How to pick the right Shopify theme: buy right or buy twice
By Sam Reed
When it comes to choosing a Shopify theme, you can buy right or you can buy twice. It’s better to spend a little more upfront and invest in a theme that can scale with your business, instead of buying something that is sleek and cool but does not meet your needs. While it’s easy to fall into the trap of just getting something that looks really great, if you are wanting a Shopify store that converts, do yourself a favor and do a little homework before diving in.
Don’t start looking for Shopify themes until you know what you want
Before you start looking for themes, it’s important to know what your website needs to accomplish. This starts with thinking about your customer. What features can give them the best possible experience? Based on your business model, what specific feature sets do you need? Feature sets are the things that you need your website to accomplish for you. For example:
- Visual product list
- Filter by category
- Search bar
- Abandon cart
- Collection pages
- Newsletter subscription sign-up
- Abandon cart emails
- Point of Sale System (POS) that integrates with your current system
- Infinite scrolling
- Spanning banners
- Social media icon links
Test the theme on mobile first
Business Insider Intelligence predicts “m-commerce volume to rise at a 25.5% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) from 2019 to hit $488.0 billion, or 44% of e-commerce, in 2024.”
Simply put, people are likely going to view your shop on their mobile device, so make sure that your theme is optimized for mobile. Take some time to browse through different themes on your computer (when you build sites, you are likely looking on your computer, not your phone, and it’s easy to forget to check), then test each one on your phone. If the experience is not great, keep looking.
Deleting is a lot easier than adding
Spend the extra money on a robust feature set at the beginning, instead of frankensteining together a set of features with plugins later. If you are not a developer, it’s a lot easier to buy feature sets that you may not need than it is to add feature sets that you are missing. Developers are awesome, but they are also expensive, and depending on where you are at in your journey, they may not be within your budget. You can not really add features to Shopify unless you crack into the code, which requires a developer’s skillset.
Say no to plugins 95% of the time
Now, you may think, “Oh, there is a plugin for that, I can just add that after the fact.” Stop! There is a time and a place for plugins but it’s important to know that if you add a plugin, then delete it, it leaves code behind and, over time, if you make a habit of adding plugins willy-nilly, that ghost code of plugins past will start to slow your site down. You can bring in a developer to help you fix this, but why not prevent that problem before you even start? Find a theme that has 95% of the features that you need, and, if you absolutely need to, you can solve that final 5% with plugins.
Stick to the Shopify Theme Store
While there are a lot of Shopify themes available on third-party sites, we recommend sticking to themes within the Shopify Theme Store and, if possible, themes that are actually made by Shopify. All of the themes in Shopify’s store have been reviewed and vetted by Shopify, so you can have more confidence that it will work. And if you go with a theme that is built by Shopify, you can access their awesome support team. They also make sure to regularly update their themes. One of our clients bought a great theme, installed it, and began using it, only to discover that it had been made five years ago and the makers were no longer updating the theme. When themes are allowed to sit on the shelf without updates, they run the risk of encountering problems updating the software behind things like your POS, or, even worse, they may be missing newer technology that can help them be more efficient.
Taking the time upfront to decide what you need your e-commerce site to accomplish saves you time and money in the long run. Remember, you can buy right or you can buy twice.