Shopify templates provide business owners with a solid foundation for launching an eCommerce store. Templates provide a professional and consistent design to your “digital front door.” Quality, mobile-first design is absolutely imperative if you hope to make a positive impression on potential customers.
There’s no longer any denying that eCommerce represents the way of the future. Given the ubiquity of smartphones and social media, it’s easier than ever for online stores to prosper. However, despite the myriad opportunities, many obstacles stand in the way of online success. These include creating an attractive website and staying on top of current trends. Now more than ever, it pays to have all your bases covered before opening up an online store.
One of your foremost decisions will be the template you choose to present your products. The most critical aspect of choosing one is its aesthetic appeal. Remember…this will be what people see when they first visit your site. Other factors — such as the template’s user experience, speed, and visual aspects — also play a huge role in how well your online products will sell.
With so many free options available at Shopify’s official store and several other third-party template providers, it can be hard to find the right one for you. Listed below are some of the best free Shopify templates you can use for your online store this year. Let’s start by spelling out what you need to look for in your search for a Shopify template for your store.
Factors to Consider When Selecting a Shopify Template for Your Online Store
Shopify is one of the best eCommerce platforms and it comes loaded with many stunning free templates. Before browsing for a template, though, it’s best to make a list of must-have features so you know what to look for. Picking a great design and maintaining an attractive-looking website are still vitally important.
- 75% of website users think that credibility is determined by design.
- 89% of customers shop with a competitor after a poor user experience.
- 38% of people leave a website if it’s unattractive.
While one wants to have a gorgeous-looking online shop, functionality and added features should be the primary consideration while choosing a template. OK, but what are the top functionalities you need? Here are some thoughts as to what comprises a user-friendly template:
- large storefront display
- high-quality visuals
- optimized-for-mobile experience
- intuitive design
- easy checkout
- customizable home page and content section
- SEO-friendly shop
- engaging product descriptions
- social media icons
- drop-down navigation menu
- free updates
There are so many features available in various templates. You’ll need to decide which are most important based on your requirements to reach a final decision. Listed below are some factors you should consider while making your decision.
1. Make sure the template is compatible with your Shopify plan.
If you select a Shopify store template, chances are that you will not encounter any compatibility issues. If you want to install a third-party template on your Shopify store, you’ll have to check a few things.
The first thing is to make sure that the template was built using Liquid. If you’re not sure, ask the template developer. Liquid is the only template language that’s compatible with Shopify.
Shopify is very cautious about third-party templates. They make it clear that risks exist. Before using a third-party template, be sure that it will work on Shopify by looking at how it’s built and if regular support is available.
There aren’t any Shopify fees for customer support on free templates from its official store. However, not all templates allow for all types of customization. With a basic Shopify plan or higher, support will answer questions in two to four days and you’ll receive 60 minutes of complimentary support.
If customer service is an essential factor for you, consider leveling up on Shopify’s paid templates. You can also check customer reviews, testimonials, and feedback to see if there have been problems using a specific template.
2. Consider how many products you’ll be selling and if any special features will make your store stand out from others.
Another important consideration is the type and quantity of products you’re selling. Do you want to have some products featured prominently compared to the rest? Do you want testimonials displayed or maybe a video playing?
Search for special features that can make your particular store stand out. Many templates are made for small catalogs. Some can only show one or two product categories. Others can showcase a large number of products and collections. You’ll want to check if the template you want to use is made for the number of products your online store offers.
Additionally, look for essential features such as search engine optimization, abandoned cart email, and integration of other marketing features in your template.
3. Choose a Shopify template that matches your brand’s identity, including colors and fonts.
The template you select needs to reflect your brand. Colors, font, and design should match your logo and brand colors. Think about famous brands such as Coca-Cola or Ikea. They build brand trust by maintaining consistency with color and design.
If you want to build a business that grows and is sustainable, create a name and symbol easily identifiable as belonging to a specific company. It’s one way to distinguish yourself from the sea of competition.
A template that does not reflect your brand logo and colors will prove detrimental in the long run. Some Shopify alternatives such as Wix offer add-on tools such as a logo maker. These help ensure your brand’s groundwork is done before you go live with your online store.
At first, it may not be easy to find a template that fits the brand colors. Just remember that you can customize most templates. To be sure, check if the template allows changing the primary colors.
4. Look for Shopify templates with features such as product sliders, product carousels, and customizable headers.
Templates provide a variety of features and customization. However, not all of them allow for significant changes. Check before installing the template what it can do. Some templates have sliders or a large homepage image. Some even have carousels.
If you like collections, find a template that allows you to show product collections on the front page or display collections categories on the sidebar. These can even include advanced product filtering.
For example, you can find a template with unique features such as a built-in age checker for products that have a shelf life. Others might provide a virtual try-on for clothing and accessories.
The list goes on. Search for templates with features that fit your line of work and come with innovative features to boost your online presence.
5. The template should look familiar.
One faulty assumption is that a fancy new template can be more attractive than a commonly used standard template. This isn’t always the case. Customers and regular website visitors are used to specific standards and predefined navigation styles for online stores.
For example, customers expect to see cart access in the top right corner, not in the footer or other locations. Users appreciate credibility, crave instant gratification, follow instinct when searching for what they need, and want to maintain control.
Some of the best Shopify templates are familiar and intuitive. Use one that looks familiar to shoppers.
6. Figure out how your products look on the Shopify template.
Before choosing a template, you’ll want to figure out what the product page ought to look like. Try using your products’ images with the template you’re considering.
If you only look at the demo or preview template, the final result may not look the same once you upload your own images and products. If you don’t have high-quality photos of your products, avoid templates that feature large product images.
7. Choose a mobile-friendly template.
According to a study by Statista, mobile shopping is projected to reach $3.56 trillion in 2021. That’s an increase of 22% compared to 2020 and mobile users are now estimated at approximately 5.2 billion. The trend is only expected to grow, according to a report by Datareportal.
It’s essential to verify that the template you select is optimized for mobile devices and tablets. Check its speed and confirm mobile responsiveness. No matter how visually appealing your online store is, you might miss a huge opportunity to leverage a massive chunk of audiences if it isn’t mobile-friendly.
7 Best Free Shopify Templates in 2021
Now that you know what to look for in a Shopify template, here’s a list of the best free templates available for your online store.
Thalia is a clean and minimalist template perfect for apparel and fashion stores. Its features include a responsive slideshow, advanced filters, and a slide-out cart. The template is fully customizable for color, typography, and settings.
The design is clean and straightforward, which helps visitors focus on the products. If you want your visitors to zero in on what you have to offer and don’t want too many fancy features, this minimalist template might be for you.
Simple is a template that reflects its name. It’s clean and straightforward. If you’re looking for a template that can showcase your products without additional complications, this is a good choice. It has plenty of white space. This gives an overall orderly impression and allows for the display of an extensive collection of products.
Simple comes with a sidebar menu to display categories and collections. There’s a product image zoom feature included with the template. Additionally, this template shows related products to help you increase conversion rates.
Simple can work for various industries and is a perfect fit for those who don’t want a cluttered-looking online store.
Venture is perfect for outdoor activities, adventures, and sports. The template includes large images and text overlays, excellent for stores that sell outdoor adventure products. The home page convincingly showcases product categories and the popular items you want to display.
Venture is a template designed primarily for large product categories. If you have only a few products, it might be better to opt for another template. Venture includes a multi-color menu, slideshow, promotional bar, product filtering, and single featured product.
Debut boosts your brand’s visual appeal along with showcasing your products. It’s beautiful, clutter-free, and very flexible.
Some of Debut’s primary features include a slideshow, pick-up availability, predictive search, customer testimonials, promotional banner, small catalog, home page video, product recommendation, and product filtering.
If you’re looking for a template to support a small catalog but offer advanced features, this template might be a great choice.
Minimal is a compelling template, entirely true to its name. It was designed to sell different product categories and fit various industries. This template comes in three different styles: Vintage (artwork and clothing), Fashion (apparel), and Modern (all types of products).
Minimal is a highly customizable template with features such as slideshow, product image zoom, home page video, product filtering, and product recommendations.
Supply is the perfect template for selling electronics and it can showcase extensive inventories. It displays large images, offers a clutter-free design, and offers an excellent user experience. If you value user experience above anything else, this template is perfect for you.
Supply is highly customizable, responsive, and SEO-friendly. Some of its exclusive features include a slideshow, drop-down navigation support, social media icons (necessary to boost your Shopify sales), collections display, and advanced filtering.
Narrative’s forte is its unique styles and colors. It works perfectly for small catalogs with preferably one or two product categories. Narrative is best suited for small businesses that want visual storytelling. It’s highly customizable and gives you the flexibility to play around with different features.
Narrative features a full-screen video with an autoplay function and a pop-up menu activated based on user activity. Narrative includes fixed navigation and a comprehensive layout.
When looking for a free Shopify template, you’ll want to consider many things, including features to the template’s technical specifications. Check if the template is customizable to meet the store’s needs such as availability of product carousels, homepage video, and display collections.
These are only a few of the points to consider when searching for a free template. Shopify has many great free templates that look quite similar to custom templates designed by a professional agency. Each template is different and comes with various options to fit different industries.
True, it can be confusing to find a great template for your online store. However, the tips listed above should help you get started finding the one that works best for you.