More than 20% of online shoppers cite bad site design and navigation as a primary reason for abandoning a cart or choosing simply not to check out with an individual retailer. Further contributing to conversion issues are leading marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, where consumers have become accustomed to a particular way of shopping, a large part of why more than half of them begin their online product search on those platforms.
Independent stores are losing out on mindshare here –– and while search engine optimization helps drive the other half of online shoppers who begin their product search on Google, one thing is abundantly clear: the function of individual online stores has fundamentally changed.
In the current omni-channel retail environment, online storefronts are no longer simply a brand’s digital checkout. They must be also shopping destinations providing unique online experiences unparalleled by competitors or the industry at large. Your online store is a form of media –– owned media –– and you must begin thinking of it in this way.
Doug Stephens of the Retail Prophet suggests that brands today need “to move hearts and minds – to sell the idea, essence and values of the brand – all of which has more traditionally been viewed as the role of media.”
Brands today need to move hearts and minds – to sell the idea, essence and values of the brand.
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This isn’t easy to do, and the manifestation of doing so varies across verticals and catalog sizes.
So, we here at BigCommerce set out to engage brands on our platform to show us their innovative online storefronts –– ones that drive engagement and conversions, not just “Oohs” and “Ahhs,” (though those are important, too). We looked for brands who are challenging the traditional idea of an online shopping cart and embedding their sites with high-quality content reminiscent of media businesses that keeps customers coming back, and their brand top of mind.
Below, you will find our top five winners, chosen by an expert panel of judges including Josh Bisch, lead designer at Uber, Mike Morello, chief operating officer of digital at Inc. Magazine, LaQuan Smith, founder and designer of the LaQuan Smith celebrity fashion brand, and Andrea Wagner, head of design at BigCommerce. Following the winners, you’ll see our top 15 finalists as well as an additional 57 honorable mentions.
May these stores help to inspire your brand to take your website to the next level of interaction, engagement and conversion.
BigCommerce Design Award Winners
Marucci Sports – Best Overall Design
“About a year ago, we made the decision to move from our old, slow, outdated, hard-to-maintain ecommerce platform to BigCommerce. We knew that our design had begun to show its age, so we wanted to use the opportunity to rebuild from the ground up. We hired our first web designer, and set to work creating the new maruccisports.com.
Our primary source of design inspiration was our vast library of player shots with Big League baseball players. When we set out to design the site during the move to BigCommerce, we wanted to build layouts that highlighted the amazing relationships we have with these players. Our overarching goal was to interweave the story of Marucci, which was founded by two former Big Leaguers, into every page on the site. We have a ton to be proud of, and we wanted to showcase that to the world.
The new design was built from the ground up to focus on mobile devices (which represent over 60% of our traffic). Since our launch in November, we’ve seen a 50% increase in our mobile conversions, and a 24% increase in our tablet conversions.”
– Diana Perkins, Lead Web Designer
Di Bruno – Best in Food and Beverage
“When you enter our site, you are immediately immersed in our products and brand. From there, users explore cheeses, cured meats, and our gift offering to discover something new and exciting – we love knowing they are feeling inspired and will have a phenomenal experience while enjoying or gifting our products.
One of our favorite features is the short descriptions on the products when you are viewing them in the product category pages. If you are interested in trying a new cheese, you can browse through and select based on images and get a short preview of what the cheese tastes like or what makes it special. Knowing people have a sense of discovery when looking through our site is really energizing and mimics the customer experience in store as close as possible.
Our results since the redesign:
Conversion rate jump from 1.70% to 2.40% YOY
Revenue increase of 34% from June 2015 – May 2016 vs. previous year
Internet Retailer named site in the Top 100 of 2016
– Janeane Tolomeo, Marketing and Content Manager
Nine Line Apparel – Best in Apparel
“We are constantly changing our website. It was a natural process of evolving with the digital age. We found over the past year that roughly 75% of our new users are on mobile and tablet platforms. Our development team wanted to focus on ‘mobile first’ design so we started testing our design concept on mobile devices. We pulled a lot of inspiration from the best practices while implementing customer feedback we have received since the company started. We never want to become complacent, and have always evolved to provide our customers the best experience we can offer.
Since our latest design update in April, our mobile conversion rate has increased by 1.24%. We have also seen an increase in our desktop conversion rate by 1%. Overall, we are having around a 4-5% conversion rate with our daily 10k users, something we haven’t seen since our huge holiday rush during December. We have also decreased our bounce rate on mobile by 11% and desktop bounce rate has decreased by 5%”
– Myles Burke, Graphic Designer
SISU Guard – Best in Sports
Sierra Designs – People’s Choice
“We decided it was a great time for a redesign because we were re-platforming the website and transitioning over to BigCommerce. We had some navigation issues on desktop and a separate mobile site that didn’t make for a seamless user experience. We were inspired by some of the other leading outdoor brand’s sites and their clean aesthetic, lifestyle driven photography, as well as the responsive designs we were seeing from those competitors.
This is the first redesign that the current team was a part of, but we can happily say that metrics are up year over year. There are certainly a lot of factors involved, but the updated user experience has had positive effect on conversion. We’re also excited about the flexibility that working with BigCommerce has provided. With lower development costs, we’re able to experiment and work with new vendors that can potentially bring more value to the consumer.”
– Cory Barnes, Marketing Manager
BigCommerce Design Award Finalists
“Our design was driven by the redesign of our store logo – a mid-century modern sunburst with our store name at the top, and a tagline below. We were searching for a store theme that would allow us to feature the logo, centered, on the storefront. We also wanted a theme that had a lot of white/negative space so that the store theme would showcase the items on our store, rather than overshadow them.
Upgrading to a BigCommerce-designed theme was a huge win for us. We now have complete control over the minor changes we wish to make on our store, and our customers have noticed, too! Everyone remarks on the clean design and comments on what a beautiful store we have. We find that publications are more inclined to promote our store because of the new design, and vendors who have said ‘no’ to us in the past are now selling their products to us because of the improved, professional look. We adopted the new theme in the second quarter of 2015.
Comparing our stats from 2014, here is what we saw:
Store sales went up 320%
Orders increased 450%
Conversion rates increased 410%
For 2016, we don’t have visibility on all of our stats, due to some changes on the backend of the store. But, when comparing numbers for the same time period in 2015, this is what we are seeing:
Store sales are up 43%
Visitors are up 35%
We’re very happy with the choice we made to move forward with a new theme – it’s made our business a hugely successful one.”
– Elizabeth Przygoda-Montgomery, Owner
“I love antique and vintage styles, anything white, gold or pink. Also, I love patterns of all kinds. So with that being said, my website completely reflects me and the look that I want Dainty Jewell’s to have. It’s a feminine, elegant, light and fresh website to inspire other ladies. What made it even better is I explained this all to my site design team and, within a few weeks, they made it happen almost exactly how I imagined.”
– Charity Jewell Walter, President and CEO
The Dairy Fairy
“Initially, I set out to do a small brand refresh, and as I got deeper into it, it became clear that the website, as our number one information source to mamas, needed to reflect our brand and mission more accurately. The challenge was to showcase the loving bond between mama and baby while at the same time, the reality of the challenges that come with breastfeeding and pumping.
While not necessarily ‘sexy’ or glamorous, nourishing a little human being is pretty remarkable and I wanted that to reflect in our site. As I delved deeper into what that looked like, it became obvious that the website needed a major overhaul, with true to life photography and more ease of use and navigability for sleep deprived and time constrained mamas.
This is my second design. The original was done completely on my own. Most of the photos were of myself in the product and shot against a white wall. It really feels like this site is so much more professional and, of course, that does contribute to increased sales and traffic.”
– Emily Ironi, Founder
“We believe a visit to a company’s website is the first impression to a potential customer. Sure, a customer may have seen us on a third party website or come across our product through one of their friends; however, it isn’t until you visit a company’s website for the first time when you get a real sense of who they are and what they are all about. With that in mind, we kept the different thoughts that would run through our customer’s head when visiting our home page. No matter what our customer is looking for, navigating through our website should lead them right to where they need to go.”
– James Mercado, Sales Support Manager
“For over a decade, our service was known as Missions Linked. We started a rebrand and decided that we also wanted to change our name to Commission Creative. Our existing site design was outdated and wasn’t responsive. The new website was a central part of the rebrand as it’s the way most of our customers find us. The process started with a new logo and brand identity. Our goal was to create an interface that showed off our design work and explained the why behind what we do as well as how simple the process is. This was a challenge because we aren’t simply selling a product, but a design service with a printed product included as well as some design only products.
This iteration is version seven of our site, counting our previous name. It’s our second custom design we have done on the BigCommerce platform. We have seen 2% increase in goal conversions since the launch, compared to the same period the previous year. Average order value is up 4.4%. The abandoned cart recovery feature and email integration with MailChimp has helped with conversions as well. Taking into account that we also just did a name change, we think the site is performing well.”
– Aaron Van Gorp, Managing Director
“My site design came about through collaboration with a company called Esctasoft. I had the design concept in my mind. I wanted a site that was simple, clean, cheerful and would play off the logo. From that point, Esctasoft started work and I continued to give feedback through completion. When I first started, I was still deciding what exactly I wanted to sell, along the way, those ideas changed and I settled on the matching concept after going to buy a dress for myself and wishing I was able to purchase one for my daughter. After the slight redesign, I started to have more traffic and conversions on the website and got my first sale a few months later.”
– Carmen, CEO
“After transitioning from WordPress, we sought a design that was easy for soccer referees to find what they needed. We wanted to feature big images, quick links to product categories, and build customer loyalty with a professional design. Some of the inspiration came from our competitors, but also big brand stores like Bloomingdales, Macy’s, and Amazon. We also had the design cloned for our Hubspot platform where our blog posts go viral in the soccer world.”
– Jason Sholl, President and CEO
“While a large percentage of our business comes from dedicated landscape lighting designers we also cater to those new to business and coming from professions like landscape design, irrigation, lawn maintenance, etc. We needed to build a digital solution that not only made sense for the typical customer but one that helped our novice customer make experienced pro choices.
This is our first design for this site and it is still a constant work in progress. I think it is important to note that my team has worked with enterprise solutions such as Demandware and Mozu, in addition to more budget friendly platforms such as Volusion and Shopify. This same store with identical functionality on the Demandware or Mozu platforms would have cost us $250,000 to build and then an additional $100k to $500k per year for the platform.
The amazing part is that the BigCommerce platform has more certified partners capable of quality custom code work, it is in many ways more customizable than any other enterprise solution and the store hasn’t gone down once since launch. I truly believe that BigCommerce will quickly become the death of many of these very outdated million dollar commerce solutions.”
– Zack Miller, Marketing Director
“Beyond having a user friendly website, we wanted the design to reflect the fun and joy associated with playgrounds. This is why we chose very bold and bright colors, and used photos that captured the happiness of kids playing. The website very much fits in line with what we are selling and who our products are for, and that was one of our biggest goals with the site design.
We worked with Eamon Rodeck and his awesome team at Sprout Commerce (now Weizen Young). They were absolutely wonderful to work with and had the expertise to make it happen. We love the end result.
This was not our first redesign, but the first time we addressed many best practices for conversion rate optimization as well as making the site entirely mobile friendly. Because our previous design was not terrible, we did not see any huge gains in conversion rates, however, I think the new design put us in the best possible position for future growth and needs of our customers as they expect to shop more on their phones and tablets.”
– Andrew St. Hilaire, Product and Web Manager
Torie & Howard
“Torie’s interior design background inspired the design.”
– Chris Lockwood, Inside Sales Rep
Ecommerce Website Design Honorable Mention
Andreas Carter Sports
“The site was inspired by the simplicity of modern layouts, including larger simpler buttons, white spacing, reactive banners and marketing forms. The simplicity of adding an existing template to a BigCommerce store gave our partner – Selawik Retail – the flexibility to customize the design without having to change code.
One of the biggest changes we made was to the ‘Add To Cart’ button. Simply changing it from black to a blue color has reduced abandoned carts by up to 50%.
We are at the first stages of our development program for our ecommerce site. Using the OneViewPlus CMS from Selawik Retail to manage our product catalogue has also been a huge advantage, as we are easily able to create multi-variants that sync with our BigCommerce store and our EPOS system as well as give us real-time multi-location stock control.”
– Jeremy Hagon, Marketing Manager
Armani Fine Woodworking
“I have a passion for woodworking and wanted to be able to reach a larger audience with our hardwood countertops. We wanted a design with plenty of white space to showcase photos of the beautiful custom hardwood countertops we make. This is our second website design and also the second iteration on that design. We focused heavily on the product page with this round. Revenue has grown about 70% YoY and this has led to 5x revenue currently as compared to the initial design.”
– Joe Armani, Founder and CEO
“Our site was inspired by a few favorite websites which helped us decide on a desired layout, and by our brand culture which revolves around family and expressing a cheerful emotional connection. We wanted something that was colorful, with bright and joyful images as well as a clean and simple layout for easy navigation.
We have seen an amazing increase in site traffic, pages per session, average session duration and – most importantly – conversion rate. Site traffic has grown by 116% and we’ve seen a 45% growth in revenue so far. This is all within the first six months of our redesign.”
– Tali Zipper, Vice President of Marketing
“I designed the website myself and came up with a few rough creatives before adapting them into a template. I wanted a simplistic, modern feel that was easy to use and hence started with a basic theme, which allowed me to mold the site into what it is today.
This is our first design, however we constantly keep this updated and change things along the way when required to improve the experience for our customers. We haven’t measured ROI to customers specifically in relation to the design aspect of the site, however we have been growing much more so since implementing the new design.”
– Anand Chouhan, Company Director
“The site design was inspired by the fun and colorful branding, typography and photography that we used for the initial brand launch for Blanki. We wanted the site to be visually appealing yet simple, hence the use of the large, colorful images on the landing page. The design and implementation was completed in-house by our resident graphic designer, Katie, and my husband and co-owner, Troy, whose background is in web development.”
– Fee Gange, Co-Founder
“Our brand aesthetic is very clean and minimalist, with a moderate amount of bohemian flair cutting through –– mainly through the imagery that we create and use. We had a very strong vision of what we wanted the site achieve visually, while maximizing the usage of services available through our BigCommerce Enterprise agreement.
We took some elements from our existing store, some inspiration from various other online spaces (galleries, ecommerce sites, art sites, etc.) along with our own ideas and honed the vision of what we wanted store to look like. We then worked in conjunction with our site designers to achieve that functionality and aesthetic in the final product.”
– David Berlach, Founder
“The design for BRAVE Leather was inspired by the desire to have a simple, clean design that makes it easy for customers to shop and find the products they are looking for. We also wanted the website to have fresh storefront graphics which are easy to change on a weekly basis.
We are pleased with our website redesign and feel it was highly successful. Not only does the website look great, but giving our customers an enhanced web experience has increased sales and is helping to establish a solid brand presence for BRAVE in a highly competitive fashion business.
This redesign helped us increase our ROI. A year after our redesign in 2014, we more than doubled our online sales, online traffic and conversion rate. We continue to see an average increase of 50% for traffic, sales and transactions in 2015 and this trend has continued into 2016.”
– Diane Kolar, Ecommerce Manager
California Fly Shop
Claridge + King
“The design was inspired by our clothing collection, Claridge + King. C + K is a line of women’s clothing inspired — in large part — by the classicism found in menswear tailoring and the natural fabrics utilized. Like menswear pieces that often don’t date as quickly as trend-driven fashions for women do, our desire was to create a timeless, beautiful site design that felt fresh.
We also aimed to make it very user friendly for our online customers, not only in an easy-to-navigate site, but we designed specific customizations like our Toolbox on each product page that houses important details that make the buying process easier for a first-time or longtime customer. This includes sizing charts specific to that particular garment to details on the garment’s care.”
– Laurann Claridge, Co-Founder
“Our company sells environmental safety products, everything from hazardous containment for ebola to the collection and reusing of rainwater at home. We were inspired to create a design that flowed well and held onto this important message without being over-the-top eco-fashion.
The design and site is always growing and adapting, but we have not had to do a full redesign as the BigCommerce platform allows us to make changes quickly and easily and that helps us keep moving forward.”
– Charles W., Sales Director
“We want our website design to reflect our brand image: minimal, clean, not cluttered and easy to use. We browsed a lot of other ecommerce websites our team liked and found out what the common aspect of those sites was and started from there.
Since the redesign, we’ve see a lift on our ROI, from around 2% to 3%.”
– Phoebe Yu, CEO
“Our new design came about because of a need for an updated look to modern web trends. A responsive design was needed, as well as a clean and streamlined feel. We worked with Nicholas Kosanovich at Striking Alchemy who has been working with BigCommerce for quite some time. He also designed our second layout for this site (the current layout is the third). With a good portion of our customers being from mobile devices, I feel that conversions have gone up a decent amount.”
– Mark Biletnikoff, Owner
Gerard Aflague Collection
“My site design came about as a result of wanting a website that had a more minimalistic look. I was more concerned with offering my customers a high-quality product photo that told the story of the items that they were going to buy. Everything else was something that I wanted to compliment the product listings with. The design is inspired by a more clean looking and simpler concept.
I’ve seen an increase in overall traffic and sales. My customers constantly compliment my website design. I’ve seen my conversion rates go from 1.5% on average to about 2.5-3% on average. So I am very happy overall!”
– Gerard Aflague, Founder, Designer
“As we were developing the concept for Gitli Goods, it became very clear that we would launch as an ecommerce business only. That meant that the website needed to be outstanding. My background is in retail merchandising and store design, so I wanted to make sure that the site clearly conveyed the brand message and was easy for customers to navigate. I spent a lot of time shopping other online retailers, throughout various markets, and made a list of what I felt were important attributes to the type of site that I wanted for Gitli Goods.
We worked with and continue to work with 3 Seed Marketing, Design and Interactive. They used a BigCommerce theme that we chose for the starting point and customized what they needed to as they built out the site.
This is our first design and I am very happy with what we have developed. The store has been live for a little over two years now and we see consistent traffic from new and repeat visitors daily and sales are continuing to grow.”
– Monica Dowling, Owner and Co-founder
“Our objective when designing the Green Glass Company website was to provide consumers with a great shopping experience. We want them to quickly understand what is unique about the product – glassware made from the top and bottom of re-purposed bottles – and to be able to easily browse through the entire product line. We really thought about the potential mindset of consumers as they entered the site and tried to answer their questions along their visit. Some come in to shop for a gift, some look for certain colors to match their tableware, some to procrastinate.
We also looked at the site as a branded display: the color, font and images chosen are aligned to everything we do under the Green Glass brand and developed to visually augment the design of our products. The background is very neutral so that the eye focuses on the product instead. Despite the ‘Green;’ in our name and the environmental mission of the company, we do not use a lot of green on the site because it can clash easily with our forest and evergreen collections.”
– Severine Zaslavski, President
“We did a lot of research on websites that our customers frequently visit. It took an incredible amount of hard work and an open mind to decide which design our followers would find easy, usable and enjoyable.
Hippie Butter has had many website designs over our five years at BigCommerce. We like to change the look and feel of our website whenever BigCommerce upgrades its great themes and templates. Our newest theme has doubled our conversion rate and raised our average order by 33%.”
– Brad Ervin, Founder
“We have always had a ‘basketball’ look to our site and wanted to keep it but tone it back from previous looks. We wanted it to be crisp and clean, yet let anyone visiting our site know we love basketball and make our site memorable vs. the cookie cutter cut-and-paste merchants.
[The re-platform and redesign] wasn’t as difficult as we thought and we didn’t lose any traffic or search rankings. We stayed right where we were and actually improved our rankings. Everything is so much better for the customers. Everything is so much better for us in running the store as well.”
– Chris Hungerford, Owner
“Our inspiration [for the site] came from the type of products we sell: modern & contemporary furniture. It was important for us to have a site that reflected the style and design of our furniture by using homepage sliders, a sticky navigation bar, cool banners, etc. It was also very important to have a site that is easy for customers to find what they are looking for. Modern & contemporary furniture can be quite broad in style, so we needed to have detailed categories, product filters and collection pages that were specific to each style.”
– Jackie Kraehe, Founder
I Love Linen
“Our site design actually came about after viewing competitors sites that seemed cluttered and confusing. Our target audience is the college-aged sorority girl and we know that they have a million things going on at one time. Creating a site that is visually overwhelming, confusing and packed full of too much information was a turn off to me and I know could have the same effect on our customer. We have only a small amount of time to engage our customer to the point of making a purchase, so our first impression had to grab them. Additionally, our products are so highly customizable, we had to create a look and feel that was as streamlined and clean as possible — to make navigating the customization process of apparel as straightforward and easy as possible. We took inspiration from companies that were popular with our demographic, offered a site that was pleasing to the eye, and were easy to navigate.
Our sales were so greatly increased that we actually faced some pretty significant growing pains due to not having the adequate space and employees to handle our incredible growth. It forced us to break our lease and move to a space three times as big, as well as increase our workforce. We feel confident, since we are solely an internet-based business, that it is directly related to our new design. Our customers enjoy their shopping experience and even customers new to the world of sorority apparel find that navigating the design process is made easy and self explanatory thanks to the proprietary modules we have created to help with the process.”
– Jenna Dunaway, President
Jennifer Ann Style
“We have always wanted our products to ‘pop’ off the page, so we want the website to have an uncluttered, clean look and feel. We believe in a simple, ‘less is more’ design philosophy, and we want our products to be easy to find. Additionally, we consider joovy.com an ‘informational’ site more than an ecommerce site. We want customers to feel welcome, informed and educated, and then we let them choose whether to buy from one of our retail partners or from us.”
Success metrics since the redesign:
Users: +18% YOY
Sessions: +35% YOY
Pageviews: -1% YOY
Avg Pages/Session: -20% YOY
Site Revenue: +81% YOY
– Greg Gardner, Vice President of Operations
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