e-commerce: 8 product visual trends to improve customer experience

Published on the 5 June 2017
e-commerce product visuals trends: Apple layout with baseline and big pictures

Applying best practices and standards is not sufficient for e-commerce any longer. Successful websites have to focus on customer experience throughout the whole process, and offer the best possible service. In this era governed by pictures, with stars like Instagram or Youtube, product visual is getting more and more important for e-shoppers. If a thumbnail can potentially still be sufficient for everyday groceries, the power of a high-quality, detailed and in-situation picture has never been stronger. And technology can support working harder and going further on product visuals, including 360° view, cinemagraph and augmented reality.

Detailed zoom

No more thumbnails, no limit to a product picture: it has to be high-fidelity, detailed and large, and users need to be able to zoom at a level sufficient enough to appreciate the details and the quality of the product. What you see is what you get. The zoom should be obvious, and not hidden behind a light picto. As for the size of the image, the right media queries will allow to display just the right size without compromising on loading time.

e-commerce product visuals trends: Apple high-quality pictures

Above: Apple high-quality visuals, very detailed zoom are an important part of the product page layout.

In-situation pictures

We still see a few fashion e-boutiques featuring T-shirts pictures flat on a white background. Personnally, I need to see the way the shirt is worn to project myself. Inevitable for clothes and shoes, in-situation pictures can also help deliver a branding message, and enrich the vision of the product.

Customer-generated pictures

Most customers are also active users on Internet and social media. Giving them the opportunity to upload their pictures of your products is both a great opportunity to tighten their relationship with the brand, and to make the brand’s website content a lot richer, with real-life, inspirational and authentic emotions.

e-commerce product visuals trends: custom-generated visuals

Above: customer-generated product pictures galleries, by Baume & Mercier

The right number of pictures

I recently conducted a study on luxury e-commerce UX, which offer an average of 3 pictures per product, with a maximum of 8. The more meaningful the purchase, the more pictures can help reassure, seduce, convince. It’s the whole AIDA (attention, interest, desire and action) with just the visuals, so big opportunity here. Each picture needs to add something to the message: multiplying pictures with no special strategy is not useless. Think about different angles, in-situation view, night and day views, etc.

360° view

Anyone nowadays take 360° pictures with their smartphones. It can require a bit more efforts to produce high-quality 360° product visuals, but it brings a lot to the user experience to be able to see the product from all angles.

e-commerce product visuals trends: 360° picture

Above: 360° product picture, by Piaget

Editorialized visuals

Product visuals are a part of the product overview, and should contribute in the overall storytelling about this purchase. Instead of just treating all visuals equally, why not integrate them in the copy, creating a story along with baselines? Also, the pictures can reflect an atmosphere, a special character, highlight ambassadors or core values.

e-commerce product visuals trends: Apple layout with baseline and big pictures

Above: editorialized pictures in a layout with baselines, by Apple

Mix animated and static visuals

The GIF format allows to produce high-quality animated visuals, with less constraints (weight, player, etc.) than a standard video. With the advantage of autoplay and player-free integration, it can easily be integrated in a layout miwing texts, pictures and animated gifs, which gives a whole different rythm to the page.

Cinemagraph

One variation of animated gifs is the cinemagraph. It consists of a visual animated only on a targetted area. It can create interesting feelings, all about a few elements visually moving on an otherwise static picture.

Above: a cinemagraph example

Augmented reality

Still a big challenge, augmenter reality is becoming a part of daily Internet usage, and can bring a lot the the customer experience, as in this virtual dressing room at Gap.

e-commerce product visuals trends: Gap dressing room

Above: Gap virtual dressing room

Of course, not all these trends apply to all cases and products. The idea is that there is more, much more, to product visuals than a simple, standard gallery. How could the websites you know improve customer experience with better, richer product visuals? I hope these few trends will help bring the discussion further during your next e-commerce design challenges.

e-commerce product visuals trends: Apple layout with baseline and big pictures
Marie Kuter

About me

Marie Kuter is a UX designer in Geneva, Switzerland. She specializes in luxury e-commerce, and has recently published the 2017 UX barometer for luxury e-commerce.

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