You might be surprised to know that online shopping, known to us now as e-commerce, first emerged at the tail end of the 1970s when inventor Michael Aldrich produced the first known electronic transaction system—a connection between an everyday television and a processing computer. Aldrich went on to develop more sophisticated tools for electronic transactions throughout the 1980s, which began to be adopted by large companies in the United Kingdom. Then in 1991, when Tim Berners Lee made his brainchild, the World Wide Web, available for public and commercial use, the electronic shopping systems that are ubiquitous today—including the shopping cart—began to take shape. IBM, e-Bay, and Amazon were some of the earliest to adopt and turn the technology into their core way of doing business. In the 25 years since then, the basic visual nature of the online shopping experience hasn’t changed much. But with mobile shopping firmly on scene and here to stay, digital storefronts and shopping carts seem to be undergoing a makeover. Here’s what some experts think you can expect to see for e-commerce in 2016: Increasingly standardized layouts This has been a trend in web design in general over the last couple of years, as developers and marketing departments are finding that standardizing their web sites translates into longer visit times and higher conversions. Users like to be comfortable and feel like they’re in familiar territory when they’re shopping. Get too out-of-the-box with your searches, CTAs, shopping carts, or other components of your pipeline and you create friction that can result in a dropped sale. That epiphany has led to standardizing of everything from menu delivery, button placement and design, and overall layouts— saving unique and creative ideas for the marketing campaign. Card-style product views You may have seen these popping up on retail web sites in recent months. Products are displayed in a self-contained, bite-sized card (also called tiles) that contains an image, a short description, the price, and, usually, links to share it on social media. Think: Pinterest. This presentation allows sellers to provide users with an at-a-glance view of the product that’s easy to compare with similar products in a way that’s visually rich but not overwhelming. Examples: https://www.behance.net https://canopy.co Flat, minimal, and vibrant Gone are the days of stylized, three-dimensional, deeply-shadowed objects layered throughout a single web page. We’ve been moving toward flatter design for many years, but the last two have seen a proliferation of these ultra-flat, minimal, image-driven e-commerce website designs. To offset that minimalism, designers are turning to bolder, chunkier typography and exceptional colorful (and sometimes unusual) tones.
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