Users new to the Shopify platform are initially prompted to choose a theme for their store during the setup process. The platform comes with a number of themes freely available out-of-the-box, plus opportunities to purchase more advanced themes from both Shopify and third-party developers.
But why use themes? What do they do and what is the point? The idea behind this post is to explain why Shopify stores are built on themes in the hopes of helping you better understand that this was a good decision by developers.
Here are six reasons for building Shopify stores on themes:
1. Themes Make for Visually Attractive Sites
In the world of retail, first impressions are everything. Store owners have to have visually attractive sites if they ever hope to make sales. Think of it this way: if you walked into a brick and mortar retail store only to find that it looked old, drab, and unappealing, what are the chances you’ll buy from that store? Slim to none. The same is true when you create your online store.
Even if a site is brand-new, hopes of generating sales are slim if that site looks like it was built in the 1990s. If a site is ugly, hard to navigate, or lacking in the most basic aesthetic features, it will drive traffic away. Themes prevent that from happening. A well-designed theme creates a visually attractive site that at least gets people in the door, so to speak.
2. Themes Add Site Functionality
In its most basic form, a website theme is essentially a CSS template that tells a web browser how to display information on the screen. Shopify themes go a step further by adding functionality.
Just think of Shopify’s built-in shopping cart. It works seamlessly with your theme even though it is an application. You don’t have to create your own shopping cart and try to plug it into your theme.
If you were running an e-commerce site using WordPress, for example, your shopping cart application would be completely separate. You would have to install it as a plugin, then get it to work with your particular theme. How many WordPress users move to Shopify for this very reason?
3. Themes Make for Fast Deployment
Third, themes make for faster deployment of a Shopify store. This is more important than you might realize. If you were to spend days on end just setting up your e-commerce site with a hard-to-use interface, do you think you might get discouraged before you ever put your first product online?
Shopify developers understand that the average e-store owner has absolutely no knowledge of coding. They know that store owners do not know very much about design, user experience, or any of the things that go into making a great site. Themes solve that problem. They make for fast and easy deployment that lets users get up and running very quickly.
4. Themes Effectively Address Mobility
The internet is by and large a mobile environment in the 21st century. Growing numbers of Internet users now access their online destinations primarily with a mobile device. As such, Shopify stores have to be mobile-friendly. Theme designers know this, and they build mobility into their creations by default. Older Shopify themes may not be mobile-friendly, but almost every newer theme is.
How important is mobility? Let’s put it this way: if your Shopify store is not mobile-friendly then your sales will be negatively impacted. You may not know any better until you change to a mobile-friendly theme. At that point, you will kick yourself for not switching earlier.
5. Themes Improve SEO Performance
Reputable theme designers know that the work they do affects the SEO performance of any sites that use what they have created. Therefore, they design their themes to enhance SEO performance.
For example, a big part of SEO is page load times. A good theme does not slow things down. It loads quickly, getting users the information they want without forcing them to wait.
Believe it or not, your choice of graphics, fonts, and colors affects SEO indirectly by influencing the user experience. A well-designed theme creates a very pleasant experience that reflects positively on SEO results. This leads us to the next reason Shopify is built on themes.
6. Themes Encourage Sales
A big part of the user experience in e-commerce is the ease of use. Retail customers have no interest in digging through a complicated online store to find product information and pricing.
They have no interest in fighting with a shopping cart application just to check out. Site owners who attempt to build their own sites create all sorts of user experience problems that chase people away, along with the sales they represent.
Themes create a cohesive and easy-to-use experience that actually encourages sales. Customers find what they are looking for quickly. They are presented with information in a way that is simultaneously aesthetically pleasing and intellectually satisfying.
They are led through the entire journey, from landing to check out, by an intuitive interface that acts as the electronic version of a skilled sales representative on the floor.
Shopify developers were smart to create the Shopify site builder on a theme-based model. And because they did, millions of Shopify users around the world are enjoying the fruits of their e-commerce