A few weeks ago, I took a look at how to compare Shopify themes using our PDF comparison chart — which includes a discussion about what a Shopify theme style is.
In this post, we’re going to dive deeper into styles and some tips on how to pick the best one to use as the base for your Shopify theme setup — as well as how to give your theme a unique look that will make it hard for anyone to believe you even started with a template style!
As discussed in the comparing Shopify theme post, styles are meant as a basic, preset “look and feel” for a Shopify store.
Typically, besides needing to upload the images, add or edit placeholder content and tweak a few settings, you can use the Shopify theme almost right away.
However, most Shopify themes have hundreds if not thousands of possible configurations that can be achieved under the “Customize” button — everything from the color of buttons, text, and backgrounds to what fonts and images are used.
It’s also important to keep in mind that your store will not look like our demo stores when you first install them — Shopify requires us to pre-populate all of our themes with generic placeholder content that’s also designed to help get you started filling in text and images.
We also typically don’t own the rights to all of the imagery being used — most of our demo stores showcase real products from real merchants!
That said, every layout and design in the demo store can be created using the theme's built-in features with your own images and content.
When deciding which style to start with, it’s vital to compare both the demo store and how the theme style looks when you first install and preview it on your store (which lets you get down and dirty by changing “Customize” settings).
Think strategically. If you’re looking for a particular look for, say, your buttons, header or other elements, keep a sharp eye out for which styles have this look that’s closest to what you’re after — which will, in most cases, mean less changing on your end.
It’s usually best to ignore the specific colors that are used in the styles — with the exception of whether you prefer a “light” or “dark” look.
Changing the colors of most text and areas of your Shopify theme is relatively easy to do with either settings under “Customize” or through some CSS development work.
However, take a look at a dark style such as Turbo’s Chicago and compare it to the lighter looks of, say, Seoul or Florence. While it’s certainly not impossible to take Chicago and make it “lighter” — it may require more setting changes.
That said, if you like a certain layout element that’s unique to Chicago, but want a lighter look, you may be better off starting with Chicago and working from there.
It’s ultimately a careful balancing act between deciding which style will be the “path of least resistance.”
While all of our styles have been designed by professional designers with years of experience and are designed to be used, forgive the pun, “out of the box” with just some minor content setup, we’re always excited to see how Shopify store owners change them to match their own brands.
While you might think that making a store look significantly different is hard, be sure to explore all of the options available under the “Customize” menu that can give your store a unique look and set it apart from all of the other stores using our themes out there.
Small changes — such as colors and fonts — can not only make the theme better match your brand and products, but it’s also surprising what just a few minor changes can do to make the theme look significantly different than its base style.
At the end of the day, your goal for updating your Shopify theme styles should be to capture the emotion, personality, and vibe of you and your company, as well as your products.
Don’t feel like you have to go “all in” however — making tons of changes, especially if you like certain elements of the design or want to rely on the UI best practices for conversion that have been included in the theme.
Sometimes it’s enough to just capture certain elements of your brand.
For example, stores selling handmade goods can draw color palettes from the materials they use — whether it be the bold gem tones of beadwork, subtle tints of glass or rich hues of leather mixed with typography that complements the lines or shapes of your products. These stores can benefit from clean, thin lines so that the photography pops.
Stores selling natural or outdoor products can channel earth tones and rough, handwriting typography, while bolder blocks and accents might look better.
Some other quick suggestions for select types of businesses:
Finally, don’t be afraid to go completely “off book” when selecting a color scheme. Sometimes a color that seemingly has no immediate connection to your products can be just what you need to make a splash and stand out!
This is especially true if you can carry out this color palette in your social media icons. Think about how much, for example, a bright coral will stand out against the traditional corporate-style colors many businesses have.
That said, there’s also a reason that Out of the Sandbox themes are so popular — each one is carefully crafted to have its own personality, look and feel as well as perform well for a wide range of e-commerce businesses.
So, don’t feel like you have to go wild changing things up — in fact, going too far could make your site harder to use or keep updated (if you write lots of custom code).
As someone who not only sees hundreds of Shopify stores a year — I also do my own fair of online shopping outside of work (bad habit, I know). It’s always interesting to stumble upon a store that looks vaguely familiar — only to realize it is an Out of the Sandbox theme!