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Build Your Own Online Store, Part 4

Getting started with your Web store's look

Online sellers who have gained experience through eBay may be ready to get off the train and gain more independence.

This year, we are looking at what you need to consider when you build your own online store.

We have covered how to find your niche, choose your shopping cart and purchase your domain name. In this article, we will go over how to get started designing your store.

Start with a logo

If you don’t yet have a logo for your new store, you should start your design efforts here. Your logo is meant to be the representative image for what you sell and what your store stands for. It’s the brand you use for customers to more easily identify your shop, and it conveys a meaning or feeling to your targeted audience.

“A good logo can build loyalty between your business and your customers, establish a brand identity, and provide the professional look”

“Ideally, your company logo enhances potential customers and partners’ crucial first impression of your business,” note experts at Entrepreneur.com. “A good logo can build loyalty between your business and your customers, establish a brand identity, and provide the professional look of an established enterprise.”

For this reason, it’s recommended you put time and thought into the logo that will brand your store, for better or worse. Take time to sit with pencil and paper, and sketch different ideas.

But before you begin drafting, consider what message you want your logo to convey by writing a one-sentence mission statement that will focus your goal. Also consider if you should use a typeface-based logo like IBM or Microsoft, a literal illustration (e.g., paint brush for paint company), or an abstract symbol (e.g., Nike).

You can also use online logo design tools like LogoMaker.com. Tools like this—especially if they’re free—do tend to look more like clipart if you don’t modify them to some degree, but you can accomplish a professional design with careful thought. For typeface ideas for your design, start with Lost Type, Font Squirrel or The League of Moveable Type.

If you are not the creative type and have no interest in designing a logo yourself as you build your own online store, that’s OK. You can hire a professional designer or crowd source to find the right design based on a starting price tag of $259. Check out 99designs, Logo Arena or LogoTournament. These crowd-sourcing options are referred to as “logo contests.”

While designing your store, consider who your audience is and how you want them to respond

“The concept is simple,” says Shopify developer Warren Dunlop. “All you have to do is describe your target audience, style preference, slogan or mission statement, and provide a budget. Several designers will create their vision of the logo, and you pick the winner.”

Move on to templates, designers

Designing your Web store can be closely associated with finding the right shopping cart, as nowadays most carts offer store templates, but you don’t have to limit yourself to a cart’s templates. You might choose to use templates offered by your host or perhaps even hire a designer to customize exactly what you want.

A fair price for a store template is about $100, says Anatoly Gilderman, an ecommerce customer expert at AlgoZone.com. For a fully customized design, you can expect to pay about $2,500.

Some templates offer the option to customize the design if you have HTML or CSS knowledge, which can be fun for entrepreneurs who have the time. But platforms like AlgoZone, Goodsie and Shopify let you choose from a variety of free or paid templates, and customize the header, font, color, etc. with a simple click.

Shopify also offers its team of design experts to help you create exactly what you want. Their prices can be as low as $500.

Color, grammar, navigation and spelling count

While the actual look of your store is up to you, there are some key elements that a good Web store must take into account.

Colors play an important function in human perception and association. For example, green is often associated with health, wealth and nature, whereas red is a stimulating color. White is often a clean, simple canvas, while black is strong and authoritative. The point is, while designing your store, consider who your audience is and how you want them to respond.

In general, fun and stimulating design is best suited for younger customers, but tone it down a little as the age group goes up

The colors should be balanced, adds Gilderman. Unbalanced color combinations—as well as large fonts and flashy elements—create an unprofessional impression of the seller.

Also, your pages should be consistent, easy to navigate and quick to load. Proper grammar and spelling will add to your professionalism and trustworthiness, as will About Us and Contact Us pages.

Enhancing your brand

Now that you have your logo and store design in place, you may want to consider incorporating it into some business cards and packing slips to expand your brand. That’s easy enough. You can print these using Avery templates or a simple Word document, or order them via Vistaprint, Zazzle or MOO.

A final note about designing your shop: Know your target market. In general, fun and stimulating design is best suited for younger customers, but tone it down a little as the age group goes up.

What design tips and tricks can you share?

About the author

Sarah Brown
Sarah Brown is a freelance writer who writes about e-commerce and small businesses. She recently graduated from Chico State with a journalism degree and is also a budding online entrepreneur, having launched two Web businesses and her own line of handmade products. Opinions expressed here may not be shared by The Online Seller and/or its principals.



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