For 48% of people, the website’s appearance is the No. 1 factor in determining a business’s credibility. But the store also has to be intuitive and easy to use for new users. Not to mention, the page should load quickly as well!
Fortunately, Shopify theme store has plenty of high-quality and optimized themes for you to use. The only thing those pre-made templates can’t offer is uniqueness.
What if you want something more original? Then you should look in the way of custom themes built specifically for your brand. Why should you get or (if you have the skills and some free time) create custom shopify theme and how much it would cost you? And in case the task is beyond you, to who should you reach out for custom theme development?
What is a Shopify theme?
In essence, your Shopify theme determines how your customers will see your online store in terms of navigation, features, and content organization. Inside the theme library, you can find 15 free and 73 paid themes to choose from – plus, you have countless third-party websites offering their own Shopify themes as well.
But you might wonder here, why should you even spend time choosing the suitable theme for your store? It is simply a matter of selecting a theme that looks modern, attractive, and convenient to use – and is ideally free or cheap. Right?
Well, not exactly.
Choosing the best Shopify theme for your store isn’t just about finding one that looks good – it’s also about giving your customers the best shopping experience with the features available with each theme. Your theme is the foundation of your site, and it will determine the overall feel, the user experience, and the atmosphere in your own store.
What often surprises many new Shopify store owners is just how many things Shopify themes affect – from what features you can use and how fast the store loads to what you can customize and which other tools or apps you might need to install in your store.
So, for example, a theme might look stunning on a desktop computer but far worse on mobile devices (especially if you picked a theme outside the Shopify theme store). Or it might be so detailed it slows down your store.
To avoid those and many other issues caused by a poorly-fitting theme, you definitely should take your time while selecting the theme for your store and look closely at the available options. Especially that you do have plenty to choose from
What are your Shopify theme design options?
You have two options when setting up your Shopify store. One is to choose a pre-built free or premium theme coming from the main theme library and later customize it to fit your needs – either through the main shopify theme or by modifying the main code with the help of CSS, CLI, and Liquid language.
The other option is to hire an agency specializing in Shopify theme development to build a fully custom theme from scratch.
Which option should you pick? Let’s start from looking at pre-made themes.
Pre-made Shopify theme
A pre-made Shopify theme is a ready template that you just have to download and then install in your store. There are hundreds of Shopify themes to choose from, from free templates created by the Shopify team to paid themes developed by third-party designers. Dawn theme is one of the most popular free Shopify themes – it has enough features for a quick store launch, is mobile-friendly, and is easy to customize through a drag and drop builder.
But while a free theme can help get you started with Shopify, to grow your store, you will need something more – here’s where a premium theme might be more worth it.
Advantages of getting a pre-made Shopify Theme
- Fast to launch: You can start your new store very quickly as you just have to find the theme you like, download it and then load it inside your store.
- Affordable: If you are on a tight budget, you have several free themes to pick from. But even the paid themes won’t break your bank as the most expensive ones cost $350.
- All themes available in the Shopify theme store – no matter free or paid – are mobile responsive, making them look equally good on desktops and mobile devices.
Drawbacks of getting a pre-made Shopify Theme
- Free themes are all simple looking and have only basic features available. The paid ones are a bit better in this aspect, but since they are made with a broad audience in mind, they are still pretty generic.
- With all themes publicly available, many other stores will use them – so your store won’t be unique.
- Minimal customization option.
- When looking for themes outside the Shopify theme library, you should be careful as some might be of poor quality.
Another option you have here is to pick a pre-made template and then customize them to fit your brand store better. You can either try to add the modifications yourself if you know how to code, or you can ask an agency to tweak your main theme to add new functions or integrate third-party apps.
If you want to do it yourself, you can either use the Theme Editor accessible from your Shopify admin account or edit the theme code through a Shopify CLI (especially if you want to customize Online Store 2.0 themes). Because Theme Editor does not require any technical knowledge, even a non-technical person can easily modify their theme. However, you can only make minor changes, like changing the font or rearranging the content.
To modify the themes further, you should learn a bit of coding. Shopify themes run on Liquid – an open-source template language developed by Shopify to load dynamic content on storefronts. If you are familiar with CSS, HTML, and command-line interface tools, you just have to install the Shopify CLI tool and start working on your theme.
Here, you need to be very careful when modifying the code not to break any of the theme’s features. You should also remember that if you want to install any theme updates in the future, you’ll have to add the modifications again.
Custom Shopify theme
Pre-made themes are a great option if you want to launch your store quickly or on a tight budget, however, they are also limited in terms of how many features they have. What’s more, they are made as “one-size-fits-all” themes – what if you want something truly original?
Then, it might be worth it to consider hiring an agency specialized in Shopify theme development to build a bespoke theme for your store that would perfectly reflect your brand values. Why exactly?
Why should you choose a Shopify custom theme?
You get a store with a unique design, look and feel
Are you okay with your new Shopify store looking and feeling the same as your competitors’ stores? Probably not. Especially with so many online stores popping up every day, making the Internet a pretty competitive place for any e-commerce business. If you want to stay on top, you need an original, unique eCommerce theme that reflects your brand identity and makes your store stand out from the rest. But pre-made templates, no matter how costly, can’t give you that.
A custom-built Shopify theme, meanwhile is developed from scratch with your brand and specific needs in mind, so it is unique in every way – ensuring no other business on the web will have the same store design as yours.
Easily recognizable branding
If you want people to remember your brand, then all of your online store’s visual components, such as its color scheme, logo, typography, and images, should show your brand identity and what you have to offer.
With pre-made templates, that is difficult to do – even if you spent time or money on customizing the themes, there’s still a limit to how much you can change. So here, reaching out to Shopify theme development agencies is also a far better option.
After listening to what you want and researching your audience, they can create a new theme for you that takes into account your audience, goals, and values. That way, you can build a much stronger and more memorable brand identity for your store.
Full control over the store’s theme design
Most pre-made themes don’t give you much freedom when it comes to deciding how the theme will look. You can change the colors or add new features through more apps, but not much besides that. And if you ever get the idea of installing a theme update, then your custom-crafted theme will go back to the base look – and you would have to add the changes yourself again.
With custom themes meanwhile, you don’t have that problem. You have complete control over your online store’s design, functionality, or placement – from what colors and fonts you want to use to how your content is arranged or where the buy button should appear. If you’ll want to add new features or change anything in the design in the future, you are free to do it as well – so your custom Shopify theme can grow together with your business,
Faster store load time
Since pre-designed themes are designed for mass audiences, they have only those features that are likely to be useful for most new users. What if you want something more? Technically, you can customize the design or add functionality to your store by downloading extra apps or modifying the theme code. The risk is that all these extra features and options might slow your store down. This is a serious disadvantage – with each additional second in load time, conversion rates drop by 4.42%.
When you opt for a custom-developed Shopify theme, on the other hand, you don’t have to worry about how fast your new store will load. Since you get exactly the features and integrations you want, you don’t need to download any extra apps or tools for your store. What’s more, your new theme will be tested for any possible performance issues and optimized before launch – so you can be sure your store will load as quickly as possible.
What other problems can downloading too many apps for your store or adding one customization too many to your main template cause? For example, inadvertently making the user experience worse by slowing down the website or making the store navigation confusing. And with so many changes done, it might be hard for you to find out where exactly the problem lies or how you can improve how your store works.
Here, it would be a good move to ask the Shopify theme development agency for help in optimizing your theme for better performance. But in some cases, it actually might be better to go with building an entirely new theme from the ground up rather than trying to fix the current theme – especially if the optimizing the current theme would take too much time.
But custom themes have one more benefit here – user experience testing. As a part of testing your website, WeCanFly UX researchers can invite real users to your store and observe their experience while trying to complete a task in your store. This will allow you to find how users really see your store, what problems they might have inside it, and what you should improve – making it far easier for you to have a successful launch later.
How much will asking for a custom Shopify theme development cost you?
As with anything created specifically for you, your custom theme will cost more than a pre-made theme. So how much might your new Shopify theme development cost you? That depends on a number of things:
- How big your store will be.
- What features do you want to have in your store.
- Whether you need custom graphics, apps, or integrations.
- How much time designing the theme will take.
- How many integrations or custom features your store should have.
Also, you need to keep in mind that building a theme tailored to your brand will take a lot longer than picking out an off-the-shelf theme. To ensure the theme fits your business the best it can, you will first have to meet with the development team first to discuss your requirements and draw up an action plan. Creating a prototype, UI and UX design, and testing stages will also take time – but those are essential to ensure that everything works as it should. For the price though, you get a lot more in terms of scalability, branding, and overall control over the design than you could get with any pre-made template.
But you should also think about how much it would cost you to keep the pre-made store template in the longer run. It’s true that themes themselves are inexpensive. But once you factor in the costs of customizing a theme to fit your brand, maintaining it yourself, and eventually adding new functionalities to it, the costs can quickly mount.
Adding everything up, custom themes, while expensive at the start, might be a far better value for your money than getting a seemingly cheap pre-made template that requires a lot of customization work on your side.
So which option should you pick? Here are a few questions that should make it easier for you to determine the right one:
- Can you invest some time into getting a unique design for your store, or do you need the store up as soon as possible?
- Are you currently on a tight budget, or can you invest in a more customized experience?
- If you want a custom or customized theme, do you have the skills and time to design, develop and maintain things yourself? And if not, can you afford to hire an agency to handle it for you?
- Are there any features or integrations that are absolutely necessary for your brand but not available in any of the pre-made templates?
Overall, starting with a pre-made template is the best option if you are short on time, don’t have a lot of money, or just want to determine how well your store will perform. There are plenty of themes you can find on the internet, and installation only takes a moment, so you shouldn’t have any problems finding the right one.
Alternatively, custom themes are a great option for businesses with the budget and time to design and build a unique theme in-house or hire an agency to do the work. Then, you’ll have full control over how your theme will look like, and you can be sure it will reflect your brand perfectly.
Create a unique Shopify custom theme with WeCanFly
Having a custom Shopify theme that fits all your brand’s requirements is a wonderful thing. However, customizing or developing your own theme yourself takes time and effort, and it can quickly become overwhelming. If you aren’t confident in your coding skills, lack the time to work on the theme, or want something done from scratch, then our developers at WeCanFly can help you with custom theme development.
Shopify theme development workflow
What can you expect while working with us? First thing, we’ll schedule a kick-off meeting with you as the store owner so we could learn as much about your brand and your design and store integration needs. No matter whether you need an entirely new design made or you want support for the design agency you chose, we can suggest the best way to turn your ideas into a well-working store.
During the creative process, we’ll think together with you about how we could create a well-designed, intuitive Shopify site that your customers will love using and what tools or technologies could help us here. Later, we will create a Shopify theme prototype, i.e., a working model of your store to show you how your new store will look and function. Then, we will add changes to the prototype based on your opinion – but we will also ask users during a live test for their feedback on how the store works.
The development phase starts once you approve the main design and the user interface for your store. Our developers will then begin to work on the front-end design, ensuring that the site’s performance is fully optimized and that all elements and animations work as they should. If needed, we can also help you set up payment methods or add specific integrations to the store.
After the development phase is over, we will test the ready store theme on various devices and web browsers to see if everything runs smoothly.
Our Shopify theme development services and technology we use
So what can we help you with? As part of our Shopify Theme Development service, we can:
- Customize a ready theme according to your requirements
- Create a custom Shopify theme from scratch
- Turn a ready design into a working and optimized theme
- Create a headless storefront for your Shopify store
Our team has designed stores from top to bottom for over 100 clients, including several household names. Combining stunning web design made with Liquid language and Shopify CLI and incredible user experience and UI, we create ecommerce sites that not only look good but also are intuitive to use and fast to load.
If you need a headless storefront created, you can count on us here as well – we use a tried and tested combination of React + Next.js + Shopify + Vercel to help us with most of the tasks.
How do our final Shopify themes look and work in practice? Take a look at some of our former clients’ case studies:
So whether you need custom Shopify themes or just to add minor changes and tweaks to your current theme, our Shopify designers have you covered.
Your store’s design represents your business online. You want it to be inviting, attractive, fast, but also easy to use. So you should take your time when looking for the best theme for your store rather than pick the first pre-made one that “looks good.”
Shopify’s pre-made themes are great for getting started, but if you are serious about growing your business, a custom theme for your brand is the best way to go. Besides being unique, custom themes have all the features you need to make your store load faster and give your customers a great shopping experience. All of these things can lead to better conversion, higher revenue, and a more successful business.