An e-commerce theme is a huge time-saver. Once you find that perfect theme, it feels like it will be no-time before your website is up, running, and raking in some dough. Sure, even the most basic e-commerce site can seal the deal on a sale or two, but your branding is often the golden key to the big bucks.
Your company’s brand is its voice. On the internet, no one can hear you speak. You have to convey your messaging—your brand—by showing and telling. You need that special sauce that helps you resonate with your potential customers.
So, roll up your sleeves and let’s get a brand brew going with 8 ingredients you need to find or define before that e-commerce theme goes online.
1. A story to tell
Before we get into graphics or anything, the first aspect of any good brand is to define your story. If your brand were a person, what would their personality be like? What do they believe in? Spend some time personifying your brand. Then, think about the type of people you’d like to appeal to. Don’t just think in demographics—age, income, location—but think more specifically. What are their hobbies and interests?
For example, let’s say you’re starting a roller derby store online. Great, so roller derby is a sport that is mainly played by women. They come from all walks of life, but the pin-up aesthetic and grunge aesthetic is pretty popular among those circles, as well as iconography that combines cuteness and toughness.
As Mackenzie Fogelson points out on Moz.com, humanizing your brand is key to building customer loyalty and trust. Keep your audience and story in mind as you move on to these next ingredients.
2. Header that drives action
Your header is one of the first things that people will see on the majority of e-commerce themes. Thanks to the popularity of Bootstrap, we mostly see these as large Hero images. They appear above the fold and include striking imagery. Your first goal when someone lands on your site is for them to get sucked into this header.
So, you need a small bit of content and a call to action.
A lot of sites like to make their call to action cute, and sure, that can be fun—but sometimes, it’s confusing. A call to action is simply a quick line on a button or in your content that clearly tells the customer what you want them to do.
Do you want them to shop your big sale? Great, you can try something like:
“Back to school sale
Save big on school supplies they’ll love.
Shop school supplies”
The italics line is your call to action. It’s simple, to the point, and tells the customer exactly what you want them to do.
3. Navigational plan
Before you start designing your page, make a flow chart of how you’d like customers to navigate your site. Unless you only sell one or two products, an e-commerce site can quickly end up difficult to navigate. You also only have so much premium space on your page’s top navigation bar.
Take some time and decide how you foresee customers finding what they’re looking for. Drop-down menus can help make your top navigation more usable. Search bars on larger sites are incredibly helpful for letting customers narrow down their search. Also, search refinement options are critical for sites with a large inventory.
4. Typography and color scheme
You might be happy with the typography and color scheme of the template you ended up with. If so, awesome! You sure got lucky. For most people, they’ll find that the typography and color don’t fit with their brand identity.
If your company has defined colors, you’ll still want to plan out how the colors will work within your site. Not only do you need to consider your background and menu colors, but also the headers, subheaders, and body text of your pages.
Be sure to choose colors that work well together for any text that lays on a colored background. You want to keep readability in mind, so make sure your text is easy to look at without getting a headache. Further complementary and contrasting colors can be used to direct your user’s attention to important parts of your page.
If you’re unsure about your company colors, look to your logo or imagery for inspiration. Sample a few colors and try them out together.
5. Slick imagery that fits your message
Stock product imagery doesn’t get a lot of people clicking the buy button. The best imagery for your site would be photos that fit the feel and use of your product. If you’re a company that focuses on high-end fashion, you’ll want pictures of models wearing your clothes in high-end settings. If your site sells cellphone accessories, customers will want to see the product in-use on an actual phone.
Remember that your online clients can’t touch your product or try it. They can’t see it in person or compare its size, material, or look in different lights. You must provide this for them. Not every business needs a huge selection of photos, but the more you can show your customers how a product works in real life, the more they’ll connect to it with their wallets.
6. Content and content strategy
Websites are all about the content, and that goes for the rest of your online outreach as well. Once your site is launched, who will manage your blog, social media, or email list? How will these different aspects of your brand work together to drive sales? How will you continuously put out content on these different platforms to drive traffic and views to your brand?
These are all plans you need to make before launch. Content strategy is critical for the long-term of a web store.
So, make a plan. Create a calendar of the sales or events you plan to have over the next few months. Then, from there, create a list of topics you’ll write about in your email and blog. These topics can overlap, of course. Your blog content can be repurposed for social media or email. Your sales and events can be turned into blog posts.
7. The “other stuff”
The FAQ, About page, shipping information, and landing pages can all be put in “other stuff.” If you aren’t sure where to start here, look at the site map of other ecommerce sites in your industry. Be sure these pages are included in your navigational plan where needed.
8. A logo that defines your business
Finally, the most critical crown on your branded website. Your logo. Your logo will be the friendly face of your brand that greets customers on every box, invoice, email, and of course, your website. Your logo should be the visual, distilled essence of your brand and what it stands for.
Creating a logo is a huge undertaking. It takes a lot of thought, training, and practice to make logos well, but it is crucial to make one that represents you well. So, there are a few ways to go about this. You could hire an expert graphic designer, collaborate with a marketing agency, or try to create one yourself.
If you want to create a logo yourself, be prepared to spend a decent amount of time on it. Look to the internet for inspiration. Research your competitors and note which elements of their logos and which don’t. From there, try creating sketches or vector graphics that represent your company.
If you aren’t comfortable creating art from scratch, try to look for free vector graphics online. There are some really professional logo makers that can help simplify the logo design process.
An ecommerce site is quite the undertaking, whether you’re building alone or with a team. It’s important to not cut corners during the development phase. Your brand is malleable, and your site will grow and change with your business, but the more prepared you are when you open your virtual doors to customers, the better.
With this special blend of user experience and branding gracing your digital pages, you’re well on your way to creating a site that will build customer loyalty, trust, and bring in serious sales.
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