Things to look at when evaluating the best Shopify theme for your store

There are a lot of elegant, beautifully-designed themes in the Shopify Theme Store these days.

One of the more important aspects of a successful online business is the look-and-feel of the storefront. This is the first thing your visitors will see and you need to make a lasting impression while conveying the appropriate feeling and emotion for your brand.

Finding a theme that is well-designed and is functional and well-coded can be challenging with so many choices.

Here are a few things we recommend you pay attention to when looking at different Shopify themes

  • Is it built by an experienced Shopify theme designer?
  • Is it well coded? Is the code clean and easily understood so customizations will be straightforward and future theme tweaks will be easy? This may be difficult to determine without buying the theme and looking at the actual Liquid files—and it may be above your technical capabilities. But worth keeping in mind.
  • Does it have theme settings for all the things you wish to change? This is something you can determine pretty quickly by clicking around the customization panels and tweaking the settings. If you can’t get it to do 95% of what you want out of the box, consider a different theme.
  • Does it offer all the functionality you want? Look at things like whether it has dropdown menus (if you want them), filtering and sorting of collections (important if you have a lot of products), slideshows and sliders, etc.
  • How does it represent products in collection views and on product pages?
  • How does it deal with products that are on sale or sold out? Does it fit your needs?
  • How configurable and customizable are homepage content blocks? Can you craft a homepage easily that fits your needs using customization settings only without requiring coding?
  • Are the customer account pages well designed?
  • Does the theme do a good job of considering SEO with its use of headings and semantic markup?
  • Does the footer accommodate everything you need? Is it configurable?
  • Does the theme support all the popular social media channels—for linking and for sharing?
  • Does the theme use icon fonts or icon images (fonts are more easily customized than images—which may be difficult to add your own to).
  • How does the theme look on mobile and tablet devices?
  • Does the menu collapse gracefully and respond well to a large number of links? Does it respond appropriately to smaller screens?
  • How does the theme handle product images and variants? Does it support variant images and do the images change when variants are changed and do variants change when you click on different images. This is important and should be supported by all modern themes.
  • What is the theme designer’s track history for ongoing theme support? Has the theme been maintained and updated regularly?

Try to avoid choosing a theme because the demo site showcases products similar to what you are selling. Use your imagination and think beyond the content.

Look at functionality more than design and aesthetic. It’s easy to change the look-and-feel of a theme (often with just theme settings but also with CSS if needed); changing functionality and adding new functionality is more difficult and will almost certainly require a Shopify Expert—and could be costly.

Have we missed anything? What do you look for when evaluating new themes?

Subscribe to Galen King

Don’t miss out on the latest issues. Sign up now to get access to the library of members-only issues.