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Getting Started, LiveArea blog

Getting Started With Your New Webstore: Navigation


Starting a webstore may seem daunting at first. Many critical elements must be considered, and key questions require immediate answers to set up shop, including:

  • What apps are needed?
  • How is inventory tracked?
  • Is a fulfillment partner needed?
  • How should analytics be setup?
  • And many more

Today a variety of platform providers offer pre-built “themes” – some free, others for a fee. The theme you choose defines your store’s look and feel, navigation, and the experience you create. Both Shopify and BigCommerce offer an array of pre-built themes, and many options are offered — a plus and minus. Yes, it saves time and resources, and gets you up and running faster. But how do you know you are choosing the right theme? What factors do you need to consider to align your store with your brand’s identity and the experience your customers expect?

As long-time eCommerce experts, LiveArea has helped thousands of brands – both large and small – get off the ground and go online so we can provide answers. This series of blogs will break-down theme selection into manageable topics to help you make informed decisions that reflect best practices in critical areas, including product detail pages, search, homepage, and more. Remember, your choices in these key areas will directly influence how your company is perceived. Stanford University research shows that the judgments consumers make on a company’s credibility are 75 percent based on the brand’s website design.

Choosing a Theme

Well, you’ve done the hard part already—starting your business. Choosing the right theme to represent your business begins with an introspective look at how you go to market. For instance, how many products do you offer? If you have a narrow, focused product line, sophisticated navigation might be a bad fit. Keeping it simple will improve user experience and accelerate to the products consumers want from you.

Imagine you’re in the business of water purification. You have a few variations of your signature product, and possibly a few new ideas slated for the future. But, for the most part, your product array is small. So, you head over to the platform-specific theme store to browse through choices. In this case, we recommend starting with your product catalog and how it is first displayed to the customer.

Start With Navigation

Let’s assume for a moment that you’ve decided to move forward with Shopify as your platform. You like the look of the Story theme, but you’re wondering, ‘is the multi-column menu navigation too complicated for customers to find what they’re looking for’?

On mobile, where the majority of visitors to direct-to-consumer businesses start, they must complete four steps to reach the products they’re looking for. Many visitors could become frustrated and look for another company that offers simplified mobile navigation—and more immediate access to the precise information they sought (this just happened to me the other day). Taking another look at the theme store, you notice Simple and see right away that this might be a better fit for your business.

In a mobile-first eCommerce world – and make no mistake mobile leads as the primary access device – a single click reveals all available product categories. We’ve cut the time invested, and workload of steps by 75 percent and visitors will have a much easier time finding what they’re looking for.

The goal of your site should always be to convert. You need to maintain a balance between being informative and direct in available options. Straightforward navigation that aligns with the complexity of your product offering ensures that you drive your customers quickly to the product they are looking for without confusion or unnecessary steps.

For an extensive product catalog, multi-level navigation may be required to reduce the number of product segments on a single product listing page. For more streamlined catalogs, a top-level navigation with only two subcategories, for example, may be all you require not only to provide a valuable product selection to the consumer, but also limit the number of steps necessary to reach a product to purchase. Remember time is money – too much time to get to desired information results in customer defections.

The Right Fit

Though there’s no one-size-fits-all theme that best suits every business, your digital goals should always be the same. Don’t inconvenience your website visitors with more work than they need to do. When potential customers are happy with your site, they tend to buy more. Starting with the proper navigation is a critical first step in ensuring your customers stay happy – and stick around to buy.

Do you have questions about theme selection or navigation? Please drop us a line with with your query and we will get back to you.

Andy Hoffman

Andy Hoffman began his web career when people still wore flannel shirts tied around their waists. He currently lives in Portland, OR, and serves as Shopify Lead for LiveArea. When he’s not coding, Andy enjoys drumming, biking, coffee, and Abe, his evil-genius cat.