How to choose the best theme for your Shopify store
Whether you have just opened your first Shopify store or simply looking for a new look, the question is always the same: which theme should I choose? Free or paid? Developed by Shopify, bought on Themeforest, or had it developed by a pro?
My advice: I think you should… no, I will tell you the advice at the end. In the meantime, let’s try to define some basic aspects so as to be all aligned.
What is a theme?
In very few words (and in a somewhat simplistic way, I must admit) a theme is nothing more than the look that a Shopify store takes on. Changing the theme means, in a nutshell, changing the look of your store. By look I mean not only the colors, but also the way the elements are organized on the page. The look is very important because it gives certain characteristics to the shop, as well as giving an air of reliability and professionalism to your business.
An online shop follows different procedures from a physical one, of course; but it is equally true that some basic principles always remain valid. The external appearance of a shop, with well-kept windows, a certain type of sign, a well-kept set-up are characteristics that convey confidence in those who pass and observe. They can make a difference in terms of the number of people who decide to stop, look at the store and decide to stick their heads in.
Likewise, a well-curated theme that fits the type of customer you have identified as the ideal one for your business can be a determining factor. In many cases, you can tell if you are doing a good job in this regard by analyzing some fundamental metrics.
The truth is that what I have told you so far is correct, but only a small part of the speech. Let’s see what I haven’t told you about yet.
Why is the theme important?
A theme is not just a “look”, just as a shop window is not just a means to embellish a shop. The theme you choose, first of all, says a lot about who you are and, even better, about who your ideal customer is. Like all businesses, if you are too focused on yourself and your passion, it will be difficult for you to be able to build a successful business. Of course, dealing with something you know is very important and can immediately give the user experience proof; the trap you do not have to fall into is to build a shop that is pleasant for you, without taking into account the characteristics of your customers.
Does your store sell trendy tech accessories? Find a young, modern theme, with colors that recall technology. Do you sell gifts for women? Build a man-proof site, to make it easy for the partner / husband who has to give her a gift to her. Do you only sell wooden watches? It uses a minimal theme, with colors complementary to the brown of the wood, with a reference to ecology (such as green, blue). Use photos with backgrounds of parquet, wood, trees, leaves. Recall the values your customers appreciate and reflect in.
Okay, you have a couple of directions now. The most important point is that Shopify handles a few simple functions very well, but everything else happens through A) applications that you can integrate into the marketplace or B) functions included in the professional theme you decide to buy. So reducing the theme to just the look is extremely reductive. I will explain why.
What to look for in a Shopify theme
I have already told you about the look but I also told you that it is not all. The look is very important to give a certain image of you, your products, your brand. Beyond that though, a top-tier theme also allows you to expand the basic features Shopify offers and turn it into a top-tier ecommerce.
I could write for hours about all the themes out there, but I don’t want to bore you. If you want to take a look at some professional (but not expensive) themes that I have selected for you, I have written about them here. In that article I also refer to some advanced features that the themes offer, but let me give you a couple of examples here, to let you understand what I mean.
- Mobile / tablet viewing (responsive): most of the advanced themes, created with modern technologies and according to the best software development standards, offer a high-level experience even when the user accesses the shop from a mobile or tablet.
- Fonts and icons management: the most common themes integrate Google Fonts and different icon providers so that you can easily customize these aspects of your shop without having to put your hand to the code.
- Custom Menus: Want a super modern mega menu to confuse your users and make them run away? (sorry, I’m not a fan and it’s only fair that you know) With
many professional themes you can add it!
- Instagram shop: do you have a strong presence on Instagram (or do you use it for sponsored advertising?). Some themes offer product integration with your page so you can directly sell your products within the photos you post.
- Featured products: some themes offer more advanced ways, either from the point of view of style or from that of functionality, to highlight your products. For example, banners to highlight discounts, sliders to show best-selling products, etc.
Well, I think you got it! It seems clear to me that the advanced themes have a reason to exist; indeed, they actually have thousands of them, a bit like the features they can offer you. It is important that you remember one thing: custom themes can be more or less simple to use, more or less dedicated to your niche, more or less loaded with features. The important thing is how you use it. I have something to tell you about it.
Based on the reviews that you find online, evaluate a theme quite thoroughly, listen to the advice of people you trust but, in the end, take the leap and do not look back.
The success of a shop is not due to the theme it used; if well managed, even a free theme offered by Shopify can give some results to get started. Clearly, over time, some themes may offer more interesting advanced features, but this exploration is useful as long as it does not become an excuse to postpone launch time.
We do not know who the original author of the saying “fact is better than perfect” is. Some see it as an adaptation of Benjamin Franklyn’s expression “well done is better than well said”, others attribute it to Mark Zuckerberg who made it a Facebook mantra. In any case, regardless of the father, the concept is very powerful.
In our case, we can simply translate it into “better a store that sells with a mediocre theme than a store with a crazy theme and zero turnover”. I know, a little long, but it has now become the phrase I repeat to myself most often.