So many of our clients come to us and say - "I'm not sure where to start" - we always try to help our clients along the way and offer suggestions based on their needs.
Of all the issues that arise during the process of designing an e-commerce template or website - we find that the products, features or promotions aren't always 'in your face' front-and-center of the store in a way that entices the potential customer to want to buy. So when you work with us - we will usually make suggestions like these - we want to share them with you now:
1/ Say who you are on your homepage: From the moment someone hits your site - they should know what you're about. Steve Krug's book - Don't Make Me Think - is a great primer to this concept. Sure, the book is a few years old - but the idea is forever. Your potential client doesn't want to click for days to find your products or what they need. They want to be in control; and know where they are. Say who you are and give them options RIGHT FROM THE START!
2/ Offer standard layout when you can: Store owners don't always like the standard layouts - horizontal navigation, side menus, etc - and want something different and unique. But the truth is - standard layout is what your user expects. They EXPECT to see your logo and branding top left. They EXPECT to see horizontal and/or left-side navigation so they can find what they are looking for - categorized in an intuitive way.
3/ Treat it like a REAL STORE: Store owners of e-commerce sites often think that what they are doing is totally different from owning a brick and mortar storefront. Really, it's not. E-commerce site owners have to prepare 'virtual endcaps' with great promotions, graphics and displays in and around their site, have 'point of purchase displays' throughout the shopping process to incent your client to click around, and showcase their product and/or services in a creative way.
4/ Keep it clean and fresh through design: Certainly - the end-user experience should be an aesthetic one; one that looks and feels nice. This creates a sense of security - a nicely designed website will give your client a feeling that they're buying from someone who cares enough about their store to keep it nice.
TIP: "Splash pages" are officially out. Just so you know. I still get people ask for these all the time. While they're cool - and pretty - it's an extra click for your client! People tell me all the time - "I leave a website that has one of those intro pages....." Now, if you really want one - I can make you a darn pretty one. Even a Flash one (which are more annoying to users than the static ones...) But don't be surprised if I try to talk you out of it - because I don't want you to lose visitors. :)
That's about it for now. Certainly each design or project has it's own needs - and we try to customize your results based on your vision and needs. Happy Surfing!