People don’t make purchasing decisions coldly and dispassionately. When we choose stores to buy from and products to order, it’s just as emotional as it is logical — perhaps more. And nothing sparks emotional attachment like creativity.
But what goes into a great creative ecommerce store? Well, the nature of creativity means that there aren’t concrete rules that can never be violated, but there are some features that crop up time and time again in the most creative stores. Let’s look at 7 that generally work really well.
When you see that a company was content to use generic images, colors and backgrounds for their website, you don’t learn anything about their investment in the business or their desires for it. Nothing sets a website apart faster than customized graphics, especially when they are infused with a ton of passion and vibrancy.
Image credit: Torie & Howard
I love the hand-drawn aesthetic of the Torie & Howard store. It looks like something out of a children’s book, and you could easily pick it out of a giant website lineup because it’s just so different. Before you’ve even read any of the text, the company has left a memorable impression in your mind. That’s outstanding work.
We stare at screens all day, often seeing websites, search results and social media feeds blur together as they pass us by. It’s like we’re moving through a forest of mostly-indistinguishable greens and browns. Most brands settle for being understated for two reasons: they see others doing the same and figure they should fit in, and they fear the consequences of standing out because being openly creative makes you vulnerable and requires courage.
Image credit: Tessemae’s
Tessemae’s doesn’t mess around with advertising its ranch sauce on its homepage. The navigation is small and muted, and the bold orange is like a painter reaching out and swiping neon color across your window. When you want a product to stand out, don’t be afraid to go for it like this!
Business is very serious, or so you might think from looking at a lot of websites. The photography is generic and predictable, taken from stock sources or (probably worse) done in-house with no invention or passion whatsoever. Handling photography is seen as a fill-in-the-blanks exercise— simply meeting demand and ticking the boxes. What creative businesses realize is that a great photo is worth a thousand words.
Image credit: BlackMilk Clothing
The designers at BlackMilk Clothing could have done all of their product photos in a white void, but instead they took a more artistic approach for many of them, placing them in forest settings and being playful with angles and lighting. Even if you’re not selling clothing, you can be creative with composition and coloring.
Users demand functionality, so provided you don’t make things too dense, it’s typically considered advisable to include as many options as possible in a store navigation and on pages in general. After all, attention spans are limited, so you have to jam in as much as you can while you have someone looking in your direction, right? Well, not necessarily.
Image credit: Hardgraft
This is the Hardgraft homepage, and beneath the lead text, it’s just this all the way down. Product photos on a great background. Purchasing information only comes in when you hover over the items. It really goes to show that the information the user needs depends on the context, and you’re often best served keeping things simple.
You’d think social media links would be standard these days, but there are still plenty of websites that don’t use them properly, putting them in tiny text at the bottom of the screen or on another page entirely. Some don’t include them at all, shockingly. Perhaps they don’t want to point users towards their social accounts because they’re not confident about them.
Image credit: Marie Catrib’s
Marie Catrib’s is a delicious-looking food store with social links front and centre on the homepage. You can’t miss them, especially with the custom icons, and the enthusiastic voice in combination with the fun graphics makes for a compelling proposition. If you’re going to be creative with your brand, you’ll need to engage with people through social media.
Ecommerce today is truly multi-channel. Businesses aren’t just selling through their websites — they’re also driving conversions through messaging platforms, carrying out 24/7 email marketing using automation software like Moosend, and winning brand advocacy through smart use of social media engagement. And what binds all of these efforts? Tone of voice.
Image credit: AYR
When you’re selling a product, you cut to your simple value proposition and call to action. “Custom T-Shirt for $10 - Buy Now”. At least, that’s standard practice, and you can understand why. Something that simple can’t be misunderstood or misinterpreted, and you’ll never receive any customer queries about what exactly that means or what you do. But it isn’t the only way.
Image credit: Beardbrand
This is the Beardbrand homepage, and the very first thing you see is a question and a quiz. No mention of products, pricing, or conventional value. It’s a really interesting approach to ecommerce, and very enticing. You want to take the quiz, and before you know it you’ve been led carefully into a process designed to sell products without you even realizing what’s happening.
Your store doesn’t need to take this exact approach, but the point is that you don’t have to just straightforwardly say “Here, buy this product”. You can experiment, because something else might work better for you.
There you have it - 7 features of a creative web store. What do you make of these stores, and how do you think you can adapt these features to suit your purpose? Being creative is a challenge, but it’s one definitely worth taking.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing expert and freelance writer who’s always on the lookout for new things to buy online. You can read more of her work at her blog Victoria Ecommerce.