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by Michael P. Hill August 25, 2016

Shopify themes have grown in leaps and bounds from the simple storefronts that once dominated the Web to today’s shops that often include slick animations, responsive designs and cutting edge layouts — but what are some of the most requested features that store owners look for in Shopify themes nowadays?

When creating any Shopify theme or store, it’s important to consider the balance between feature overload and design clutter  and being able to create an eye-catching and unique design, so deciding which features are really worth including in a Shopify theme release can be tricky.

Here’s a quick look at some of the most requested Shopify theme features.

Which ones would you find most useful in your own shop?

Large store support

Although most Shopify themes will work well with any size store, Shopify stores with a large product selection and expansive product lines often have unique requirements:

  • Navigation that makes it easier to sort through a large number of collections.
  • Better layout and organization of products, especially on the collection level.
  • Improved loading times for longer collection pages that feature more content.

High volume stores that carry hundreds or thousands of products and variants have unique requirements and challenges when it comes to helping visitors understand and browse their product offerings.

Update: Our newest Shopify theme, Turbo, features improved load time technology, lazing load and more. Find out more here.

Speed

As search engines such as Google place more and more emphasis on page load time, store owners look for options to help speed up their sites:

  • Advanced coding techniques that optimize page load times and help you convert better.
  • Flexible options, including lazy loading of images and infinite scrolling on collection pages.
  • Implementation of super fast page speed options.

Shopify themes with these options not only load faster, but they can help your site perform better overall and, consequently, make more sales. In fact, page load time has been shown to contribute to the rise and fall of your conversion rate; studies have shown that more than 40 percent of online shoppers will abandon a site that takes more than three seconds to load!

Page load times are a key way to set your store apart from other stores — and make your store stand out in customers’ minds.

Update: Our latest theme release, Turbo, lives up to its name with blazing fast load times, including the ability to intelligently pre-load pages in the background before users even click. Find out more here.

Flexible homepage options

Homepages are the traditional gateway to Shopify stores — so most store owners want plenty of options to showcase content on their homepage without having to fiddle with the code directly, such as:

  • Ability to reorder various sections of the homepage, creating a myriad of possible layouts.
  • Multiple areas to spotlight products, collections and other content.
  • A variety of layouts to add to the visual interest of each section.
  • Tight integration with video and social media options.

Being able to configure your store’s homepage with just a few clicks is a great way to experiment with creating the ultimate homepage that draws in shoppers. Flexible page design options that appear on other parts of the store build on this idea and make it even easier to design your store without making code updates.

Update: Our newest theme, Turbo, includes one of the most flexible homepages we've ever built — with full width video banners, cool checkerboard layouts and more. Find out more here.

Flexibility in banner images and slideshows

Since banner images and slideshows (link to previous post) are some of the most prominent features of a Shopify theme, most store owners like to have as much flexibility as possible, including: 

  • Multiple pretext, headline and subheadline text fields for promoting products, collections and content.
  • Fine-grained control of text alignment and positioning.
  • Multiple clear call to action buttons, including the ability to highlight one.
  • Flexible number of slideshows and a variety of layout options (including full-width) for optimal visual interest. 

Setting your store apart with stunning visuals should be high on every store owner’s “must have” list, but it’s just as important to be able to implement these features without knowing code.

Update: Our newest theme, Turbo, includes some of the most flexible banner options ever — with pretext, headline, subheadline, multiple call to action buttons and more. Find out more here.

Design

Creating a well designed and eye-catching store is also a key part of running an ecommerce business — and being able to do as much as possible without customizations is a common request:

  • Advanced header options, including options for social media icons and a contact phone number and email.
  • More flexible menu navigation options, including mega menus.
  • Multiple layout options and column configurations for pages.
  • Flexible footer design options, including background images, logo and newsletter signup forms, social media icons and payment icons.

Design options on Shopify themes are constantly expanding — everything from setting fonts to colors and layouts, so it’s no surprise that store owners look for and expect more and more options that make it easy to change the look and feel of their stores via the theme settings alone, without having to touch any code.

Update: Turbo includes some of the most in-demand design styles in today's world, including full width video and photo banners.

Shopify Plus

Shopify Plus merchants, or any business with high volumes in competitive markets, also have a unique set of challenges:

  • Optimized page loading times to help convert customers quickly.
  • The flexibility to use a theme for a variety of industries, with a special focus on large volume retailers.
  • Improved navigational elements, especially for collections.
  • Improved robustness of the theme code across platforms and devices, for their often wider and more sophisticated audiences, who expect a polished and professional shop.

Which do you need?

These are some of the most commonly requested Shopify theme features we’ve seen. Which ones would you find most useful?

Let us know in the comments.

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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3 Responses

Michael P. Hill
Michael P. Hill

August 25, 2016

@John: Thanks for the great and concrete feedback. I’ll definitely have our design team take a look at your comments! It’s great to hear that you’re gathering both screen recordings and talking to customers to find out what their hangups are. Stay tuned!

John
John

August 25, 2016

These are all great features, even if there are some we wouldn’t use. Retina actually does a lot of this really well—fast load times, flexible options, easy customizations, embedded video in alt tags. Overall, the Retina/Parallax design is nearly perfect as it stands.

A few more ideas:

1) I would love to see a clean, functional, traditional shopping cart. We love nearly everything about Retina, as do our customers. But the clunkiness of the cart costs us sales (I know from observing screen recordings and talking to frustrated customers).

• If you’re going to include +/- arrows or buttons, make them big enough for anyone to click, on any device. Those arrows in Retina’s cart are almost too small to see. (they’re just fine in the side cart)
• Customers are used to seeing an update/refresh button in the cart, so when they change units they know what to do next. (the side and bottom carts don’t need it because their +/- buttons function so well)
• Don’t make the cart page reload with every unit change. Nearly all of our lost sales are because of this slow, cumbersome feature. (again, the side carts seem to do this just fine, no problems)

2) Also, it would be great to have an Accounts and Order History section that matches the design flair of the rest of the theme. It should have easy navigation, and a sexier look than just grids.

3) It would be cool to see more options for the blog pages. We had a developer build ours, but it would be awesome to have some other built-in goodies.

4) It would be cool to see some ideas on the pages that matter most: Product Pages. When shopping for Shopify themes, the product page is the make-or-break page for us. Customers spend most of their time on product pages, and we need them to be clean with big pictures, and an easy checkout funnel. Retina does this almost perfectly. One example: I dig the fourlaps.com feature that requires you to pick a size/color before adding to cart. This would be a sweet option on every product page.

Christine H
Christine H

August 25, 2016

I’d like my theme “New Standard” to be able to display the recently viewed items.


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