There are plenty of ways to get ahead in eCommerce site design, from taking professional design classes to getting down in the trenches of CSS coding, but they all involve a fair measure of work. Most Shopify shop owners are independent, so the chances of having a lot of time to manage that level of work are limited at best. Thankfully, there are some easy tips to follow to upgrade your design skills without a semester of digital homework or hours of frustration chasing a rogue qualifier.
1. Don’t Sacrifice Function for Form
Just because you don’t like how the search bar looks doesn’t mean you can just take it away. In fact, the search bar in particular needs to be visible on every page if you intend to run a functional eCommerce site. Not everyone wants to browse by category, some returning customers may just want to repeat a previous order and already know exactly the product they want. If there’s any element necessary to the site experience that doesn’t look “right” to you, figure out why and work around them. Don’t just take the features away because they aren’t attractive enough.
2. Keep the Cart Visible
A live cart is even better, which shows the number of products in the cart at any given time, but as long as the cart itself is visible that’s a decent start. If you really want to spice it up, you can include thumbnails of the products in the cart when the shoppers hovers over it, to refresh their memory or assure they got the right version of a product. Thinking of the shopping cart and search bar as “partners in crime” is the way to go, according to Creative Bloq. They both need to be visible on every page, and they can be placed next to each other in a topbar or sidebar to maintain site aesthetics without losing out on space for products.
3. Always Ask “Why”
If you hire out the design process, this doesn’t mean you should ask the designer why they make every single change throughout the course of the design process. It does mean you need to ask yourself why you’re including certain features. Are these features for your peace of mind, your preferences, or will they enrich the customer’s shopping experience? If the last option isn’t the answer to your question, then the element doesn’t need to stay. Repeat this for every “questionable” or “quirky” element in your shop, and you’ll have a site that shoppers can browse with ease. Every element should be sharp and clean, according to Tympanus. If it works against the function of your site, take it away.
4. Use the “Three Second Test”
This involves asking yourself more questions, this time once the homepage is more or less designed. Glance at the page and ask yourself “Does it take more than three seconds to tell what’s being sold here?” If the answer is yes, move on to the next question: “Does this site look professional enough with a three-second glance for a customer to be comfortable trusting their credit card information to it?” If the answer is yes, you have a decent design set up.
If the answer is no to either question, that doesn’t mean it’s back to the drawing board. This just means you need to go back to the third tip and start questioning why that’s the answer you come up with. Is the page too busy? Does the site look unprofessional or childish—and isn’t designed to sell products for children? Study your site and find out what needs to be changed to reach a collective “yes” for both questions. Code, refresh, repeat.
5. Know What You Need
You understand your brand and your company best, and that means that, assuming you hire someone to overhaul your storefront, you have the final say on any design that comes across your computer. If someone likes a particular product and wants to base the entire design on that product, but you know that you’ll be phasing that out in the spring—well, that’s where you draw the line with your designer and let them know that design core won’t work.
What this doesn’t mean is that you have the right to be vague with what you want from a designer. Saying “I’ll know it when I see it” is one of the quickest ways to become a designer’s least favorite client. Beautiful design is the key to good marketing, according to CampaignMonitor.com, so you need to know at least the core of what you want from the design of your eCommerce site before you can even get a mockup. If you hire out the design or redesign of your site, the best thing you can do is know exactly what you want and to be explicitly clear with your designer from the get-go. Nobody knows your brand better than you do, if you’re not happy with how it’s being presented then nobody will be.