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Ecommerce Web Design Trends in 2016

When I first sat down to write a blog about eCommerce web design trends in 2016, I started to reminisce about trends of the past. There are so many that come to mind, but unfortunately they aren’t all good. So I started to look at the history of web design and everything that has led us to this place in the history of the interweb. I was amazed at all of the past trends that I had forgotten about.

If you are a computer geek like many of us, you will probably get nostalgic when you hear references to splash pages, page curl, and skeuomorphism. Then there are the trends-turned-fads that we were happy to see go, like gif animation, website counters, and overuse of gradients. But there are some trends that brought us to where we are today, such as responsive design and flat design. Mobile site usage will continue to drive demand for responsive design in 2016. And what we knew as “flat design” is evolving into some great concepts in website design.

That being said, as a business who provides affordable web design, we’re keen to share with you some of the 2016 eCommerce web design trends that we here at StudioCoast look forward to seeing.

1. Card Layout

Card layouts became very popular in 2015, and we think their popularity will continue to grow in 2016. The design, which originated from Pinterest, took off into the mainstream with its adoption by Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Twitter, to name a few. The design has become popular not only because of how aesthetically pleasing it is, but also because of its compatibility with desktops, responsive design, mobile, and apps.

Card layout is not only popular with designers, it’s also a marketer’s dream. It complements marketing efforts to lure customers with content because it’s so easy to combine images, text, call to actions, and links into one card. One card equals one chunk of information or one thought. Marketers concentrate on getting the attention of the public, who already have a very limited attention span as it is. This makes it easier for the reader to digest information all at once.

On the average website, users take the time to read 28% of the words at most, with 20% being more likely. This fact makes card layout a popular choice for eCommerce businesses that want their customers to be able to scan their websites for products and get information as easily as possible. When using card layout, it’s good to remember the following:

  • Use lots of white space
  • Use rich content – less is more
  • Use one thought per card
  • Remember that image is everything
An example of card layout, in this instance pins from Pinterest.

Source: Pinterest

2. Custom-Drawn Illustrations

We predict that more eCommerce sites in 2016 will use custom-made/hand-drawn illustrations to sell products. Custom-drawn illustrations bring a personal, unique feel to your online store. They will also save you money on royalty fees and, more importantly, they will save you from having to use the cheesy stock photos that limit your originality due to their overuse, especially in the eCommerce world.

Some businesses even go so far as to use hand-drawn images for menu icons, logos, search bars – you name it. We believe more eCommerce sites will take advantage of custom-drawn illustrations in 2016 in order to stand out from the competition.

3. Interruption Marketing or Permission Marketing

As content marketing continues to grow, so does our desire to capture contact information. Yes, you guessed it, those annoying pop-ups are back – but maybe less intrusive and annoying this time around. According to Practical Ecommerce, eCommerce sites will use interruption marketing more in 2016, stating that one-third of the National Retail Federation’s top retailers in the United States will use them in the coming year.

Why would the big brands bring back something that annoyed so many people in the 90s? Because it works. Eighty-nine percent of companies using content marketing say so. Companies are choosing to use content marketing to increase their email subscriber base and, in turn, increase sales. Email marketing is the most powerful tool available to eCommerce sites. So, in order to get email addresses, eCommerce sites are providing discounts or valuable content in exchange for personal information.

An example of interruption marketing, from Unbounce.

Source: Unbounce

This time around interruption marketing is a bit less intrusive, as some sites require you to take action — for example, scrolling down before the pop-up will appear. It would be interesting to know if people find interruption marketing any less intrusive than the pop-ups of the past and what prompts people to part with their personal information. We can’t wait to see how this eCommerce web design trend of 2016 will play out.

4. Semi-Flat Design/Almost Flat/ Flat 2.0

Flat design has become increasingly popular in the past few years. In 2015 we started to see it everywhere. Due to the minimalistic style and modern look, this trend has become the design of choice for many people. Flat design is simply an interface design style without the bells and whistles – i.e., gradients and textures – utilizing instead the simple elements, typography, and flat colours that Microsoft made popular. Flat design looks great on a responsive device and is easy to navigate, but it does have disadvantages. Designers found that although simplistic, it is difficult to implement well and if it’s used incorrectly, flat design can come off as lacking rather than modern. Regardless, several companies jumped on the flat design bandwagon in 2015. As a result, sites started to lack individuality, possibly due to the sheer number of templates available with the flat-design elements.

Flat design has now evolved into three categories, each of which we expect to see more of in 2016: semi-flat, almost flat, or flat 2.0. Designers worked out the user ability issues that came with flat design, which sacrificed usability for trendy aesthetics. Now, semi-flat encompasses subtle shadows, highlights, and layers to create some depth in the UI. We look forward to seeing what is in store for flat design in 2016.

An example of flat design, from Google.

Source: Google

5. The Omni-Channel Experience

Although not a web design per se, the omni-channel experience will likely be embraced by more companies in 2016. This trend allows businesses to expand their eCommerce efforts beyond their websites, providing a seamless experience and consistent messaging across all channels of their business. We believe that in 2016 we’ll see more companies integrating their websites with their brick-and-mortar stores, Facebook, Twitter, apps, etc., bringing a seamless omni-channel experience to their customers.

By aligning the company’s messaging, vision, and design across each channel and device, eCommerce sites will provide their customers with a better personalized experience in 2016. Not only will omni-channel be a significant eCommerce web design trend for 2016, but for the next couple of years to come as well.

Oasis does a good job of providing its customers with an omni-channel experience. Not only is the shopping process seamless regardless of whether you visit their brick-and-mortar stores, eCommerce site, or mobile app, but you can also find out the stock levels at local stores via their app. Pretty cool!

The Omni-Channel experience, from Oasis.

Source: Oasis

Whether you are looking to spruce up your website with the latest design or doing a complete web overall, it’s always important to pick a design that best suits your business. Don’t select one simply because it’s trendy and everyone else is doing it. Choosing a design that doesn’t match your business value proposition can ultimately hurt your eCommerce business, so it’s important to pick something that fits your brand and the vision of your company.

If you would like more information on how we can help you with your next web design project, contact us today. StudioCoast’s Studio Media has been helping Australians with their web design needs since 2002. Contact StudioCoast today.

How Australian Online Stores Compete with Overseas Vendors

Australians like to buy from overseas vendors, in fact, 74% of us buy overseas vs. supporting our local Australian online stores, cited a November survey of 1,000 shoppers conducted by Cashrewards. The study revealed that Australians are buying overseas due to the lower prices and a wider range of products.

Competing with the lower prices and selection provided by larger global vendors can be a challenge; that has left Australian online stores wondering if we can compete with the online presence of our overseas rivals. Is price and selection the only thing holding us back, or do our sites lack the global presence of the UK and US eCommerce giants?

As a Windows Web Hosting company serving the Gold Coast, we live and breathe Australian eCommerce, and in our opinion, the latter isn’t true. The Australian eCommerce market is strong; in fact, Australia is ranked number 10 for the best eCommerce market in the world.

The 2015 Global Retail eCommerce Index

The 2015 Global Retail eCommerce Index. Source: A.T. Kearney

The Australian eCommerce market grew 22% last year, and it is estimated that online shopping will do $10 billion in sales this year. That being said, the three most successful eCommerce websites in Australia are: eBay, Gumtree, Amazon – followed by two Australian sites – Oz Bargain and JB Hi-Fi.

5 Customer Targeting Tips for Australian Online Stores

So as an Australian online store, how do we compete with the larger overseas vendors for market share? There are five tips that we as Australian online stores can start doing today, to help target customers at home. The first two tips are no-brainers that all eCommerce websites should be doing – regardless of who they are targeting – and the last three are tips to specifically reach your local demographic.

1. Improve Website Speed

If you have an eCommerce site, you are probably well aware of the importance of website speed and the impact it can have on your business:

Not only can the performance of your site keep people on your site, but it will also help increase your chances of converting a visitor to a customer. Let’s face it, no one likes a slow site, and chances are you’ll lose a potential customer to another site if your site is too slow. To find out how long it takes your website to load, check out some of the following sites to find out and analyze your website speed:

  • Webpagetest – Tests your website speed on different browsers
  • Pingdom – Tests page load time and identifies bottlenecks
  • Google PageSpeed Insights – Analyzes web page content and makes suggestions for improvement
  • Yahoo! YSlow – Tests web speeds and suggests tools to help performance

If you have a decent amount of traffic and you are targeting a global audience, you may want to consider a content delivery network (CDN). A content delivery network (CDN) is a collection of web servers distributed across multiple locations to deliver content more efficiently to users. The server selected for delivering content to a specific user is typically based on a measure of network proximity.

With the Australian mobile eCommerce market on the rise, it is vital for Australian online stores to provide a great mobile experience.

2. Provide a Great Mobile Experience

The Australian mobile eCommerce market is on the rise, so if you don’t have a mobile responsive site, now is the time to invest in one. Currently, 79% of Australians own a smartphone, 65% of us browse online stores on our smartphones, and 42% of us have purchased via mobile – a little lower than the 49% global average. There is a huge opportunity with the 25-34 demographic, where 64% of this market has made a purchase online. This is a growing market and a huge opportunity for Australian online stores; by 2017, the mobile eCommerce market in Australia will be worth $721 million.

Make sure that your site is mobile responsive not only on all current smartphone browsers, but tablets and devices as well. Test your site to ensure that it loads properly on all devices and browsers. What’s more, ensure that a customer can make a seamless transaction via a mobile phone. If you don’t have a mobile responsive site, and your customers can’t make purchases on your site using their mobile devices, make this a priority. If budget permits, consider a mobile app; Australian mobile consumers spend about 80% of their time using smartphones apps.

3. Target Your Local Audience

If your site is up to par in terms of performance and mobile accessibility, now is the time to consider ways to engage with local consumers to keep Australian eCommerce business here, in Australia. To regain your share of the Australian eCommerce market, look for ways to connect with your local customers and leverage your locality using social media.

Twitter

Tweet locally to specifically target your local customers and engage in local conversation. Search for the hashtags of people talking about your product, industry, or even the competition and join in on the conversation, engage with potential customers, and direct customers to your website.

SEO

Optimize your website with words related to your location so that your website will show up when someone does a search for related products and/or services in your area.

Facebook

Depending on your advertising budget, you can invest in Facebook ads that specially target your local audience. You can also use Facebook to post about local community events that your business may participate in, local events that your company sponsors, as well as include information about what is going on at your store and/or office. These are all good ways for you to show your followers how you are engaged at a local level.

Blog

Provide your audience with content that they will find valuable. Separate your customer list based on location and send your local list a link to a blog with tailored information to their needs and locale.

Your eCommerce business must develop a plan to connect with your local customers and leverage your locality using social media.

4. Provide an Optimal Experience for Australians

Do you make your local customers feel special? If you want to take market share from the larger overseas vendors, make the experience for local customers optimal and special – this is something that the larger companies can’t always do well. Provide customers with free gift wrapping over the holidays or free shipping anytime of the year. Think of ways to provide customers with something that the other overseas vendors outside of your time zone can’t provide – for example, local, customized service. You can use Geo-tracking or GPS to locate the IP address of your visitors and provide a specific webpage targeted to your Australian visitors. You can even provide discounts and promotions for customers to “buy Australian.”

5. Location-Based Marketing

Location-based marketing uses a mobile device’s location to alert the device user of an offering from a local business. The customer will receive a message via SMS in regards to information about a promotion or incentive to buy, with a link to your website. If you have a brick and mortar location, you can push coupons to customers when they get close to your store, and in some cases, thanks to beacon technology, when they approach a product. This is a great way to target local customers with incentives and you can even use this as an opportunity to thank local customers for their loyalty to your brand. Location-based marketing can also be used to push invites out for your events. This obviously is budget dependent; however, a great way to engage with the local folk.

So there you have it, some simple steps that you can start utilizing today to compete with the larger overseas vendors and drive more local traffic to your eCommerce site. You have the opportunity to reach your customers with an optimal website and shopping experience, regardless of what device they access your eCommerce site from, and offer a customized experience that is tailored to their needs.  If you can offer your customers what they need, when they need it, from a company that is in their own backyard, then why would they need to shop from an overseas vendor?

Since 2002, StudioCoast has been helping customers find the best Australian eCommerce hosting and offering affordable web hosting packages to suit every need. If you would like more information on how StudioCoast can help your eCommerce business, and drive more traffic to your online Australian store, contact us today.

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