The 5 Elements of a Useful eCommerce Style Guide

Every company with an online storefront needs to deliver a unique, yet consistent brand experience for customers. It’s an immensely important component of any marketing and eCommerce strategy and there are no shortcuts. To achieve a branded ecommerce experience that endures and grows with your business, you need to develop and periodically update an ecommerce style guide.

Creating an ecommerce style guide can seem easy at first, but it requires a lot hard work. Research, brainstorming and testing are just the beginning. Tough decisions must be made along the way, and organizational buy-in is mandatory. But before you and your colleagues can begin the process, you need to understand the fundamental components of an ecommerce style guide.

The 5 Elements of a Useful eCommerce Style Guide

  1. Photography. The imagery on your ecommerce website will grab more attention from your shoppers than any other design element. Our eyes are naturally attracted to pictures – especially those that feature a human face. Therefore, it’s essential that your ecommerce site adheres to specific photography guidelines. Your ecommerce style guide should include standards for lighting, background color, post-production editing, model styling and product placement templating.

  2. Voice. Just like a friend who you turn to for advice, your brand needs to have its own point of view and idiosyncratic way of conveying information. Many inexperienced marketers and ecommerce managers will just “wing it” and hope the brand’s voice will eventually emerge on its own, but anyone who has gone that route will tell you that it only leads to a fragmented, unfocused brand image and a poor customer experience. In your ecommerce style guide, you need to define your brand voice with descriptive adjectives such as “playful,” “professional,” or “irreverent.” Doing so will save you countless headaches when onboarding new writers to your ecommerce site

  3. Typography. The fonts on your ecommerce site should be carefully selected, but you can’t overdo the number of different typography styles. Build two lists of fonts: One list to consider for headers (like product names), and one for body text (like product descriptions). Once you have your list, consider the impression that each font makes on you. Does it “feel” like your brand? Weed out the fonts that don’t quite hit the mark, until you have one font for headers and another for body text on your ecommerce site.

  4. Colors. Our brains are wired to naturally react to different colors in certain ways. For example, the color red invokes passion, while orange is often used to communicate affordability. The colors you choose for your ecommerce style guide will work together to elicit a connection between customers and your brand. Generally, a brand has five different colors that comprise its color palette. In your style guide, be sure to include the RGB color codes for your designers.

  5. Logo. Finally, but very importantly, your ecommerce style guide needs to include the latest version of your logo. Often, logos can be used in a variety of different contexts. If you use logo variations, be sure to explain the appropriate context for each one on your ecommerce site.

Once your team has agreed on these branding standards and added them to the style guide, be sure to revisit at least once a year. As times change and your business grows, an up-to-date style guide will allow your marketing and ecommerce teams to deliver a consistent, on-brand experience that your customers love.

Want to learn more about developing an eCommerce style guide? Download Dotcom Distribution’s eBook, “Emerging in eCommerce: A 360º View From the Inside,” for insights from emerging leaders in eCommerce.

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