So you want to build a Magento website? Building a Magento online store is complex process that requires you to make important decisions. Your web designer will be able to explain all of these concepts to you and help you understand your preferences, but if you do your research ahead of time, you can be a little more confident. Knowing the basics will help you get your project started sooner because you will be able to make educated decisions quickly.
Last week I wrote about ways to have a better relationship with your designers, and I focused a lot on client education and responsibilities. Here’s a short list of things that you should consider so that you can communicate with your designer to create the website that is best for your business.
The fun stuff – designing your store :
Responsive vs. Mobile – It is important nowadays to have a website that not only looks good on your desktop, but also on your iPad, iPhone or Android Device. Most site owners have heard of responsive design and want a mobile website, but don’t really understand what they mean. To put it simply, a responsive website is a website that is visually flexible. A responsive website looks great on a 24 inch desktop, a mobile device, and everything in between. A mobile website is a little different. It will detect a mobile device and then change its appearance so that it’s easier to use. Usually, responsive designs will include all of the site’s information at all sizes, but a mobile website might leave some information out to save space. Look up examples of responsive and mobile sites, check them on your phone and iPad, and consider your customer base to decide what would work best for you.
User Experience – You should have a user experience philosophy when building a website. Besides making your site look great, you need to understand how users interact with it so that their experience is as simple as possible. Some store owners make the mistake of overwhelming visitors, while others make important information too difficult to find. Fill your designer in on your target demographics and your customer base and they will be able to help you come up with a plan that leaves your customers happy.
Style – You probably have an idea of what you like and what you don’t like when it comes to web, but if you don’t, you should take a look around. There are tons of styles to choose from and showing your designer websites you like is a huge help. The most common trends lately have been:
Colorful and Quirky – Rubix Kube
Illustrative – Jarritos
Minimalist – Francois Deladerriere
Modern – We Shoot Bottles
Hip & Vintage – Mercer Tavern
Space & Layout – How do you want to utilize space and present content? Would you prefer a minimalist feel that utilizes a lot of white space, or do you have a ton of important information that you’d like organized into a grid layout? Consider what exactly your customers are looking for when they land on your website’s home page, and how to best present all the important information without overwhelming them.
Texture – How can you incorporate texture into your website? Background colors, graphics, and images can all create texture, and texture should reflect your branding and can also be visually interesting. Flat, completely smooth and seamless textures are extremely modern, trendy and work well with minimalism, but grainy textures can be a refreshing change of pace. Texture can reflect a businesses rustic roots, or can blast visitors into the future with a super modern feel.
Depth – Understanding depth is crucial if you want to communicate with your designer about your site’s look. Depth trends are constantly changing and so are the ways that depth is created. Depth is something that can make your site look cutting edge or extremely dated. Gradients, bevels, and drop shadows are all used to create depth, and below I provide a few different ways that the same element can take on different depths and textures. Which one do you like the best?
Presentation – Presentation is key, especially for a Magento website. Think about your products and the way you want to have them displayed. Do you have multiple color swatches for each product? Do your products have lots of information that need to be presented in an organized way? Do you want your images to stand out or is other information more important? Will charts, videos, and other visual aids help your customers understand products better? Do you need custom functionality for specialized products?
The technical stuff – what you will need :
Domain – Your website’s domain is it’s name and address. Purchasing a domain name is extremely easy and inexpensive. Be sure to keep a close eye on the registration because you might need to renew it every few years. Make sure you also acquire email addresses for your employees. Using a free email for business purposes can look unprofessional.
Hosting – If you choose Magento Community Edition, you will need to purchase hosting from a company, preferably one with experience and Magento capabilities. You can find a list of Magento hosts here , or better yet, ask your web designer who they recommend, because they probably have experiences working with a few different hosting companies.
Security – When you collect information from your customers, you are sending sensitive data over the internet, which can be dangerous. A SSL certificate will ensure secure communication so make sure you ask your designer how to purchase it.
Payment – How do you want to collect payment? Paypal and authorize.net are the most common payment gateways, and they can be simplified even further with a one step checkout extension. It is extremely important to make the checkout process as simple and foolproof as possible.
Taking a little time to consider your options before meeting with a designer will help you understand the process more clearly and will save you time and money. It is helpful to have a general idea of what you want in terms of design, user experience, and setup.