Communication design in the digital age

Behind the physical packaging of products and their representation in the store is an entire industry that tests in elaborate and expensive processes, which materials, colors and shapes work best.

Of course, the “packaging of products” also plays a decisive role in the digital world. The influence of product presentation on the purchase decision is at least as important online as it is in stationary retail.

However, not all manufacturers and retailers who operate their own shops or are on the go in online marketplaces have long since recognized this. Or, they do not have the resources to handle the tasks. Because digital communication design is a young and demanding discipline.

What belongs to digital communication design?

If the description of the tasks of a communication designer in the offline world has been challenging, this will not be any easier in the online environment. “Communication designers formulate or compose messages by means of media codes in such a way that they unfold their desired effect,” it says when looking for a description of communication design.


The classic, desired effect of a product presentation is to inform the customer about the product and to convince them of the purchase. Online comes another function: The product presentation must ensure that the goods can be found.

Clean product description as a basis

A product description must first answer all important questions of the customer. Whether the length of a nail or the diameter of a bicycle tire, an understandable and complete product description is the basis of a sensible product presentation.

Especially online, where the product can not be inspected with all the senses, a comprehensive product description must answer all arising questions satisfactorily. Actually a matter of course.

But many companies neglect the online description of their products. For example, a survey by us shows that six well-established fashion manufacturers are insufficiently describing their products on the Amazon online marketplace.

Of course, the comprehensive and up-to-date description of thousands of products in all sizes, colors and shapes is an extreme challenge. Especially with a range that changes quickly. Nevertheless, the clean product presentation must be guaranteed, for example via the use of automated data feeds.

Do your products exist online at all?

A defective product description has fatal consequences in the online world: It limits the findability of the goods. Very few consumers are looking specifically for the navigation of the shop of a fashion brand for a blue blouse in size S.

Instead, the product search shifts to search engines. Amazon has become the largest product search engine on which more than half of all product searches start on the Internet. If you neglect your product description, you risk not being found for the crucial keywords.

Transferring to the offline world would mean that, a salesperson has no answer when you ask him about size 45 brown men’s shoes because he simply lacks the information.

On the other hand, with the right product description, you can succeed in placing the merchandise in the digital goods shelf “at eye level”, ie in the top positions of the search engines.

The customers convince

On the Internet, consumers can choose between millions of products that are just a few clicks away from each other. For the majority of all commodities a considerable selection is available on similar terms, so that the hard facts such as prices or delivery times are a necessary argument to be played prominently, but still not a sufficient argument for the customer to buy the product ,

It is all the more important to stand out from the competition with a professional and convincing presentation. Customers want to capture the most important information quickly. A clear and precise product description with bullet points is more likely to convince the customer than a cluttered product.

When choosing between several, equivalent products often the feeling decides. An emotional attachment to a product can best be generated through images and videos. Again, companies need to rethink: In the future, it may not be enough to simply upload a photo of the product packaging.

The physical packaging has been optimized for product presentation in the store. For example, explanatory videos showing the product in use show a better effect on the customer.

Online packaging as a new discipline

In the digital age, communication design must convince two target groups. First, the customer who decides between the products played out.

Secondly, even before the customer, a product presentation has to convince algorithms that decide on the placement of products on the digital shelf. Only if the search engine considers a product to be relevant to a search query will it be offered to the buyer.

All these facets are part of the communication design of the future.

Although many companies are active in online marketplaces, they give away their potential because they do not take the online packaging of their products seriously or do not have the corresponding know-how. However, this ability is crucial in the struggle to become a top seller.

About the author:Wolfgang Schilling is Managing Director of ad agents GmbH and a longtime expert in online marketing.

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