Window Display Design Best Practices: 10 Common Mistakes

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While there are hundreds of beautiful and eye-catching window displays out there as seen in our 100+ creative store displays gallery, there are also some that don’t make us tick, think or attract us in any way. Curious to know what are the most common mistakes that could make or break a display, to say so? Then get inspired by our advice.

The most important thing you have to understand is that a window display is the business card/calling card for a store, it is the main advertisement. It has to represent the values of the brand and must be consistent and attractive to your customers.

#1. Too much is too much!

The first and gravest mistake most stores, tend to make is to overcrowd the window with a lot of details, colors, textures or products. No, this is not the way, windows should be kept simple, following a pre-established theme. We know, you want to let your customers see how many beautiful products you have for sale, but it’s better to showcase a single item in a big way than to bore or frighten away your customers.

#2. Pay attention to color!

"The unicorn puked a rainbow in the display" approach is a fast way to get the job done and an even faster way to turn customers away, as the result usually ends up looking totally unprofessional and chaotic. It is a mistake to use too many colors and/or the wrong ones.

When choosing a specific color or color combination for a window display, try to take into consideration how a specific color affects passersby, what moods or emotions they transmit, what gender they appeal to most and how contrasts or different tones can be used to make your customers want to go in. You can also take into consideration your brand’s colors and use tone variation.

You can find more information about colors and what they mean, especially in relationship with marketing, in this useful article - Color Psychology In Marketing from CoSchedule.

#3. Some products are on sale? Show it!

Another big mistake people tend to make, is to forget to show that they have special discounts, offers, specific sales, and so on. It is one of the most important marketing tools a store owner can use to attract customers so don’t forget to put up a sticker, show it with hand drawn letters or in any way your imagination wants. It just has to be visible and specific/clear.

#4. Dirty displays

It is unprofessional and a huge mistake to leave your windows dirty, not to mention products, mannequins or props unless there is a certain theme or idea you were going for, but even then, it’s better not to... It is just bad business practice and it must be taken care of accordingly.

#5. Bad timing and infrequent changes

Not having a specific calendar for window changes is yet again a mistake. You need to show your customers that you keep up with trends and the modern world, that you are willing to change according to their needs. Whether it is the so called “banner blindness” or boredom your customers will eventually look away from your display, or they won’t notice it at all. What better way get them to come in than to razzle dazzle’em with a display for every season or at least three times a year, if you can’t more (ideally displays should be changed monthly). This depends largely on your specific audience, their demographics but also on your brand, product type and location.

Another mistake in this area is to practice bad timing. If you plan a change for your window, let’s say a seasonal change, then be sure to take a few days before the unveiling and the date of the season changing to prepare the décor.

#6. Camera and… really, you forgot the lights?!

Lighting is extremely important, especially when you have a focal point, a single or a couple of products in your window. You have to think about the effects that you want to make, the kind of shadows you want and take care so that the light doesn’t bother the people looking at the display. Also take into consideration the tone of the light, if it is white it can be warm or cold or if it is colorful or even a combination of the two. Anything is possible and it can work with a bit of planning.

It is essential because when you close shop, your display should still be lit to advertise your business.

#7. Error, product not found!

This should not happen. It is a mistake to put products in your display that you do not sell in your store. If the customer wants that specific product on display, what are your employees to say? If they find out that the particular item they are interested in is not sold by your business, their impression of it might not be as good as you would expect.

#8. No space in the display

Watch out for how close the objects, props, mannequins and products are to one another as to not upset the balance of the view. Placing a product too close to the window is a mistake simply because it creates an annoying perspective, pushing viewers away, rather than reeling them in.

As Norbert Grüger, a specialist in window design for retail, specified in an interview that “Less is more!“. He goes on to say that “The biggest mistake continues to be in wanting to fill up even the last bit of space in a window with merchandise… The shop window is the only medium in advertising that can have a three-dimensional effect. This should be considered no matter what. By arranging items at different elevations, you achieve better optical results.”

When creating the display have someone sit outside and tell what the best position is or after you finish, walk by or even from across the street from it to see how it looks and if there is room for improvements.

#9. Discrepancies between the interior and the exterior

It is a clear mistake to create a display that is shockingly different from what the inside of your store looks like. Why? Because you set some expectations to your customers that are not met when they enter your store. It is brand misrepresentation and it might cost you sales and loyalty. Be careful, do something simple that is in accordance with what your brand stands for and who your store is set up.

#10. The mannequins

Not choosing the right mannequin for your display is the last mistake we have to discuss. It is ideal to use full body mannequins that are flexible, because they look incredible and you can set them in any pose you want. Shoppers relate more easily to full-body mannequins due to their realistic aspect. It depends again, though, on the theme you want to use.

If you think that your traditional mannequin is not attractive enough, check out our article on how to spruce up your mannequins.

Stick around for more  amazing display windows, tips and tricks for your retail business and cool new mannequins, a whole lot of mannequins, only here at Mannequin Mall.

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  • George Blitzer
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