It may not seem like an important step, but choosing and implementing the correct theme for your online storefront is a vital move when first setting up shop. Imagine what the alternative is -- customers who visit your shop and have a difficult time navigating (or worse, reading!) your information because of poor layout, color choice, or theme picks. You also run the risk of appearing unprofessional and amateurish by choosing themes, fonts, and color schemes that don't fit the correct branding or "feel" of your company.
Here are 5 tips for picking the right theme for your online business, ensuring you a smooth and high-finished look at the end of the day.
Establish a Voice
Before you ever sit down to shop for templates, sit down and really reflect on your business. What is it that you sell? Now ask yourself what emotions, thoughts, and feelings can be tied into that. Are you running a more formal or relaxed business? Is it a business specializing in something that has a lot of tradition and heritage behind it, or is more contemporary and edgy? If you were running a funeral home, you wouldn't choose a template with bright colors and funky fonts -- just like you wouldn't choose a somber and formal template for your gourmet dog snack company. All of these elements will go into helping you pick out your template, and ensuring that your brand image isn't lost in the process.
Shop for Features
Know what you want your website to do, and how you want it to perform before you start picking out templates. If you're fairly web-savvy and have some experience working with HTML and CSS, this isn't as big of a deal -- but nothing is worse than falling in love with a theme, only to find that it will do absolutely nothing that you want (nay, need) it to do. For this, it can be helpful to browse other eCommerce websites. What do you like? Are there parts of their website that you find especially helpful, or particularly bland? Make note of them, and use those notes when it's time to shop.
Go With Your Gut
Once you start shopping, act instinctively. Whatever the first few themes that stand out to you are, go with those and really dive in. If you have found a theme that resonates with you and which you feel is highly representative of your brand, then that is the one you should be using. No one knows your brand like you do; getting that initial feel and taste for a template is a great way of knowing if it will work for you.
Have a Soft Opening
You're going to want to test drive this thing before it's live. Before launching it, have people "mock" shop. Let them use your search engine, your chat or contact features. Have them try and "buy" things, or just browse. Afterward, have them tell you everything they liked -- as well as everything they didn't like. If you don't think your friends can be brutally honest with you about this and then remain your friends, outsource your test group. Restaurants, boutiques, and hotels do it all the time -- why shouldn't you?
Stick With Your Choice
If, in a few months, you're browsing a free template site or someone sends you something fresh to look at, resist the urge to upgrade yourself. It's fine to make big changes in the first few hours after an initial release -- chances are, you haven't had enough traffic to make a difference. But once enough people have been directed to your site and seen it, you don't want to go messing around with what they're expecting to see. If you went driving down the highway in search of those golden arches but instead were greeted with bright blue diamond, you'd be pretty confused, too. Consistency is massively important -- you owe it to yourself, as well as to your customers.