What type of store will you have?


One last area to cover before approaching the theme and that is what type of store will you have?  Will you be selling art prints?  Pdf downloads?  The same thing in many colors or many things in a few colors?  Things that need customization?  Are you a volume seller or need a shop that can sell to wholesale and retail customers from the same storefront?  Will you want to show videos or have a fashion gallery?  How about an email newsletter pop-up?  Will you want to use an email service?  (Hint, the answer to this is yes).

Are there things that you’ve noted, in your, by now, copious note taking, that you feel are necessary?  You should have a list of wants and needs to bring with you while shopping for a theme.

  • Be cautious about requiring certain features, without which you feel you won’t be able to do business. Don’t get attached to a certain method; if a theme is missing something, think of different ways to approach the problem to achieve the result.


Choosing a Shopify Theme, part two, finally!


By now you should have a few products, a few collections, a few menu items, and a few settings completed in your store.   You should also have a rudimentary sense of the colors you would like and some basic graphics for any store logo you would care to include.  At this time you should be getting a feel for Shopify philosophy (for lack of a better word).


It’s time to choose a Shopify theme and get going on your shop’s appearance.


Remember the notes you’ve been taking?  These should include any themes that caught your eye or had some feature that you wished to explore.

Visit the Shopify Theme Store:  https://themes.shopify.com and peruse the themes that you visited earlier and noted as possibly suitable.  Your goal here is to get as close as possible to your dream shop without compromising the internal workings.


Shopify themes have this wonderful feature that allows one to preview the intended theme in your store using your products and navigation.  You generally can customize all forward facing settings (backward facing is html and css code).  Make use of this feature.  You can compare theme to theme; while you cannot save the customization you can open a second browser window, preview a second or third theme and see them side-by-side. 

  • Visit the theme you wish to peruse
  • Click that ‘Preview in Store’ button, allow the preview to load


Remember what I said about navigation and not compromising on features?  I want to show some screen shots of a theme I’m previewing that is unsuitable for my store.  My shop has a lot of products and I’m using the full three tiers of navigation menu available plus a hack to get a fourth tier (yes, I’ll share this later).


Check out the first screen shot of my store with the Symmetry theme from Clean Themes, Chantilly version:  https://themes.shopify.com/themes/symmetry/styles/chantilly

Note the expanded menu of Fabric->Knits & Stretch->Nani Iro Knits, Other Knits & Stretch, and Wool Knits


Now check out this second screen shot of my store with the Kingdon theme from Krown Themes, King  version:  https://themes.shopify.com/themes/kingdom/styles/king

Note that the same menu of Fabric->Knits & Stretch does not have a third tier.  If you have a big shop and need lots of navigation, it’s clear that the King theme is not the one for you.  On the other hand, Symmetry doesn’t have an obvious hook for presenting videos.  If you’re a fashion store and need to show videos the Symmetry might not work as well as King.  What to do if you love the Symmetry?  Write the Clean Themes developers a note and ask them how you would do a video;  think the Kingdom theme is the best thing but really need that extra tier of navigation?  Write Krown Themes a note and ask!


The process

  • Take notes on all the themes that you think might be suitable for your shop. Pay attention to features like navigation, quick buy, integrations with email newsletter service, calculate shipping for customers, slideshow, video, etc.
  • Note if the theme allows custom fonts, colors.
  • Note if the theme allows re-arranging your front page, adding a footer, adding a logo.
  • Exercise the theme’s admin area (see examples in the screen shots above). Go ahead and configure and install a slide, tweak the colors.  Maybe add another collection or more products (even if fake) to see how the theme will behave.

Don’t assume one theme will have a feature you see in another theme.

  • Narrow down your choices by exercising the themes until you get to one or two. Make sure to contact the developer with some sort of question.  You need to see how responsive they will be if you get stuck.
  • Take your time - it’s ok to keep your browser windows open with your potential themes and their customization ( you can re-visit a theme by going to your Shopify admin panel Online Store->Themes and clicking on the Customize Theme button)


Notes on code and theme customization

Some folks throw their hands up in the air when code or programming is mentioned - don’t be this way.  There are simple changes that anyone can make to any theme with a bit of instruction.  Don’t reject a theme simply because there is not a way to make a blue background or a pink font.

  • Almost all font and color customization is done in a file called CSS
    • All themes have this, it’s what controls that particular shade of gray, or how tall the lettering is.
    • Don’t be afraid of diving in and tweaking this.
  • I’ll be adding a simple tutorial on tweaking basic colors and fonts in another post


At some point you’ll figure out which theme will work the best for you.  Go ahead and purchase it.   Install and start working on your shop’s graphics for real.  Take your time and get this right.  Remember that your storefront is how your customers interact - sloppy graphics or inattention to the puchasing flow will turn folks away.


Another note on the side

Feeling pressured for time?

A little known secret in Shopify is that the Free Trial can be extended with what I call the calculated whine.  When you're near the end of the 14 days, get on Live Chat and essentially state that you haven't had enough time, or you found Shopify’s documentation awful and needed days to figure something out, or, Shopify is far more complicated than you thought, and you really need more time.  Most of the "gurus" on Live Chat will give you an extension - you can get up to ten days so if the person you speak with gives you five, ask for more.