Before you buy an eCommerce template check out the Product pages

I’ve been designing a few eCommerce templates based on OpenCart recently and have been thinking a lot about what to get right. A lot of sites that offer templates for eCommerce sites have lovely Home pages with wonderful graphics and advanced features such as AJAX sliders or image galleries. But there’s one problem…

Since starting an eCommerce site 3 months ago, with only 50 products, my Home page has had 1,800 unique page views. Not bad I guess, but the site has had 22,300 unique page views. So should I concentrate on making my Home page beautiful, or should I make the other pages the best they can be, to turn visits into sales?

Those templates with the lovely graphics on the Home page, the AJAX sliders and image galleries… they look beautiful. They look tempting. They look like they are worth $10. Hell, they look like they are worth $150. I want to lick them. I want to design a site that looks that beautiful. If I could, I’d die happy. But those lovely graphics are not there to help you sell your products. They are there to sell you a template. Don’t be a sucker.

When I look at the demos these sites have to offer and visit the Category pages and the Product pages I am almost always disappointed. They have hardly been changed from the default. They look…, well… frankly, a lot of them look rubbish.

Why is that a problem when you have such a beautiful Home page? Because, if you’re doing things right, most of your visitors will never even look at the Home page. Unless you’re Amazon the only impression visitors will have of your site is from looking at a Product page. If you’ve done your SEO properly, and I hope you have, someone searching for one of your products will find that product’s page. If they like what they see they will buy it, or look for more information.

If a visitor doesn’t like what they see they will leave and go to a competitor. If visitors do look at the Home page, it’s only because they decided to check out another page on your site after looking at a Product page.

Remember, no one ever buys anything from the Home page. So when buying a template, or designing your own site, forget about the Home page and ask yourself, would you buy from this Product page?

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8 Responses to Before you buy an eCommerce template check out the Product pages

  1. Heather says:

    I couldn’t agree more. There are a lot of marketplaces that sell themes/templates, and people often ask in the comments “does the home page have a slider?” People should definitely educate themselves more when creating their e-commerce stores beyond what is currently the “trendy” thing to have.

    I usually try to give them examples of successful storefronts that DON’T use an image slider at all.

  2. Craig says:

    Hi Heather, thanks. I have to admit that I did use a slider on my Home page for my Scarlet and Jones shop, but that’s because I wanted to display different content in an engaging way, not just because I could. I think shop design should always be content driven.

  3. Nirav says:

    Hi Craig,

    Your post enlighten the every corner of template design. I never impressed by any template (free or paid) just bcoz their homepage is good but lots of same stuff used in contact us and other pages, that’s y i used the default template for my only store (www.OshoOnline.com) based on OpenCart.

    I have more orders and creating some sample stores, so i am seriously searching for some good quality templates, i can’t show my profile of some stores with same default temp.

    Its good to meet you, i have lots of ideas and views which i will email you, i hope you will create milestone in creating perfect templates for such a wonderful software OpenCart.

    Warm Regards.

  4. Goboxy says:

    damn you are right, it seems all template are just a “recoloring” of the default opencart template, so far -as a newbie- i didnt find anything new, no master redesign like what i’m used to see in wordpress, and also not to much choices, i guess a lot of work should be done for opencart, not only from the dev team, but also from the community.

  5. Qahar says:

    Just found this article, and i think you right. The goal isn’t increasing the traffic, but increasing the sales.
    And also i found another usefull article here. Thanks.

  6. SoosKriszta says:

    Point well made.

    One of the things that bugs me about the default template product pages is that they hide everything behind tabs. And nobody seems to change that at all…I like mine (based on 1.2.9) better, obviously.

    New (1.5.0) template looks better – at least they have taken the additional photos out of the tab. But I can’t even begin to explain how pointless it seems to me to hide Related Products or Reviews behind tabs.

    For all practical purposes, I shut down a template discussion as nobody wanted to talk about these issues
    http://forum.opencart.com/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=22111

  7. Craig says:

    Hi SoosKrista, I completely agree. When I built my first shop Scarlet & Jones I completely removed the content from the tabs and put it all on the page.

    I like the way you’ve done it too.

    I don’t think I’ll ever seriously use the tabs.

  8. SoosKriszta says:

    Does Scarlet & Jones use OpenCart? I like it!

    Not being a programmer myself, I did what I could to make the default theme more usable more marketing-savvy :-)

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