Modern ecommerce sites are dependent on the relationship of technology and design, and for a while the two didn’t see eye to eye. Classic design trends used in print couldn’t be captured in web format, while technology had to make virtual sense of offline specs.
Fortunately, we live in an age where the two have reconciled and are doing cool new things like parallax effects (try scrolling through Sony’s site to see what we mean). This gives ecommerce owners a seemingly limitless number of ways to design their sites to achieve a desired look and feel. Unfortunately, limitless isn’t a term many e-retailers have in their budgets. So to narrow down your spending options, here are 6 design trends that make sense for ecommerce and shouldn’t be going out of style anytime soon:
Making your site beautiful and useful across platforms is no longer a nice perk; it’s a necessity that your customers expect. If we’ve learned anything from recent ecommerce reports, m-commerce should not be underestimated. Forrester predicts mobile sales will reach $293 billion by 2018, up from $114 billion this year.
Responsive design means a page’s layout is determined by the size of the screen. Every user gets a pretty interface with changing layout, scale, and orientation. It also means the designer needs to make larger buttons, centered formatting for easier navigation, as well as bigger text and informational fields for a flawless checkout. These designs tweaks in combination with responsive design allow users to browse and purchase more easily on the go, leading to a better experience on any device.
Here’s a responsive design we love from Folksy:
Big, beautiful images/typography
With the push towards responsive design, more and more ecommerce sites are shedding their homepage product sliders and dropping in mammoth header images that deliver an instant brand mood. Big, beautiful, and usually original photography or design inspires viewers and invites them to read, instead of blasting them with messaging.
It’s important to note that even the largest images can be sized down for smaller screens, making it easy for users to click through to products.
We swoon over the images at Aritzia:
Keeping in mind mobile layouts, developers and designers alike are looking for crisp and modern ways to simplify pages and decrease mobile load time. Flat design is the answer to both problems. This approach moves away from the tactile feel of the last decade, removing bevels, shadows, gradients, and reflections. Focus is instead drawn with clear, clean iconography and type.
Flat design takes a back seat to ecommerce products and copy, letting them shine. Instead of relying on flashing red “BUY NOW” buttons, the user’s eye is naturally drawn toward action points with simply delineated design hierarchy. And, by eliminating dated design trends and avoiding new ones that could go out of style, you are preventing this design from aging quickly.
This flat design from Fab.com made us sit up and notice:
Negative/white space/minimalist design
Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. Recent years have brought the zenith of minimalistic design in ecommerce. Sites are incorporating more white/negative space into their layouts to give users a clean, pleasant shopping process and leave products in the spotlight.
White and negative space is conscious placement of space between objects and text on sites. It eliminates distraction and doesn’t overwhelm the user with info. Again, we are stepping as far as possible away from walls of text and cramped images. If you want to relive the pain of old ecommerce design, check out this post from Refinery 29. We shudder at Zappos’s former online home.
A more eye-pleasing example is Budnitz Bicycles:
Social news feeds, Google searches, and now many ecommerce sites feature a seemingly infinite amount of scrolling content. While this may seem to go against the idea of minimalism, it achieves a much more simplistic approach displaying a lot of content even on a tiny smartphone screen. Infinite scrolling presents a lot of info quickly, in digestible bite sizes for low-commitment browsing.
Infinite scrolling also eliminates the need for users to leave or open a new page. It is much easier and faster to have a bigger selection available, but load less on the first click. With each scroll request, another section of products load. And just like flipping channels, audiences crave a seemingly limitless supply of entertainment.
This may not work for you depending on the number of products you sell, but it’s perfect for sites like Wanelo that aggregate other ecommerce products:
Visuals replacing copy
Progress has made us a little lazy, especially when it comes to how we digest our information. As copy becomes shorter and less complicated, designers are coming up with new ways to break down information for the – ahem – visual learner. Two of the most popular formats are videos and graphics.
Ecommerce retailers use videos to show products in action or clothes on a model. Graphics can also break down more complex info but are frequently found on how-to sections, or on FAQ pages. Videos and graphics are a visual way to pack as much information as possible into an easy to process medium.
Zappos creates videos of shoes in action to show how its products fit and move:
Ultimately, the best design approaches for an ecommerce site (or any site) are simple, user-friendly, and carry your brand identity. The less weighed-down your store is by walls of text and busy graphics, the more likely your visitors will be to find and buy the products they want. And if there’s one thing that never goes out of style, it’s happy customers.
Design isn’t just pretty – it affects how your customers buy. Make the most of your user’s experience with the ecommerce design strategies at Ripen. Clean up messy product pages, space out information, or get the whole rebranding enchilada. Let us turn your site into a wonderful place to shop. Check out more custom ecommerce solutions at Ripen.