In 2006, Shopify was launched as an answer to the growing need for a stable and fast ecommerce platform. As vendors recognized the potential for digital retail, they looked at the creation of their own websites.
However, for many small businesses creating an ecommerce website from scratch was beyond their technical limits or their budgets. Shopify managed to provide a service where almost anyone could create their own online store without requiring coding skills or a large investment of cash.
The live updates on Builtwith put the number of current active Shopify websites at over 3,834,400. The country that has embraced Shopify the most is the US with 2,531,203 live websites, but even tiny nations such as Vanuatu have online retailers powered by this ecommerce platform.
Many small to medium businesses are looking at switching to Shopify, and recently SpyCentre launched a new site this way.
SpyCentre specializes in selling spy gear out of traditional outlets, and online. It required a platform that could provide an online store that displayed inventory clearly and allowed visitors to have an enjoyable shopping experience.
Like WooCommerce, Wix, and other ecommerce platforms, Shopify provides plenty of widgets and apps to automate processes. The purpose of Shopify is to provide a way for non-coders to build a shop online as simply as possible.
There is no need for any programming skills although they can come in useful for certain customizations. All the financial processing and stock levels can be carried out through back-end processes that the owner doesn’t need to be concerned about. And there is plenty of customer support to help the rank novice build and manage an online store.
SpyCentre chose to switch to Shopify to provide a smoother online experience for their customers, and a new design and layout to remain fresh. But, did it work?
UX is now a metric that Google takes very seriously. Further below you can see how SpyCentre measures up to Google’s core web vitals. For now, though, it is worth considering the first impressions of the new setup.
When SpyCentre’s new homepage loads it is clear that they have kept their core branding and color scheme but it is a cleaner layout than they had previously. The website doesn’t bother with a hero image or anything unnecessary to impress the visitor. Instead, anyone arriving at the website will be taken straight into the store.
The top banner provides all the information that a shopper would require with product categories, search bar, currency choices, contact details, plus your cart. The Shopify platform has helped to provide a simple but clean storefront for SpyCentre.
While there may be no design awards given for aesthetics, this layout is perfect for someone who wants a straightforward shopping experience.
In the past, the 3-click rule was considered the guideline for all ecommerce sites. However, that was when the internet was a lot slower and the 3-click rule has been somewhat debunked today. Yet, visitors do need a good UI and navigation to encourage them to make a conversion. Some studies put the average time spent on a webpage at below 30 seconds.
Purchasing one of the best-selling items from the homepage takes the user to checkout in just 2 clicks. Searching for an item with the category menu increases this to 3 clicks. Whether the 3 click rule is still vital or not is debatable, but Shopify’s platform has allowed SpyCentre to streamline this area of UI.
But, there is one area of upselling that hinders the checkout process. When it comes to best practices for UI and UX the checkout falters slightly. When the user clicks on an item to purchase, a promotional pop-up appears. Opting to say no to this pop-up led to an additional one appearing. This may be a successful promotional tool but it was mildly frustrating in what could have been a very smooth checkout experience.
On May 28, 2020, Google launched its Core Web Vitals. These metrics were designed as a way to quantify the user experience of all of the sites indexed by this search engine.
Any developer or site owner can run Google’s Lighthouse in Chrome Dev Tools to check performance and make improvements to a website. The main areas that Core Web Vitals is interested in are loading times and interaction speeds.
The metrics are as follows:
- Largest contentful paint (LCP)
- First input delay (FID)
- Cumulative layout shift (CLS)
These metrics look at how the webpage loads, the time it takes, and how long it is between the user interacting with the page and for the website to respond.
For LCP, a good score would be below 2.5 seconds, and a poor one would be above 4 seconds. Using Google’s Page Speed Insights tool, it can be seen that SpyCentre’s website comes in at 3.1 seconds.
It has been said that 40% of consumers abandon ecommerce sites that take longer than 3 seconds to load. So, the LCP is a vital area to get right.
For FID, a good score would be <=100ms and a poor one above 300ms. SpyCentre came in at 140ms.
Lastly, for CLS, the score should be <0.1 with anything over 0.25 being considered poor. SpyCentre’s score was 0.05 according to Google.
While the Shopify-powered website failed to make 2 out of 3 of the Core Web Vitals, there are some things to be considered. Optimization of the product images is likely to align the site with these metrics, and also it could be Shopify itself that is causing the issues.
One of the greatest benefits of using Wix or Shopify is that it can turn a rank amateur into a web designer. All those handy widgets and apps mean a professional website can be created with all the bells and whistles needed.
One of the characteristics of good web design is clean, efficient code. Shopify does away with the need for coding as it writes its own as the user goes about placing text, graphics, and apps on the screen. However, all those apps can slow down the website.
What’s more, when an app is uninstalled it leaves behind code. All this unnecessary code slows loading times. Ideally, before a Shopify site is launched it should have its code cleaned up.
It is this that may have led SpyCentre’s design to require some improvement in the Core Web Vitals. Fortunately for the developers involved, the scores are not far off hitting the mark.
Shopify is undoubtedly the perfect way for many small entrepreneurs to build an online presence and appeal to a wider market. But, it isn’t only small businesses that use this platform.
Even companies as big as Pepsi and Tesla have used Shopify to connect directly to consumers. SpyCentre is just one more company following suit.
The design switch has proven successful and largely provides a simple and fast retail experience for the visitor. While there are changes needed to reach the desired Core Web Vitals, there is nothing that cannot be fine-tuned within Shopify itself.