Buying a Shopify theme: Why setting your expectations is important
When shopping for a new Shopify theme, there are a variety of strategies and ways to use when shopping, but there’s another important factor to consider — what, exactly, should you expect from a Shopify theme?
First, it’s important to note that buying a premade premium Shopify theme has some limitations, almost by definition:
The price of a Shopify theme typically includes the theme with the features shown. Anything extra will either need to be done via an app or custom code modifications.
Since most Shopify themes are, by design, meant to work in a variety of stores, it’s important to remember that, the features are both broad but as well tuned.
Most Shopify theme developers will do not offer customizations to their themes without an extra fee — or they may refer you to a third party developer to help.
Stores with even a few specific or unique needs may find that custom code work will be necessary that may not be part of your theme purchase.
Premade Shopify themes are kept affordable by their ability to appeal to a wide variety of businesses — but that cost doesn’t include customization services.
With these points in mind, it is vital, as a business owner, to carefully consider what expenses, whether custom development work or apps, might be needed to run your business above and beyond the base price of the theme.
During your theme shopping process, keep your eyes open for a variety of key points:
Don’t limit yourself to Shopify themes that have demos or names that match your industry. Most Shopify themes are flexible to be used for a variety of store types.
Be sure to take a close look at both how the theme looks and functions. While a theme may look great and blow you away with its demo, the functionality may not be best for your business.
Never assume that a theme features a feature — no matter what price it is. Each theme out there is unique and offers specific feature sets, but even a high priced theme will, naturally, still have features that aren’t included and, while most theme developers are happy to take suggestions for new features, can’t add them on a case-by-case basis.
Look carefully at not only theme feature lists, but also how those features are implemented on the theme demo to be sure it is exactly what you need. Often certain features have different or confusing names, so it’s important to be clear on how exactly a certain feature looks and works.
Check the theme documentation for details about how, exactly, a particular feature is implemented. For example, many premium Shopify themes include tabs but this typically requires knowing a bit of HTML.
Over the course of running your business, you may find that there are specific design elements that don’t meet your needs exactly.
There are some ways around this that won’t require extra investment:
Think creativity and find ways to repurpose existing elements or built in features such as column frameworks to create more advanced layouts. You may need to invest some time into learning some basic HTML or other skills, but more often than not, this can be time well spent.
Check your theme’s documentation to see if the feature you’re looking for exists, either in your current version or a newer version. Also consider features that are included and see if there is one that can be modified to meet your needs.
However, keep in mind that there likely will come a point in your store’s life that you will need to consider investing in custom coding.
Most Shopify theme developers don’t include this type of service as part of the base purchase price, so it’s important to be prepared to make this investment in your business.
If you have big dreams for your store, it’s likely you will need to invest at least a little more above the base price of the theme.
First, it’s always a good idea to weigh the importance of the customization and if it will truly affect your sales. There are many, many great ways to change how your store looks and works, but not all of them will deliver results.
Custom development will logically become more costly as the scope increases and it’s also easy for projects to balloon in budget and time. Be sure to carefully detail what you’re looking for when requesting a quote.
Not all Shopify theme developers offer customization services, even on their own themes, so you may need to work with a third party developer. If this is the case, look for one that has experience working with your theme.
There are a variety of resources that can be used to find developers to make your customizations come to life:
Storetasker, an Out of the Sandbox partner, offers a wide range of Shopify development services for $65 an hour. You can get a quote for your project for free and get a free hour of development time with your first project of two or more hours using the code OOTS1.
Out of the Sandbox has a list of other service providers you can use to customize your Shopify theme code on its services page.