September 1, 2023

Shopify Plus Theme Development: Where to Start

Shopify Plus Development: Theme

The Importance of Shopify Themes: Your Store’s Personality

Themes are not mere decorations; they are the foundational bricks of your online store. They set the tone, convey your brand identity, and guide the customer’s experience.

The selection of a theme must align with your brand’s core values, aesthetics, and functional requirements.

It’s about creating an environment where customers feel welcomed and engaged.

Your store’s theme is a digital mirror reflecting your brand’s identity. It’s the colour scheme that resonates with your ethos, the fonts that speak in your brand’s voice, and the layout that maps your business’s philosophy.

From the banner that welcomes visitors to the icons that guide them, every design choice tells a story about who you are and what you value.

And that’s why getting theme development right is so essential.

With 57% of internet users admitting they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed website, your theme development can make or break your ecommerce business.

So where do you start? And what are the key elements that ensure success? Whether you’re an ecommerce business leader based in Manchester, or a marketing manager located in Europe, you’ll need the answer to these questions.

In this guide we’ll answer both, detailing the coding basics, the importance of UX and UI, and smart design, amongst other factors.

Table of Contents

  • Shopify Plu Theme Development: What’s the Code?

  • Understanding Your Users: UX Fundamentals

  • Creating the Visual Pathway: UI

  • The Nuances of Development and Design: A Step Further

  • Other Considerations

Shopify  PlusTheme Development: What’s the Code?

Shopify themes are crafted using a combination of several coding languages and can be enhanced by a handful of applications that really make life easier.

Understanding these is essential for customising themes and building a tailored online store that aligns with your brand’s unique vision.

Let’s break down the core components:

HTML: Structuring Your Online Store

HTML (HyperText Markup Language) is the backbone of any web page. It’s used to create the structure of your online store, defining elements like headers, paragraphs, images, and links. In Shopify theme development, HTML allows you to create the basic layout and content structure of your site.

CSS: Styling and Design

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used to control the appearance of your HTML elements within your Shopify theme.

It defines the visual style of your site, including fonts, colours, spacing, and layout. In Shopify, you can use CSS to fine-tune your theme’s design, ensuring it aligns perfectly with your brand’s aesthetic.

JavaScript: Interactive Elements

JavaScript is the key to adding interactivity and dynamic content to your Shopify store. Whether it’s a sliding image carousel, real-time product availability updates, or interactive product customisation tools, JavaScript enhances the user experience by making your store more engaging and responsive.

Liquid: Shopify’s Templating Language

Liquid is Shopify’s proprietary templating language. It’s used to load dynamic content on your store, allowing for personalised experiences based on user behaviour, preferences, or interactions.

For example, Liquid can be used to display specific product recommendations based on a user’s browsing history.

With Liquid, you can pull in data from your Shopify store and manipulate it within your theme. It gives you the flexibility to customise your store’s functionality, tailoring it to your specific business needs and customer expectations.

The Tools and Applications That You Need to Know About

Shopify theme development isn’t just about writing code; it’s also about managing and collaborating on projects, especially if you’re working within a team. Tools like Git enables version control, allowing multiple developers to work on a project simultaneously without conflicting changes.

Platforms like GitHub or Bitbucket can be used to store and manage code repositories, enhancing collaboration, and providing a historical record of changes. These tools are vital for maintaining the integrity of the development process and ensuring a smooth workflow.

Understanding Your Users: UX Fundamentals

The foundation of an exceptional customer journey begins with a thorough understanding of your target audience. What are their needs, expectations, and pain points?

UX design seeks to answer these questions by prioritising functionality, usability, and user adaptability. Here are some critical considerations:

Empathy Mapping

This involves creating user personas to represent different customer segments. By understanding their emotions, pain points, and desires, you can tailor your online store’s functionality to their needs.

User Flow Mapping

Creating a flowchart of the user’s navigation through your site helps in identifying potential roadblocks and ensuring that users find what they want quickly and efficiently.

Responsiveness and Accessibility

Your online store must be accessible on various devices and browsers. Implementing responsive design ensures that the user’s experience is consistent and enjoyable, no matter how they’re accessing your store.

Feedback and Iteration

Implementing feedback mechanisms, like surveys or interactive elements, can offer valuable insights into user satisfaction. Regular updates and iterations based on feedback ensure that the UX evolves with the user’s needs.

Creating the Visual Pathway: UI Design

While UX focuses on how the online store feels, UI design is concerned with how it looks. It’s about the aesthetic elements that guide the user’s eye and create an emotional connection. A visually appealing design is not just about beauty; it’s about communication and guidance. Here are the essential aspects:

Branding Consistency

From colours to typography, every visual element must align with your brand identity. Consistency builds recognition and trust, and a well-designed UI conveys professionalism.

Clear Navigation

Uncluttered menus, visible calls to action, and logical page hierarchy make navigation intuitive. Users should never feel lost; each element should guide them to the next step effortlessly.

Visual Hierarchy

Using contrast, size, colour, and space, you can guide the user’s attention to the most crucial parts of the page. Strategic placement of elements helps in creating a visual story that leads to conversion.


These are small animations or visual cues that respond to the user’s actions, like a colour change when a product is added to the cart. Micro-interactions enhance the interactive feel of your site, making it appear alive and responsive to the user’s actions.

The Nuances of Development and Design: A Step Further

When discussing design in the context of Shopify theme development, you must go beyond mere aesthetics. The design of an online store represents a harmonious marriage between visual appeal, functionality, and brand coherence. Here’s a look at the intricate nuances of design that make it so essential.

a) Visual Storytelling

Design is your visual storyteller. Through the careful selection of colours, imagery, typography, and layout, it narrates your brand’s ethos, values, and uniqueness. This visual narrative can captivate, engage, and resonate with your visitors, turning casual browsers into committed customers.

b) Usability and Accessibility

Designing with the user in mind is paramount. A design that prioritises usability ensures that visitors can effortlessly navigate, find what they need, and complete their purchase without friction. Ensuring accessibility to all users, including those with disabilities, reflects an inclusive approach that broadens your audience reach.

c) Responsiveness and Adaptation

In a multi-device world, your design and build must adapt and respond to various screen sizes and platforms. From desktop to mobile, the design should offer a seamless experience, aligning with modern consumer behaviour and enhancing satisfaction.

Shopify theme development is both an art and a science. It requires a deep understanding of coding languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Liquid, as well as a flair for design and user experience. The right blend of these elements brings a Shopify theme to life, turning a static template into a dynamic, engaging online store.

Other Considerations

Themes are not just about appearance; they’re also about performance. A well-coded theme that’s optimised for speed and responsiveness, ensures that your store loads quickly and functions smoothly across various devices. This functional aspect of the theme enhances user satisfaction, potentially leading to higher conversion rates.

The world of Shopify themes is vast, with options ranging from ready-made templates to fully customisable designs. This flexibility allows you to start with a basic structure and then tailor it to fit your brand’s unique personality. Want to highlight customer testimonials? There’s a theme for that. Need to showcase a large inventory with multiple categories? There’s a theme for that too. Your theme is like a versatile canvas, waiting for your creative touch.

Whether you’re a business owner seeking to build a unique online presence or a developer crafting tailored ecommerce experiences, mastering these coding languages and tools is essential. With creativity and technical skill, the code becomes more than just lines of text; it becomes the fabric of a brand’s online identity.

In the ever-growing world of ecommerce, where competition is fierce, and consumer expectations are high, the attention to detail in coding can be the defining factor that sets your Shopify store apart. It’s not merely about functionality; it’s about creating a seamless, captivating online journey that resonates with your audience and aligns with your brand.

CSP Commerce | Manchester Shopify and Ecommerce Agency

From brand through to demand, we support and manage ecommerce growth at each stage of the commerce journey.  Our extensive knowledge and experience in ecommerce have established us as industry leaders for our capabilities in performance marketing, marketplace management, social commerce, and Shopify, Shopify Plus and WooCommerce web development.
We’re a Manchester ecommerce agency that works with retailers as committed to growth as we are. Our performance and platforms first approach is tailored to the ambitious brands and online retailers we partner with. As part of Wunderman Thompson Commerce, we are uniquely positioned to support businesses to scale nationally to globally.
We’ll hand-select a team of specialists to work with clients and operate as an extension of their ecommerce department. We are accountable for delivering measurable results that grow reach and revenue. Together, we will work to scale and sell your products across online channels.
If you’re serious about growth then start your journey with us. Let’s succeed and scale together.

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