Design updates to prep your site for the holidays

It’s always time to think about the winter holidays when you run an eCommerce website, because holiday traffic is the key to your store’s growth and revenue. Consider that online retail sales grew by 49% during the 2020 holiday season compared to 2019—and holiday eCommerce is forecast to jump another 11% in 2021. 

Those numbers (and the $$$ they represent) make now an excellent time to plan what you want your site to look like and how you want it to work during the upcoming peak sales season, so you can get more visitors to stay, browse and buy.  

Here’s how to create a holiday site design plan that can guide visitors to your seasonal promotions, give them the information they need for a successful shopping experience and help your store rake in more revenue. 

Effective holiday site design starts with smart promotion planning 

You need to decide how many holiday sales you’ll have. For example, your store could kick off the holiday shopping season (which pretty much starts in October now, btw) with an early-bird promo, then another sale during Black Friday week and a last-minute stocking-stuffer promo in mid-December.  

The exact number and timing of your holiday sales depends on how your customers shop and on shipping timetables—a sale too close to Christmas might not leave enough time for orders to arrive for gifting. Whatever your plan is, put it in writing and get it on your calendar.  

You’ll also need to decide whether your sales will offer progressive discount levels–for example, 50% off selected items one day and then 60% off the next. This kind of promo requires more work and assets than a flat-rate discount, so estimate your ROI carefully before you commit.  

Got your holiday promotions planned? Awesome! That means you’re ready to plan the design elements and development you’ll need. 

Map your design asset and development needs 

Once you know when your holiday promos are happening and whether the discount offers will change during the event, you can start making a list of all the assets you need for each sales event. You’ll want different art and promo copy for each sale, to keep things fresh all season.  

For sales with progressive discounts, plan all the art you’ll need to promote those changing offers, like banners for 25%, 40%, and 60% off. You’ll also need to plan—and allow enough time for—the development and testing needed to make timed offer changes happen seamlessly on your site. For example, your promo images and copy will need to change at the right times across your site, so shoppers don’t get confused and so they get the discounts they expect.  

What if you’re not planning any big sales? Maybe your product is in such high demand that you don’t need to offer discounts or deals. That’s great! You can still spruce up your site for the holidays to get shoppers feeling festive and maybe add some new subscribers to your list. Read on for our pro tips. 

Holiday site design asset checklist 

Decorating your site for the holidays can be fun for you and your customers. Just remember that all the seasonal changes you make to your site need to support your sales goals. Here’s our rundown of the top things to keep in mind as you design holiday elements for your website.  

1. Keep your core branding consistent 

Simple changes like holiday-themed images and a bow or string of holiday lights on your logo are a good way to add festive touches that enhance your brand. However, don’t change brand elements like your site fonts, the style of your photography or the overall design of your logo. You want busy shoppers to know they’re in the right place when they come to your site.  

2. Make your holiday art and copy as inclusive as possible 

It’s true year-round that the more inclusive your photos, illustrations and copy, the more customers your site design will appeal to. Of course, if your store specializes in gifts and décor for a particular fall/winter holiday—Christmas, Hanukkah, Diwali, Yule or something else—being specific is the way to go.  

3. Offer visitors something cool as soon as they arrive 

Get visitors excited about shopping when they come to your homepage. If your store sells one item, make it the homepage hero image and embellish the page with holiday touches. If your store sells lots of products, focus the homepage on your promos to encourage shoppers to explore.  

4. Give holiday visitors a reason to join your email list 

Deck your opt-in box with a bough of holly and offer new email list members a discount code they can use at checkout.  

5. Build shipping deadline info into your holiday design 

Will your customers’ purchases arrive in time? Let them know by including holiday shipping and delivery info near the Add to Cart button. You can also add a banner that encourages shoppers to order by your cutoff date to get their items by Christmas.  

6. Revamp your checkout and payment methods 

Make your checkout process as easy as possible so more shoppers will follow through. Consider adding new payment methods, especially digital wallets, so customers don’t have to key in card numbers to buy from you. 

7. Make sure your hosting plan can support your holiday traffic 

Lots of holiday shoppers on your site is nice. Site crashes are naughty. If you think your holiday site traffic will exceed your hosting plan’s limits, now’s the time to upgrade to a hosting plan that gives you more resources.  

8. Monitor your holiday site metrics 

Once your holiday changes are live, keep an eye on your site metrics. Are your changes encouraging shoppers to spend more time on your site or add more items to their cart? How are those email list signups going? Are your visitors completing checkout? 

Make a note of which design elements work—you can use them again next holiday season. Things that aren’t working, you can fix as soon as possible.  

After you’ve gone through this list and checked it twice, your site design plan should be ready for holiday shoppers. Need more powerful web hosting for the holiday shopping season and beyond? Check out our shared hosting plans.  

Joe is the Creative Manager for HostGator.