How to Design a Shopify Store: The Simple Guide

Learning how to design a Shopify website might sound daunting at first, particularly if you don’t have any specific design skills.

However, it can be a lot simpler than it seems. I’ve helped walk countless business owners through the process of designing a compelling Shopify store in the past, and most are surprised at how quickly they can bring their vision to life.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some hurdles to overcome throughout the design process. Here I’m going to walk you through some of the key steps you’ll need to take to design the ultimate Shopify website, covering everything from choosing themes, to which apps you should use.

Step 1: Planning Your Website Design Strategy

The first stage in designing a Shopify website, is planning. The better you plan the core components of your website, the less likely it is that you’ll miss important stages when you’re bringing everything together.

Your plan will also influence which themes you use, how you organize your products (and the layout of your store), and even which plugins and apps you access from Shopify’s app market.

Remember, a well-designed Shopify store is crucial to not only capturing the attention of customers, but earning their trust, and delivering an exceptional user experience.

The better your website is designed, the more likely you are to benefit from high conversions.

When constructing your initial plan, think about:

  • Earning customer trust: How will you present yourself as a credible retailer? Adding elements like a contact page or visible return policy is a good strategy here.
  • Visual appeal: How will you convey a strong aesthetic with your Shopify store? What kind of color theme will be using? How will you take and present product pictures? Are you hiring a professional to create a logo for your website?
  • Product pages: Which products will you be adding to your store? How will you design your product pages to include the right information? What sort of titles, descriptions, and pricing will you use, and how will you highlight promotions?

Think carefully about the brand personality you want to convey, the user experience you want to deliver, and the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) you’ll be monitoring to determine whether your design is successful.

Watching metrics such as conversion rate, customer satisfaction rate, average session duration, and bounce rate can give you an insight into the impact of your design.

MORE: Your Complete Guide to Shopify Free Trial

Step 2: Choosing the Right Theme for Your Store

Once you have a comprehensive plan for what you want to achieve, it’s time to choose the foundation for your Shopify store design.

This means selecting the ideal theme. Themes on Shopify are essentially the backbone of your website, identifying how your pages will look, and what kind of functionality they’ll have.

Shopify offers numerous themes you can choose from, including free and premium options. While free themes are excellent for beginners, I do recommend considering upgrading to a premium theme if you have a little extra budget.

These themes give you more functionality, and allow you to stand out from the competition in the ecommerce market.

When choosing your theme, make sure it’s mobile friendly (responsive), fast loading, and specially tuned to your industry and specific needs.

Other points to consider include:

  • How do you want products to be displayed on your website?
  • How many menu items will you have and how will customers navigate your store?
  • Does your store require specific features, such as countdown timers or age verification pages?
  • What kind of experience will your customers will be looking for?
  • How much can you afford to spend on your design?
  • How many products are you planning on selling (make sure you choose the right catalog size)

Should You Work with a Professional Designer?

I think Shopify offers companies an excellent range of pre-built themes to choose from, particularly if you’re willing to upgrade to a premium model.

However, there will always be limitations to using a pre-made theme. If you want more flexibility to design every page of your website from scratch, you might need to consider working with a Shopify web designer.

Keep in mind, the price these professionals charge will depend on a number of factors, including the scope of the project, and the amount of support you need with implementation and maintenance.

Step 3: Customize the Layout and Structure of your Design

Once you have your theme or custom Shopify design, the next step is customizing the layout and structure of your site.

The layout of your website has a significant impact on conversion rates and customer experience. For instance, placing important information like CTAs and “buy buttons” above the fold can significantly increase purchases.

Additionally, using a sticky navigation bar, so your customers can easily browse through different pages on your website without having to scroll excessively is usually a good idea.

Key points to keep in mind when mastering layout and structure include:

  • Navigation and menu: Consider how all of the pages of your websites will be organized. Will you be designing product collections to make it easier for customers to find related items connected to a specific category?
  • Page structure: Simple is better when it comes to page structure and design. Although you want to give your customers plenty of information on each page of your website, you shouldn’t be cluttering the space with too much information. Make sure there’s plenty of white space on every page, and that the content is easy to view on any device.
  • User experience: The experience your customers have on your store will determine how likely they are to purchase your product. Design your layout for a seamless user journey, limiting the number of clicks required to add products to cart, and visit the checkout page. Make sure all pages load quickly across devices.

Additionally, ensure your messaging is clear on every page, drawing attention to the benefits of your products, and the unique value of your brand.

Step 4: Leverage the Best Web Design Apps

While you can customize many aspects of your Shopify website with just the dashboard you get with any basic Shopify plan, apps can take your design process to the next level.

Shopify apps can help you build your website, and enhance page design, such as the Shogun or Pagefly landing page builders.

shogun shopify app

They can also add functionality and features to your store to enhance the user experience. I would recommend being cautious about how many apps you add to your store straight away, as they can weigh down your website, and make it overly cluttered.

Some key types of apps to consider include:

  • Loyalty and subscription apps
  • Customer support apps (like chat widgets)
  • Integrations to other sales channels
  • Marketing apps for email, SMS, and social media
  • Apps for user experience such as search tools
  • Shipping and fulfillment apps
  • Inventory management tools
  • Security and trust apps
  • Reporting and analytical tools
  • Finance and accounting apps

Remember you can also take advantage of some of Shopify’s proprietary apps and plugins, such as the Shopify Subscriptions app, or Shopify Magic for AI content generation.

Step 5: Define and Track your Web Design KPIs

As I mentioned above, defining clear KPIs you want to monitor in regard to your website design and experience is crucial.

There are several essential metrics you should be monitoring throughout the web design process, such as page loading times.

If your page loading times are low, your bounce rates will increase, and your reputation with customers will suffer.

Consider ensuring images and file sizes are compressed, to minimize loading times, and avoid adding unnecessary media to your pages.

Once you load your website, continue monitoring KPIs like:

  • Customer experience: Pay attention to reviews, feedback, and comments from your customers to ensure your website aligns with their expectations.
  • Engagement metrics: Such as average session duration, click-through rate, conversion rate, and the number of customers who connect with your company.
  • SEO metrics: Monitor your website’s ranking for various keywords, and keep an eye on your domain authority and relevant backlinks

It’s also worth monitoring purchasing metrics, and customer retention rate. If customers start suddenly abandoning your store, this may be a sign that you need to rethink your site’s design.

Design an Incredible Shopify Store

Learning how to design a Shopify website doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Ultimately, if you have the right plan of action, a focus on the right metrics, and a little help from the right apps and professionals, you’ll be able to create an amazing store in no time.

Remember, as your business grows and customer preferences change, you may need to revisit your store’s design and make the occasional update. Reworking your site’s design from time to time can help to keep your store relevant in the eyes of customers.

If you need more help designing the perfect Shopify website, contact our team today.

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