March 27, 2023

Why Shopify themes may be a better solution, over 'custom' projects

Craig Wymer, Shopify Developer
March 27, 2023

Ecommerce has become an integral part of the retail landscape, with more and more brands choosing to go reach their consumers online. And when it comes to creating an ecommerce store, Shopify's all-in-one platform provides a comprehensive set of tools to build, manage, scale and grow your ecommerce. But when it comes to the design and development of your new site, theres usually two main routes.

  1. Building a completely 'custom' theme
  2. Choosing a pre-built Shopify theme and tailoring it to your needs (with as little or as much customisation, as required)

We'll walk you through why more ecommerce brands should consider building with a Shopify theme and tailoring it to their requirements, rather than having to build completely custom, when working with a Shopify or Ecommerce Agency. We'll highlight the benefits of doing so, such as reduced risk to the brand and getting to market, much quicker.


One of the primary benefits of using a pre-built Shopify theme is that it reduces the risk to the brand. When you build a 'custom' theme, you are essentially starting from scratch... This means that there is a higher likelihood of errors, having to dedicate time to numerous rounds of revisions, testing and inconsistencies that can potentially harm your brand's reputation if those go live. By using a pre-built theme, you are leveraging your budget and time by working on an established framework which has already been tested, refined and met strict/set criteria (in order for Shopify to pass it as a premium theme).


Time costs in ecommerce, and the longer it takes to launch your site, the more it's ultimately costing your business. Building a custom theme from our experience can take several months, often 6 months plus (depending on the complexities and functionality within the project). However, using a pre-built Shopify theme can significantly reduce the time it takes to launch your site. Themes often come with a considerable amount of pre-built functionality, and you can easily customise them to fit your brand's specific needs and remove those that ultimately, do not.


One of the biggest misconceptions about pre-built Shopify themes is that they are not customisable or flexible enough to tailor the aesthetic look and feel to feel more, you. However, this is far from the truth. Shopify themes come with a considerable depth of customisation options, allowing you to tailor the theme to your brand's unique set of requirements. Often we find on re-platform migration projects (where the brand wants to take a custom option), a theme will provide them with more flexibility than their current solution, and also way more than taking custom route for the project.


Building a custom theme can be expensive (from experience this is often 2 to 3X the cost), and the costs can quickly spiral out of control with ‘Scope Creep’ where brands haven’t considered functionality or the ability to do something as an Admin User.

With a pre-built Shopify theme, you know exactly what you're getting upfront, and you can budget accordingly. This means that you can launch your Shopify site without breaking the bank, within budget and still get a customised and tailored aesthetic and functionality you require.


When it comes to using pre-built Shopify themes, there can be some misconceptions around performance and speed. Some brands often assume that because these themes are pre-built, they will be slower, ‘bloated’ and less optimised than a new shiny ‘custom-built’ theme. However, this isn’t necessarily true.

Shopify's theme development guidelines require all themes to meet certain performance standards. This means that even pre-built themes must be optimised for speed and performance. Additionally, many pre-built themes come with features like lazy loading, image compression and caching, which can help improve website speed and performance (which would have to all be built and written from scratch with a custom theme).

That being said, it's important to note that website performance depends on many factors beyond just the theme, including content, javascript, legacy code and third-party apps/tech solutions. So, while using a pre-built theme is not a guarantee of fast website performance, it's also not a guarantee of slow performance.

Using a pre-built theme can actually help improve website performance in some cases. Because pre-built themes are built to be versatile and customisable, they often come with features like responsive  mobile optimisation, which can improve the user experience and overall performance of the website.

It's also worth noting that Shopify regularly releases updates and optimisations for its themes to ensure they are as fast and performant as possible. So, by using a pre-built Shopify theme, you can take advantage of these updates and ensure that your website is always up-to-date with the latest performance enhancements.

In conclusion, while there may be some misconceptions around pre-built Shopify themes and their speed performance, these themes are typically optimised for speed and performance and can actually help brands with a range of established functionality within the theme. As with any website, it's important to monitor and optimise performance regularly, regardless of whether you're using a pre-built or custom-built theme.

Ecom Insights in the mail

Shopify's all-in-one platform provides a comprehensive set of tools to build, manage, scale and grow your ecommerce.
We promise not to spam you!
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Ready to accelerate your eCommerce Growth?