Shopify dev

Shopify design restrictions explained

By Anastasia Grinevich April 12, 2023
Shopify design restrictions explained

According to InVision, 94% of initial impressions are heavily influenced by design, indicating that the design of a store plays a crucial role in shaping our perceptions and ultimately deciding whether we want to buy their products or come back again.

While Shopify does offer a great deal of design freedom to its merchants, the platform has received criticism for its restricted flexibility in this aspect. In this article, we strive to shed light on this issue and provide a comprehensive understanding of the situation.

Table of contents

Custom vs customized theme: different Shopify theme design options

Before we dive into the meat of the matter, let’s first distinguish between a custom and a customized theme. This will help us better understand the key points we’ll be discussing.

Customizing a theme

A customized theme is a pre-made theme that has been modified to suit the specific needs and preferences of the business. Essentially, the foundational design and functionality of the theme remain unchanged, but certain elements have been adjusted or added to make it unique to the store.

In the case of a customized theme, designers meticulously analyze all the requirements and desires of the customer to ensure alignment with the business objectives. They then select a theme as the design and structural content and scrutinize it with utmost care. Subsequently, drawing on all the data, they begin creating a customized theme.

Creating a theme from scratch

A custom theme, on the other hand, is a completely unique design crafted from scratch to fit the precise needs and preferences of the business. This implies that every aspect of the theme, from the layout and color scheme to the functionality and features, is exclusively tailored to the store.

In the case of a custom theme, the designer also analyzes the requirements and prepares layouts from scratch. But without any reference to the design of the Shopify theme.

As you can see in both cases, you are provided with a theme that has a certain degree of uniqueness. The difference lies in the fact that with a customized theme, the likelihood of encountering design restrictions imposed by Shopify is greater.

If you’re interested in delving further into this topic, we recommend reading our article, “Is a custom Shopify theme worth it?”.

Design restrictions are often closely linked to the goals and objectives set by the customer. Therefore, it is essential to thoroughly study the design requirements before selecting a suitable theme for customization or creating a design from scratch. To ensure the best outcome, skilled designers pay attention not only to the design itself but also to the structural content of the theme, checking whether the default sections meet all requirements or whether unique functionality must be developed.

However, it is worth noting that unique solutions require more time and resources, which can make them impractical for some projects. In such instances, limitations stem not from the competence or skills of the design team, but from the customer’s requirements.

When working with our customers, we understand that each project is unique and may come with specific requirements, including budgetary constraints. In such cases, we utilize the standard sections of the theme and make necessary modifications to create a website that meets the customer’s needs while staying within their budget.

However, we also recognize that some customers may have adequate resources and desire a more personalized theme. In these cases, we are fully capable of crafting a unique theme that is tailored to their specific requirements. Our team of skilled professionals will work closely with the customer to understand their vision and deliver a website that exceeds their expectations.

Shopify’s themes are constructed from a variety of sections, ranging from the header and footer to the product and cart pages. These sections impose certain limitations on the design process, requiring designers to work creatively within these parameters to deliver effective and visually appealing themes.

For instance, a designer may want to include a background video section, but the home page structure in Shopify may only allow a section with an image banner. In such a scenario, the designer would need to find creative ways to incorporate the desired idea while adhering to the limitations. This requires a deep understanding of Shopify’s framework and the ability to create designs that balance aesthetic appeal with functionality.

Similarly, when designing a product page, a designer may want to include additional elements like product reviews or videos, but the product section in Shopify may restrict how much information can be displayed or presented. Hence, designers must consider the available space and design within the platform’s confines to create a product page that captures the customer’s attention and presents the necessary information clearly.

Development restrictions

The Shopify developer policy also sets certain restrictions to minor adjustment of the Shopify checkout’s various UI elements, such as colors, fonts, and logo. However, while Shopify’s checkout may seem more fixed than those of other platforms, it’s important to note that this is due to careful research, extensive testing, and full conversion optimization.

It’s worth noting that with Shopify Plus, you have access to the “checkout.liquid” file, which unlocks more advanced customization options for the checkout. With Shopify Plus, you can adjust, edit and reorder checkout fields as needed.

If you’re looking to extend the functionality of your Shopify store, there are likely third-party apps available for it. But not all may fit your aesthetic requirements. 

However, you have other options. You could choose bespoke theme development to achieve total control and tailor the functionality to your exact needs. Alternatively, entrust a Shopify developer to customize third-party apps with HTML, CSS, or JavaScript, seamlessly integrating them with your store’s aesthetic. And for those specific features that require even more control, consider the power of private apps.

While Shopify themes may offer a basic level of accessibility by default, it’s important to remember that not all customers will have the same abilities or needs. In fact, web accessibility isn’t just a moral obligation, but it’s also a legal requirement in many parts of the world. That’s why it’s essential to carefully consider accessibility requirements when developing a store design from scratch or customizing a pre-made theme.

To ensure your Shopify store is accessible, there are several design restrictions that you should keep in mind. For instance, the contrast between text an

d background should be high enough to make it easy for users with visual impairments to read the content. The minimum contrast ratio should be 4.5:1 for normal text and 3:1 for large text. Additionally, it’s important to consider the size of the text and other elements on your website. Users with visual impairments may require larger text, and it’s essential to ensure that the website can accommodate this need.

Moreover, it’s also crucial to ensure that there is enough space between elements on your website. This can help make it easier to navigate for users with motor impairments. 

By taking these design restrictions into consideration, you can make your Shopify store accessible to a wider range of customers, including those with disabilities. This not only helps to comply with legal requirements but also shows that you care about providing a positive shopping experience for all customers, regardless of their abilities.

To wrap up

By keeping these restrictions in mind, you can ensure that your Shopify store is optimized for performance and usability within the constraints of the platform. It’s crucial to work within the limitations of the platform and make the most of the available resources to create a functional and visually appealing website.

We hope that this article has been helpful in addressing any concerns you may have had about Shopify’s design capabilities. If you still have any doubts or questions about any of the points above, head over to our Shopify design page for more information.

Anastasia Grinevich

Anastasia Grinevich

Anastasia is a Content Marketing Manager at SpurIT. She specializes in content and social media marketing and helps eCommerce companies and entrepreneurs reach more customers by creating engaging content with the best practices in SEO. Having worked with over 800 brands and influencers, Anastasia is experienced in creating effective campaigns for every type of industry in the market.