We’re lucky enough to be designing at least one (perhaps more, don’t want to jinx anything!) ecommerce website next week for a foodie gift company and in preparation I thought I’d do a little research into what makes a great food gift website. Our client will be selling baked goods online, but I didn’t want that to limit my research, so I’ve scoured the web far and wide to find some of the best examples I can find of foodie websites.
What I found really interesting was that I had to kiss a LOT of frogs to find this lot. Overall the standard of design and usability on many of the websites (obviously not the ones I’ve featured here!) was pretty low – it certainly wouldn’t inspire me to order anything for a loved one. And that got me thinking. As well as finding examples of great websites, what is it that makes them work? From what I’ve seen, it’s pretty hard to get it right. Food gift websites need to both get the tastebuds going – like a cookbook, food blog or magazine might and they also need to seduce you into buying this as a special and impactful gift for someone you love. And so for me it’s a combination of gorgeous photography, great structure and design and strong branding and packaging.
Great photography is a must. Beautifully shot, well lit with a flattering depth of field on the food. The DIY snaps with the harsh lighting and snapshot like effect just don’t convince me that my recipient is going to be delighted with the parcel they receive in the post. Which leads me on to…
Beautifully styled. The best gift websites either show the pack shot – and why not, if you have beautiful packaging, why not show it off? That’s what we’re buying into most of the time! They also have simple and subtle styling – for example just pulling out a couple of key ingredients or some of the elements you might pair with the main event. What matters here though is that the product takes centre stage.
Clarity of structure. It’s important that visitors know that they’ve arrived in your online shop – obvious I know but something that is overlooked so often. That usually means having a highly prominent hero banner just below the navigation and giving clues such as basket in the top right.
Seasonal Products. Some of the best websites are clearly updated on a monthly, if not weekly basis and are tailored to suit the seasons. This makes it much easier to sell a, say, back to school gift than having a generic set of landing banners and expecting your visitors to do the hard work. The Chocolate Library does this beautifully.
Well branded. When you’re buying a gift for someone the branding and packaging really matter. Sending someone a gift says something about both you and the person you’re sending it to, and I don’t know about you, but I want my gifts to be thoughtful, exciting and a bit of a treat. So for me, the branding has to be aspirational, it has to be strong and the whole look and feel needs to be cohesive.
Beautifully packaged. Packaging really matters with a gift, and the more beautiful yours is, the more prominently it should feature on the site. Don’t hide it away on your Delivery page, have some images on the homepage if you can.
Over to you
Which are your favourite foodie gift websites and why? I’d love to hear your thoughts!