In the last few weeks, I’ve helped two companies who have had to completely re-build their Shopify e-commerce websites after previous Shopify website developers set their websites up in a risky way which caused one website to completely crash, and the other became a big mess.
Firstly, How does Shopify work?
Shopify is an e-commerce website platform, which has features and optional apps on offer that are specifically designed to help you run your online store.
Unlike some website platforms where you can create whatever design you like, Shopify limits you to choosing and customising a theme (you could call this a template). You can then add functionality to your online store by picking and choosing apps that are either free or require a subscription.
Plan before you begin
It’s important to spend time at the beginning of your website process thinking about what functionality and design you would like your website to have, before choosing a theme.
Otherwise, you may pick a theme that is too basic and you’ll be adding lots of paid apps to your store to make up for the features it lacks. That gets expensive. It might also tempt you into finding someone who will add custom code to your website which will add extra functionality but also means there's a risk your website will not break - which happened to a business I worked with this month.
Avoid Custom Code
Where businesses can get frustrated with Shopify, is that sometimes choosing a theme and choosing from a range of apps seems annoying and restricting. Some businesses know exactly what website design they want and don’t want to compromise.
A company that came to me last month had been promised by a website agency they could have a completely custom design on Shopify and anything they wanted, could be built with custom code.
After months and months of the website not working correctly and being unable to be finished, they came to me to have their website rebuilt from scratch. We had to delete everything that had been built and start right back at the beginning.
Avoid Third-Party Themes
Shopify has so many themes to choose from with such a variety of features that it makes sense to choose one on offer. The biggest bonus of choosing a Shopify approved theme is that they are responsible for it working. This means if the theme ever gets a bug or needs updating, Shopify is responsible and they will get in touch with the theme developer for a fix. You don’t have to worry about any website maintenance.
If you pick a third-party theme, then you’re reliant on whoever built it to maintain it, fix issues, and keep it live.
A few weeks ago a company approached me and their website was completely down. All that was appearing when you visited their site, was a white screen. It made no sense. Understandably this was really stressful for them.
After reaching out to Shopify support, they were told there was nothing Shopify could help with and essentially they now had to rebuild their website from scratch. They couldn’t get in touch with the third-party theme builder and essentially no help was available.
What to take away
Shopify is a fantastic e-commerce website platform when you use it correctly. Planning your website before choosing a theme, and avoiding custom code and third-party themes - will help you create a fantastic online store with no issues.