was to use a third-party extension by FishPig to integrate WordPress with the custom Magento theme. This allowed us to get the fashion content Downtown has been so good at creating on to the homepage and into the Downtown URL, as opposed to a separate blog on a different domain (which is not as good for the SEO). We also created a block that allowed us to post that content on the homepage.
(Full Disclosure: Human Element has no affiliation with FishPig, but we do really like that WordPress-Magento integration extension, and have used it with several clients. Although it has a few drawbacks – like you can’t use it with external WordPress plugins – we like that you can get your content into your Magento site, and you can link directly to your products and enter product snippets into blogs. We also like the name “Fishpig”).

The blog content from Downtown has always been great: shots of their products in-action on the street, fashion events, exciting photo collections of their clothes, boots and jewelry, and more. This venue just gives them a place to display all that relevant content within the Magento site and the same URL.

Because of all these new features, people are getting deeper into the site more quickly upon landing on the Downtown homepage. The Shop by Designer page is up 500 percent as the first interaction, and an aggregated combination of more than 100 other pages is up 26 percent over the two months previously, showing that people are now getting into other various ares of the site that they may not have felt compelled to click on before.


To put a little bit of icing on the Magento cake, Human Element also redesigned the Downtown Mailchimp email marketing template to match the look and feel of the new design, which is much airier and lighter than the dark colors and themes used in the past. We think the new email template more closely matches the high-end look and feel of their website.

With the redesign in place, a new email marketing look, some SEO-friendly blogging features, and easier navigation for users, we’re proud of the way the new site has turned out. Now, if only we could fit into some of those skinny jeans.