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by Michael P. Hill December 23, 2015

It’s hard to believe we’re about to begin another year in the exciting world of ecommerce! As the holiday shopping season winds down, now is a great time to start thinking about how your Shopify theme and store can be optimized to become successful in the new year.

Update

If you’re not using the most recent version of your Shopify theme, take advantage of the slower winter months at the start of the year to update your theme files.

Updating your Shopify Theme will frequently give you access to the latest and greatest features that your theme developer has added, as well as any bug fixes that were discovered since you installed the current version of your theme.

Even if you’re not ready to upgrade, if you’ve made modifications directly to your theme files at any point, now is a great time to go through and do some prep work for when you do decide to update. One of the most important things you can do to make sure you’re ready to upgrade when the time comes is make a list of all of the customizations you’ve done to the Liquid and CSS files.

Your “changelog” should contain filenames, line numbers and notes about what, specifically, was changed, as well as any custom code that was added. For example, you might make a note that says: “Added the following code to styles.scss.liquid to make the banner subtitles smaller on mobile” etc.

Creating this list can be a bit tedious, but it will definitely come in handy when you update your theme files.

Review product descriptions

Now is also a great time to review all of your product descriptions to ensure they feel fresh and are still accurate. Also think back to the types of customer service inquiries you frequently get in your inbox and, if applicable, update your product descriptions to better answer those questions upfront.

If things slow down a bit for your in the early part of the year, now might also be a good time to go through and optimize your site’s meta descriptions and title tags. This too can be a bit of a tedious job, but is a key part of your efforts to get your site to rank well in search engine results — and draw in customers looking to buy what you offer.

Review other pages

Likewise, it’s also a great time to review the content on your site’s other pages, including the Terms and Conditions, FAQ or About Us pages.

Again, think back on the type of questions you received over the holiday season and past year and make sure you’ve clearly answered them on your FAQ page. This page is key to building customer confidence and answering questions upfront — and ultimately making it easier to turn a visitor into a customer.

If you ran into any problems with customers in the past year, consider updating your Terms and Conditions with a new policy or two that might protect you from a similar issue in the future. Although few users actually read these pages, having a policy in place and in a publicly available location you can refer to can often come in handy when dealing with disputes or other issues.

Finally, also be sure to update your About pages to include any new products or other developments from the past year. Did you hit any major milestones, get some press coverage or donate a portion of sales to a charity, perhaps? Many store owners get caught up in the day-to-day running of their stores that they forget to update these pages with the latest and greatest news about their brand and products

Adding features?

Now is also a great time to carefully consider what types of features or apps you might want to add to your store in the coming year. Adding new functionality or features is a careful balancing act that should be a calculated business decision.

When considering a new feature or app for your Shopify store, start by analyzing your holiday sales figures and develop a rough budget for how much you’d like to spend on any upgrades. Also look back at your data and ask yourself, honestly, if the new feature or app you’re considering would have had a significant impact on your holiday sales.

Good luck!

As we move into 2016, everyone at Out of the Sandbox would like to thank you for choosing our themes for your shops, and wish you a very prosperous and successful new year!

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

Michael P. Hill is a Shopify, Shopify theme, content marketing, digital marketing and product management expert based in Chicago. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelphill or connect on LinkedIn.

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