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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

I've finished the backend of my website. It's very functional and practical and as it is, it's ready to roll. Whats the problem? It's not estethically pleasing.

I could slap some colours on it via stylesheets but is that enough? I've seen a variety of websites from the extravagant to the simple and plain. I would prefer my site fall within the former category. Is it just me who has an eye out for design? Does nobody else really care?

Functionality aside, how important is a sites design to i.you and ii.potential customers?
 

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It's hard to put function aside since if it's hard to navigate, has broken links, slow loading fuzzy pictures, or a cart that doesn't work right, the sites aesthetically pleasing design will not sell t-shirts. There are a ton of very cool sites out there, so that is not enough. It has to function correctly.

However, to put that aside, it always helps to have a good looking site. I personally do not think it has to have a lot of bells and whistles, but a simple good looking layout with a bit of your own personality goes a long way. Part of that though is to present your shirts quickly and easily to the viewer. Models help a lot I think, but are not necessary for every design you have. Any person can model for you if they fit the personality of the design. As long as the site is working correctly and is not an eyesore, go ahead and upload it.

I think a site can, and should evolve as far as how it looks over time.
This of course is just one opinion though. I'd like to hear others too.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for your input. Just to clarify though....by 'putting funcionality aside', I mean assume the site works very well so that isn't a hindrance on the shopping experience.
 

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I think a bad (meaning hard to navigate, unprofessional) site can *hurt* sales, but I don't think an extravagant website will necessarily automatically increase sales.

The key is easy navigation, great product shots, secure shopping, easy to find contact information. Once you have those, I think as Decal_Designs said, by giving the site a bit of your own personality will go a long way.

For example, there are probably thousands of oscommerce powered ecommerce stores. To help set yours apart doesn't take thousands of dollars in design and cute flash, it just means doing a few things that establish your "brand" and site personality (logo, color scheme, maybe unique icons).

To answer your questions though :)

I could slap some colours on it via stylesheets but is that enough?
Yes, if your site is functional, then sometimes just some simple stylesheet customizations is enough.

I've seen a variety of websites from the extravagant to the simple and plain. I would prefer my site fall within the former category. Is it just me who has an eye out for design?
If you want to impress other website designers, then go for extravagant, if you want to help your visitors find your products and shop easily, I'd go for simple and plain.

Customer's don't really care about the varying levels of "nice" website design. As long as you're above the bar of "unprofessional/hard to navigate", then I don't see the rest as a concern. Amazon isn't "pretty", but it works. Same with eBay or Yahoo. Threadless is pretty, but who is to say that a simpler website wouldn't work just as well, or better.

Does nobody else really care?
Not the bodies that matter the most (the customer).

Now you may want to cater your stylesheet and layout to match that of your demographic, but in my opinion, I don't think there's a need for extravagant webdesign in an ecommerce store.
 

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When I designed my site I tried to think of what I hated as far as website design and the one thing I kept going back to was sites that took too long to load and sites with broken links. These were the two things that just stuck in my head. The thing I always thought about after the first two was how the site lookes. If it was the greatest looking site in the web universe but took forever to load I would never know it looked great because I would have given up trying to open it. If it looked great and opened fast but half the links were busted I certainly would not buy anyhting from them.
 

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Good point, Logo-Mechanix. I'm in the process of creating my site, now, and that is a good tip. I hate it when l click on a link and it either takes me somewhere I didn't want to go (mislabeled), or it goes nowhere at all (just plain broke!). I figure if they don't care enough to get their site working properly, what else do they not care about? Sending me the right product? Replacing defective merchandise? I think it speaks volumes for the kind of company you're dealing with.
 

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From a web designer's point of view, website design can kills or heals a company's sale, especially true if anyone is targeting a global market and trying to sell a products from their website. Visitors from all over the world will have less chance to visit your physical store and the first impression are stemmed from their visit to your online store. Personally, I would not feel comfortable buying anything or even giving off my personal information to a website that looks like a kid's work. It just spell unsafe. :O
How the website should look depends on the targeted audience and the industry the business is in. If it is a website selling photography, creativity, artwork..etc the audience will be more tolerate towards the loading time and the navigation. If it is an ecommerce site selling products, ease of navigation is a must and the site should be asethetically pleasing. :) A website that looks nice will have a higher chances of getting more sales. :)

Just my 0.2 cents worth
 
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