Customers appreciate an online store that is professionally and consistently branded. It makes them feel like they are dealing with a professional and trustworthy organisation. So with this in mind, it can be tempting to invest your time and money into the best branding possible. Is it however worth your time and money? Yes and no.
Custom branding results in a look that is uniquely associated with your store (or product) and is comprised of a logo, branding elements and templates. In the case of an online store, a branding project would result in a unique logo and store templates. To achieve a custom brand you will need to engage the services of a graphic designer, and then to implement the custom brand you will need a web developer. Both have additional cost and time associated with them.
Custom Design vs Bad Design
Both of the below store examples are built on the BigCommerce platform. One has been professionally designed and produced. Can you guess which one? When you’ve decided which store looks more professional, think about how that affects your likelihood of ever purchasing from them.
Do you need custom design and branding?
Yes, you need some custom branding. Some branding being applied to your store is always a good idea.
If branding is very important to your customers then the additional expense and effort may result in a significant return on your investment. If you sell fashion items then having your own strong branding helps to create a sense of identity and association with your customers.
If branding is less important then you can minimise the effort you need to apply to your own store. In all cases good branding increases feelings of trust and professionalism, and always has some impact on whether your customers go ahead with their purchases.
How customised should your store design be?
A highly customised design will affect your budget and your launch date. The more you customise your store the more it will cost, the longer it will take and the more complexity you will have to manage in the long run. To begin with, it may be a more efficient use of your time and money to restrict yourself to a simpler branding project.
A highly customised design will add anywhere between an additional $1000 to $5000 to your project. Costs will be associated with several rounds of design iterations. Once the design has been completed it then needs to be converted into HTML/CSS code for integration into the shopping cart templates. Getting more complex work completed will also extend your store’s launch date, particularly if there are many tweaks along the way.
Keep in mind that you can easily improve your branding later on, when you have more time.
What are the impacts of having a highly customised store design?
If you do decide to go down the road of creating your own unique store template, you are going to face technical challenges. The design templates need to be monitored on a regular basis to ensure they remain compatible with the BigCommerce system. The two pieces – design templates and BigCommerce system – are interwoven and reliant on each other to create a working store.
To use an analogy, it’s just like your clothes and the body they’re on. If your body puts on 10kg, you won’t fit into the same jeans, no matter how much you try! So, as your body changes shape over time, your clothes need to change too.
You could say the design template is the clothes that you wear, and the BigCommerce system your body. As BigCommerce change the underlying structure of their software, the external templates sometimes need to change to match it perfectly. A competent developer, knowledgeable in BigCommerce software, is required to maintain the equilibrium.
From a technical point of view, the best option is to leave your store with a default BigCommerce template. But from a design aesthetic point of view, it’s best to create an entirely new design. And therein lies the quandary: choose a default or custom designed template? Perhaps the best solution is somewhere in the middle.
At a minimum …
At a minimum, to launch an online store, you will need a professionally designed logo and an attractive pre-configured store template with some basic modifications.