Setting up your new website can be exciting. After all, there is the enthusiasm of a new venture, or the refresh of an existing brand. Things are going to be great!
But then you start exploring the range of available themes and it can start to get a bit overwhelming.
One of the biggest challenges is knowing what theme to pick! How can you get one that does what you need it to, or to create the kind of look you want for your website? There are many themes to choose from so I’d thought I’d share what I look for when recommending themes for my clients.
Essentially, a theme is template that determines the look and feel of your store. There are many different designs to choose from depending on your industry and business personality. There is fun and funky, sleek and elegant, modern and minimal, and everything in between.
There are 3 types of Shopify themes, Free Shopify themes, Premium Shopify themes and Third Party themes.
I would always recommend choosing a premium Shopify theme. They are well worth the investment long term, as you get more built-in functionality and options to customise than you get with a free Shopify theme. If budget is an issue, a free theme will get you up and running on Shopify, but you may find you need to install additional apps or custom coding to get more out of it.
I don’t recommend purchasing a 3rd party theme, such as a theme from themeforest.net and other similar sites. These themes haven’t been vetted by Shopify so you really don’t know how well they are coded for SEO and other best practices. Plus, you can’t get as much support for these themes as what you can with free or premium Shopify themes.
There are five main things you should consider when choosing a Shopify theme.
1: Your Branding – Firstly, look at the shape of your logo - is it square or landscape orientation? Some themes work better with different shaped logos. For example if your logo was square, you might consider the ‘Grid’ theme or to have it overlaid on top of a background image like in the ‘Focal’ theme. Rectangular logos are the easiest shape to fit into most themes and will mean you have less wasted white space above the fold.
2: Inventory Size - One of the most important considerations when selecting a theme is whether it is designed for large or small inventories. Themes that are designed for larger inventories will have much better functionality for filtering products.
3: Navigation style– Some themes have mobile style navigation for their desktop versions. Consider your customer market if you decide to choose a theme with mobile navigation on desktop – while we are seeing more websites with this menu style on all screen sizes , it may not be obvious to all customers that the hamburger menu is where your menu links are.
4: Functionality – Is there a specific functionality that you need? Maybe a mailing list pop-up, related products, product image zoom, size chart, or collection full width banner images? Some themes may have all or some of this functionality, some may not. I’d recommend picking a theme that has the functionality you need, rather than one that looks fancy. Otherwise you will have to spend more time and money installing apps or doing custom work to get this functionality.
5: Layout– When you preview a theme in the Shopify theme store, try to ignore how the theme has been styled. Colours, fonts, and imagery will all be different for your store. Instead, try to look at the layout of the pages including, home, collection, product and general content pages.
You have the option to install a theme to your store as unpublished. You can then customise by adding your logo, as well as setting your colours and fonts to get a feel for how the theme will work with your brand.
I always like to see what options are available for customising a theme , such as how much control do you have over the colours. Some themes only let you set a few colours, while others allow you to control colours, fonts, and backgrounds much more specifically.
If you are looking for a particular functionality (size chart, collection banners, or product display options), trying the theme in your store will let you see which options are actually available for this theme.
I have worked with many of the Shopify themes and found that those created by ‘Out of the Sandbox’ are easily the most flexible, and have more options and functionality than others do. Out of the Sandbox themes include Responsive, Mobilia, Retina and Parallax themes.
Here are just a few examples of their additional features: multiple page layouts available for content pages (including gallery page and multi-column pages), pre-order and coming soon functionality, easy to implement product tabs, and much more. They are also the only theme developers that have an app to update the theme to its latest version and retain your customisations. This makes it super easy to stay up to date with theme improvements and enhancements.
If the thought of choosing the right theme for your business is stopping you from making progress on your website, then give me a bell here at Creative Web Designs. I will be able to give you my best recommendation based on the needs of your individual business and the functionality you require. Get in touch today.