Insights, Web Development

Building a Custom Shopify Theme from Scratch vs Modifying a Pre-Made One

Consider whether you should be modifying a pre-made Shopify theme or create a custom one from scratch.

Which one is the best option for an online business: modifying a pre-made Shopify theme or creating a fully custom one from scratch? In this article, we will discuss each option for building a store on the platform and what to consider before making that choice.

Why Is it so Important?

There’s no secret, that no matter we would like to believe otherwise, we all judge a book by its cover.  It is what attracts us to read the content and the same rule applies to the facade of an online business. The quality of a well-planned and structured website with great aesthetics and functionality directly leads to better conversion rates and overall success.

In short, if you build a Shopify store that is clean, well-designed, easy to search through, and intuitive, the visitors will have a good and positive experience and this will turn them into potential customers.

The question, however, is should you go for modifying one of the pre-made Shopify themes or build a custom Shopify theme? Let’s find out by brainstorming its purpose first.

What Needs to be Considered

Half the work is done if you ask the right questions. Whether you’re an agency building an online store for a client, or you’re starting a business, there are important factors to keep in mind.

  • Is this an MVP for a new business or an established brand?
  • Is it important to establish a brand?
  • What’s the time involved in building a Shopify theme from scratch?
  • How much customization a pre-made theme would require to suit the needs?
  • What’s the cost of building a new theme from scratch?
  • How soon the business needs to start operating?
  • Is there anything specific the website must have in terms of functionality?

What are the costs involved in the maintenance in the long run?

Using a Pre-made Shopify Theme

If you go to the Shopify theme store, you will see a rich variety of over 70 pre-packaged templates that serve the purpose of presentation layouts for your Shopify website. The themes range from free to $180 and can be customized and adapted to a brand with the help of an editor. And you can also find many other places to get good-looking pre-made Shopify themes.

Starting businesses with no long-term goals would benefit from a pre-made Shopify theme. For example, MVP for testing, a temporary store, or nothing that requires the store owner to put many resources in it. In that case, coding skills are not much needed as editing an existing theme is fairly easy. You can change colors, add or remove sections, create a blog, and organize the navigation intuitively.

  • Easy to use and start with
  • No coding skills required
  • Very affordable solution
  • Quickly put a business online
  • Rather good-looking design
  • Limited functionality
  • Somehow generic design
  • Comes with un-needed functionality
  • It May require adding more addons/apps
  • Custom development may increase costs

An existing Shopify theme is a great option for a business that holds benefits in the short run. However, a pre-made Shopify theme may not be able to keep up with the business once it starts to grow. The generic design of such a theme won’t differentiate the store from the others and the first step to building a brand is to make some significant modifications.

The Pricing Dilemma of the Modified Theme

This is neither an advantage nor a disadvantage but it’s a very important factor nonetheless.

In the short run, modifying an existing theme by adding third-party apps for the additional functionality, or ask an expert to add something on the top of the theme may be good enough in comparison to building a theme from scratch. However, with time the subscription fee for every app starts to add up, and maintaining the customizations can become quite expensive in the long run and a business might end up paying more for a longer period of time compared to a fully custom theme.

With this in mind, let’s proceed with the custom theme option.

Fully Custom Shopify Theme

Especially for establishing brands and businesses with long-term plans on the market, creating a theme from scratch goes for a unique brand design and high-quality user experience. In terms of design, the business is no longer bound to an existing theme. In addition, the cleaner code and built-in features grant a smoother experience and make the website load faster.

The business plans the online store from the very beginning. This means the architecture, functionality, and design will fit the potential customer’s needs. No unnecessary functions and code.

  • A unique look for a great first impression
  • Faster loading of the website
  • Almost no functionality limitations
  • Clean and optimized code
  • No unnecessary apps
  • Takes more time to go online
  • The initial investment could be higher
  • Requires experts work involvement
  • Not suitable for MVPs or testing the market

When it comes to a fully custom Shopify theme, this is what every business should consider. Budget: the initial investment is slightly higher compared to the other option, but reduced in the long run. Time: A quality custom Shopify theme requires more time because it goes through multiple phases like strategy, planning, design, development.

To Sum It Up:

Every business wants a unique, aesthetically pleasing, fast website with great navigation and various functionalities.

On one hand, building a custom Shopify theme from scratch is a big commitment that pays off in the long run. It’s a solution for establishing brands and growing businesses with plans to scale and invest.

On the other hand, small businesses and stores that test products and services will benefit more from the minimal cost of a pre-made Shopify theme with modifications. It requires almost no time to go online and start your business.

Have you decided which option is best for your business?

If you already have an idea of how you wish to modify your pre-built theme or decided to go fully custom, open discussion with our Shopify experts. We’d love to help you with a consultation, directions, or work with you.

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