How to Make Modern Shopify Theme for Small E-commerce Business in 2023
A few things are as difficult as starting a large project, such as building an e-commerce store from scratch. It’s a huge project to take on; luckily, developing your store’s theme with Shopify makes the process easier, especially for small, local businesses.
Shopify allows you to get your store up and running quickly with a few clicks, or you can spend more time customizing your store to fine-tune it into the perfect experience for your customers. Whatever your goals are, the Shopify theme development tool is ideal for small e-commerce businesses to get their store off the ground.
Want to learn more about how our team can help you develop a perfect Shopify theme for your store? Set up a meeting with one of Atlanta’s top Shopify theme development agencies!
What is Shopify?
Let’s all make sure we are on the same page. Shopify is an e-commerce platform that, in their own words, helps entrepreneurs “start, grow, and manage” their businesses. The Shopify development platform enables you to build and customize an online store, then manage it through centralized tools that include managing products, payments, inventory, and shipping.
Benefits of Shopify
The Shopify development platform comes with a plethora of benefits, chiefly:
- Easy Set-Up
- Easy Integration
- Mobile Friendly
- Customer Support
One of the biggest draws to Shopify, whether it’s a large company or someone setting up a local store, is how easy Shopify is to set up. Yes, you can spend a lot of time tweaking your store’s theme, personalizing it, and even working with the code itself, but if you want to get a store up and running quickly, you can get a store online with minimal clicks on Shopify.
Some e-commerce development platforms require advanced or at least some coding knowledge to get a store up and running. On the other hand, Shopify makes things very simple for its customers. Not only is the set-up easy, but centralized tools make managing your Shopify store a breeze.
You don’t have to be a coding wizard to set up an e-commerce store on Shopify’s development platform.
Centralized tools help make everything easier for business owners to focus on running their store without having to stitch together many different tools and solutions onto one website. Shopify’s platform includes seamlessly integrated tools for everything from managing products to marketing to talking with customers to checking out.
With everything already there for you, you don’t have to waste time comparing chat systems for customer service. All the tools you need, front and back end, come fully integrated. So not only do you not have to shop around, but you don’t have to go to a bunch of different places to look at your e-commerce store and see how it’s working. Everything is there, all in one spot and easily accessible.
The Shopify eCommerce development platform not only has an easy platform to use thanks to the centralized platform, but it’s also highly customizable. When setting up your store, you have over 160 different themes to choose from based on your industry and the aesthetic you want to establish. But you aren’t even required to use one of them. You can use themes from other websites or build your own from scratch if you want to create something unique.
Once you are up and running, you’ll have many tools to customize your store’s functionality. You’ll be able to install analytics tools, manage payments and inventory, and streamline shipping. For customers, you can highly products that are on sale, allow customers to create wish lists, create loyalty programs, submit reviews, and customize shipping.
Even if Shopify doesn’t already have the feature you want, it can probably be installed through their extensive plugin library. Shopify can integrate with many different programs and plugins to help you create the website you want that works best for you and gives your customers the best possible experience.
Unlike very basic website hosting sites, Shopify can grow with your business. As your traffic, conversions, and revenue growth, Shopify will be able to support all the growing activity without crashing. This means you’ll have an easy-to-set-up website, and you won’t have to worry about switching to a more advanced web hosting service the moment your traffic starts to increase. You’ll simply enjoy the success and watch the fruits of your labor flourish.
Mobile-friendly websites are the future. And the present. Even a bit of the past, if we are being honest. When designing a website, you need to ensure it will work just as well if someone opens it on their phone as if they had pulled it up on their laptop. 61% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, and the trend shows that their usage will only increase. They are just so convenient for consumers; why would they get out their laptops unless they had to?
And they aren’t just conducting searches; they are also making purchases on their phones. 80% of shoppers have recently have made a purchase from their mobile phone. Your website has to do more than just look good on a mobile device, it has to function well too. Customers expect to be able to conveniently pull out their phone and make a purchase while on the subway, in a waiting room, or during a commercial break just as easily as on their laptops.
All Shopify themes are designed to be mobile responsive, meaning that they adjust their display automatically to fit the screen the content is being displayed on, so you don’t have to worry about mobile optimization. Not only is Shopify convenient for customers on mobile, but it’s also convenient for you. You can log into Shopify’s app on your phone to check website traffic, inventory, and any marketing metric that happens to be on your mind. The app is compatible with Android and iOS, so anyone can check their store on the go.
One of the biggest advantages of setting up a store on Shopify’s development platform is having access to 24/7 customer support. They know the ins and outs of the Shopify product and how it functions, including how integrated products work with Shopify. Because Shopify is so consolidated, it’s much easier for them to help you out if you have any questions.
Even if you prefer not to talk to someone over a phone call or chat or are more of a do-it-yourselfer, you can refer to their large library of help documents and community forums that address different issues everyone has. You can even ask other users there how to solve your issue if the answer isn’t already there. Whatever way works best for you to find a solution to your issue, you have a large support network to help.
What is a Shopify Theme?
A Shopify theme is the framework that defines your website’s look and feel. It encompasses the design, including the aesthetic and structure of your website. Choosing a theme is a crucial part of developing your Shopify store, it is the first thing your visitors will notice, and 75% of people judge a website solely based on its look. So, no pressure!
Luckily, Shopify theme development can be done in many ways, so whether you run a global corporation or a local shop, there is a way to create or find the perfect Shopify theme for you. And you don’t have to be a coding wizard, although if you are, or you have a Shopify developer, that is, you can go in and customize your store however you like. And best of all, if you don’t like a theme and want to switch it, you can without worrying about losing it.
If developing a highly customized Shopify theme isn’t your top priority, at least right off the bat, you can choose from their library of over 160 themes. They are excellent starting points as these Shopify themes are developed to meet industry-specific standards and practices.
So, if you are a fitness company, then you’ll be able to choose from themes that are common to other fitness companies, using successful designs and color schemes. The same can be said if you are a fashion company, a food delivery company, or a local apothecary.
You’ll need at least some tweaking to make the Shopify theme your own, but you’ll be able to get it up and running quickly. You can have an eCommerce store up and running with just a few clicks, but it will likely not have all the functions you want.
How to Switch Themes
Shopify knows that a key aspect of Shopify theme development is testing different options and seeing what looks best. Sometimes, you need to try more than one theme, especially when setting up your store. Even after launching, you may not want to simply stick with the first theme you picked. As your store grows, you may want to switch from a boilerplate theme you downloaded from Shopify to replace it with a unique one you and your growing team developed.
Shopify’s platform makes it easy to switch between themes, see what looks best for your platform, and even what your customers like most. Not only can you switch between themes seamlessly, but an essential part of Shopify theme development is that you can save up to 20 different themes in your library. Plenty of space to save and test different themes all while getting to save changes you make to them. These don’t need to be different themes either; they can be different versions of the same Shopify theme, with different features, elements, or plugins.
How to Build a Shopify Theme from Scratch
Pre-built Shopify themes are great for some companies, but to build a unique brand identity, companies will opt to develop their own Shopify theme from scratch. Now, this can sound like a huge endeavor, and you may not know where to start, but the Shopify development platform makes it as simple as possible to build a unique Shopify theme. You can, of course, code it yourself, but there are simple tools that can help you out, and you can build a Shopify theme through the ever-user-friendly drag and drop tool.
Tools to Build a Shopify Theme from Scratch
Shopify makes building a theme from scratch easier than other platforms such as Magento, where you need extensive coding knowledge. You’ll need a basic understanding of HTML and CSS, but Shopify makes it much simpler to develop your theme. To make a theme on Shopify, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with these tools:
- Shopify CLI (Command-Line Interface)
Did you know that Commerce Pundit has a whole team of seasoned Shopify developers?
Shopify’s CLI, or command line interface, is the tool used to generate the code telling the Shopify store what it should look like. Developers are going to be very familiar with these tools, but the layman may have a hard time understanding the tool. You’ll see all the coding, or commands referred to as Liquid which we will cover next, as text within the tool.
Liquid is probably the most essential thing to learn when developing your own Shopify theme. Liquid is the name given to the coding language used to develop Shopify themes. It tells Shopify what you want your store to look like. You literally can’t do much to customize your store without taking some time to learn Liquid.
What Is Liquid?
Liquid is a Ruby-based template language, meaning it is designed to keep things simple and easy to read so it can be worked on efficiently. When I say template language, I mean it acts as a placeholder. Liquid is used in place of HTML, the coding language that makes the website’s structure.
Think of it as the outline, then other types of code are used to bring in color and functions, such as buttons to view a product or opening up a section of text when clicking on a “+” sign. Structure languages such as HTML, or in this case Liquid, tell all the elements when they fit into the webpage, keeping the whole thing organized. It uses basic terms in its language so you, or more likely the developer, can easily distinguish what each piece of text is referring to and what it is making each element do.
How Do You Use Liquid in Shopify?
Below are a few references for Liquid so you can see what the code actually looks like in Shopify and how it keeps your store organized. If you want to incorporate a blog section, you’ll see what the tags and structure of that can look like. You can copy the code itself and use it as the starting point for different elements in your own Shopify store.
A GitHub account is also vital for building and developing your Shopify theme. For those that don’t know, GitHub is a code hosting platform to help manage website development, organize different versions of webpages, and collaborate on projects. It’s similar to how Shopify hosts your eCommerce store so it can be seen on the internet, except instead of hosting your website so customers can see it, GitHub hosts the website’s code so your team and see and work on it.
Is GitHub Necessary for Shopify Theme Development?
If you don’t want to use GitHub for developing your Shopify theme, you don’t HAVE to, but it comes with benefits, namely:
- Easy collaboration
- Track edits in real time
If you are a business owner and somehow have time to build your own Shopify theme from scratch, let me know where you got that Time-Turner, because I don’t know how you’re doing it without adding more hours to your day. To successfully develop a Shopify theme from scratch, you need a team working on this. A GitHub account connected to Shopify will allow your team to efficiently work together, seeing what updates are being made and by whom in real-time. You’ll see who is working on what and be able to see all the different versions of the pages. All updates that are published will automatically be pushed onto your store.
Dawn is the default, starting theme for your Shopify store. It is the starting point from where you’ll make a compelling, one-of-a-kind website. See it? Dawn? Like the rising sun on your new business venture? Pretty cool, right?
Anyway, you’ll start by cloning, or making a replica of, the Dawn Shopify theme that you can edit in the Shopify CLI tool. From there, using the Liquid coding language (see how it’s all coming together), you’ll be able to make changes to the Dawn theme and begin to shape your new online storefront. You can use your connected GitHub account to save to a new theme and begin to make edits. Oh, and don’t forget to rename the theme, Dawn [clone] isn’t probably the favored name for your store’s new theme.
Drag and Drop
Drag and drop is the simplest way to make a custom Shopify theme. No coding is required. Simply drag elements around and arrange them in the manner that makes the most sense and looks the best for you. However, the Shopify theme development platform doesn’t have a drag and drop feature, so if you want to build a custom website this way, you’ll need to use a third-party tool.
Steps to Build a Shopify Theme
Now that we’ve gone over the tools that will help you build your Shopify theme, it’s time to look at the process. The steps you’ll take to develop your own Shopify theme, from conceptualization to publishing, include:
- Defining your audience
- Defining your theme
- Plan and allocate
- Publish your store
- Track analytics
Define Your Audience
It always comes back to this. Who do you want to come to your store? Who do you think will like your products? Who will benefit from your products?
Before starting any business project, you need to know who you want to target; otherwise, you’re simply shooting in the dark. If you are selling a state-of-the-art blender with precision blades and many different settings, you are targeting homeowners, probably over 40, who have kids and have disposable income. Creating a storefront and marketing campaign that will appeal to fresh out of college bachelors won’t do you much good.
Clearly defining your target audience will make the rest of the process much easier. Once you identify your audience, you can build around their interests, what appeals to them, and their pain points. If the project becomes unclear, you only need to refer to who you are setting out to target.
Define Your Theme
Knowing your audience helps you understand how to develop your Shopify theme. From there, you can build the Shopify theme around them. Focus on what will appeal to them: a serene, calming design or developing a local Shopify theme that features local elements of town or neighborhood pride. It needs a strong presence that establishes the precise vibe you want, whether high intensity for a fitness store or sleek for a fashion one.
Plan and Allocate
Yeah, I know, not the fun part. We’ll get to that. But first, you need to map out the production of your Shopify theme. That means understanding the time each step of the process will take and the whole project.
Then, it’s time to look at the other significant cost of a project like this, the dollar cost. Look at the cost for the team you’ll need to build it and any plugins and tools you’ll need. Oh, and the cost of Shopify itself.
Alright, those are the high-level things you’ll need to plan for developing your Shopify theme. You also need to allocate responsibilities and resources for the project. Lay out who has what responsibility if you have a team building your Shopify theme, and if it’s one developer, make sure they understand what they need to accomplish and what time.
Finally, we are at the fun part, the designing. Hopefully, you have an idea of what you want the theme to look and feel like, and if not, there are many different designs for you to choose from or spark inspiration.
While look and feel are vital, you must also make sure your Shopify theme is functional. Is the navigation easy to look through? Do the web pages load quickly and correctly? And, of course, understand how it will look on different devices.
Once your Shopify theme feels ready, it’s time to test it. Take a look at what it feels like to interact with the elements. See what the website looks like as you click and scroll through it. Note anywhere the elements feel overwhelming, where it’s unclear what to do, or if you get lost. Or if it just isn’t the look you thought it would have. Then, go back to designing and testing until you feel you have it perfect.
Publish Your Store
Once your Shopify theme is ready, you can click publish, and that’s it. Presto! Your hard work has paid off, and you are all done. Or are you…
But wait, there’s more! Once you’ve completed and published your Shopify theme, it’s time to measure results. Over time, track your store’s analytics to understand what is working well and what needs some tweaking. Maybe even a renovation.
Your job is never done. It’s your job to watch and listen carefully, your customers will tell you what is or isn’t working with your Shopify theme. You may find that customers are getting lost in the navigation or aren’t very receptive to certain aspects of your design. You’ll need to find ways to measure and improve any weak points in your store. Or, you may find that there’s a layout they love, and you want to incorporate it into more of your website. Whether the changes are good or bad, they will always come up.
Things Your Shopify Store Needs
Before pushing your store live, which I’m sure you are eager to do, four types of pages will help your store stand out and be a fun, easy experience for your customers. For the best shopping experience, you’ll need to make sure you have a:
- Landing pages
- Collection pages
- Product pages
I know this one kind of goes without saying, but that doesn’t mean it should be left off this list, right? And even though we all intuitively know it, the value of a homepage can’t be understated. It’s probably the first thing you develop. It’s often the first thing a customer sees. It’s where they go to get an idea of your brand, your values, and what you offer. To create strong relationships with loyal customers, you must clearly, even boldly, show what your brand is about and what makes you different here. Make your presence felt and make them want to stay on your website longer, learning more about you.
On a homepage, you need the following:
- Your brand and message
- To show what value you bring to customers
- Show what you sell
- Easy navigation
- Clear CTA (Call to Action)
Ah yes, the all-important product page. Every product, yes, every single one, needs its unique webpage so that customers can easily find it. Product pages are one of the most crucial parts of Shopify theme development because customers can find the products by the search bar on your website, the navigation tool, and also by searching online. If your product page is properly optimized, they can find your Avenger phone stand by Googling it. A properly optimized product page will include the following:
- Clear product title
- Add-to-cart functionality
- Customer reviews
You’re not done developing your Shopify theme until you’ve built some collection pages. Collection pages are a great tool to help customers find products they are interested in. Rather than just finding one product and maybe seeing some related ones, collection pages allow customers to see a range of products they may be interested in just by the unifying theme in the collection. The collection theme can be for Disney Princess flowerpots, ignitions for a particular car brand, or standing desks. If customers know they want a specific product type, collection pages are crucial in their customer journey. They’ll go through what you offer in that collection and find the product from there that best suits their needs in a simpler way than searching through your whole product catalog to see all your blue vases.
Landing pages aren’t something that jumps immediately to mind, but they are a vital part of your digital marketing plan. Landing pages are web pages that a customer “lands” on from clicking a link on an email, social media post, digital ad, or other outside location. They are meant to be a way to drive people to your website with a specific purpose in mind.
These pages might feature a Labor Day sale advertisement or a form to sign up for a webinar. No matter their feature, they are meant to convince a targeted audience to make a specific conversion. They aren’t meant for customers to stay on the page long and click on other parts of your website. They clicked onto this page for a reason, and you give them a specific action to take. You can lay out the benefits of the white paper or product and even leave testimonials to reinforce your point. These pages need to be simple so customers can focus on the CTA.
Landing pages are one of many ways we can help market your online store. Check out how we can help your business grow.
Tips for Local Businesses
Shopify is an excellent platform for smaller businesses. It doesn’t require the heavy lifting of other platforms such as Magento, but you get a more professional-looking website than if you used website hosts such as WordPress or Weebly.
Having a small business or starting a new brand online can be difficult, mainly to build trust with your audience. When a customer makes a purchase online, they trust that business, which is difficult if they’ve never heard of the company or interacted with it. They don’t know the product quality, and there are enough scams that they may be wary of just giving their money to a company they’ve never heard of before. The customers can always just go to one of the larger corporations they know and already trust. It’s hard to sway customers from that logic.
Developing a quality local Shopify theme for your online store can significantly boost your business. You’ll be able to develop a professional, high-end eCommerce store that looks just as clean and polished as the major players in the digital marketplace. Presentation is a huge key to winning over customers. They immediately exit and look elsewhere when they see amateur-built and designed websites. If your site loads quickly, looks good on mobile, is free of errors, delivers a strong message, and has a clear tone, you’ll be able to win over those skeptical new customers.
The wide assortment of plugins and tools available to Shopify local theme development can help you create a customized website that feels unique to your business and optimize the user experience. It won’t feel like a boilerplate website that was copied with a new logo slapped on it. You’ll easily create a website like on WordPress with the customization of Magento. You’ll have access to incredible themes that can be easily personalized, making it easy to set up while looking professional and building trust with customers.
Do I Need a Shopify Developer?
Shopify makes its platform very user-friendly. You can easily set up a store with a few clicks on your own but setting up a personalized store with customized functionality takes more advanced skills. Hiring a Shopify developer will make your store more personalized, give it great functionality, and give you the freedom to focus on running your actual business.
A Shopify developer understands the platform better than most people and, therefore, knows how to play with the code to create particular looks in an efficient amount of time. They’ll be able to manipulate the code thanks to training and practice in ways you won’t be able to by reading a couple of tutorials or watching some videos. Sure, if you spent time with it, you could probably make some changes to your Shopify theme, but it wouldn’t look the same as if a professional Shopify developer looked at it.
Then, to top it all off, you won’t have to touch this. They will handle all the coding, make the store look better than and more unique than you possibly could, and all you have to do is pay them and check in every once in a while, to make sure they develop it the way you want it. Yes, it’s a monetary investment but worthwhile when your users love and utilize your store.
Having a high-quality Shopify store isn’t something only available to larger companies. Experts can help newer local companies develop excellent Shopify themes. Commerce Pundit has been helping build up eCommerce stores on Shopify for many years, from the initial theme development to running your digital marketing strategy.
If you want a team of top Shopify developers in Atlanta backing you up and working on your store, reach out and set up a meeting today!