Webinar: Top 10 Design Rules & When to Break Them

You’ve got questions; we’ve got answers. Here are the top questions from the Design webinar addressed by our experts. Need help with your site’s aesthetics? Call us at 1-877-591-7005 to learn more about our custom design services.

We want to thank everyone who tuned in to our design webinar last week, titled “Top 10 Design Rules & When to Break Them.” We had a terrific turnout, and received a really positive response. If you missed it, don’t worry! You can download the slides here to follow along.

You asked Wes and Camri so many questions, and though we didn’t have time to answer all of them on air, we wanted to take some time and provide in-depth answers to as many questions as we can:

 Webinar Q & A

Q. I have read and been told by a web designer that having a left navigation is outdated now.  Only a top navigation should be used.  What is your opinion on this?

A. Camri: It’s true that a left navigation is going out of style in favor of top navigation menus, primarily because a top navigation will give you more room on your homepage. However, it’s important to think about your users. My advice would be to gather information from your visitors on how they shop your site, and tailor your navigation to fit their needs. Another good strategy is to try to consolidate categories where you can, which is helpful whether you’re using top or a left navigation.

Q. What is the best color for crafting websites?

A. Wes: I don’t think there is any one best color for a crafting a website.  It really depends on the types of products you’re selling and who your target audience is. Personally, I really like ColourLovers for selecting a color palette. It’s a great tool that allows you to search for colors based on different categories and one of them just so happens to be “crafts.”

Q. How do I use non-standard fonts on my Volusion site?

A. Camri: There are a lot of really good resources out there to find fonts that can be used as HTML text. The ones I like to use the most are Google Fonts and Font Squirrel.

On both of these sites, you can browse fonts by category and download them for use on your computer. Most importantly, they have instructions on how to use a selected font in your site.

For more in-depth information on CSS font-embedding, check out this helpful article from CSS-Tricks.com.

Q. How do I put on the Pinterest button on my home page?

A. Wes: Pinterest has a great resource for adding a Pinterest button to your website. Just follow their instructions and choose your options. They provide a small snippet of code and just copy and paste it into where you want it to appear on your homepage.

Here’s a good Volusion support article that might help too.

Q. With more emphasis on mobile technology, it seems to me that smaller photography is the trend, with larger images appearing only after you click on a category or item. Thoughts?

A. Wes: Mobile is definitely a huge trend. Mobile commerce is quickly growing and will continue to grow rapidly. We design a lot of mobile websites and the Volusion software allows you to turn on a mobile-friendly version of your store. I would recommend this option so your site is mobile-optimized for customers shopping from their phones; when you use this option, the size of your photos won’t be a concern. Even if you don’t turn on the mobile version of your store, your website should still adjust to the size of the users’ mobile screens.

Bonus: Here’s a great video on optimizing your store for mobile devices.

Q. When you have a sale going on how do you link a picture on your homepage to those items?

A. Camri: If you have the latest version of the Volusion software, this is fairly simple. Click on the Easy Editor on your homepage, then click the picture you want to link, selecting the “Link” icon on the editor toolbar and paste in the URL of the product or category you want to link to. If you’re still having trouble, check out this Volusion support article with more detailed information on editing your homepage using the Easy Editor.

Q. Thanks for all your information, it was very helpful. I am interested in opening a photography-driven web-store. Is there a Volusion template you can recommend?

A. Wes: A lot of our newer templates follow the larger, photo-driven trend that we now see. If you visit our Ecommerce Templates Page, you can click the “New!” filter link on the right-hand side to see more. There are quite a few that allow for numerous photos, but two that come to mind are Salt Provisions and Reverb. These two templates would work well for a variety of different industries.

Q. Do you have any rules for Business-to-Business (B2B) website design? Are there different design concepts when you’re selling to B2B customers? Companies that don't place orders with credit cards but with purchase orders.

A. Camri: This is a really good question! In the Design Services department, we have many B2B clients, and their needs can be quite different from business-to-consumer (B2C) retail stores.

In my experience, the best thing you can do is have a fairly minimal homepage design focusing on telling your business customers exactly what your product is and how it can solve their problem. You also want to make it easy for them to navigate straight into your product categories because they often already know what they need when they are first visiting your website.

This can be accomplished by featuring a prominent search bar, and by graphically representing your most popular products or categories on the homepage. By learning what your B2B customers want and making it easy to access with minimal other clutter and distractions, your site design should improve sales.

Q. I’m currently using free template. How can I make changes to page to break the rules and add flare on a shoestring budget?

A. Wes: I would suggest starting with some things you can easily change on your end without needing to spend much money. Take and upload great photos and adjust your colors and fonts to fit your brand—these simple improvements can go a long way. Take the free template and push it as far as you can to make it unique to your brand.

Here’s a good video with some information about editing your template.

Q. My name is Greg. Is my site too busy? www.oregonburls.com. My font seems a bit small – what do you think?

A. Camri: Hi Greg! I actually don’t think your site is too busy. One suggestion I would make is to include a large photo at the top of your homepage that showcases your main product as well as some headline text that tells the visitor what you are selling and why they should buy it. It is great that you placed text and videos on your homepage that promote the National Geographic series in which you are featured. This sets you apart and builds the strength of your brand, and videos are a great way to engage customers and show them more about what you do.

Q. Is the front banner a good design element to increase sales?

A. Wes: The large banner on your home page tends to be one of the main—if not the main—area of focus for site visitors. So I would definitely say that it has a significant impact on your customers and is very important in creating a good first impression. I would recommend taking some time to consider what you want that first impression to be, and then select compelling visuals and content that reflect the brand image you want to communicate.

Q.  I would like to have a review of my website, which is now about four years old. Does your design department do that for Volusion customers, and if so, knowing that I am on a big learning curve, I would need a lot of specific, easy-to-accomplish ideas.

A. Camri: Although our Design department doesn’t conduct website reviews, if you would like a refresh of your site design and a personal consultation of how we could help you with it, feel free to contact our Services Sales Team. They can talk to you about a variety of options that are easy to accomplish.

Another option to consider is a customer survey! Try setting up a short poll and ask your site visitors what they would like to see on your store, or if there is anything about the design causing them difficulty. You can even try offering an incentive to customers who provide feedback. A lot of companies do this, and it could be a great way to get ideas for improvement.

We also want to congratulate the Twitter contest winners:

Question 1: What do the colors of your website say about your brand? Elizabeth Mills | GinghamAndPosh.com


Question 2: What is the one thing you must have on your homepage?


Thank you again to our webinar attendees! And don’t forget to check out the full Design webinar download here, or watch the recording here.

Happy selling!
-Wes Asbell & Camri Hinkie, Volusion