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Shopify Custom Themes Vs. Template Themes

Shopify is an eCommerce platform that lets merchants set up their stores and sell products online but also supports offline selling through Shopify POS. The platform was made to build and run online stores. It has features and tools that make it a good choice for both small and large businesses.

With that said, having a Shopify store gives you access to beautiful themes that offer great UI/UX even if you don’t have a big budget. However, going with a theme and design that’s optimized and customized for your brand will be favorable to your branding, marketing and sales.

You might be wondering, because there are a lot of themes readily available on the Shopify marketplace, why would you hire a designer and developer? And at a higher cost, is it really worth it to wait a few weeks to months to get a more polished Shopify store? 

Let’s delve into Shopify custom themes versus template themes so you can figure out what will work best for you.

When it comes to building your Shopify store, you could opt to choose from the following themes:

  • Pre-made Shopify theme (aka a template)
  • Modified Shopify theme
  • Fully custom Shopify theme

Apart from you as the business owner, it is your customers who will fully experience your website as they shop which is why this decision is vital.

Pre-made Shopify Theme (Templates)


These are themes available on the Shopify store for free or for $180. They are basically plug and play, so you can install it right onto your website and with just a few customizations, it will be ready to use. Shopify currently has over 70 themes that you can choose from. You can just install it and use the theme editor to make any changes such as the content, photos, and colors. These themes work as the “presentation layer” of your website so this is what your customers will see when they go to your store. It is very basic so it’s good if you don’t want to deal with any codes, designers or developers, and you just want to get the product onto a website.

However, we know that eCommerce is more than just uploading and selling products online. You have to think about your brand, your marketing, the customer experience, their journey. These themes may work but your store will not stand out as these themes are very common.

Template Themes

Pros

Cons

Easy to use -  no coding needed, easy to edit and find tutorials for

Generic design - it’s built for multiple uses so it may not completely align with your brand. It may also be seen on other stores.

Cheap - some are free, some are paid but still cheaper than hiring an agency

Bound by limitations - for small businesses, the provided free features may be fine but if you need complex functions (such more sub navigation or support for images with a bigger size, etc), you’ll need to code it  or end up paying more to the theme’s developer

Quick to market - after installing, you will just need to customize some areas, and configure your store then you can already launch

May be inconsistent with your brand and needs - Once you start using these themes, you might notice that there a few aspects that don’t quire work with your business and there is a learning curve to remove them so it may take time


If you are on a very tight budget or if your business is new or you are still testing the market, a Shopify theme is fine. But when you’re scaling the business and growing the brand, you might want to look at a modified Shopify theme or custom theme instead.

Modified Shopify themes

As your business grows, your needs also change. You may need more functionalities as compared to before but still want to use a Shopify theme. With the help of a designer and developer, you can tweak your current Shopify theme to get the features you need. Shopify experts can help design and code your theme so you can get additional functions or integrate third party apps.

Modified Shopify Themes

Pros

Cons

Able to use apps - These apps can give you more functionality and maximize your use of the Shopify platform

No updates - Because you’ve chosen to modify your theme, it will not get updated automatically by its original developers. These software updates are usually for added features or bug fixes. Any modifications or updates must be done by you or your trusted Shopify developer

CSS/ HTML / Liquid are editable - you can make changes to your theme if they weren’t included yet with the help of a Shopify developer

May result in a slower site -  Modified themes may require more code which can slow down loading times for your site. Every app you add will also require additional code. A lot of unnecessary code may get added due to the number of modifications which can slow down your website even more.

Can get expensive - More apps and modifications can require more maintenance. All of these things can add up and cost more in the long run.


Because the user experience is very important, having a slow-loading website can be a hindrance to your business. Customers will get tired and annoyed at pages that take too long to load and this also takes away time from where they could’ve been browsing products or checking out their carts. 

Spending on a modified custom theme can end up at the same price as a fully customized theme with less benefits. A modified theme will require a lot of maintenance and changes which can add to costs. As mentioned, every change will require you to work or hire a developer again. These will also take time and may result in a slower loading website. Which brings us to our next point.

Custom Themes

These are themes specifically made and designed to fit your brand, business goals, and match your customers’ needs. Everything that can help improve your business from the way your website looks to the functions, and the flow are all designed with your business in mind. That is why this is such a good choice for big businesses as it makes the Shopify store stand out. As your website is being built, any issues or bugs will be fixed and tested before launch, and you will be aware of each development stage.

Custom Themes

Pros

Cons

Faster website - no unnecessary codes are placed which can speed up your website’s loading time. There is no code bloating here.

May get expensive - you will be hiring a team of specialized professionals so it will come with a price. Prices can differ according to the experience and skill of the designers and developers. You will also need them again for maintenance and for scaling.

Designed specifically for your brand -  Everything is built from scratch so designers and developers can include all aspects of your brand in every detail. Your specific customer’s discovery phase and journey are also taken into consideration so it can be more effective for your brand.

It will take time - unlike a premade template that takes minutes to install, a high-quality website needs to be worked for quite some time as every stage needs to go through testing and cannot be rushed. A fully customized website can take a couple of weeks to months before it can get launched.

Better functionality -  because your business is at the core of the design and development in a custom theme, developers can place features that are essential to your business.


Custom themes done by Shopify experts are backed with data and experiences from previous clients so it is more optimized for your specific business needs. It will require investment in money and time but it is vital for a growing business.


Pop and Suki

Check out this beautiful design at fashion brand, Pop & Suki. Their homepage immediately makes an impact and moves you to look at their products. The brand is catered to women who love fashion. It is feminine, floral, beautiful and classy. The website is a great example of a custom theme as it is able to implement those characteristics. Their brand is well represented and the website’s layout highlights their products.



The pages load quickly, the photos are in high-resolution, and the navigation is simple enough for customers to use and browse from. 

Here at Webinopoly, our custom Shopify websites are made with your business goals in mind. Our Shopify designers and developers focus on conversion optimization, improved UI/UX, and want clients to get ROI.

Because of our dedicated team, we’ve managed to help over 200+ businesses, both big and small, with their website design, development, and marketing needs. If you’d like to check what we can do, click here to view our portfolio.

Final words

So, which is better? Custom themes versus Templates/Modified

Look back on where your business is and what your future goals are. This can help you decide where you want to go and how to go about it. Next, check how much budget can you allocate to develop the store and how much you expect to earn later on. You also need to know what functions your customers are looking for and what you and your staff need to keep the business as efficient as possible.

Your website is a representation of your business on the internet. It should be inviting, attractive, and easy to use. While Shopify’s themes are great, a custom theme for your brand is really the way to go in the long run especially if you are fully invested in growing your business. A small business can get away with even free themes but a customized theme can give your business the functions it will need when you scale. It is also well optimized so it loads much faster and functions better while providing a design specifically made for your brand. All these things can lead to better conversion and a more successful business.

If you need to design, develop or build your Shopify website, get in touch with your Shopify Experts at Webinopoly.

Webinopoly is an Award-Winning Digital Agency and are experts in Design, Setup, Development, and Marketing. We house trusted and top-notch Shopify experts who can help entrepreneurs like you build your online business. Our services range from building your Shopify store to theme customization, website development, migration to Shopify, SEO, and marketing.

Connect with us

If you’re ready to start, you may call us at 713-805-5888, email us at [email protected], or leave us a message here.

Learn more about Webinopoly

If you’d like to learn more about what we can do or view our portfolio, please click on the links below:

See our previous work here

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Moe Farhat

He is an author, entrepreneur & founder of Webinopoly & multiple IT companies. Moe has been featured multiple times as one of top Shopify experts, Entrepreneur Magazine says he is a “Shopify Wizard” one of the 100 most brilliant Shopify Experts.

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