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A step by step guide to selecting a high converting Shopify theme for your store

A step by step guide to selecting a high converting Shopify theme for your store

Let me tell you about the title of this blog

Originally it was going to be “High converting Shopify Themes 2019”. Because that’s the blog everyone wants to read, right? Just a ranking of the Shopify themes that have driven the most sales this year. Then you pick the top one and boom … your sales double.

But that blog doesn’t exist.

Because that ranking doesn’t exist.

Because there’s no way to measure conversions based on themes like that.

The best I can do is share the experience of reputable marketers like these guys. In which case, here you go:

Free themes that are popular

  • Supply (good for big inventories)
  • Venture (great for big images)
  • Jumpstart (good if you have a small inventory)

Paid themes that are popular

But just picking one of these because it’s popular isn’t necessarily going to work.

And getting your design right matters. Research by Adobe shows 38% of customers will stop engaging with a website if the layout or content is unattractive. So you need to find a theme that’ll drive conversions on your specific store. And I’m going to take you through 3 steps to do this:

Let’s get started …

No wait, first I need to tell you about the bad news.

The bad news: Why “high converting Shopify themes” don’t exist?

As I mentioned in the intro to this blog, there’s a misconception about conversion and Shopify themes. Yes, there are some which have specific functions likely to drive conversions that others don’t. But there’s no data to show how good a particular theme is at converting customers. That’s because:

  • Multiple factors on your website will impact conversions (price, product quality, product image quality, copy, upselling options etc.). It’s impossible to isolate the theme from all the rest and evaluate how much it is driving conversions.
  • What helps a page convert isn’t always the same. For example, a huge green “SHOP NOW” button at the top of a landing page will have different effects depending on the product. If you’re a fashion retailer offering a flash sale with 60% off this season’s best sellers, that button is probably going to convert a lot. If you’re a consumer electronics company with a brand new innovation (like a portable white noise machine to help you sleep), that “SHOP NOW” button at the top of your page is probably going to receive far fewer hits. Users will be scrolling down to read more, maybe watch a video, and then shop.

In other words, a theme that helps one page or store to convert isn’t necessarily going to work for a different store. And don’t just take it from me. Here’s what Shopify themselves said in a recent official blog:

“Truth be told, there's no "one size fits all" approach to picking a theme. Every business is different, and the only person who can make an informed decision on the perfect theme for your Shopify store is you.”

The good news: What does exist, somewhere out there, is the right theme to drive conversions on your site?

By following the right process, you can find a theme that will work really well for your store and help you to boost sales. Today I’m going to take you through, step by step, a process for selecting the right theme.

Let’s go.

Step 1 – Defining your brand

Before you start looking for a theme, you should have 2 things in place already:

1. A logo

2. A color scheme

You’ll be able to customize any Shopify Theme to include your logo and color scheme, and this is a great way to test out how your brand will look with each theme.

Tip: If you don’t have these in place already, the topics we’re about to go through will be helpful for you. Discuss them with a designer so they can come up with a logo and color scheme to reflect specific ideas related to your brand – costing for creating a logo and color scheme can range from $100 to $3,000.

A branding mistake

When creating a brand, there’s a big mistake some stores make. They usually think about their products and their audience when creating their brand. That’s great, but there’s something missing. You.

Only focusing on products and audience might work if you have a really niche offering. But as soon as you’re competing with other online retailers, you’ll all look and feel the same. That’s why our third ingredient – your identity and values – is so important. It will help you stand out from the crowd.

3 focus areas for defining your brand

It’s Venn diagram time! As I just mentioned, there are 3 considerations for you to focus on when defining your brand:

1. Your products

2. Your audience’s expectations

3. Your identity

Branding is all about finding that sweet spot between all 3 – a brand that connects with your audience, reflects your products, and is true to your identity.

TinyIMG infographic products audience's expectations and your identity
Now, you can spend weeks thinking about each of these areas. That’s how branding agencies get to charge $80,000 just for coming up with a new name! But we’re going to keep this very simple. For each of our 3 focus areas, I’m going to give you 1 question to answer. That’s it. And the answers from these will already be enough to help you choose a killer Shopify Theme.

Your products

How expensive are your products relative to the rest of the market on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 means super budget, 10 means ultimate bling)?

Your audience

What types of content is your audience most likely to engage with?

Your identity

Choose 3 words to describe how you want your customers to feel?

Got your answers? Great. You’re all ready for step 2. 

Step 2 – Narrowing down theme options

Armed with your logo, color scheme and the answers to your branding questions, you’re ready to dive into the Shopify Theme store. Splash splash!

A couple of key points right from the get go:

1. Stick to Shopify. I advise sticking to the themes available in the Shopify store - there are plenty of good free and paid options available and they’ve all been checked by Shopify. There are other stores around offering other themes, but you’ll have to do a lot more research to check the quality of these themes.

2. Check for mobile. Another good reason to choose themes from the Shopify Theme store is you know they’ll be responsive – in other words, they’ll work well on mobile. That said, make sure you always view the demo of the theme in both the desktop and mobile versions to make sure you’re happy with how it looks on mobile. 

3. Check who developed it. The Shopify store does feature themes created by third party developers as well. If it’s an official Shopify theme you’ll see this text above the Theme Features section.Theme supported by shopify
If it has been made by a third party (in this case a company called Invisible Themes), you’ll see thisTheme supported by invisible theme
The quality of the theme should be fine, but you’ll need to read up on the quality of the customer support offered by that company. When you start customizing your Shopify theme (it’s going to happen sooner or later) having quality support on hand could be vital.

So, it’s time to start narrowing down our options.

On the Shopify Themes store page we’re going to click on the Collections menu. That’s right. You might have thought Industries would be the place to start. Think again. With the Industries menu, Shopify is trying to make your life easy by suggesting themes that could be good for a particular industry. In reality, you can use any theme for any industry you like. Like this kids shoe store using a theme from the “Electronics” category.

Click collections, and you’ll get these options:

  • Trending this week
  • Product recommendations
  • New theme releases
  • Great for large invetories
  • Grid-style layout
  • Fun and lively
  • Great for small inventories
  • Minimalist style
  • Big, beautiful imagery

Let’s take out 2 straight away – large and small inventories. We’ll deal with these later on. We can also remove “Trending this week”, “Product recommendations” and “New theme releases” - we want to be thinking for ourselves, not following trends. 

That leaves us with these options:

  • Grid-style layout
  • Big, beautiful imagery
  • Minimalist style
  • Fun and lively

Great, 4 options is starting to feel doable.

And our answers to the branding questions are going to help us even more. We’re going to use these answers to think of companies we already know, then use their websites to help us narrow down our search.

Your products

How expensive are your products relative to the rest of the market on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 means super budget, 10 means ultimate bling)?

From this, create a list of companies who you think have a similar score to you in terms of how their products are priced (they don’t have to be in the same industry).

Your audience

What types of content are they most likely to engage with?

From your answers to this, come up with a list of places where you think your audience goes to get interesting content. These could be magazines, niche blogs, traditional media outlets.

Your identity

Choose 3 words to describe how you want your customers to feel?

From your answers to this, make a list of brands that make you feel the same way (again, they don’t have to be from your industry).

  • A Grid-style layoutYou should now have a list of brands and websites. Have a look through each one, and decide whether it features:
  • Big, beautiful imagery
  • A minimalist style
  • A fun and lively style 

See which of these categories comes up the most, and start there.

Marketer’s Tip: Checking what theme a Shopify store is using

1. Right click anywhere on the page

2. Select Inspect / Inspect Element from the menu

Inspect element box

3. Find the search bar (this will vary depending on what browser you use – if there is none
shown, try pressing ctrl+F)

4. Search for “Shopify.theme” in the search bar

Shopify theme

5. You’ll end up with some lines of code like this:
Shopify.theme =

Inside shopify theme

So, now I know the cookware store UnoCasa is using Blockshop as its theme.

Have a search through the themes and create a longlist of up to 15 themes you like (don’t think about the price or other technical issues yet, just ones that have the right feel and impression). Think if these themes have the same feel as the brands you identified from your questions.

Congratulations. You’ve started to define the overall visual character of your site, and you already have a longlist of themes to experiment with.

Now it’s time to get specific.

Step 3 – Checking for specific functions

First, let’s start with 3 more questions:

Your products

How competitive is your field of ecommerce on a scale of 1 to 10 (1 means it’s crowded in here, 10 means you’re a pioneer out there on your own)?

Your audience

What communication channels do your audience use most?

Your identity

What do you offer customers that no one else does?

Got your answers? Let’s use them to filter our longlist and get down to just a couple of options. 

Paid or free? 

What score did you give for the question about how competitive your industry is? This will help you to decide whether you should choose a paid or free theme.

Choose paid if… you’re starting up in a highly competitive field.

If two stores are offering broadly the same product range at similar prices, the quality of the onsite experience is going to be decisive. Paid themes have extra functions and features that can make the buyer’s journey smoother and more enjoyable.

Choose free if… you’re offering something unique, or you’re confident you can beat your competitors on price.

Free themes will look and feel fine to your customers – they just won’t come with all the bells and whistles.

Once you have decided, click All Themes on the Shopify Theme Store. On the left of the page you’ll see a range of filters. The very first menu is price – select free or paid.

Now list any themes from your longlist that are shown.

Large or small inventory

Another product-related topic is inventory. Shopify have designed specific themes for stores with either a lot of products, or only one or two. If you have an average number of products, you don’t really need to worry about this issue.

But if your inventory is very small, make sure you avoid those themes specifically designed for large product ranges. And vice versa, if you have a large product range. In the categories menu you can view themes that are “Great for Large Inventories” or “Great for Small Inventories”.

Content and social channels

Take a look at your answer to this question:

What communication channels do your audience use most?

Once you have selected specific channels your audience uses, see if you can find a theme that will add that channel to your site. Go to All Themes, and select Marketing and Social Media in the filters menu on the left. If Instagram or Twitter are key for your users, apply the filters for those feeds. Now note down any themes from your initial longlist that have the feature you need.


Have you thought about how you’re going to get people to your store? Will you use paid ads, social influencers, organic search? If you haven’t, now is a good time to come up with a clear social media marketing idea and develop it into a strategy. This will help you define the kind of content you will have on your website, and therefore the kind of theme you should choose:


What you’ll need on your site

Paid Ads

Compelling landing pages. Your ads will send people to a page on your site, and this page has to grab attention and engage. The Home Page menu in the filters menu has a range of features that will help with this.

Organic search

This means blogs. So think about themes that include the disqus feature for blogs. You’ll find this in the Marketing and Social Media category of the filters menu.

Social media and influencers

A great idea for fashion, fitness or food related stores. Go to Marketing and Social Media and select the Twitter and Instagram feeds.

What makes you unique?

Finally, think about the question:
What do you offer that no one else does?;

Of course, this could be a huge range of things. But look through the filters menu for any features that might support that. For example, if great customer service is what makes you stand out, the customer testimonials feature would be a good one to put on your homepage – you’ll find it in the Home Page category of the Filters menu.

Creating a shortlist

Apply the different filters that are relevant to you as I have just instructed. Then see which themes from your original longlist fit all of your requirements. You should be aiming for a final 2 or 3 themes to try out. Don’t worry if after applying your filters none of your options fit – you can amend themes by adding apps or features. An 80% fit is good enough at this stage.

With your 2 or 3 themes selected, add them to your Shopify account – here’s the Shopify tutorial on how to do this.

A couple of points to remember:

1. You can add multiple themes to your account. So get your options added, then switch between different themes to see the difference.

2. You only need to pay for paid themes when you publish. This means you can add them to your account and see how your page will look before you pay anything. You can even create previews to share with your team.

One final step …

So, we’ve been through 3 steps to choosing the right Shopify Theme to convert well for your store. And following these steps should mean you end up with a great looking site that creates the right impression with your audience and has the features you need. Now it’s time for …

Step 4 – Optimizing for conversions and testing

Don’t panic! Choosing a great theme for your store is already a great start. But for real success you’ll need to keep refining and optimizing your theme so it converts effortlessly. This process will include:

  • Adding additional high converting features to your home and product pages. These could include: product filtering, quick buy, product flags, pencil banners for promos, or related products features (your theme may already have some of these features);
  • Experimenting with the color, size and position of call to action buttons and cart icons;
  • Changing the images and texts on your home and product pages;
  • Testing the load speed of your site and using an app to compress your images so your site loads faster;
  • Adding customer support features like an FAQ page.

With each of these, you will need to start A/B testing. And that’s a whole other blog …

Choosing your theme is a fun and exciting part of your Shopify journey. Take your time and enjoy it.

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