How to Win Shopify’s Commerce Awards 2017: The Judges Weigh-In

How to Win Shopify’s Commerce Awards 2017: The Judges Weigh-In
shopify commerce awards

It’s official, the countdown is on.

With the December 31st deadline for this year’s Shopify Commerce Awards fast approaching, it’s time to start reviewing your 2017 commerce projects. What are you most proud of? What really transcended 2017 trendiness? What demonstrates your ecommerce excellence?

Regardless of whether you develop apps, design ecommerce sites, craft marketing masterpieces, or dream up your client’s UX/UI, we want to hear from you. Not only is this an opportunity to win an exclusive Shopify Unite 2018 experience (trust us, you want to be there), but it’s your chance to position yourself as a leader in the commerce industry.

With all this in mind, we asked our esteemed panel of judges to weigh-in on what they’re looking for in their respective Commerce Awards categories. They’ll cover what they define as exceptional work, provide examples, and offer tips on what they look for in award-winning submissions.

Want to win Commerce Awards 2017? Then read on!

Enter the Shopify Commerce Awards 2017

We want to celebrate Shopify Partners and Developers across the globe. Help us showcase the best builds and experiences out there. Submit your commerce project today, or nominate a colleague whose work you think should be celebrated!

ApplyNominate

1. Design category

What would a commerce awards competition be without a design category? This year, we’ve broken design down into four awards categories:

Best Product Page The goal of an ecommerce site is to make sales, meaning stellar product pages are critical. We’re looking for an effective and captivating product page that immediately conveys the value of a product.

Best Home Page The home page is like a website’s virtual front door, and can serve as a place to jump start site exploration. We’re looking for a home page design that leaves a lasting first impression.

Best Collection Page A collection page can tell a story about a merchant’s products, how they play together, and complement one another. We’re looking for the best collection pages that draw in casual browsers, and turn them into eager buyers.

Best Custom Design with Slate Slate is a recently released theme scaffolding and command line tool built for Shopify theme development and deployment. We’re looking for the pioneers of this tool who are designing their best work with Slate.

The judges

Two judges are responsible for reviewing design submissions this year:

What do you look for in exceptional ecommerce design?

“The biggest thing missing from too many ecommerce sites is a strong sense of the brand and its values. You know when you're shopping on Apple, Tiffany, or the Zappos website. These companies have mastered the idea that people are more likely to shop when they feel a strong emotional connection to a brand whose values resonate with them.

Creating, communicating, sustaining and growing a believable, appropriate, and compelling brand is what makes an ecommerce company's site exceptional. It’s what takes it to a higher level, making it a pleasurable and even emotionally fulfilling experience for the person who uses the site. That’s what I'll be looking for in every category of the Shopify Commerce Awards competition.”

— Jeffrey Zeldman

The biggest thing missing from too many ecommerce sites is a strong sense of the brand and its values.

Jeffrey Zeldman

Exceptional ecommerce design is all about serving the customer, not the brand. While flashy technologies can be fun and exciting, they have to be employed for the right purpose. For example, parallax should tell a story; motion and animation should help with spatial perception; colors carry meanings, etc. Simplicity is unfortunately often underrated.

As a Commerce Awards judge, I’ll be looking for quality content. The best-looking website, the most complex app integration, and the most thoughtful information architecture is useless if it doesn't sell a product.”

— Cynthia Savard Saucier

What tips do you have for those submitting work to the Design category?

Don't settle for me-too, cookie-cutter design. If you're noticing a new design trend everywhere, that's a good reason NOT to use it on your (or your client's) site. Your site shouldn't feel like this week's hot variation on Bootstrap. It shouldn't remind me of ten other sites. It should remind me of your (or your client's) company, not Spotify's or InVision's.

Good sites make the user think the designers are clever. Great sites make the user think she is clever. Great sites want to be used, like great cars want to be driven, and great instruments want to be played.”

—Jeffrey Zeldman

Beauty is subjective, and a successful project is all about the context surrounding the project.

Cynthia Savard Saucier

“Do not gloss over the "Why should your entry be considered for a Commerce Award?" question. Beauty is subjective, and a successful project is all about the context surrounding the project. Some design choices can be fantastic, but without understanding the background, they go unnoticed.”

— Cynthia Savard Saucier

Examples of award-winning design

Our judges offer up some examples of exceptional design out in the wild.

The Cotton Bureau

shopify commerce awards: cotton bureau
Jeffrey’s Pick: The Cotton Bureau is a good example of a tiny company that sweats the details and creates a shopping experience that feels personal and like no other. Consider this product detail page, with its playful yet also compelling call to action — the ticking countdown clock (because Cotton Bureau prints its shirts in small batches, products are available for a limited time only. The clock makes that apparent, and compels me to buy now). Look at the beautiful way they romance and promote their designers. This is personal. Strong, limited color palette, great responsive layout, compelling tiny details, and easter eggs. A small budget is no constraint on creativity, and the Cotton Bureau’s website proves it.
Bellroy
shopify commerce awards: bellroy
Cynthia’s pick: Bellroy is continually changing their website, and it's always amazing!

You might also like: 10 Drool-Worthy Product Page Examples to Inspire Your Next Ecommerce Project.

2. Marketing and Branding category

With so many amazing marketing and branding experts in the Shopify Partner ecosystem, it only made sense to celebrate stellar talent. This year, we’ve broken marketing and branding down into four awards categories:

Best Ecommerce Copywriting The written word can take you places you never imagined. From homepage to checkout, we’re looking for compelling copywriting that tells the story of your client’s brand.

Best Ecommerce Course Learning how to start and scale an ecommerce business can be daunting. We’re looking for the best in user-friendly, educational, and inspirational Shopify courses.

Best Offline Marketing Event Whether it’s a pop-up shop or meetup event, offline experiences leverage the power of human interaction. We’re looking for an offline event that created a unique attendee experience.

Best Abandoned Cart Recovery Experience Customers abandon carts for various reasons, but setting up a recovery notification or email campaign can save merchants lost sales. We’re looking for abandoned cart campaigns that turned potential buyers into customers.

The judges

Two judges are responsible for reviewing marketing and branding submissions this year:

What do you look for in exceptional marketing and/or branding?

“I look for a clear message and well told stories that relate to the experience of a specific group of people. Entries for Commerce Awards should be clear and concise. I'll be looking for fun, effective, and visually compelling examples of great marketing/branding.”

—Ezra Firestone

A great campaign should not only be creative, but it must also truly speak to its target demographic.

Melissa Gonzalez

“I look for out-of-the-box thinking — a unique but highly relevant approach to storytelling. For Commerce Awards, I want to see a clear correlation of goals and execution, combined with creativity. A great campaign should not only be creative, but it must also truly speak to its target demographic.”

—Melissa Gonzalez

What tips do you have for those submitting work to the Marketing and Branding category?

“Tell us what worked AND why you think it worked! Show and tell.”

— Ezra Firestone

Tell us what worked AND why you think it worked! Show and tell.

Ezra Firestone

“Illustrate goals, thought process, and your qualitative and quantitative success metrics.”

—Melissa Gonzalez

Examples of award-winning marketing and branding

Our judges offer up some examples of exceptional marketing and branding out in the wild.

EverLane

shopify commerce awards: everlane
Ezra’s Pick: “I thinkEverLane.com's recent denim launch was done exceptionally well.”

Marc Jacob | Daisy Daze Uber Campaign

Melissa’s Pick: “I really love what the Marc Jacob’s Daisy brand did a year ago when they partnered with Uber to re-decorate the interiors of a fleet of their cars, to truly immersive passengers in a field of daisies.” Source Sweden Unlimited

You might also like: How to Build an Abandoned Cart Email Sequence.

3. Apps and Development category

Developers delight and empower merchants with their apps daily on the Shopify Platform. It’s no small feat, and we’re dedicated to showing some app love with this year’s Commerce Awards. This year, we’ve broken apps and development down into four awards categories:

Best Store Experience Using Storefront API Shopify’s Storefront API lets developers build unique buying experiences on virtually any interface. We’re looking for developers who think outside-the-box, and craft epic purchasing experiences in-game and beyond.

Best App Experience Using the Marketing Events API The Marketing Events API enables marketing app developers to demonstrate how actions generated through their app lead to sales. We’re looking for an application of this API that simply and effectively surfaces marketing campaign data to merchants.

Best Store Experience Using Shopify Scripts When building discount solutions for your clients, it’s important that they’re easy to use and don’t slow an online store down. We’re looking for the best promotion solution built for a client with Shopify Scripts.

Best App Design Using Polaris Polaris is a design system that helps designers and developers build user interfaces that feel consistent with the Shopify experience. We’re looking for the best app design that uses elements of Polaris.

The judges

Two judges are responsible for reviewing apps and development submissions this year:

What do you look for in exceptional apps and development?

“The biggest thing for me is attention to detail. If an app is sloppy in some of these UX and presentational elements, it can make users feel less confident in what's going on behind the scenes. For Commerce Awards, I'll be looking for apps that are solving real problems for store owners. We're not looking for the most complex solutions, or apps with a million bells and whistles — we want apps that address a specific merchant pain point in the simplest way possible. I'll also be putting a premium on novelty, whether it's tackling an often-overlooked and unsexy merchant problem or taking on a common issue from a different angle.”

— Gavin Ballard

We're not looking for the most complex solutions, or apps with a million bells and whistles — we want apps that address a specific merchant pain point in the simplest way possible.

Gavin Ballard

“The people behind any exceptional app have a deep understanding of the problem they’re trying to solve and demonstrate empathy for the people they’re solving it for. Exceptional apps are approachable, easy to use, and effectively and comprehensively solve a user need.

The best Shopify apps and integrations have an effortless user experience, from onboarding to use. As a judge for this year's Commerce Awards, I will be looking for apps and integrations that are innovative as well.”

— Ellen Li

What tips do you have for those submitting work to the Apps and Development category?

“Make sure your submission presents a story that explains what your app does, what problem it solves, and why merchants will find it valuable. Without this context, we judges won't be able to empathize with the target user.”

— Gavin Ballard

We would love to hear about your experience building on the Shopify platform.

Ellen Li

“Once you’re ready to submit your work, include a short description of how your app or integration came to be: how did you get the idea? What kind of research did you do? What challenges did you face while building your app and how did you overcome them? We would love to hear about your experience building on the Shopify platform.”

— Ellen Li

Examples of award-winning apps and development

Our judges offer up some examples of exceptional apps and development out in the wild.

FORSBERG+two

shopify commerce awards: appstore
Gavin’s Pick: I absolutely love the work that FORSBERG+two has done with their series of "Orderly" print and templating apps. They’re focused on solving one very specific pain point for merchants in a really nice way. Their recent development of partnerships with some of the major Shopify theme developers is also a great example of how app developers can think outside-the-box a little, and leverage the ever-supportive Shopify Partner ecosystem.

Edison Mail

shopify commerce awards: mail
Ellen’s Pick: Outside of the Shopify ecosystem, one app that exemplifies exceptional design and development to me is Edison Mail. It’s an email app that does much more than just read and write emails. Edison makes it easy to do other email-related things I care about: set reminders, search quickly, manage security/privacy settings, track deliveries, schedule trips, and unsubscribe from mailing lists with one tap. It’s easy to set up and also follows Material Design and iOS HCI design guidelines, making it simple and intuitive (for Android and iOS users respectively) to use right away.

You might also like: A Simpler Way to Manage Custom Storefronts.

4. UX/UI category

Well-crafted user experience and user interface design are powerful tools in communicating and achieving commerce goals. This year, we’ve broken UX/UI down into four awards categories:

Best Animated Motion Graphic for UI When used in a meaningful way, animation and movement are powerful tools that can improve user engagement with an ecommerce website. We’re looking for purposeful animation that enhances the user interface.

Best Shopify Integration with WordPress With the ability to integrate Shopify into the world’s most popular CMS, the possibilities are endless. We’re looking for a flawless Shopify integration with a WordPress Site, using the JS Buy SDK and/or Buy Button.

Best Mobile Commerce Experience As a UX/UI designer, it’s important to think about designing mobile-first with every ecommerce project you tackle. We’re looking for a Shopify store that thrives outside the desktop box, and has an exceptional mobile user experience.

Best Storytelling Through UX Creating a storyline throughout an ecommerce site that considers every page, feature, and function is critical to good user experience design. We’re looking for engaging UX that holistically conveys your client’s story.

The judges

Two judges are responsible for reviewing apps and development submissions this year:

What are you looking for in exceptional UX/UI?

“These days, I desperately miss some sort of personality in signature UI/UX. It doesn’t have to be bold and flashy, but it should be unique and human. Always try to find a human voice in those interfaces — just one subtle thing used consistently, in a UI that does its job well. No need for grand ideas. Focus is enough.

For Commerce Awards, I’m looking for common problems solved well. It could be anything from annoying input fields, to well-crafted microcopy, visuals, or typography. Would love to explore interesting and creative solutions to mundane problems.”

— Vitaly Friedman

I'll definitely be looking for designs with strong concepts or strong points of view.

Val Head

“There are so many things that can make a UI design good, but I think if I had to pick one thing, it would be a concept. Exceptional UX/UI work always has a clear and strong concept behind it that manifests itself in all aspects of the design.

For Commerce Awards, I'll definitely be looking for designs with strong concepts or strong points of view. Also for designs that solve an interesting problem, or that solve a common design problem in a unique way.”

— Val Head

What tips do you have for those submitting work to the UX/UI category?

“Focus. Invest a lot of time finding the most boring and annoying elements in your design, and twist the experience to make them more interesting and engaging. No need to go overboard — just extreme attention to that one thing. Or go overboard after all: what if you had to come up with a design that doesn’t use rectangles or circles? What would you come up with?”

— Vitaly Friedman

Invest a lot of time finding the most boring and annoying elements in your design, and twist the experience to make them more interesting and engaging.

Vitaly Friedman

“Knowing what makes your design or product unique, and articulating that in your submission always makes for a good awards entry. Show, and tell, the judges what makes your work unique.”

— Val Head

Examples of award-winning UX/UI

Our judges offer up some examples of exceptional UX/UI out in the wild.

Hans Brinker Hostel

shopify commerce awards: hans
Vitaly’s Pick: The Hans Brinker Hostel website because it tells a story of the hotel in a unique way.

Stripe Checkout

shopify commerce awards: stripe
Val’s Pick: Stripe's Checkout product and it's associated site are at the top of my list for ecommerce design examples. They always do such a great job of things.

You might also like: Microcopy: Why Tiny Words Matter.

Submit today

You have the projects, the talent, and now the expert advice. Seize the opportunity to position yourself as a leader and visionary in commerce!

Enter the Shopify Commerce Awards 2017

We want to celebrate Shopify Partners and Developers across the globe. Help us showcase the best builds and experiences out there. Submit your commerce project today, or nominate a colleague whose work you think should be celebrated!

ApplyNominate

 

About the Author

Anastasia is the Editor of Shopify's Web Design and Development Blog. She’s a former journalist and freelancer, and loves chocolate stout beer.

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