Magento as a framework is now three years old and even at the beginning it had one huge advantage over the competition (besides being the powerhouse it is and it's marketing): a well designed default theme which exposed it's possibilities loud and clear. In fact, the Modern theme alone made me take a better look into the whole framework making it my profession today.
The point is that just by installing Magento you get years of experience, testing and best practices in e-commerce. Whether you take a look at the product page, catalog page, or the whole checkout process, good foundations are already laid out for you. It's not all appropriate for every shop of course, and that's where you come in.
It's paramount to go through the whole shopping experience in order to get the feel for the platform you're designing for...
- Željko Prša
The best way to do that would be to visit the demo store after reading this guide and to go through the process of shopping for products, searching for a specific product, reviewing the process of checking out as a registered or unregistered customer.
The next step would be really putting yourself in the position of the store owner by going into the administration panel to get a perspective of how settings and inputs from the administration panel affect the front-end.
In this guide I'll cover important aspects of designing the user experience by going through all of the important page views in Magento. By doing so, you'll have a complete outlook on the store, making it easy to keep track of project progress, and it will help you present your design decisions/propositions to the client.