In the world of e-commerce—that virtual marketplace that has increasingly redefined how we shop and spend—the right design can mean the difference between boom and bust, soaring profits and slumping sales, simple success versus outright failure.
It’s important, therefore, that any site built specifically to generate revenue be designed in such a way that makes the user experience as rich and rewarding as possible. Too often business owners don’t seek answers to really important questions prior to launching their site: Is it easy to navigate? Is it aesthetically pleasing to the point of encouraging sales as well as repeat visits? Is the checkout process one that visitors will trust? There are literally myriad aspects that should be considered.
Two of the biggest and most well-known e-commerce platforms—Shopify and WooCommerce—have taken market share as of late and really dominated the market in website design for profit-driven businesses.
Shopify’s strength lies in its exceptional—and free—out-of-the-box templates, all packed with responsive design elements and loads of options that allow users to customize colors and styling to create a stand-out page. The templates are clean and streamlined and all crafted by an outside group of web design professionals, meaning the aesthetics remain up-to-date with current trends. And if the free designs don’t suit your needs, there are also paid templates starting at around $150 that can offer even more unique design options.
WooCommerce, on the other hand, is a plugin from the wildly popular WordPress platform that offers only five free themes, but there are some 50 that can be purchased for between $80 and $100 depending on what sorts of options you’re seeking. The design templates from WooCommerce are visually compelling, however if a user wants to customize they’ll need to devote a little more time to create a really unique site as you’ll need to add lots of extensions.
When it comes to hosting, the two platforms are very different: Shopify takes care of it all, from security to payments, as part of its upfront fee structure. WooCommerce however will require you to find a host, and that will cost more money down the road. When it comes to options that can really help you sell on your site, WordPress—as open source software—puts lots of additions at your fingerprints from third party developers. Shopify will require you to install apps to really make your page pop, however lots of these are free. Both however offer users the ability to create discount codes and gift cards, list product reviews, offer different shipping options and integrate your site seamlessly with Facebook.
Regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO), WooCommerce—because of its content creation base and the fact that it’s easy to add and edit body content—does a bit better in terms of site ranking and archiving. However Shopify has been proven to have a faster reaction time then WooCommerce because it’s directly hosted and constructed on an impressive platform infrastructure. And lastly, if you choose to go the route of WooCommerce, don’t expect too much tech support if you run into trouble with design, implementation or troubleshooting: there’s no dedicated customer care, so users will have to seek out answers to questions themselves by cruising online forums. But Shopify offers 24/7 access to advisors, a nice perk especially for those who are just starting out in the e-commerce game.