If you’re thinking about building your own ecommerce business, learning how to design a Shopify store can be a fantastic way to get started. After all, while there are many platforms out there for today’s would-be entrepreneurs to consider, Shopify ranks as one of the most popular options for many, combining versatility with ease of use.
With Shopify, business leaders can create compelling, professional stores in no time, suitable for virtually any business model, from dropshipping to print-on-demand. The question is, how do you make sure you’re developing a Shopify site that’s destined for success?
The Key Steps to Consider When Designing your Online Store
This simple step-by-step guide will ensure your Shopify store has everything it needs to thrive in the competitive ecommerce landscape.
Step 1: Creating an Account with Shopify
The first step in designing a Shopify store, is creating an account with the ecommerce platform. There are various options you can choose from here. If you just want to sell products through links on your social media platforms or newsletters, for instance, you can opt for the cheapest Shopify plan. If you want to build a comprehensive store, you can consider the Shopify Basic, Shopify, or Advanced plans.
Each pricing option available from Shopify comes with its own pros and cons to consider. For instance, while more advanced plans do cost extra, they benefit from extra features, more staff accounts, and lower transaction fees.
If you’re not sure which plan you’re going to choose yet, don’t panic, you can start by creating a demo store for free, with a Shopify free trial. Simply visit the Shopify website and click the “Start a Free trial” button. You’ll be asked to enter some basic details about your business, choose a password and email address for your account, and select the store name you want to use.
Once you’ve created an account, you’ll be able to access the Shopify dashboard to start building your ecommerce site.
Step 2: Choosing and Customizing your Theme
Once you have access to your Shopify website account, the next step is choosing a theme for your online presence. Themes are essentially templates in the Shopify landscape, which dictate the structure, features, and overall appearance of your store. Shopify offers a variety of free and paid themes to choose from in their marketplace. However, if you want something more unique, you can also consider working with a store design team to create a theme from scratch.
If you choose an option from the Shopify theme store, you can browse through your options using the various filters on the theme store. It’s worth considering a few things before making your choice, such as the industry you’re operating in, and the functionality you want for your site.
You can find themes specifically tailored for certain sectors, such as the fashion or lifestyle industry, as well as themes that offer access to unique features, like carousels, infinite scrolling, mega menus, and collection filtering. Just keep in mind, the more features you need, the more you’re likely to pay.
Once you’ve found a theme, you can head into the “Theme” section of your Shopify store, and click “Customize” to make changes. For instance, you can implement your store logo into your theme, make changes to color palettes, adjust sections, and even add your own content to each page.
Step 3: Choose your Shopify Apps and Add-Ons
Explore apps and add-ons. While Shopify has plenty of functionality built-in for ecommerce store owners, one of the things that makes the platform so attractive to business leaders is its versatility. The Shopify app marketplace is home to dozens of add-ons and plugins you can use to extend the functionality of your store, increase conversions, and unlock new opportunities.
Think about your business model, and the kinds of tools that might help you to increase your revenue. For instance, if you’re running a dropshipping or POD store, integrating an app from your dropshipping supplier will help you to automate workflows and keep track of inventory.
You can also consider using add-ons to improve your marketing campaigns. For instance, Search Engine Optimization apps can help you to build on the existing SEO functionality of Shopify, by assisting with keyword research, content creation and site map creation. You might even use add-ons for social media, email marketing, and SMS campaigns to connect with customers in new ways.
Step 4: Create Your Core Website Pages
Once you’ve chosen your theme and made changes to your overall site’s appearance, you can start making specific pages for your website. Though the exact “sections” of your store may vary depending on your business model, there are a few pages which are necessary for most sites, such as:
- The homepage: The homepage is essentially the front page of your website. It’s the first thing customers will interact with when they encounter your online store. Make sure your homepage instantly tells customers what to expect from your website, highlights your core products, and draws attention to your reliability and trustworthiness.
- About and contact pages: While the “About” page tells customers more about your brand, giving you a chance to connect with your target audience, your contact page ensures people can reach you if they have any questions about your products. Make sure it’s easy for customers to connect with you through phone calls, email, messaging, and more.
- Help pages: If you want to provide your customers with an excellent customer experience, you can also create FAQ pages and other assets which highlight your terms and conditions, shipping policies, returns and refund strategies and so on. This makes it easier to ensure customers know what to expect when buying from you.
When developing your core website pages, always put user experience first. Make sure your site is clean, aesthetically attractive, and easy to navigate on all devices. Make it simple for customers to find the pages they need, and ensure you maintain quick loading speeds on every part of your site.
Step 5: Build your Product Listings
After designing your homepage, contact pages, and other essential components of your website, it’s time to start drawing attention to your products. The good news is adding products to your Shopify store is extremely straightforward. All you need to do is go into your “Products” section on the Shopify dashboard, and enter a few key details.
Some of the things you’ll need to include in every product page are:
- Clear pricing: Set a specific price for your product based on market value, competitor research, and a deep knowledge of your own production and operating fees. Make sure you’re transparent with your pricing, and don’t hide any shipping fees from customers.
- Stunning product images: Eye-catching photos can make or break a product page. On Shopify, you can upload various high-definition photos, showing your items from different angles. You can also create carousels, or upload product videos on some themes.
- Intuitive descriptions: Make sure you fill your product page with valuable information about the item’s benefits, features, and capabilities. Provide your customers with all the information they need to know to make an informed purchasing decision.
- Product titles: Give your product page a name or title. This is a great chance to use your SEO skills to embed keywords into your pages, and boost your chances of ranking on the search engines.
Remember, Shopify also allows you to sort products into “collections” to make it easier for customers to navigate your store. Just click on the “Products” tab in your Shopify admin dashboard, then choose “Collections” to create groups of related products.
Step 6: Set Up your Email and Other Contact Options
As mentioned above, one of the most important parts of any Shopify store is the “Contact” page. Your customers will want to make sure they can reach you if they have any questions, complaints, or queries about refunds, returns, and deliveries. While there are various ways you can communicate with your audience, one of the easiest options is to set up your own Shopify email.
Shopify includes access to a professional email account with any paid plan. All you need to do is go to the “Settings” page on your store, and scroll down to “Contact” information to create the email address you want to connect to your Shopify store. Once you’ve done this, you can visit the “Notifications” section to define when customers will receive emails from you about product updates, deliveries, and other information.
If you want to go beyond email for customer contact, don’t forget there are plenty of great apps and add-ons that can allow you to take advantage of things like live chat, chatbots, and even telephony options. Plus, Shopify has it’s own service for setting up SMS alerts too.
Step 7: Adjust your Store Settings
Once you’re done setting up your email, it’s time to manage all of the preferences and settings for your new store. Although this might not be the most exciting part of Shopify website design, it’s crucial to make sure you’re running your store effectively.
While the exact settings you want to adjust will depend on the nature of your store, some of the key things you’ll need to think about include:
- Shipping preferences: Within the Settings page of your ecommerce website, you’ll be able to set specific shipping preferences, and align your site with logistics companies. You can make changes to shipping rates, zones, and labels. Plus, you can implement carrier settings, and add local pickup and delivery options if you like.
- Tax settings: Many stores will need to implement tax settings based on the location of their customers. The Shopify platform will automatically apply basic tax settings, but depending on your store, you might need to change these. The good news is Shopify has a tax manual available to help you implement the right rules.
- Language settings: If you’re shipping to customers around the world, you’ll also be able to implement different languages for your website. However, every language you want to use needs to be uploaded to Shopify, unless you’re using an automatic translation app. Go into the “Languages” section to make your choices.
Step 8: Implement Payment Options
After dealing with the basic settings of your store, you’ll need to ensure your customers can make payments and actually buy your items. Shopify does have it’s own payment processing solution available, Shopify Payments, which can help you to keep transaction fees low. To access this payment option, just go into the Settings page, and click “Activate Shopify Payments”.
If you want to offer your customers a wider range of payment options, and potentially increase your conversion rates, then you can implement other payment solutions too. Shopify can integrate with a range of payment solutions, including buy-now-pay-later tools and PayPal.
When on your Settings page, click on the option to “See all Other Providers” to start adding additional payment options to your website. Keep in mind, using external payment processers on Shopify could mean you need to pay extra fees.
Step 9: Optimize Your Site for Conversions
You’re almost ready to launch your Shopify store, but first it’s worth looking for some quick ways to optimize your chances of traffic and conversions. Test your Shopify store design, clicking through your pages from the perspective of a customer. Ask yourself how easy it is to find the “add to cart” button or any other CTA you might be using on your website.
Examine each product description, and determine whether you can add more keywords to improve your chances of ranking. Evaluate the checkout process, and functionality of the shopping cart. You might even consider implementing various marketing tools to boost your chances of sales. For instance, you could implement pop-ups, create a landing page for your ads, or work with a design agency to create banners for sales.
Other ways to optimize your site include:
- Leverage SEO: Take advantage of off-site, on-site, and technical SEO tactics to improve your ranking capabilities and drive more traffic to your store. You’ll need to use keywords, site maps, meta descriptions, and effective page titles.
- Use social proof: Consider adding social proof to your website to gain the trust of your target audience. You could collect and share user reviews from your target audience, showcase user-generated content from social media, or add trust badges to boost sales.
- Enhance customer experience: Think about how you can boost user experience by choosing legible typography, streamlining the navigation process, and improving page loading times. Make sure your store works well on every browser and device too.
Step 10: Launch Your Shopify Site
Finally, it’s time to test your ecommerce design skills by launching your website. Upgrade your free demo plan to a paid plan with Shopify, and make sure you set up recurring payments for your subscription to avoid any unexpected downtime.
You can also boost your chances of being found by customers, by leveraging some of the built-in marketing tools available on Shopify. For instance, in the “Marketing” tab, you’ll find the option to create pay-per-click campaigns for Google and Facebook. Create targeted ads based on your target audience, and remember to showcase your unique brand identity, the benefits of your products, and your business personality.
Remember, it can take time to see results from your marketing campaigns, so don’t worry if you don’t get huge amounts of traffic straight away. Monitor your campaigns and implement changes based on what you learn to enhance your results in the years to come.
Designing Your Own Shopify Store
Although there are various steps involved in the web development process for a Shopify store, launching your website is relatively straightforward. Shopify gives you all of the tools you need to build your online identity, capture the attention of your target audience and start making a profit.
Plus, if you encounter any issues along the way, you can always check out the Shopify guides and articles, or reach out to Shopify experts for additional help.
As your store grows, continue to update your website, focusing on delivering excellent customer experiences. Remember, you may eventually choose to update your Shopify plan too. As you continue to earn customers, you may benefit from the new admin accounts and features offered by more advanced plans. You could even consider using Shopify Plus.