What is the best free Shopify theme?

How to choose the best free theme for your Shopify site

Shopify 2.0 themes

Before you get started looking at themes, you should know that Shopify has introduced a new theme structure that makes many things behind the scenes more streamlined and consistent. They call these themes 2.0 themes. While you can still buy themes that are not 2.0, it makes sense to start with 2.0 themes because Shopify is phasing out all its older themes, and will likely require all theme developers to adhere to the 2.0 standards in the not too distant future. 

There are currently 8 free Shopify 2.0 themes and over 80 total 2.0 themes. Most Shopify stores use free themes. More than 50% of all Shopify stores run on the free Debut theme. But that may not be your favorite, so how do you choose?

The big secret about Shopify themes is that they are all based on one theme, Dawn which is a free theme. Though there are differences between themes, you can make most themes work with most products. Theme developers use stock images to help you see what a theme would look like with active wear, or jewelry, or shoes, or children’s clothing. Don’t be fooled by this, the important  decisions are more about structure than about photos. You can change images, fonts, colors and add and remove sections on virtually all themes to craft them into a framework that supports your brand.

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Home page

Do you want sliders on your home page? Do you want a single large image or multiple images? Do you want to have sections on your home page like sale items, or new items? Do you have a story to tell before customers start shopping? Answering these questions will help you narrow your choices. 

Product pages

There are differences between product pages as well, and some are pretty subtle. Is the shopping cart icon a cart or a bag? Does it show the number of items in the cart? Does it have a drawer function? Does it use a grid or mix things up? Does it have a hover function on the thumbnails? As you go through the different themes think about your target customer and keep asking yourself if the theme makes it easy for her/him to shop.  When in doubt, keep it simple.

Changing your mind

One of the best things about using a platform like Shopify is that you can easily change your theme and refresh your online brand. You can preview themes without buying them and even have several themes in your arsenal. You can have a theme for each season, or themes based on different colors. The limit is twenty themes in the queue, but only one can be your live theme at any time.

Paid theme or free theme?

What if you really like a paid theme? One of the most asked questions is “Why are paid Shopify themes so expensive?” The answer is two-fold. First Shopify only allows developers to charge once for a theme and then they must update it for free. So developers have to build in the price of updates. The second consideration is the time it takes to develop a theme. Even if all the themes are base off of one theme, the developers have done the customization for you to make it more interesting. If you really like a paid theme, try it out. Preview it on you site for free and see if the extra pizzaz is worth the money.