Shopify is the third most popular eCommerce platform. It comprises 4% of all online stores all over the world. It has gained popularity as it is one of the most convenient eCommerce platforms.
Shopify is the best platform for quick and simple sites. That’s not to say the sites themselves can’t be robust, but the design process itself is easy and takes less time. The catch is limited customization options and a more rigid and linear approach to design—but that’s precisely what appeals to a lot of site managers. A lot of these settings can be changed but this requires some knowledge of development to do so.
Choose the best base theme
First and foremost, you need to pick the right theme. Your theme is the backbone of your site and will directly affect the atmosphere, user experience and all-around feel of your site.
This all-important decision can also be one of the most overwhelming, especially if it’s your first encounter with Shopify or theme stores in general. When searching for your theme, keep these questions in mind:
- What kind of experience am I trying to create for my customer?
- What are some desired features I want for my store?
- Infinite scrolling?
- What are my competitors doing?
- How do I want my products to be displayed?
- What’s my budget for the site design?
- Avoid clutter (cognitive overload)
- Don’t be afraid to trim the fat, either. Learn to tell the differences between the must-haves and the want-to-haves.
Improve loading times
Even if you’re not using a Shopify site, loading times can kill your entire business if they take too long. Every extra second your page takes to load reduces conversions by 7% and page views by 11%. Even outside of the customer experience, faster sites get ranked higher on Google, so improving your loading times helps both your UX and your SEO.
While lots of different factors can weigh down your loading time, there are a few techniques that should help in general to reduce loading times:
- Compress images
- Remove nonessential widgets
- Avoid third-party themes
- Skip the carousels
If you’re not sure how your loading times stack up or how to improve sluggish ones, check out Google’s free PageSpeed Insights tool. Not only will it analyze your site speed, but it’ll also give you direct advice on how to improve it.
Pair with the right designer
Sometimes, it simply comes down to knowing your limitations. If you feel like site design is a skill that’s beyond you, there’s no shame in hiring a professional to help. Even if you’ve designed sites before, the experience of a designer could lead you to some new insights.
Another good thing about designers is that they come with a range of experience and a range of budgets.
Reflect your individuality
When you use a template site-builder you take the risk of creating a site that looks like all the others. Luckily this can be avoided with a little extra planning. Yes, it’s possible for your site to stand out from the crowd, even among those who are using the same theme.
Site Photography – By and large, your photography style determines the appearance of your site more so than even the general theme. The way you stylize both product photos and promotional photos can display your unique personality. For example, a plain white background looks better for traditional, professional sites, while product photos in context (i.e., taken at the park) can add a quirky flavour that may suit your site well.
Copy – After visuals, the words you use are the next best strategy for showcasing your personality. Young and hip brands will use a more casual lingo, maybe even emojis, while brands aiming to increase consumer trust or portray sophistication may use more formal language. The tone of your copy isn’t just for the Home and About pages, but everywhere you use words, including product descriptions.
Shopify Settings – This may not be known to Shopify beginners, but most themes allow you to customize the settings for additional personalization. Take full advantage of these options by uploading your own logos, customizing your colour scheme and typography and choosing the number of items to display per line. You can sometimes even decide how to present your social media buttons.
A lot of Shopify critics will say the biggest drawback to Shopify is the lack of diversity, but if you explore the system enough, you’ll find plenty of ways to build a site that’s yours and yours alone.
Shout your value proposition
A good strategy for any business, eCommerce or otherwise, is to clearly and distinctly showcase your value proposition. How can your brand help a prospective customer’s life? Why should they bother stopping by your site in the first place? Often, you only have a few moments to convince visitors not to bounce, so you want your value proposition front and centre.
More often than not, this is achieved by a quick, succinct headline on the home page. The text itself is typically larger than the other text, with a colour or font that draws attention immediately.
Commonly, sites follow up the value proposition headline with a subheadline and/or bullet points to further elaborate the finer points of the value proposition. This gives you more flexibility with your main headline, since you can focus on a single central benefit, but also mention secondary benefits. Extras like “free shipping” or discounts can be mentioned in the subheadlines or bullet points.
Keep in mind that value propositions are not slogans. Both serve different ends: value propositions communicate how your brand can improve your shoppers’ lives; slogans are meant to be catchy and memorable in a way that influences people’s attitudes.
Hone in on conversions
A site manager’s work is never done. Even after your site is built to your liking, it may not be optimized to your target shopper’s liking. Customizing your site to the specific preferences of your unique target market can be frustrating if you’re just stabbing in the dark; it’s far more effective to utilize user testing to optimize for conversions.