A problem I notice frequently on some online shops is that they are their own barrier to reaching online fame. Meaning, they have unique, exceptional quality products but their graphics are letting them down. Yeah, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but if your homepage is outdated and displeasing to the eye, your potential customer will take one look and bounce right back off to Google search results. Whether you are a designer or not, use this guide to keep your site aesthetic, stylish and modern.
IT ALL STARTS WITH CHOOSING THE RIGHT THEME
The moment you choose your theme you will be directed to the featured themes page. My advice is to choose a theme which is featured because it’ll be one of the latest, it will have the most updated coding, awesome usability and it definitely will be the most gorgeous. Don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about the whole ‘design vs. user experience’ debate, but as long as you get the right balance between the two, the effect will be massive.
Do you want your shop to be minimal or out there? AM, Bohemian and Kicker are just a few examples of minimalistic themes, whereas if you’re looking for something more elaborative then Blanc, Nox and Toy chest are perfect fits. You’d also want to look at the size of your business and how many products you have to offer, this would determine what amount of banners and promos is ideal to display.
Next, you’ll have to judge how many categories your shop will have, ideally you’d want to keep this a sane number so you can have a nice horizontal menu keeping your site clean and professional! If it proves impossible to have less than ten categories, then you’ll have no choice but to choose a vertical menu sadly which in fact will most probably turn into a hamburger menu which means it will be hidden. You don’t want your categories to be horizontal and be on two lines but with that said it boils down to would you prefer a perfectly organised site? Or do you want your users to access categories easily and efficiently? Whereas, imagine the effect of having both!
I guess there isn’t much else to look out for besides keeping your theme choice industry specific. For example, on a clothing site, you’d want big product images whereas on a computer site, you’d be more bothered about the description and specifications. When browsing you will realise which theme is the most suitable for your online shop. I know this guide is all about getting the design right but don’t forget about making buying from your site easy! If you want your site tip top, check out our blog post on this.
PICK THE PERFECT COLOUR SCHEME
The bottom line with choosing your colour scheme is that it can literally make or break your site. You want to choose colours relevant to your industry and create a brand image. The colours you choose your theme, you would want to keep consistent throughout your brand. Check out this blog post on the importance of brand consistency.
For example, if you’re selling antiques, you’d use warm and pastel colours; perhaps play with different shades of brown. On the other hand, if you’re selling fancy costumes, you’d want some vibrant colours bursting with energy. You would only need say around 3 or 4 colours in your scheme. You will need one main colour and you would also need a colour for your ‘CTA’ button which needs to be BOLD. The other colours would be used to your newsletter or an extra colour you may like to add in your graphics maybe.
THE LOGO (IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK!)
You can choose between a professionally designed masterpiece or a straightforward, effortless emblem created on the EKM logo builder. For a start-up and small-scale business who are only selling online, maybe just for some quick bucks, I’d recommend making use of the logo builder; it’s a pretty simple process too. You pop in your business name, add a tagline if you like or even insert an icon just to make it all the more unique. You can choose between different fonts and a variety of colours. You’ll then have options to save it and apply it to your online shop.
If you’re looking to create a solid brand identity from the beginning or even own a large-scale business, your best option would be to let a graphic designer handle your logo whilst you focus on other aspects of your business. If you do know how to use Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop why not experiment your own logo on those platforms, as they are the best platforms for designing logos. In the end, it could even save you loads of cash. Another option is Canva which is entirely free and has some really cool examples of logos!
There’s only so much I can explain to you about creating your logo because at the end of the day it’s your logo and you know best what direction you want your brand to head in. If you’re still stuck, click here for some tips from our senior web designer.
THE DREADED BANNERS AND PROMOS
The banner is literally the first thing customers will see when they visit your site. It needs to be bold, pop out and really jump at customers. Greet your customers with a USP (Unique Selling Point) and some eye-catching products. What I’ve noticed some sites do is just put a product image there, which will be some absurd size and they just place it in the banner section, but that is a complete NO. There are so many other unreal ways some sites have filled up the banner and promo space that I don’t even know how to put into words…
Let me give you a few tips to get your customers clicking your banners and promos:
- If you have a sale or any special offers on, always display them on banners first, cause they are your selling points and can really motivate the customer to buy from your site.
- If you want customers to buy your products then make sure the products you showcase them tip top on your banner. Maybe use some of your best-selling products.
- Spread your text out. Don’t just put a big chunk of text in there because nobody has time to read that. I’d say if you’re going to add a lot of text, spread it out, use colours and fonts to your advantage. Be creative. Be professional.
- CTA (call-to action), you always want a CTA, it’s a primary action, it could be ‘Shop Now’ or ‘View More’ but make sure it’s there and it stands out. It needs to look clickable. Look in the banner below, the grey box shape which says shop now, that’s what we call a CTA or primary action.
- If you’re getting a stock image, keep it relevant to your site, your industry and your products.
- Consistency is everything. Match your fonts and your colours. You could adjust the style on all your banners and promos but keep it similar.
I personally use Photoshop to make banners promos. But other members of my team use Canva and Gimp, mainly because it’s way easier to use and it gives you templates. Photoshop is pretty pricey and if it’s not an investment you’re keen on, stick to Canva, make your banners and promos the perfect size then start creating and start selling!
One last thing, when you’re placing elements like a logo, banner or promo on your site, you’ll be able to add alternative text, which is pretty simple to fill in. You just note what’s in the graphics and it should help in the marketing for your online shop.
GET YOUR PRODUCTS RIGHT
Okay so this isn’t so much design related but it does affect the full image of your site. Before I elaborate on how to set up products on your homepage, you should check out our guide on taking better product images. Also, check out this great guide on how to take product images with your mobile phone.
After adding products to your site, you’d want to put some on the homepage to give your customers a preview of what they can buy and just make the full process more efficient. You should place your best products on the homepage with nice product images, maybe even a few stars, keeping it all neat and tidy.
Ideally, you should add at least 4 products and no more than 12. Keep it consistent so fill the full row of products. Add some special offers so your products appear in different elements.
This guide is to help you with designing your site but always bear in mind user experience and how the usability of your site will affect customers from buying on your site. I believe every shop has the potential to look stylish and current. Just to sum it all up, choose a theme which perfectly fits your industry and matches your products, give your brand a personality with a consistent colour scheme, introduce a logo to give your brand an identity, create some banners to showcase all your amazing products and speed up the buying process and keep your homepage consistent and professional by adding select products.
Look at EKM showcase for some inspiration.