Spoiler alert - the truth is, there's no perfect theme that I can suggest that works perfectly for every business. Chances are your industry is quite different from the next readers industry and you will each need a different theme. There are definitely themes that I like better than others (more on that later) but my hope is that with this guide, you'll have a better idea of where to start and how to make the best decision for your company.
Before I get into how to pick the perfect theme, it's important to understand how important picking the right theme from the beginning is. Updating and changing themes can not only be time consuming, but also costly if you consider your time being spent and any fees associated with the themes. Plus, we want to wow your customers from the very start.
The truth about most online shoppers is that they are heavily influenced by how an online store looks and whether they feel at ease when they first see your website.
How many times have you clicked away from a website just because it isn't visually pleasing? Or you feel completely overwhelmed by all the chaos and lack of structure? Or maybe the site just doesn't look safe?
I've done it so many times. In fact, I probably do it at least 5 times a week.
It only takes a few seconds for a prospective customer to decide whether to stay and look around your store or to go elsewhere. It's crucial that you make a good impression from the start. If you don't grab the visitors attention right away, you risk wasting the effort that you took to bring them to your store. This is especially wasteful if you're paying for advertisements to drive traffic to your store.
A lot of times, initial trust comes down to perceived credibility - and this has been heavily studied by many different marketing types of research.
You know that your business is credible, but your visitors don't yet know that. They have to be convinced. How they perceive you in the first few seconds is going to make a strong impression and will have a significant impact on whether they will potentially purchase from you or not.
The better designed and beautiful your site is, the more likely the visitors will stay and buy from your online store. This gives you the opportunity to prove to them that you are credible and that buying your products can help them.
Shopify themes, especially the themes found through Shopify, are created to help businesses build trust and credibility from the start. They're also designed to keep your visitors intrigued with your store and stay just a bit longer to find out if you can be helpful to them.
Another huge plus about Shopify's themes is that they are created by professional designers. This is unlike other website builders who use developers to create their themes. Developers are great at creating software, but without some basic UX knowledge that designers have, a site will quickly become unattractive and most likely not achieve the same results.
Take a look through Shopify's theme store. Their themes are eye-catching and lay a great foundation for your online store.
In another post, I talk about how important User Experience is in determining the success of your site. Check out that post here. Most of Shopify's themes have a lot of UX principles already in placing, making it incredibly easy for you to implement those strategies without even knowing it!
A really cool thing about using Shopify's theme store is that you can get themes from world-renown designers such as Pixel Union and Out of the Sandbox. For a price of around $180, you can implement the strategies of experienced designers!
Overwhelmed with all of the theme options? Another way to create a high-end site without putting in the time to learn Shopify is to hire a Shopify Expert. Leveraging Shopify Experts allows you to free up your time so you can focus on other important aspects of your business. Over time, this will end up saving you both time and money.
Need help creating your Shopify website? Send me a note!
Tucker Schrieber recommends narrowing down your options by zeroing in on what exactly you want your theme to accomplish. When searching for your theme, keep this question in mind:
What kind of experience am I trying to create for my customer?
The layout, image sizes, placement of text, etc. will all contribute to the atmosphere, which ultimately shapes the overall experience.
The first step to picking your theme is to look at what others are doing in your industry. Now, it's important to always keep in mind that you don't want to copy a good site, but to keep things similar. I talk about this in my post How to Improve User Experience and How to Reduce Your Cart Abandonment. Visitors like for some things to be consistent across all sites (ex. shopping cart on the top right, multiple CTA's, total fee's visibility etc.) and you're better off not changing those things. However, you have a ton of freedom around layout, color palette, and typography options.
Do you want normal or large image displays? Do you need a wide Instagram feed? Infinite scrolling? Different themes offer different features, so make sure you know what you want upfront or are what you're willing to sacrifice.
When you're browsing through the different themes, go ahead and add your pictures to see what it looks like. Shopify themes are filled with premium photos that fit the brand perfectly. You can try to replicate this, but it may not look the same if you aren't familiar with design and you install the Shopify theme on your store.
Try to avoid Shopify themes that have busy loaders, unnecessary animations, or fancy strollers. These things might impress your clients, but chances are it's slowing down your site - by a lot. You want your site to be as easy as possible for buyers to land on your site, navigate your site, and purchase from your site. All of the best Shopify themes provide a lightweight website that is focused around making customer's shopping experience as easy and quick as possible.
Page load times are so incredibly important to keep in mind when designing your site. In fact, it's said that if Amazon's page loading speeds would decrease by one second, the company would lose $16B in annual sales!
The ecommerce landing page that is most visited page out of your entire site by repeat customers and visitors. Some things to consider having on your home page are your key value proposition, showcase your best sellers, trust boosting elements, social proof, and any new arrivals to engage with your returning visitors.
How your products are displayed is a main consideration for ecommerce as it contributes a great deal to UX. Keep in mind what products you have: tech products that rely mainly on specs don't need large images, whereas fashion items are the opposite.
Additional plugins and apps can add up quickly. So, you should plan your overall budget before you commit to a pricy theme. Your business might be better off with a free theme and augment it with paid apps
Don't worry about typography and color palette
These customizations can be changed later and shouldn't be the deciding factor on whether you should use a theme or not.
Yes. Free Shopify themes offer many of the most important elements that are needed to create a great store. With the plethora of customizations you're able to make, you can create a unique store even if you don't have the best technical experience.
This isn't just the case for interior design. This is also huge in the web design space right now. Simplicity is a beautiful thing. Like I said earlier, visitors like it when things are consistent with websites and one thing you should definitely be trying to replicate is simplicity. White space is your friend!
Think about this - have you ever been to a physical store and their merchandise is everywhere, you have a hard time looking at any one item because everything is so smashed together, and you end up leaving because its just too much chaos? This same scenario can be applied to your website. A clean, minimal site that strategically places your items can be a huge help in boosting your users experience.
Some of my favorite minimalistic Shopify Theme's are:
Most of these these have more than one style option. Some are more playful, and some more classic. One of the best things about the free ecommerce themes is that it's very customizable. You can easily change up this Shopify theme depending on your business's needs. On top of that, it's very fast, it's lightweight, it's mobile optimized, and of course it's supported by Shopify's support team.
Shopify has some of the best customer support that I have ever seen in my time as a web designer. If you use their themes, you're guaranteed to get some help if you have any issues.
Obviously your first goal is to sell a whole bunch of products and have a ton of happy customers, right? But how do you do that? It's simple - well kind of. You want to guide your visitors to do and see certain things in a very specific pattern. That's why you layout you chose is so important. We are constantly being guided through websites. For example, a good ecommerce site that offers physical goods will spend the majority of the home page answering your questions before you can ask them. Things like who are they, what customers are saying, are they real, and how can these products improve your life. This text can be laid out in multiple sections, strategically.
Now that's all a lot to take in, and as a small business owner you probably don't have time to do A/B testing to make sure your information is in the correct spot. No worries, Shopify has you covered! Earlier I said that experts create the themes on Shopify. Chances are these experts have learned along the way how to design a website that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also has great conversions.
Before editing your site too much, try to make note of any repetition and content used in the theme.
Taking the time to test and browse Shopify's themes can help you create a killer site for your business. While it might seem like a daunting task, it will be well worth it and save you time and money in the long run.