eCommerce With Style Part 3
3rd edition — by Patrick McNeil — Nov. 15, 2007
The Site Type
The building of an eCommerce store is no small chore, even if your working from an existing application. Home grown, or off the shelf, eCommerce systems are huge complex beasts. At their heart they are applications, and very different from your run of the mill static site. Applying a skin to such a beast is typically about the biggest pain in the butt one could imagine. This difficulty makes it all that much more impressive when you find beautiful examples. And of course, that is just what we have collected here.
One example I particularly like is etnies.com. I like this one because on the surface it doesn't look so much like an ecommerce site. Instead of a home page full of specials and clutter you have a nice and straightforward portal to their products, and hidden below you have an eCommerce system ready to take orders. This is the type of site that likely has a following, and I suspect a large repeat customer base. As such, they have focused on making the site attractive and easy to browse with out an over the top sales pitch trying to get you to stash stuff in a shopping cart. Sure, they could probably sell more product if they did so, but instead they choose to reflect part of their personality in the more passive approach.
In contrast to this approach we can take a look at what might be considered a more typical approach to eCommerce site structure; take a look at Blooming Direct for example. The home page for this site is really heavy, a feature which can be very dangerous. But of course this site has risen above that. The home page is easy to scan and provides a great portal to the content below. A combination of stand out section headings (What's hot, seasons, etc) and clear photography makes the home page a breeze to scan and drill down into it. What really gets me excited about this site though is the polish of the design. The site has been very effectively branded in such a way as to fit the topic of the site. It is no small feat to make sure each and every element has been addressed. Most sites like this tend to turn out frankenstein style where some element was rushed and not effectively mashed into the theme of the site. It takes great persistence to create a site such as this.