Between picking your product category and actually launching your store, there’s one important step: deciding on the best Shopify theme for your store. Shopify and other hosted eCommerce platforms make it super easy to launch a store: you just register for an account, select your store’s look, add products, and that’s it – you’re ready to go. However, each step in the creation of your store has to be carefully considered in order to succeed. Just like choosing a product category that is too broad or too narrow, a poor looking store will turn your prospective customers off at first glance. In fact, 70% of people don’t trust badly designed websites. It’s easy to find great Shopify templates. There are several Shopify themes you can choose from on Shopify, there are even a few free Shopify themes. This article will detail what elements to look for and common traits found in the best Shopify themes.
So, what should you consider when you’re choosing from a range of Shopify themes?
Note: A website template or a theme is a ready-to-use website design that you can download and install onto your existing website. This is different from the traditional way of building your store, which was usually done from scratch, as it allows you to create a nice looking store in minutes.
Your Shopify Theme Must Look Familiar
According to Krug’s first law of usability, the website should be obvious and self-explanatory. Or, in his words, “Don’t make your users think.”
The best Shopify themes follow a conventional design and use widely accepted methods and layouts. Free Shopify themes also follow the same design principles.
Next, think about the eCommerce cart and checkout pages— you’ll never look for them in the footer of a website, right? Shopify themes are perfect for your ecommerce store as they have a consistent look which people feel comfortable navigating. You’ll find that playing it safe by using a simple design is often best for converting potential customers. We believe that some of the best Shopify themes are familiar and intuitive for your customer.
Think of Your Resources When Selecting a Shopify Theme
It’s true that dynamic visuals are extremely important when engaging your website visitors. However, there’s nothing worse than a poorly designed full-screen banner welcoming your visitors on the home page.
When choosing a Shopify theme, decide how many resources you can invest into your store image design. If you don’t have design experience or are on a tight budget, look for Shopify themes with no or very few banners.
Most people end up picking a Shopify theme that looks great with sample banners, but after inserting their own designs, they realize their designs makes their store unattractive.
You’ll find that the best Shopify themes for your ecommerce store don’t take up too many of your vital resources. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t underestimate the effectiveness of free Shopify themes. Shopify templates, even the free ones, are designed to convert even if they’re simple in design. While it may not be your first choice, it will get the job done as you bring in your first few sales. As your business’ profits grow, you can re-invest money in some of the best Shopify themes to give your store a more attractive layout.
View Your Products on the Shopify Theme
When you’re browsing a Shopify theme you can view what your products will look like on many Shopify templates.
Shopify theme designers generally insert premium product images into their themes, which will suit the style of the theme perfectly. You can try to replicate this by using images of your own products, but unless you’re familiar with design then it may not look the same when you install the Shopify theme into your own store.
If you don’t currently have high-quality product images it’s best to avoid Shopify templates which feature large product image sections. Fortunately, many of the images from AliExpress are high quality, so if you’re sourcing your images from there then you’ll have no problems. In fact, images from AliExpress will even fit in well with some of the best Shopify themes in their store.
Consider a Mobile Friendly Shopify Theme
More than 50% of sales on Shopify stores happen on Mobile devices. Given this fact, you should definitely choose a Shopify theme with the mobile version in mind.
Most ecommerce entrepreneurs only take the time to check out their mobile version after they’ve installed the Shopify theme into their site. It’s critical that you take a look through every Shopify theme on both your smartphone and your tablet.
And again, look for mobile layouts which are familiar.
If you’re thinking about using a free Shopify theme, don’t worry. They’re mobile friendly, just like the best Shopify themes which cost money.
Look for Lightweight and Fast Shopify Themes
Try to avoid Shopify templates which have a lot of clumsy elements like busy loaders, weird animations, or fancy scrollers. The best Shopify themes provide a lightweight website which sells a product, and the focus should be on making your customer’s purchase easy.
The above-mentioned elements might appeal to some of your website visitors, but in most cases it will only decrease your page speed and create needless obstacles.
It’s said that if the Amazon page loading speed would decrease by one second, it would lose $16B in annual sales. The numbers are smaller for your store, but you get the point.
Disclaimer: All the ideas mentioned in this article are our own. You can find different approaches elsewhere, and they’re not necessarily wrong. Our suggestions are geared towards beginners, but if you have something to add, please share it in the comments!
Are Free Shopify Themes Worth It?
Yes. Free Shopify themes offer many of the most important elements that are needed to create a successful store. Fortunately, you’ll still be able to customize it to make it your own branded store.
Free Shopify themes may not be your first pick. However, if you’re just starting out with your ecommerce store, it’s better to be cautious with what you spend your money on. Once your store is starting to succeed, you can re-invest it by picking from one of the many paid Shopify templates.
In all free Shopify themes, you’ll be able to add products, blog posts, banner images, and more. Make sure that you do pay for your own .com domain as it will make your store look more professional. Overall, free Shopify themes are the best option for ecommerce entrepreneurs running their store on a budget.
So What Does a Good Product Page Look Like?
We’ve already talked about product page importance in the “How to Get More Sales With Less Visitors” article.
The Product page is the most important page on #eCommerce sites via @OberloApp Blog
— Tomas Slimas (@TomasSlimas) May 25, 2016
Your product pages are the most important parts of your store. It’s where you should lead your ad campaigns, it’s where you display your offers, it’s where the actual sale is initiated. It’s critical that you have good looking product pages, or you’ll miss out on sales. Pick your Shopify theme based on this.
What Are the Must Have Elements for Shopify templates?
The best Shopify themes all share the same must have elements. Besides elements like product images and price tags, your product page must contain a distinct Call-to-Action button (in most cases an “Add to Cart” button).
Next, a good product page displays all the relevant information but doesn’t clutter the page. You should have a place to include product descriptions, specifics, delivery and returns/refund information. Ideally, these would be separate tabs below the product, but a simple description tab would work too.
Furthermore, to keep your visitors attention, you product page shouldn’t be the end page of your store, but it should lead to other products to prompt browsing visitors. The related products section works well, and if your Shopify theme doesn’t have one, you can always install a free Shopify App.
Bonus: To keep your site trustworthy, add social proof using security badges or reviews.
What is a Good Product Page Layout?
Like mentioned earlier, a good product page looks familiar and is intuitive to use.
A web design blog, Smashing Magazine, gives an example of how intuitive it should be:
“…translate the page in Japanese and provide [your visitors] with a task to find something in the page of different language. If [it’s layout is familiar/intuitive], users will be able to achieve a not-too-specific objective, even if they can’t understand a word of it.”
Look at the LightInTheBox.com product page in Czech — try to see if they ship to the US. Can you tell which button is the Buy Now button?
What Does a Good Category Page Look Like?
Consider the things we talked about above (Think of Your Products, Think Mobile, etc.) and just make sure it’s easy to navigate, without a lot of clutter or needless elements.
The best Shopify themes typically provide a good category page that consists of a clear title, easy navigation sidebar, and a clean list of products. To get a better grasp on how it should look, here’s an example:
What Does a Good Home Page Look Like?
From my own experience, the ecommerce landing page that is mostly visited by repeat customers and referrals is the homepage — so use it to serve both audiences:
- Showcase your store new arrivals to engage with returning visitors.
- Tell your store’s key value proposition, showcase your best sellers, and include trust boosting elements (security badges, etc) to engage the referral traffic.
Also, remember the section Think of Your Resources When Selecting a Shopify Theme. If you don’t have the resources to design a great looking slider and update it frequently, don’t include it in your home page and scare your customers away.
Surprisingly, some actually go on to say that a slider is a conversion killer. Having only one banner typically converts best.
How to Customize Shopify Templates?
In the end, even the best Shopify templates will be customized by you. Being non-programmer friendly, Shopify provides an easy to use editing panel to edit the look of your theme.
Just go to Online Store, Themes, Customize Theme, and on the right-hand sidebar, you’ll see each section of your theme: Header, Body, Footer, etc.
Play around with each to get the feeling of what can be done with the Shopify theme.
Advanced Editing: Unless you’re a developer, you should avoid changing your template code. Often times, changing the code will mean you will end up publishing bugs, such as errors on the mobile site theme or ruin other elements on the other side of your page.
Some of the best Shopify themes will come with customization help directly from the developer.
Where Can I Look for the best Shopify Themes?
First, look for Shopify templates on the official Shopify Theme Store here. Being a part of the Shopify Partners Community, I trust other Shopify Partners and can tell you that I haven’t yet downloaded a poorly designed theme from their official store.
I can’t say that about other ecommerce platform’s theme stores. In the past I’ve bought a theme which had no option to upload my store logo.
In general, Shopify is the safest option to choose and recommended. However, you can find less common themes at an affordable price elsewhere.
Finally, here’s the list of some of the best Shopify themes and their developers:
- Shopify Store for themes (The Official Marketplace)
- Theme Forest (General Marketplace)
- Template Monster (General Marketplace)
- Pixel Union (Independent Developer)
- Startuply (Independent Developer)
- Troop Themes (Independent Developer)
- ShopifyThemes.net (Independent Developer)
- Out of The Sandbox (Independent Developer)
- PSDCenter Themes (Independent Developer)
Also, you can browse through free Shopify themes here.
Is there anything in particular which you look for when you’re selecting a Shopify theme? Do you have any advice about the best Shopify themes right now? Let us know in the comments section below!