Your eCommerce site is your store front online. You need to make it attractive, accessible and highly functional to achieve business success. Having a great product is not enough, you have to bring it to the customer in a way that is appealing, functional and easy to find. It also needs to compliment your product. That’s why your choice of Magento site is crucial. A Magento site that works beautifully for one product in one region may be a complete disaster for something else or with a different audience.
Before you choose a Magento theme, take out a pen and paper and look through the points below. You need to check the theme you choose against each one.
Is the theme recent?
Magento is constantly upgrading and improving their product. Which means that older themes are not always compatible with the latest version of Magento. What that means is that there may be functionalities that don’t work because they are not supported by Magento’s latest version.
Is the template’s layout appropriate?
There is no point buying a template that doesn’t support your product and show it off to it’s greatest advantage. Your template must allow for the nature of your product. Do you need a zoom function on images? Do you need customers to be able to select from a variety of colours and sizes within the same product? These specifications should be taken into consideration when choosing your Magento theme.
Is the theme appealing to your customers?
There are many different themes that offer similar functionality. The question is which one suits your product and is appealing to your clients? If you are selling fashionable clothing you will need a chick and trendy looking website to sell them from. If you’re selling healing crystals you will want a theme that is more earthy and soft toned. Having a great product on the wrong site will lose your credibility with your customers and ultimately lose you sales.
Is it customizable?
Your theme has to allow you to customize it to suit your exact needs and requirements.
If you gain new products, remove products, change prices or decide to change the colour scheme to support a seasonal promotion, those things should be easy to do. It is essential that your theme can withstand reasonable growth and changes, otherwise you will be redoing your website every few months. Look for the “Live Theme Editor” tool when you are reviewing which theme to use. This tool can help you change all kinds of things on your theme without ever having to go offline or buy a new theme to do it.
Is the interface user friendly?
Having an attractively laid out site is important, but so is functionality. It should be easy for your customers to select what they want, arrange shipping and pay for their purchase. The site’s navigation and UX needs to be smooth and simple to ensure the shortest possible sales funnel.
Does it cater for banners and promotions?
The theme should have blocks and spaces for you to place promotions, sales and banners. This is an effective way of delivering a message to your customer, especially if something is new or has a limited time offer (like a sale). Make sure the theme allows for these.
Is the theme responsive and compatible?
Statistics show us that a whopping 40% of online sales in 2016 happened via mobile devices! That means your eCommerce store has to be able to relate well in mobile. If your site doesn’t respond to mobile you will effectively lose 40% of your potential clientele. Another thing to take into account in this arena is cross browser compatibility. Not everyone uses the same browser. Your site must translate well across all of the most popular browsers.
Does the theme load quickly?
If your website is slow to load it will be bad for your business for two reasons. One is that people have very short attention spans online. If your site doesn’t load within a few short seconds customers will simply click away to the next one. The other reason is that Google will de-rank you for a slow site. Which means you simply won’t be found by customers in the first place.
Is the theme SEO optimizable?
Magento sites are usually set up to be SEO friendly, but it doesn’t hurt to check for yourself. An eCommerce theme must follow strict scripting practice to rank with search engines. If you are not sure how to check that the theme is structured according to HTML/CSS requirements then you should at least be sure to get your theme from a reputable source and consider asking a professional web developer to take a look at it for you.
Does it support a blog?
One thing that we know is great for SEO and is considered good brand practice is to host a blog on your website. A good theme should allow for a blog within it’s framework.
Does it connect with your social media channels?
Social Media is an incredible tool for establishing a brand and maintain your brand essence online. It’s a good place to encourage customer loyalty and connect with your customers on a human level.
A Good eCommerce site must come with Social settings to help your customers connect with you in the digital space of their choice. It’s also great if it allows them to share their “wish list” items via these channels. This builds exposure for you and helps the to get the things they want from your website. Your theme should also help them to follow you on the various Social Media channels.
Is it easy to install and easy to use?
The theme should come with clear, easy to understand directions for installation. It should also concisely outline how to implement different specifications and design elements and how to configure the theme to suit your needs. It should tell you what size and format your images need to be and suggest different fields. Make sure that you take a good look at the information provided here. Even if you choose to have a professional set up your site for you, you will probably do maintenance and changes yourself, so it’s important that the theme you choose makes this easy for you.
Are the creators reputable and do they offer free support?
Always read reviews and do research on the creators before you commit to a theme. They should be willing to offer you assistance and support with the setup, as well as any issues that come up. Read through their support policy carefully to make sure you won’t be paying extra, or abandoned on your own, every time there are issues or problems on your site.
Where to find Magento themes
Magento has a huge presence online. It’s the driving force behind many well known brands and literally thousands of smaller ones. As a result a LOT of different people have created Magento themes. You can visit their websites, or community driven shared sites to peruse and download themes that suit you. Many of these themes are free to download and some you must pay for. There are advantages to both models (Paid and free). Probably the most obvious advantage to buying a theme is that you are more likely to receive good developer support with a paid theme. It is not guaranteed, though, that support is offered just because you paid, so make sure you read the fine print. Here is a list of six popular places to search for themes:
Should you hire a professional developer to set up your Magento platform?
If you are looking to set up a serious business online and need to make sales from it, it’s probably a good idea to hire a professional to do the initial set up of your Magento site. Although you probably can follow the directions and get a smaller, basic site up yourself, it is worthwhile to employ the knowledge and understanding of an experienced professional if you want to create a serious site with fully maximized SEO and functionality. Why? Because they have the experience in creating what you want, seamlessly and professionally. They are also usually willing to offer a certain amount of free support and assistance after the fact.
Once your Magento site is all set up you can always take over the small updates and maintenance yourself. It all depends on how big your company is and how much you want to get out of your website.