8 eCommerce Design Trends for 2016 and Beyond
If you’re looking to increase your conversion rate, it’s important that you never underestimate the power of design. In 2016, we are being introduced to some once fringe design trends that are becoming main stream, so in order to stay relevant and appeal to your consumers, here are some ideas you might want to incorporate into your website.
1. Large Imagery
Larger photographs are becoming more and more popular. They are being used on the landing page, as well as on the product detail pages in the case of e-commerce because they are simply more visually appealing to consumers. The reason that this tactic is just recently starting to be utilized, is that now networks and devices can cater to these large images whereas in the past, they took ages to load causing readers to leave the page before viewing the content. Now, with newer technology and more readily available bandwidth, it is possible to use these large images to really attract consumers to your eCommerce site. Greats.com is an example of a company that utilizes this trendy design tactic.
For boutique e-commerce websites this doesn’t just include product images, but can also include using large lifestyle imagery, scenic photography, and large imagery of products in use within its intended environment. This allows smaller sites to have a larger and more personal effect than big e-commerce sites that have the caveat of dealing with high bandwidth and maintenance.
Responsive website design is basically a website that has a fluid design that will work on the myriad of devices being used by customers to browse their site. This means your website must be equally usable on an iPhone, Android Phone, iPad, tablet computer, desktop computer, smart TV, etc.
Responsive design is nothing new to the internet or to eCommerce for that matter. However, it’s importance can be ignored and dismissed by companies or businesses that are not willing to spend time or money for a full rebuild of their site. This could be a fatal mistake to an online business. These days users are more comfortable than ever using their mobile devices for a variety of tasks, such as banking and bill paying, that they never would have been comfortable doing just a couple of years ago. The same goes for buying products from eCommerce websites. However, if your eCommerce site does not cater to their devices, they will leave and find another retailer who does.
The importance of having a flexible website got even more critical when Google announced that it will prioritize websites that are “mobile-freindly”, sending users who search from mobile devices to mobile-friendly websites first. This is more than a design trend really, this is a call to action that all sites should have some sort of mobile presence, particularly those that are reliant on SEO for traffic. Mobile users have gone from being a small minority in web searching to a large majority in just the last few years, and the trend only seems to be going more in that direction.
3. Large Displays
Responsive design can overly focus on mobile friendliness and ignore another crucial element; larger screens. Meaning it looks great whether it’s shrunken down or enlarged. As we mentioned above, with the amount of traffic coming from mobile devices it’s clear that your website must be responsive to smaller screens, but now with the increase of smart TVs, gaming devices, streaming media players, etc., it is important that your website is able to adapt to larger screens as well. You want your website to be visually appealing regardless of what size screen or resolution it is being accessed on. Firebox.com is a great example of this design trend.
4. Material Design
On an basic level, think of Material Design as a flat or minimal design aesthetic with a touch of depth for better understandability. More so than that Material Design also includes the use of micro-interactions (more on that in a bit), and subtle animations for a friendlier user experience. This is a design orientation where almost a decade of app design and best practices is starting to creep into web design, and vise-versa. User interaction is becoming more formatted, so that every time you create a website there is a clear value into using familiar elements, such as the “hamburger” icon mentioned above.
Though Google was never considered as design conscious as Apple, they coined this design standard in mid 2014, and it really has been gaining ground on flat design’s popularity. Basically it is similar to flat design but with a little added depth using drop shadows and overlaying elements. This gives edges and surfaces to shapes, making them easy to understand. Care is taken that the user has positive feedback when interacting with the site, by using simple animations and friendly or personalized responses.
In the case of eCommerce, Material Design could create friendlier checkout processes, better login controls, and much improved email capture.
Pinterest is the most well known site to use this simple grid aesthetic effectively on their site, but now the design torch has been passed to enterprising web designers to find a better way to develop it for eCommerce. Flexible Card layouts are very friendly to responsive and mobile websites, and is also very popular in mobile app design. It should be simple to adapt this trend, since eCommerce designers are already familiar with modulation of information and using grids for easy readability.
Adidas has begun to embrace this trend for eCommerce, as well as some others, but it still could be pushed much further and effectively.
6. Parallax Scrolling
Parallax has been around for some time, but recently it is being integrated more and more into the design of large high traffic websites, not just boutique design or portfolio sites. This effect is beneficial in guiding the user through the page in a sequential manner, thus having the ability to affectively tell a visual story. The Oakley website is a perfect example. It is important to remember, that parallax is not conducive to mobile so if the majority of your customers access your site via mobile, you may not see much added benefit. Parallax is not utilized much at the moment in eCommerce environments, but 2016 might be the year that a motivated online seller finds a creative and usable way to include it in their site.
7. Hidden Menus/Off-Canvas Menus
These menus are also referred to as “hamburger menus” due to the icon being very similar to a hamburger. They have been rather trendy lately because they manage to deliver the same content of a menu, but in an organized, easy-to-view manner that produces a clean website.
Off-canvas menus also have the advantage that user experience is the same for desktop, mobile, tablet or any other size device. This benefit gives your customers a familiar interface if they return to the site on a different device. Pollen, a branding and digital agency, is a great example that uses a hidden menu on all screen sizes.
Some might say this isn’t an ideal way to list categories and products on an eCommerce website. However, this type of behavior, and the “hamburger” icon in general have become so ubiquitous in mobile apps and websites, it lends it’s use to most any type of site.
Typography on websites has gotten significantly better by increasing in size and becoming more adaptable. This is important for the design of your ecommerce website, because it is through strong typography that you can set your site apart from others. Be different, while maintaining a legible font to be visually appealing to your consumers.
Typography services such as the free Google Fonts, or the paid TypeKit have really opened the door on web typography. No longer is web design tied to the of a handful of fonts that are installed on all users computer. Arial is a great font, one of the best actually, but there will be no sadness over it’s potential loss of popularity.
There is no denying how important website design is in order to attract your consumers. By implementing the tools above your website will stand out, hopefully providing a visually appealing site resulting in higher conversion rates for your ecommerce business.
The images really helped drive home the key points!