Some clients have the strangest of ideas regarding their e-commerce store theme. It’s part of your job as a designer to stop them going wrong. You are the expert, so most clients will take your advice.
Start by listening to your customer’s ideas and build out from those.
Your client may never use his phone to buy anything, so might not understand how essential it is to look at possible themes on phones and tablets first, and then check them on a desktop screen if satisfied with the mobile appearance.
It is easy to make a page look good on a 28” screen, but much more difficult on a 5” one. Test your preferred themes on differently sized phones and tablets. Test them on the devices your buyers use; avoid the mistake of assuming everyone uses Android, Apple or Windows phones and test on all three operating systems.
Mobile First design is paramount given the increasing number of shoppers who are using smaller screens to browse. The chart below is from the UK site, Ofcom and relates solely to e-commerce browsing habits of different national populations.
TechCrunch tells us that mobile use has increased further in 2017.
Buyers have a choice, and if your client’s site falls down on its mobile appearance, people will go elsewhere to buy.
However, your client’s preferred theme must also look the business on desktop and laptop computers because most site visitors will use larger-screened devices as well as phones. The graphic below on SmartInsights.com (originally from ComScore) illustrates this usage pattern.
If your client is considering a mobile-only e-commerce store, this data analysis should help you to convince him of his mistake.
Instant loading, especially on phones, is essential to success in selling online. Upload your client’s logo and product photos to Shopify and then test out various themes on different devices to compare loading speed.
It is best to use a site such as Pingdom.com to test how fast each theme loads. That way you remove any caching or preload effects that might arise from loading successive themes on the same device.
Product Page Layout
Any themes on the Shopify site will feature professional images that are optimised to load quickly. Your client’s images MUST be of similar quality to create the professional class you need.
Encourage him to invest in a photographer to supply unique images, rather than use the generic photos provided by manufacturers. Explain that unique images will rank his site in Google’s image search, which many customers will use.
Discourage your client from diverging significantly from the default product page layout because a lot of research has gone into finding a layout that converts browsers into buyers.
On Oberlo’s site, you can also get a glimpse of how Shopify store themes should look and feel, and work on from there.
Category Page Layout
Your client may need help dividing products into intuitive categories that his customers will understand instinctively. Check out competitors’ pages and see what works best in the niche. Avoid using large pictures that will increase loading time on the category page because buyers won’t be buying from that page.
People want to check you out before they pay, so many will visit your Home and About Pages. Make them good.
Your Homepage should be friendly and minimalist in design as well as have an ultra-fast loading time. Include trust-building elements like awards, testimonials, and security badges. Put links to top-selling and new products.
People want to buy from people, and they want to know who you are. Put a physical address on your Contact page, and a phone number. Both will reassure buyers and make sales more likely.
The About page should be easy to find in your chosen e-commerce design and should include the client’s headshot. Make sure this page is only about the site owner as far as is necessary to meet clients’ needs. A bit of history usually works well.
The theme you choose must have an integrated blog function. The blog exists to attract search engine traffic and to link to the e-commerce section of the site, but some customers will want to check out blog posts to assess the client’s authenticity and niche authority.
The Short Version
Some clients have ideas about their e-commerce store theme that are never going to work. It is your job as a designer and e-commerce expert to guide a client away from poor design choices. Use charts and graphs to demonstrate how your recommended design will result in more sales.
If you want to go the extra mile and earn more from an upsell then offer clients advice on store name, URL, and hosting.