7 Vital Considerations When Choosing A Shopify Theme

Looking for a Shopify theme to complement your brand?

But at the same time is optimised for conversions.

Keeping your mobile and desktop users happy…

And the google gods happy too?

There’s lots of questions you need to answer when looking for the perfect Shopify theme, and that’s what we’ll cover here.

Themes from the Shopify website
Themes from the Shopify website are a good starting point

Free Or Premium Themes?

Like most good things in life, they are NOT free. And our experience of FREE themes certainly within the Shopify Theme Store, they are pretty basic.

When starting out with a new store, a FREE theme is probably all you’ll need. If you’re just starting on your journey in to e-commerce, a free theme is just fine.

You’ll not stick with the basic theme too long. Within the first few months of a new e-commerce brand, there’s better things to invest your time and money on.

The best zero dollar theme in the theme store is this one.

“Debut” is a great theme to launch your new store.

It’s clean design will work for most brands and the product page features a big image section.

It’s limited functionality will stifle you longer term. But as long as you keep the images ‘lite’ you’ll have a fast and responsive store.

Premium themes are a totally different ball game.

There’s so many available it’s hard to pick the right one. The following is what you should be on the look out for when choosing them.

How Much Should You Pay For A Shopify Theme?

If you’re coming across from a WordPress based store, or have experience buying themes for our favourite blogging platform, then the themes on Shopify seem crazy expensive.

You’re probably looking at $180 for a decent theme from the Theme Store on Shopify. But enough digging on Google there’s plenty of ‘unofficial’ places to find themes now.

You don’t need to buy from the official store. However you do need to have extra considerations for themes you find elsewhere.

You’ll find a lot of Shopify themes on ThemeForest from around $50 which is lot more reasonable.

The mid-range of theme prices is about $300. This is usually from dedicated theme developers. These often come with excellent support, solid design and great features. Out Of The Sandbox is a company that specialises in exactly this, and is one of my best recommendations.

The top prices you’ll pay for Shopify themes are often subscription based themes and apps. These are more like the drag and drop style page builders. Expect to pay $97/month and more for these types of product.

You can check out my review of a great Shopify Page Builder we use every day in our e-commerce businesses. If you click through here, it’ll open the article in a separate page for when you finish reading this one.

Expect to pay a premium for Drag and Drop Page Builders. Zipify is one of the best we’ve found.

Best Shopify Themes For Mobile

Design your store for mobile first.

In 2018 and in to 2019 we’ll see mobile e-commerce definitely eclipse desktop transactions as we get more and more tied to our phones.

This means you should be designing your store for mobile FIRST, and desktop second. But don’t neglect desktop.

There’s plenty of evidence that people are discovering brands on Mobile, then switching over to Desktop to complete their purchase. If you’re selling to an audience under the age of 35, then mobile should be your main focus for design.

Pretty much every theme on the market has a live demo site built, so you can see how it looks on multiple devices.

It pays to do your research thoroughly. Understanding what devices your customers are using and testing the theme with those devices is vital. Make sure the navigation is still easy to use and the fonts used across the site are readable and scaled correctly for the device.

Parallax from Out Of The Sandbox is the theme we’ve used on our primary store for the last 3 years. The reason we chose it was because of how well it works on both desktop and mobile devices.

Definitely worth discovering if it works for your brand.

Fast Loading Shopify Themes

Google’s search engine algorithm is evolving and one of the primary ranking factors is Page Speed. this is essentially how quick your website loads. Just a couple of seconds delay can lose you many customers.

StrangeLoop reckons a 1 second delay in page load costs 7% in conversions

Not only does your store need to look good, provide a great user experience, with plenty of images and videos, it needs to load fast too. These might seem like conflicting goals, and you’d be right!

Shopify, out of the box is pretty slick, but when you start adding in add-on apps (similar to wordpress plugins), and themes with fancy features, your super fast store can quickly grind to a snails pace.

One of the options is to get a theme that has been specifically built for speed.

Fast Theme, but a bit too minimalist for my liking

The majority of these ‘fast’ themes will be very light on features. Which is ideal if you’ve only got a handful of products to sell. But it’s possible to make even fast themes such as this one from Creative Market slower than a slow thing.

My best recommendation is to use a tool such as Imagify to compress your images before uploading them to your site, and that’ll have a bigger impact on your page speed than simply buying the fastest theme.

There is a middle ground of Function and Speed.

Turbo theme has been optimised for Page speed, but still maintains many advanced features of the best themes.

What Are The Benefits Of Custom Designed Shopify Themes?

Big brands can afford to create custom themes. For the rest of us it’s overkill!

Unless your Apple or Levi’s or Dollar Shave Club, do NOT, I repeat do NOT get a custom designed and built Shopify theme. It is overkill.

Don’t ask me how I know 😉

Yes you can get a full customised theme designed and built for your brand by a development team. But be prepared for digging in to some deep pockets to pay for it.

If you are a major national or international brand it might be worth the money and hassle to maintain your brand identity. But for 99% of new e-commerce brands and drop-shippers it really is not worth it.

The reason to go with pre-built themes is the functionality and design of a professionally built theme will get you close to 95% perfect.

Yes there’s probably a couple of design features I’d like to change, but can’t with my current theme. But it’s not like those changes would be worth me paying out 5 figure sums to get.

Navigation Considerations For Your Theme

Make sure you check the mobile navigation on your theme

Google has long considered UX (user experience) a ranking factor for websites. This includes clear and easy navigation on your store.

Some themes give you the flexibility to add lots of levels of menus and submenus. Do check out the theme demo to see how the menus work on both mobile and desktop devices. 

If it’s not easy for someone to find their way to the product they are interested in, or the information page to help them make a buying decision, your potential customer will leave.

Someone should be able to find your contact page, shipping information and about us pages within two click on any page. And your themes navigation needs to make this possible in an uncluttered way.

I’ve seen far too many sites with such bad navigation on a mobile, I just give up and move to the next site on the google results.

Ideally you should have image based navigation on your front page too. For example images depicting categories which link to the relevant category page on your store.

Well Supported, Regularly Updated Shopify Themes

Far more important than a good looking theme that fits my brand, is a theme developed by team that offers strong support.

Unfortunately many of the themes on ThemeForest, whilst cheap, do not have any support documentation. Or someone answering basic questions about how to get the most from the theme.

I’ve been burned before with cheaper themes and applications that promise a lot. Then the developer disappears after the launch not wanting to support or enhance the software.

I’ve now learned.

I now look for professional software teams who have a clear support structure and evidence of a development roadmap.

Even if that means paying MORE or for a subscription based product, at least I know there’ll be support when I need it.

It’s well worth reading through some 1 star reviews to see what kind of support is available.

Read through the reviews of the application, especially the bad reviews before paying money. A handful of 1 star reviews is to be expected. But look for common themes in the complaints and you’ll get an idea of how good the after purchase support is.

What About Shopify Page Builders?

I’ve only come across one page builder that really works tightly with Shopify, and that’s from the team at Zipify.

I’ve written a comprehensive review of Zipify Pages here. It’s well worth checking out if you want the ultimately flexibility to build landing pages, do split testing and create a much better BLOG.

Zipify Pages seems to cover all the requirements we’ve outlined above, and is well worth the monthly fee once you have an established store.

So now it’s over to you, which themes have you had good or bad experiences with?

What kind of theme are you looking for next to move your store forward, let us know in the comments below.

Is there a theme that I’ve not mentioned here that I might have missed?

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