How to Avoid Custom Shopify Theme Disaster: Part 2

This is part two of a three part series on the essential features to include if you're having a Shopify theme custom developed for your store. If you missed the first, catch it here. The focus of these aren't highly complex features, but basic, flexible customizations you should expect to find in a custom theme (because most of them are available in premium themes available on the Shopify Store).

Part II

1. Hero homepage slider. Make sure it has the following options:

  • At least 5 different slides
  • Video support
  • Title, subtitle, call-to-action button (i.e. ‘Shop now’)
    • Position and color options for each

Most themes come with an optional hero slideshow. This is obvious. Not all of them come with a sufficient number of options to really take advantage of them. Hero slideshows provide you with the opportunity to clearly and succinctly tell visitors what your shop stands for, and what it sells. If you don’t have the ability to layer in that information, via headlines, subtitles, and call-to-action buttons, it’s worthless.

If it does include those options, make sure you can choose where on the slide they appear. One universal position isn’t going to work for every image, so it’s helpful to have the option to left justify, right justify, or center that information.

BONUS POINTS: if you can input custom padding/offsets to really tweak that content’s information.

2. Homepage product carousel 

(Above, Screenshots of the product carousel on the Testament Premium Theme)

A product carousel is really effective for websites that have a large number of products that they’d like to feature on the homepage, without making it three miles of scrolling. Think of the product carousel as an opportunity to display various categories of product on your site. Most often, carousels will display whichever collection  you choose. Sites with large inventories will benefit from having 3-5 different carousel options on the homepage, while more boutique shops may need just one or two.

BONUS POINTS: See if you can specify the number of images to display inside the carousel. Some shop owners like really large images, while others may like an approach that displays smaller thumbnails. In general, the more you specify to be displayed, the smaller they’ll appear on the homepage (and vice versa). 

3. Tag based collection filtering

(Above, screenshot of filtering using Power Tools filter menu)

Any shop that has over a dozen products is going to want to give visitors the option to filter products inside of a collection based on tags (as defined by you). This is especially helpful if your shop serves a niche. Maybe you’ve only got 30 products, but they’re 30 different types of CB radio. If so, your customers are going to want to be able to filter their results in some way (whether thats by price, feature, etc.).

I’ve noticed that some developers get cagey when they’re asked to create a filtering menu. It’s not my favorite either - and if your develop is going to charge you excessively to add the feature, consider an app by Power Tools. It allows you to create a filter menu on your site, similar to Amazon’s. They’ll even install it for you (at the time of this writing, about $150).

BONUS POINTS: If you have filtering built into your theme and don’t go the app route, make sure it includes more than 2 types of parameters. 

4. Product image zoom

(Above, an example of product image zoom on Sandlot Goods, whose products have intricate stitch details)

If your shop is one that sells products with intricacy that can’t be fully appreciated with a simple thumbnail (like, if you’re selling pasta… this might not matter….), you'll want the option to upload high quality images that let people zoom in and see in a detailed manner.

BONUS POINTS: It’s best to make sure this is an on/off options for your theme. You might not launch with high-quality photos, but if your store grows, you’ll want to flip the switch on to let customers investigate your products in all their glory. 

What do you think about the features above? If there are other must-have features for someone paying to have a theme custom developed, we'd love to hear about it in the comments below. Tune in for part 3 next week!