This week we give you Part 2 of the Shopify for Beginners series! In this post we are breaking down some of the top questions we get from boutique owners just getting started with Shopify We asked our Head Dreamer Angela and Top Project Manager Karla for their thoughts, so if you’re thinking about jumping into ecommerce, this Shopify for Beginners series will hopefully answer some of your most burning questions!
So let's take a look at how to set up the foundations of a thriving Shopify store!
Psst… And if video is more your style, check out the Q&As on our YouTube channel!
Ok, so some of the top questions we get from boutique owners just getting started with Shopify revolve around some of the nuts and bolts of ecommerce stores - design and branding, choosing a theme, and what apps to add into your store Shopify. This can cause a lot of overwhelm and indecision (or, *whispers in ecommerce*, bad decisions for your store 👀)
That’s why we wanted to take all our juicy knowledge and put it in one place for you guys to be able to check out - we hope that will help take out some of the potential agony of setting up your store for the first time!
❓ Do I need a designer to build a Shopify store?
❓ Should I start with a paid or free theme?
❓ Which apps do I need as a beginner?
Do I need a designer to build a Shopify store?
To hire a designer, or to not hire a designer, that is the ecommerce question….
And honestly, this decision really depends on your budget. It is perfectly possible to DIY it - and there are some great tools out there - but if your budget allows you to get a professional in to design a logo and develop a coherent brand image and brand identity with the perfect color palettes - it really does make a difference to get the cornerstone of your brand done professionally.
Investing in your brand is the best thing you can do for yourself, but if you’re just starting out, there are some amazing tools like Canva that can be your friend until you are ready to get a professional in.
And budget aside, this is also about knowing your strengths and weaknesses, what your business priorities are, and knowing when it is best to hire a task out because it will save you a whole mental load. And trust us, that can be worth so much more than money 😎
If you are hiring a developer or a designer, you want to make sure that whoever helps you will set it up in such a way that you can maintain it afterwards. That’s why we offer after-sales support and free training videos to our clients - we want them to be able to run their business with ease well into the future.
👉 So the short answer (if you’re still reading) is that you don’t need a designer to build your Shopify store, but it’s a nice-to-have if your budget allows for it, and it can save you a whole heap of time and energy getting it done by a professional.
Should I start with a paid or free theme?
At this point, Head Dreamer Angela and Project Manager Karla descended into a full out war. LOL, just kidding….
Y’all, themes on Shopify is a whole conversation.
And the main thing we want to get across is that you should always go with an official theme from Shopify, or someone legit like our favorites Out of The Sandbox. That way you are guaranteed a quality product and top notch support.
After that, well… It’s just a matter of personal preference 😉
But seriously. The starting point is that you MUST make sure that you are super clear on what your must-haves are - what you want your website to be able to do in terms of functionality. Getting this straight is fundamental.
Look for your required features, and remember to not get hung up on the branding on the demo sites, because most of the look and the feel can actually be customized through design. So seek all the nooks and crannies and peer right into them! Examine all the menus and tabs and sections and blocks to know exactly what you’re signing up for. We always say you're never gonna find a theme that's drop dead perfect for you, but this is about figuring out what's going to be the best starting point and then building upon it from there.
When you hire a designer, they can guide you through different themes and theme features before you invest, and they will strive to find out what you want out of your store and make recommendations based on that.
But if you are going to be doing this yourself, then opting for a free basic theme like Minimal is a great place to start, and it’s probably better than rushing into a paid theme that you're not ready for and can be really hard for you to set up. When you’re ready, you can upgrade to a more comprehensive theme with all the fancy bells and whistles.
👉 When it comes to Paid themes, we love Icon and Turbo (can you tell?!), but if you want to know the full in’s and out’s of our favorite themes, make sure you check out our Theme Showdown - our very own Hot Mess Top 5 Themes guide.
Which apps do I need as a beginner?
Ooooh, we love this question, because we know that for real this can get you like a kid in a candy store trying to build your store! 🍭
So when it comes to apps, the best place to start is with this question: what problem are you trying to solve?
Try to look at it from a problem solving perspective, rather than a what-can-I-have perspective. That’s because when you start adding apps, they can quickly stack up. They can cost you a lotttttt of money before you even blink, so the goal is to make sure you are fully utilizing the apps that you have. So focus on what matters, not whatever is new and shiny!
In the beginning - and frankly for a lot of your business - what matters most is probably revenue and driving traffic to your website. So, before you even think about apps and what they could do for you, make sure you think about whether there is a real issue that you're having in your own business and if there is some way to make this process easier - that's when it's time to look for an app.
But remember: take things one step at a time and always optimize and maximize before you move on - squeeze every last drop out of your apps!
And there you have it! That's a wrap for Part 2 in our Shopify for Beginners series - setting up the foundations of your Shopify Store!
Stay tuned for Parts 3 and 4 coming soon!