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Transparency in Design: Seeing is believing (and makes you more accessible to your consuming public).

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | April 18, 2022
Downtown Storefront Design Single Story

Our brains are hardwired with certain needs and preconceptions as we interact with our environment. Thousands of years of evolution have provided our subconscious with ways to help us judge desirable and undesirable environments. Today, we use some of our innate preconceptions to help us in community, building, and business design. By understanding the design needs of consumers, you can make yourself more transparent and open to consumer traffic. The following are some basic do’s and don’ts to enhance your ability to attract consumers:

  1. Do- Frame your doorway with florals or other attractive design elements to create a pedestrian focal point. Generating a design that funnels and welcomes consumer traffic can help you increase the number of people visiting your business.
  2. Don’t- Cover up your windows so people can’t see the environment that they are walking into. Walking into a location for the first time can be uncomfortable. If people see a storefront with covered windows they don’t know what they are walking into and may just decide to skip your location. Appropriate storefront design, with uncovered windows, shows people the interior environment and can enhance consumer traffic. Interior environments that are covered with boards, vinyl, or other materials can make consumers weary about what you are hiding inside.
  3. Do- Arrange your business to take advantage of right hand dominant consumer patterns and tested buying strategies. Creating dominant walls with high profit items to the right as people walk into your place of business, or establishing information areas to the right as people walk in, can quickly set the tone for your business. Creating retail sales areas towards the back of the store (forcing people to walk through the store) is a tried and true technique. Including service information at any waiting station can help you sell more products. Take some time to walk through your business with the eye of a consumer, and arrange accordingly.
  4. Don’t- Forget to positively stimulate all the senses. Yes, your place of business needs to look good with design items that draw the eye, but places of business should avoid awkward silences or unpleasant smells. Even the tactile sensations of a business can help people sense “clean or dirty”. What vibe is your place of business giving off?
  5. Do- Promote natural light, plants, and an organic aesthetic in most environments. There is something subtle about vitamin D induced natural light that brightens up an environment and makes people feel good. If you can take care of plants, the insinuation is that you have a nurturing and organized environment (in addition to enhancing the aesthetics and aromas).
  6. Don’t- Forget that your outdoors is your first impression for customers. Walk all the way around your building, take notes, and determine what you need to improve as the weather gets warmer.
  7. Do- Think about redevelopment opportunities. I’ve never seen a housing market like this, so upper story developments are something that many building owners should consider. We should also look at structures to think through updates and ensure things like- functional upper story windows in good condition that fit the window sill. If you have empty square footage in your building, that space is likely losing you potential income.

This is our first “normal” spring in two years. It will take a while to get some of the consuming public up to speed, and we’ve had new customers move into the area over the past couple of years. Give your business every advantage by presenting an attractive environment to entice consumers to come into your business and become patrons. It’s time to dust yourself off and get active to drive traffic!

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.