20 things to check when shopping for a Shopify theme

20 things to check when shopping for a Shopify theme

Shopping for a Shopify theme can be a confusing and overwhelming process — but there are some ways to make it easier and less stressful.

Because every Shopify theme has unique features and approaches to design, it’s important to carefully review the theme demos and ask the Shopify theme developer to clarify any points that aren’t clear.

Verifying features of a Shopify theme is important because, if a theme doesn’t come with a feature that you need for your store, it may require customizations or a third party APP to add the feature, which can add considerable expenses.

However, it’s sometimes hard to know what aspects or functionality of a theme to pay close attention to.

Here’s a checklist of things to watch for when reviewing a Shopify theme and determining if it will work for your store. We’ve based this list on thousands of cases where store owners are confused about features that may or may not come already built into the particular theme they’re using or are looking to buy:

  1. How is the logo placed in both mobile and desktop view? Many Shopify themes offer multiple options for this, which can typically be seen by installing a demo version of the theme on your store and accessing Sales Channels > Online Store > Themes > Customize (indigo button) > Header.
  2. Can navigation menus be split to either side of the logo or not? Many store owners look for designs where navigation links are on both sides of a centered logo. However, this feature is not available in all themes.
  3. How are dropdown menus designed? Pay close attention to aspects such as the number of levels and how the menus look and behave. Do they display vertically or horizontally, for example?
  4. Are mega menus included? Can they include images or other elements? Mega menus are very complex and difficult to add later, so if this is important to you, be sure to confirm that the theme you are considering has it already built in.
  5. How does the mega menu look and work on mobile? Mega menus are great for desktop, but can be challenging to use on mobile devices. Be sure to review how the menu is displayed on smaller screens.
  6. How are dropdowns with a large number of links handled? Can the links be displayed in multiple columns? Some themes allow you to split a large number of links across two or more columns in a dropdown, but you’ll want to verify this. An alternative to this is to use a theme that supports a mega menu, which typically allows more flexibility.
  7. How do the mobile navigation elements work? Try resizing your browser window to be narrower to trigger the mobile menu and experiment with using it. Be sure to check how both horizontal menus and vertical navigational elements such as sidebars work in mobile as well.
  8. Can mobile users easily drill down on menus with multiple layers? On mobile or touchscreen devices without a mouse, there’s no way for the site to know if a shopper is hovering over an element or not, so pay close attention to how multi-level menus behave on mobile devices. In some themes or devices, it’s necessary to tap a separate icon (such as a down arrow) to expand the menu to see the lower levels.
  9. Can shoppers sort collections? How? Most themes handle this via a dropdown menu, but double check that it looks and works the way you’d like in both desktop and mobile.
  10. Do collection pages feature a bona fide filter option or can you replicate this functionality with standard menus? Many themes offer a quasi-filter feature using menus in a sidebar. However, more advanced Shopify themes may offer a true filter feature. It’s often difficult to tell the difference between these approaches, so be sure to verify this with your theme developer.
  11. If filtering is available, can a shopper select more than one tag at a time? This is a more advanced feature that is available with the latest version of Out of the Sandbox’s Turbo Shopify theme. However, not all filtering menus can handle this method.
  12. If the design features full width banners, slideshows, videos or other elements, how are they displayed on mobile devices? For example, do they display as a scaled down version of the entire image, or does the picture get cropped? Does any text that was displayed overlaying the image on desktop still display over it on mobile, or does the text drop below the image? Because full width elements typically have to be designed to fit in almost an infinite number of screen sizes and configurations, you’ll want to check how the theme handles displaying them on smaller screens and what the developer recommends for designing full width banners and sliders.
  13. How does the product page layout look? Be sure to consider how your product pages might look if you have a longer product description. Does the theme offer an ability to display some of this info in tabs? Are customer reviews and ratings already integrated as an option? Can additional images, text, related items or recently viewed items be displayed on a product page below the main area? Changing the layout of any page can be complex, so be sure that you consider all possibilities.
  14. How are related items handled? Check the theme developer’s documentation on how to build related products. Out of the Sandbox uses a collection based approach to related items.
  15. Does the Shopify theme include a recently viewed products feature? Not all Shopify themes include a recently viewed products feature by default. Out of the Sandbox currently features this in the Turbo theme.
  16. What kind of shopping cart options are available? What happens when the user adds an item to the cart? Does the theme allow the store owner to redirect users to the shopping cart page or checkout process? Is there a confirmation message or animation when alerting the user that the item has been added?
  17. How does the blog look? Are there different options for the main blog page layout, such as having a featured post, image banner and/or sidebar? Does the blog article page have an optional sidebar, featured image and/or related articles?
  18. What kind of sections are available for the homepage? Does the theme already have built-in options for more advanced homepage content, like a contact form, Google map, newsletter signup, FAQs or customer testimonials? Be sure to identify all the content you’ll need on your homepage beforehand, and then choose a theme that already includes these options.
  19. What other page layout options are available? Does the theme include templates for non-homepage content, such as a pre-formatted gallery or FAQ page, or allow you to customize the look and feel of an informational page with some of the same types of sections as you would have on the homepage? Custom page layouts may be expensive to add later on, so try and choose a theme that already gives you lots of options.
  20. Finally, what advanced features are included and what are not? Features such as upsells, bundles, personalization, appointment scheduling, wishlists, shoppable Instagram and advanced product options typically require a THIRD PARTY APP, but some Shopify themes do include them.

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