David Chan is a designer and developer in Toronto

I joined the Sony's eCommerce Team in the final stages of their website migration.

The first few months were spent maintaining the current eCommerce platform (IBM Websphere) while learning about a new one (eBay Commerce Platform).

I was part of the two-person design team that managed the design and front-end development of a $25+ million eCommerce site.

The new Sony.ca was launched in October of 2013. Post-launch, I spent my time exploring ways to improve the online shopping experience.


  • Led the initiative to introduce lifestyle-oriented imagery
  • Designed a system of modular components to create a uniform shopping experience
  • Incorporated rich design content such as video and interactive elements, increasing consumer engagement
  • Worked on the online components of various marketing campaigns including the 2014 FIFA World Cup Bravia, Sound Evolved, Michael Jackson’s XScape launch and our 2014 CES page
  • Created product pages for the company's highest-profile products including the PlayStation 4, RX100M3, Xperia Z2


  • Developed a responsive CSS and HTML framework that helped us achieve quicker development times and a stronger visual consistency
  • Incorporated Handlebars.js as a templating solution for more efficient workflows
  • We created a system to build components locally using Dropbox as our version control system
  • Troubleshot coding bugs from inherited libraries
  • Code was IE8 compatible

User Experience

  • Redesigned pages with a consumer-oriented focus
  • Worked with Content Specialists and the Marketing Teams to reorganize product categories with the emphasis on making the decision-making process easier
  • Implemented AB tests to measure the effectiveness of various CTAs, promotions and page layouts
  • Worked with the Analytics Team to develop a standardized tracking code convention
  • Collaborated with Advertising, Social Media, CRM and Retail Teams to bring consistency between online and offline touch points

(1) We allowed customers to discern, at a glance, premium from budget-friendly models. (2) Despite the familiarity with some of Sony’s technologies, customers rarely understood what they actually did. We gave customers the ability to learn more about each technology and explain their benefits.

Things I Learned

eCommerce Is Very Different Than Retail

When shopping online, there isn’t an associate to explain the differences between 30+ televisions.

eCommerce requires an entirely different strategy than retail. Retail can rely on one-on-one interactions to help customers make product choices but this option is not available online.

We spoke to the Marketing, Events and Retail Teams to gain insights into how customers shopped for different products. With these findings we redesigned the site to make the decision-making process easier and help customers find what they wanted.

(1) We added consumer-friendly tags consisting of professional, hobbyist, and casual. (2) Each camera was given a one-line description of its most distinguishing feature. (3) We reduced features to the most important ones.

Good Housekeeping Is a Must for Large Sites

Before Sony, I worked on relatively small websites. I wrote modular code and adhered to naming conventions, but at the end of the day, it didn't matter.

This was not the case at Sony, within weeks of launching the site, we had hundreds of HTML components and style sheets.

Investing time to create modular framework and components allowed us to speed up development and reduce the number of files we had to manage while giving the site better visual consistency.

Seemingly minor things like naming conventions would allow us to find components within the CMS quickly and helped us organize our files.

Don't Get Distracted From Your Core Goals

Sometimes we forgot to take a step back and look at the big picture and make sure your priorities are still correct.

Sony.ca was launched in poor condition. The biggest problem was that we were missing products which at the end of the day affected our sales significantly.

As an eCommerce site, having as many products available for purchase on launch day should have been our highest priority. Instead our time was split between that and creating marketing content.

The Sony redesign felt like we were trying to build all the floors of a skyscraper at the same time. Looking back, we should have built a strong foundation (have all products available), then build our way up (creating rich marketing content).

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