Shopify Expert Insights

E-Com Advice from our experienced in-house team

Shopify Themes: Your Online Store’s Fashion Statement

When chatting with potential clients about their Shopify store's theme, the choices can get a bit muddled. Custom themes, premium themes with added tweaks, no-code setups, and where to actually get a theme—all of these options can leave folks scratching their heads. The term 'custom' alone often carries its own set of preconceptions. That's when Anne Thomas, a theme developer on our team, swooped in with her clever suit analogy, which she originally shared in a Shopify Meetup presentation.

Choosing a Shopify theme is like picking an outfit for your online store. It dictates how your store looks and feels to your customers. Let's explore the options you have.

Theme Store

These are themes available directly from Shopify's Theme Store. They're like buying a trusted, well-reviewed brand item from a department store.


  • High quality and regularly updated
  • Supported by Shopify
  • Optimized for conversions
  • Extra templates in premium themes
  • Great value
  • Free unlimited trials


  • Can look similar to other stores
  • May contain unused code
  • Many settings can be overwhelming
  • Updates may not work with some apps


Theme with Tweaks

This is like buying a nice outfit off the rack, then getting it tailored for better fit. You start with a free or premium theme, then customize it with code.


  • More custom design
  • Can update if code is documented
  • Optimized code improves performance
  • Can replace apps with built-in features


  • Too many tweaks can cause issues
  • Changes must be documented
  • Some areas are difficult to customize


Custom Theme

A custom theme is like having a bespoke outfit tailor-made just for you. It's built from scratch based on your needs and vision.


  • Excellent performance
  • Completely unique design
  • No unnecessary code
  • No limits beyond time and budget


  • Higher initial cost
  • Requires ongoing maintenance
  • Dependent on developers' skills


Third Party Marketplaces

In my view, these are the fast fashion of themes - may look stylish but quality is questionable. After bad experiences with marketplace themes, we avoid these inexpensive but often inferior options. There may be some gems, but it's not worth the risk.

Outfit Analogy Recap

  • Bespoke outfit = Custom Theme
  • Basic off the rack = Free Theme
  • Pricier off the rack, altered = Premium Theme
  • Tailored off the rack = Theme with Tweaks
  • Cheap, questionable quality = Third Party Marketplaces