The design of the e-commerce store impacts conversions heavily. Ease of navigation, clickable elements, and appealing layout – all these things contribute to user experience and conversion growth.
This is why the choice of an e-commerce theme is so important. It will not only visually represent your brand but also contribute to product-selling.
Among other e-commerce platforms, Magento is the most customizable one but that does not always mean you have to develop a theme from scratch. Magento owners can choose between the readymade and custom themes, where both options have their pros and cons. We will have a look at each and will also see the most important things to look for when choosing a perfect theme for your online store.
Readymade or custom theme: which one will suit you best
To start with, you have two options to choose from: a readymade Magento theme or a custom one.
Readymade theme: pros and cons
Readymade themes are available on the Magento Marketplace. They have all the functionality that is necessary to launch an online store and tend to be very UX-friendly and appealing.
- Easy to use and implement;
- Available right away;
- Appealing and efficient.
- Low level of customization;
- Not unique.
With the readymade theme, all you have to do is buy and integrate it into your store. Of course, you will be able to customize it but not much. Plus, you may not find a theme that would 100% suit your brand.
Custom theme: pros and cons
A custom theme is the one you develop from scratch. It demands a lot of time and resources but in the end, you will receive a unique theme that will perfectly reflect your brand and its identity.
- Easy to manage and maintain;
- Extended functionality.
Conclusion: choose a theme in correspondence with your budget and goals. if you are a small company or a startup, you can confidently start with a readymade theme and focus on promotion and traffic acquisition.
For the established and recognized companies, however, it is a must that the theme corresponds to the brand. Such companies are usually middle-sized or big ones and they demand a high-performing theme which will be able to handle the traffic load.
Things to keep in mind when choosing a theme
Whether you choose between the readymade or custom theme, remember a few rules that define a converting and appealing theme.
The way your theme looks is one of the most important factors that define whether the shoppers will stay on your site or leave.
Think of it the same way as of brick-and-mortar stores. You will first be attracted to the appealing counter with beautifully packages goods, won’t you? The same rule applies to online stores.
It is important to choose a theme that will look visually appealing and relevant for your products and services. Pay attention to colors, visual and promotional elements, navigation menu. The theme should be both attractive and easy to navigate through.
An important thing to keep in mind: never sacrifice functionality in favor of design and vice versa. Extensive functionality will not compensate for poor design, nor will an excellent layout compensate for the lack of the needed options.
Poor user experience leads to low conversion rate and this is one important rule you have to remember.
If the website has bulky navigation, does not provide the necessary information, and does not serve the needs of the shoppers, its conversion rate will be incredibly low. And vice versa, if the users intuitively understand how to navigate the store, they will most probably buy a product.
Pay attention to such things as the navigation menu, categories organization, placement of interactive elements across the store. You want to create a sales funnel and a theme should correspond to it.
As for intuitive navigation, some stores have elements in the placed where we expect to see them: for example, a shopping cart is normally placed in the upper right corner. So if a theme has a cart that is in the upper left corner, it may confuse the users and impact the conversions.
Of course, when designing a custom theme, you will make sure it’s UX-friendly. The good news is, the readymade Magento themes are also designed with UX in mind, so you won’t have to worry about it.
Note: pay attention to Bootstrap Magento themes. They are extremely UX-optimized and appealing in terms of the overall look.
Search engine optimization is vital because it makes your store visible and drives traffic to the site. So if you want to raise conversions and score higher in the search results, pay close attention to SEO and SEO-optimization of a theme.
Things to consider:
- Proper coding;
- Optimized page elements;
- Site load speed;
- Proper use of headings.
In addition to that, you can also perform an SEO audit of your store in the whole and see whether it performs in its full force and there is nothing wrong with it (like broken links or missing keywords).
The number of mobile users is growing on a regular basis. In addition to that, mobile e-commerce is on the rise so you want to make sure you are not missing on sales because your store is not delivering a good mobile experience.
The majority of the readymade themes are already mobile-optimized so you won’t have to worry about that. As well, the default Magento themes are mobile-optimized as well.
The biggest things to watch for in a mobile-friendly e-commerce theme are:
- light-weight design for faster loading
- high quality of the images
- clickable elements
- easy navigation
All this is important for providing a smooth and frictionless user experience that will naturally lead to completing a conversion.
As an e-commerce store owner, you should expect that your shoppers are using different browsers to access your store. Thus, it is vital that your Magento theme is compatible with various browsers and delivers an equally good performance on each.
Magento 2, by default, supports Internet Explorer, Safari, Chrome, and Firefox (check all supported versions here). However, if you are customizing a theme or using the latest technologies, check whether they are compatible with the needed browsers.
Supports useful extensions
If you want to add some extra features to a theme, make sure the theme supports all the required extensions. Otherwise, you may end up buying a theme but not being able to tweak it in accordance with your needs.
As for the custom theme, you build it the way you want it from the very beginning, which, without a doubt, is a big advantage.
Do not underestimate the importance of choosing a theme for your Magento store. The theme is the first thing that creates an impression and has to combine both stellar design and useful functionality. Thus, the present investment in creating an outstanding design will bring you increased conversions and broader audience reach in the nearest future.
Irina Linnik is an eCommerce and digital marketing observer, currently contributing to Onilab – a Magento development company. My goal is to create informative and compelling content to help my readers navigate through the vast and ever-changing business environment. With over 5 years of experience in writing, I have helped numerous companies communicate their message across various channels.