It’s almost unimaginable, but the holidays are just around the corner. From optimizing your site to lining up your holiday ads and emails, you’ve probably already hit the ground running so you can make this the best holiday season yet for your ecommerce store. 

Help ensure your efforts pay off by greeting your visitors with a clean, beautifully designed website. Here are four ways to level up your website design for the holiday season: 

1. Update Your Main Hero Image or Slideshow 

Loyal customers and frequent visitors can go “banner blind” over time, ignoring your banners and CTAs because they’ve already seen them. New visitors, on the other hand, can have trouble connecting your site to the ad or message that inspired their click. And there’s a simple solution to both of these problems: update your hero graphics! 

Use your hero graphic or slideshow images to share fresh messages and promotions that will capture interest. If you’re running a holiday sale, play up festive imagery and entice visitors with your best offers. Include a CTA that takes visitors to a dedicated sale page so their journey is quick and logical.  

Keep all of your marketing design efforts — email banners, display ads, social posts, etc — cohesive. This will help reinforce to a visitor who clicked on an ad, for example, that they’re in the right place. Whenever possible, match the offer and language on the ad or post that inspired the click. Dedicated landing pages are handy for that, but the home page is perfectly appropriate as long as everything is visually tied together. 

That doesn’t mean your homepage banners have to be carbon copies of your other marketing materials, though! Instead, play with variations on a style or theme. Even choosing one visual element that runs through all your marketing materials, like a sprig of holly, can make a huge difference. 

2. Refresh Your Homepage Merchandising 

Hero graphics and banners aren’t the only places where you can have fun with new messages and images. Merchandising slots, mega menu images (if applicable), and featured products are all places where you can freshen up your imagery and create a streamlined customer journey to your holiday offers. 

Even if you don’t have a promotion running, consider swapping product and lifestyle images any time you want your site to feel fresh without the effort of a full redesign. Add simple, festive touches to product photos by Photoshopping on a holiday bow or even staging a new holiday-themed scene. Shift your lifestyle imagery from outdoor parties to cozy sweaters and hot cocoa. If you don’t want to shoot your own photos, use a free stock photo website like Unsplash

Follow the rules of good UX and keep your layout and navigation the same. Visitors who are used to shopping on your site will thank you for that!  

3. Use Site-Wide Features for Announcements 

Naturally, a lot of your holiday design focus will be on your homepage. But what about visitors who land on other pages? That’s why site-wide features like sticky bars and other site-wide content slots are handy. In fact, the sticky bar (also called the site-wide notification bar) is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to share announcements with your entire customer base. 

If you announce the holiday sale, link to your sale page or a landing page that shares more information. During the holidays themselves, try mixing up your announcements every couple days to see what resonates with people. Create a holiday gift guide and link to the post, or appeal to urgency as the sale’s end date approaches. 

Because shipping will be a disaster this year, your sticky banner is also a critical place to share shipping updates. Announce your average shipping times, share updates as they emerge, and tell customers when their last day to order is if they want their products by Christmas. 

4. Make Your List and Check It Twice 

While you should always avoid busy periods for complete redesigns and strive to get as much on-site work as possible done well ahead of time, things happen. Depending on your CMS and other systems, you may not be able to make changes to your site or push them live until the morning of the sale. What you can do, though, is build out a timeline. Create all your collateral and messaging ahead of time, then build a list of what you’ll switch out and when so you can do it as seamlessly as possible. If you can’t configure discounts ahead of time, add that to your list. 

Should you make your team come in the midnight before Black Friday or get up at 4am the morning of? No. If you have the budget for a team, you have the budget for a system that won’t force you to make changes in real-time. If you’re a team of one, though, pick a low-traffic time to run down your list. Then test, test, test! 

Once the holidays start, they move fast. The window between Black Friday and Cyber Monday is especially tiny (why?!), and the brisk pace continues through New Year’s day. If you don’t have the bandwidth to build out new promotions for each holiday, that’s fine! Plan an overarching holiday sale and use fast, easy features like sticky banners to update your messaging throughout. Or simply focus on a clean, well-functioning site that doesn’t leave a single customer behind. In the long run, that’s what will make the difference for your bottom line.