Premium products and services require premium websites. As obvious as this statement may seem, defining what a premium website is can be a serious challenge. A challenge not only for the business owner, but for a web production company as well.
Today, we are going to look at the development of VIP websites from two perspectives: the business owner’s and the designer’s. Insights on the topic are provided by our experts: Eugene Kudryavchenko, CEO and co-founder of Vintage, and our Art Director and member of the Awwwards jury, Olga Shevchenko.
Why luxury websites are different
Some products and services are only available to VIP clients. For example, Vertu or Rohrbacher. These goods presume a certain social status of their buyer, and thus, do not need to be sold - at least, not from the traditional standpoint.
General marketing laws and principles do not fully apply to luxury items, and thus, it may not be a good idea to cling to them when portraying such items online.
“A luxury website is a showcase, rather than a sales platform”, says Eugene Kudryavchenko, “it does not have to convince the consumer to make a purchase. Instead, it has to assure them that the item is really within their league”.
Luxury items and services can be split up into three major categories:
- Status indicators. Items that are firmly associated with social status (e.g. Aston Martin, Omega Watches);
- Trending and trendsetting. Items that are aiming to set the trend for less premium followers (e.g. Carolina Herrera, Giampiero Bodino);
- Fusion and innovation. Products and services that are based on newly developed techniques or technologies, which are expensive and thus not available to the mass market (e.g. Tesla, Space Adventures).
As can be seen from the given examples, luxury products rely on added visual value more than their actual value. A consumer of this category of goods is paying extra for exclusivity, and that exclusivity must emanate from their screens when they are looking at such product online.
The target audience
Let us talk about the peculiarities of luxury businesses and their consumers. The first, and most obvious trait would be high expectations.
“If you pay $100 per night at the hotel, and something is out of order, you can probably live with it”, Eugene comments, “but if you pay $1000, even a single speck of dust will spoil the impression”.
The clients of luxury businesses are very demanding. They do not excuse flaws, and never come back to a service they consider poorly provided.
The second feature is luxury sense. VIP clients are used to all things luxury, and they will easily discern premium from the mediocre. They may not be keen on sports cars, but they will tell the difference between a Toyota and a Ferrari, blindfolded. Similarly, such client will know if a website is worth $5,000 or $50,000.
The third major issue to be aware of is limited pool of clients. Luxury business customers may amount to only hundreds, or even tens. Within that few people, communication is very strong, and the majority of deals are based on recommendations. This puts personal approach at the forefront of every luxury business.
The luxury website criteria
Based on the above, let us define some common features, which a luxury website must possess.
- Luxury resemblance. The website showcases an elite product or service that is not available elsewhere, and has no cheap alternatives. It has to be reflected in the design, or the product will be automatically considered “out-of-the-league”.
- Focus on the brand. Elite brands never have extensive product ranges or budget solutions. Often, it’s just one product or service per brand. That product or service has to shine on screen.
- Technical excellence. Everything must work smoothly at all times and on all platforms. If the interface fails to adapt to a $5,000 Blackberry, or a $10,000 Vertu, the impression of luxury is doomed forever.
- Counterfeit proof. Luxury products often have imposters. The official website for an elite product must be authentic to the extent no imposter can even come close. Luxury brands are eager to invest in authenticity, and they expect these investments to pay off.
“Consumers of luxury goods have a distinct sense for counterfeit”, Eugene shares, “you will never sell something unoriginal to a VIP. While browsing your site, even the slightest note of falsehood will turn such people away”.
So, assuming the criteria defined, how to create a perfect website for a luxury business? Let’s ask Olga Shevchenko, our Art Director, who has vast experience with luxury business clients.
Building a luxury website
We wrote in one of our previous publications that a designer must perceive their client, and figure out what is good for them. With VIP clients, this is even more true.
“With luxury website design, a client is often the only source of inspiration”, Olga says, “in order to create something perfect for them - and less than perfect is not even an option - you have to start with their personality”.
This means devoting as much time as possible to the client. The designer has to meet their client often, listen to them closely and discuss every idea that comes to mind. Even when the concept has been approved, it is fair to expect several drafts or iterations.
“Elite web design is always handiwork”, Olga goes on, “forget about templates and standard process flows. Be ready to start over from scratch, if a concept does not work for your client.”
It is undisputable that a web production company must enroll their best specialists into the elite website project.
“No juniors are admitted to a project of such scale”, Olga comments, “a luxury website is always a #1 priority, and the team of the brightest minds work together to achieve absolute excellence”.
This also means estimation of unlimited working hours for your team. A luxury business client does not pay for hours - they pay for the result. So, a dedicated team will work for as long as it takes until they completely achieve the objective.
“A timeframe for luxury website development is usually not less than three months”, Olga shares, “and we are lucky if we get to approve the final concept at the end of the first month”.
Let us now sum up what a web production company should and should not do, in order to satisfy the demands of a luxury business client.
We have made it clear that luxury website development is no ordinary task, and not every website producer is able to handle it. But if you find the right one, your luxury business will shine impeccably on the world wide web.