10 things to ask your Shopify theme developer before buying a theme

10 things to ask your Shopify theme developer before buying a theme

Shopping for a Shopify theme for your store is one of the most exciting and creative parts of running your online business — but with so many options out there from so many sources, how can you be sure you’re making the right pick?

In addition to our three tips on how to select the best Shopify theme for your store, here’s a list of questions that you should run by any theme developer or designer you’re considering buying from (we've also included our answers to the questions):

1. Do you provide support for your Shopify themes?

Shopify requires theme developers to set and determine their own support policies and guidelines. Interestingly enough, theme developers also typically aren’t obligated to provide any support at all — and while most do, it’s always something to check on, especially if you’re not buying from the official Shopify theme store.

Out of the Sandbox is proud to offer world class support for all of our themes. We’re also happy to help out with basic support related to the theme settings or enabling a theme feature subject to a few simple rules outlined here.

2. How do you provide support for your Shopify themes?

Most Shopify theme designers offer support via email. While some may offer support via other methods such as phone or live chat, it’s more likely that support will only be provided over email. It’s always a good idea to double check your theme provider’s policies in this area so that you are not surprised later on.

Out of the Sandbox offers support via email only. We’ve found this is the most efficient way to offer great support while also keeping our theme prices as low as possible. We do offer an automated “chat bot” feature on our Facebook page that can help you find answers to common questions, but it’s important to note this isn’t a real person — and we won’t receive anything you post there. One hidden secret of our comprehensive support is our online Shopify theme help center, which provides hundreds of articles that cover a wide range of topics.

3. What are your support hours?

Always be sure to check your theme designer’s support hours. Many Shopify theme developers only respond to inquiries on business days during typical business hours in their local time zone. It’s also important to find out where your theme developer is primarily based out of, as this could affect their operating hours in relation to you as well as what holidays are observed.

Because all of our support team members work remotely, our hours vary slightly. However, we’re generally open during normal business hours Monday through Friday eastern time. That said, it’s not uncommon to hear back from us outside those hours. Support wait times are generally a bit longer on official Canadian and, to a lesser extent, U.S. holidays.

4. How long does it take you to provide support?

It’s always a good idea to check how long it takes your theme developer to respond to support inquiries. A good rule of thumb is two to three business days, but many theme developers are able to provide faster turnaround than this. Keep in mind, too, that this timeframe typically refers to the first response — if your case requires follow up questions or clarification, this will extend your support turnaround times. This is one reason it’s always a good idea to provide as much information as possible in your initial inquiry, as it increases the chances the theme developer can resolve your issue on the first response. If you have follow-up questions, send them in a new email for a quicker reply, rather than adding new issues to the original email thread.

We do our best to respond to all tickets within two to three business days, though it’s often faster than this. Our ultimate goal is to get back to everyone within 24 hours, but can vary depending on a variety of factors.

5. Do you support customizations to my Shopify theme?

While most Shopify theme developers provide support on basic features and settings as well as documented bugs in the code, customizations to themes are often handled differently. It’s important to clarify what theme developers consider customizations and if there is a limit on how much support is provided for these.

Typically changing the layout or structure of pages, adding or removing features or other major changes are not included, as outlined in our support policy.

6. Can I see sample shops using this theme?

Most theme designers offer at least one demo store that is designed to showcase how the theme looks and functions. Reviewing these demos carefully before buying, including pretending to be a shopper, is a great way to get a feel if a theme is the right fit for you or not. In order for a demo to be useful, it’s also worth checking if everything shown in the theme demo is possible to do without major customizations. For themes sold in the Shopify theme store, it’s also a good idea to install a demo copy on your store to see how it looks and works with your exact products and content. Finally, it’s worth checking out real shops that are using the theme you’re interested in; some of these are listed on the theme’s page in the Shopify theme store, but note that it’s also possible that those shops have further customized the theme on their own.

We have multiple demo stores for every theme we sell, as well as an extensive list of real shops using our themes The best way to find these is to visit our Shopify theme offerings and explore the various themes we offer.

7. Do you offer any refunds or exchanges?

If you find a Shopify theme isn’t right for you, it’s important to know whether or not you can get a refund or exchange it. Because, when you purchase a Shopify theme, you get access to the full code necessary to create a fully functional store, most theme developers do not offer refunds. This is why it’s important to always demo the store as much as possible before purchasing. It’s generally easier for theme designers to provide an exchange for another theme they offer, though the exact policies vary.

Out of the Sandbox currently only offers a money-back guarantee on our Flex and Turbo themes, which must be requested within 14 days of buying. Unfortunately, no refunds are offered on any of our other themes, so we always recommend trying out the demos first to make sure the theme is right for you. If you find a certain theme is not working for you but think another theme in our portfolio might work better, contact us to see if we can offer you an exchange.

8. Are theme updates included? For how long?

A Shopify theme is typically updated by the developer when bugs are reported or new features are added. However, it’s important to verify if your theme purchase includes free updates or if there is a charge — and for how long. You should also find out if upgrade assistance is provided as part of your purchase, since themes that are not compatible with the Shopify theme updater app must be updated manually — one setting and line of code at a time.

Out of the Sandbox is pleased to offer lifetime updates for all theme purchases. In addition, Out of the Sandbox is the only theme provider to offer a Shopify Theme Updater App (see http://ootsb.com/updater to install) that makes upgrading your theme to the latest version easier. This includes attempting to replicate any customizations you’ve made directly to the theme files as well as copying over all theme settings that you had set in the “Customize theme” area of your store.

9. How often are theme updates rolled out?

One way to gauge the quality of a Shopify theme is to check how often updates are provided. This not only helps give you a clearer picture of how attentive to detail the theme developer is, it also can indicate if the designer is actively taking user feedback and feature requests into account and offering new features to existing themes.

Out of the Sandbox provides regular updates to all themes. You can find our complete list of changelogs to see our complete update history. In addition to the updates listed here, there’s a slew of updates that aren’t listed that typically resolve minor bugs as they are reported. We’re also proud that we regularly add new features — at no additional cost — to all of our themes, all of which are based on user requests.

10. Did you respond to my email?

Sending a theme developer a list of questions you have before purchasing is a good way to gauge both the responsiveness and quality of support — so instead of rushing into things and buying the first theme you see that you like, it’s often a good idea to take the time to do your homework by emailing the theme developer first. If they take an unreasonable amount of time to reply (or worse, never do) then it’s a clear sign to move on and continue your theme shopping elsewhere.

We hope we already answered your questions here, but feel free to get in touch with any other questions!

Ready to send these questions?

Ready to send this list to the developer of a Shopify theme you're considering? Here's some suggested text you can easily copy and paste in an email to the designer.

Hi there,

I'm considering purchasing one of your Shopify themes but wanted to ask some questions about your company and policies first:

1. Do you provide support for your themes?
2. How do you provide support for your themes?
3. What are your support hours?
4. How long does it take your support team to respond to messages?
5. Do you support customizations to my them? Is there a limit?
6. Can I see sample shops using your themes?
7. Do you offer refunds or exchanges?
8. Are theme updates included? For how long?
9. How often are theme updates rolled out? Do you offer a theme updater app or upgrade assistance?

I look forward to hearing back from you!


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