Responsive design isn't just for the giants of ecommerce, your start-up business can also grab an off-the-shelf model for a reasonable price, or even for free.
Following on from David Moth's article 10 simple responsive Wordpress themes for small businesses and blogs I thought I would take a look at some of the best available templates for ecommerce sites.
If you run a small business, or are looking to make the leap from Etsy or eBay into your own domain, you could do a lot worse then looking at one of the following templates.
As a caveat, I haven't used any of these in their proper working forms, I've just played around with the demo versions, checking for customisability and whether the sites really do offer true responsiveness.
It would be worth doing your own investigation on each one before committing to buy. If you click on the images below, you will be taken through to the demo versions where you can check out the product, look at the custom options and of course the price of the product yourself.
Templates are available from many different vendors and the bulk of these are from independent designers, but first I'll take a look at the best designs available from Shopify.
Shopify offers more than 100 responsive templates for the start-up ecommerce store looking to buy a relatively inexpensive off-the-peg responsive website. You can expect to pay between $120 - $180 for a theme, although Shopify does offer several free templates.
Do be warned though, some of the templates listed under the ‘responsive’ description do not actually appear to be responsive at all, so it’s worth doing some investigating beforehand.
Here I’ll take a look at a few of the best free designs, ones that I’ve personally tested for true responsiveness, before investigating whether there’s a benefit in paying for a premium template.
This theme comes with four different styles, each one fairly basic. Here’s the ‘vintage’ design.
Basic it may be, however looking through the customisable features reveals an extensive list of personalisation tools. Colour, typography, social media integration, and layout can all be adjusted, as well as neat little touches like your own favicon upload and Mailchimp newsletter integration.
My only criticism is that when testing this site on a mobile, the search field on the top right corner completely disappears.
This is fine if your store only sells a few products and they can all be accessed from the drop-down menu, however it’s impractical if your store carries an extensive array of goods.
An attractive, multi customisable theme, that offers the only other genuinely responsive free template from Shopify.
However, this design fails to include a search field at all. I can’t even find an option for it in the documentation section.
It's possible that truly user friendly responsive design comes with a price-tag.
The most popular paid-for theme on Shopify is Mobilia. Here you get an overlarge homepage image and true responsive design. It also comes with a search bar, that when resized for mobiles, doesn't completely disappear. It seems the significant jump in price, $140, buys you much better navigation.
Again I would be careful looking through the paid templates, all of them appear to be responsive but some drop key features when resized to mobile.
Flamingo is an excellent paid-for template, set apart from the rest because it doesn't carry the same overlarge carousel. Instead it presents products, categories and video embeds in flat a Pinterest-style manner. The entire navigation is housed clearly within the sidebar and when resized to mobile, keeps the search field and the menu button at the top of the home screen.
This theme suffers for not having a search field displayed on the home screen when resized to mobile, but it is accessible from the menu, and the site itself is beautifully designed with excellent product pages.
Here's a look at some of the best templates from non-Shopify sources.
Available on ThemeForest this is a simple, practicle design, that although doesn't offer the same level of customisation as some of the Shopify templates, does resize to mobile far better than all the ones I've seen so far.
This is a great looking template, with fully customisable features and a surfeit of social buttons. The product listing pages seem to mimic H&M, which is no bad thing. Plus the navigation works a treat when resized to mobile.
A simple, no-fuss design with tabs that reveal drop-down menus when you hover over them. This is a great fully responsive site for smaller budgets.
I was premature on describing the last one as “no-fuss”, as this is one of the more minimalist designs out there. I recommend this one for its sheer customisability, excellent looking product pages and easy navigation.
Another great looking template for the smaller budget, with fully customisable header sizes and a variety of homepage variations.
This has a contemporary feel, with sharp looking grids and a customisable slider. The product pages are clear and well laid out, plus the site looks brilliant on a mobile.