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On Tuesday, we were so excited to announce our new Bigcommerce themes –– all 67 variations of them. Since then, we’ve had multiple stores launch with the new themes including GolfEtail and celebrity designer LaQuan Smith.
Given the adoption rates and the increase in conversions already being reported by our customers, we think we’ve hit a homerun with the new Bigcommerce themes –– and we have more themes launching in the coming months, so stay tuned if you haven’t found the theme that’s just right for your brand. Plus, we’ll be opening up full customizability for all the themes soon, including full access to HTML and CSS. This will enable larger brands needing more extensive customization to easily partner with designers and developers to create a unique storefront that reflects their unique brand and business.
Now, however, we want to turn to our design partner Pixel Union, the team we worked with to create the new themes already launched, with more to come. Yesterday, we asked Pixel Union’s designers to choose some of their favorite themes –– a difficult choice for any creative who gets close to their work. Venture and Geneva stood out as two big-time favorites. So, we sat down with each designer to get their insight into why they designed it the way they did, which types of industries the themes may suit best, and more.
Alright Cory, same questions as Carlo had yesterday. What are the essential elements in an ecommerce theme?
Great navigation and clear calls to action. You want your theme’s navigation to make it easy for customers to find their way around the site. You also want customers to be able to easily, intuitively add products to their cart, get to the checkout, subscribe to your newsletter, etc. We put a lot of thought into customer experience with all of these themes. There should never be an instance where a customer lands on a page and doesn’t know exactly what to do next.
What key elements should a brand look for when choosing an ecommerce theme?
The theme they’re choosing should support the products they want to sell. If a brand has a larger catalog, they need to select a theme that can handle that size of inventory. That means something that supports product filtering, advanced search, and so on. Brands that have a difficult time obtaining high-resolution product imagery should select a theme that has less emphasis on photos. After the practical questions have been answered, then the brand can start looking at what they prefer aesthetically — full-width versus constrained, etc.
What’s the inspiration behind the Geneva theme?
I wanted to create a theme that really lets photography do the talking. There’s such a heavy reliance on imagery in this theme that it won’t work for a lot of merchants, and that’s okay. Brands that have great imagery and use that as the main focus of their online store will love this theme, and it will do everything they want and need it to do.
What makes the Geneva theme unique to other templates and themes out there?
Image-heavy page layouts. A true focus on shops with smaller catalogs. One-of-a-kind homepage, product page and shopping cart.
I tried to make virtually every aspect of this theme different from the other themes. The overlay menu is different. The slideshow is different, with the text placed below the images. The card layout is different from anything else we have. The product page is a bunch of full-width images stacked on top of each other.
Like I said before, it’s not going to work for every brand, but for those that have the right style and imagery, it should look beautiful.
Can you talk to the differences between the variations? For readers, note that each of the new Bigcommerce themes comes with four variations.
One of the interesting things about Geneva is that the presets are quite similar in terms of color and text. I think that’s a testament to the importance of choosing great imagery for this theme. That said, there’s going to be a lot of variety based on the imagery a merchant decides to use with Geneva — by changing the images, it’s going to have a completely different feel.
How did you go about implementing the design within the Stencil framework?
It was really important to find the right balance between what’s currently possible within the Stencil framework and what I felt the theme needed to be successful. It took some finessing, but in the end I think I struck a perfect balance.
Stencil has some great features like live search and advanced product filtering, both of which make designing a pleasure. It’s still evolving, so I know some of the things it’s missing right now — social media integration and promotional content, for example — will be there soon enough.
What advice would you give brands on content and photography to make the most out of these themes?
For all themes, consistency. Build trust with your content and photography. For Geneva specifically, images that have a slight background color (ideally grey) will work best. The theme itself looks best with a white background, and so images that are also on white backgrounds can sometimes look as if they’re floating. Some merchants may not like that.
In your ideal world, why type of brands or content assets would you be excited to see being put to use within Geneva?
High fashion brands with small, high-quality catalogs. I would also love to see it used by brands selling consumables (food, candles, soaps, etc.) — that could be really interesting.
In general, where do you think ecommerce design is heading?
I think ecommerce is going to become easier and easier as friction is removed from the shopping process. I envision a day where most of a brand’s content is on a single page and everything happens by transitioning between different states: view product, add to cart, checkout. This is already present to some extent, but I think it will become much more popular.
After that, I see ecommerce being embedded into more apps, perhaps to the point where a merchant doesn’t need their own online store — they’ll be able to sell their products through Instagram, Pinterest and other apps that haven’t been created yet.
Alright, on a personal level, what do you like to do with you aren’t designing? What has been a recent source of inspiration for you?
I like building themes when I’m not designing them. That gives me perspective from the other side of the coin, which I’m not often exposed to during the day at the office. It helps me understand the work our developers do when it comes to implementing my designs, and that in turn gives me perspective when it comes to making design decisions in the future.
Get more information about the new Bigcommerce themes here and leave any questions you have for Cory in the comments below.
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