If you are a design freak like me and would like your Shopify website to look aesthetically perfect (at least with your own eyes), choosing a theme takes a chunk of your time. Thank God for free Shopify themes that are readily available to install in a few clicks.
Free Shopify themes do work and in fact, are best to install when you are just starting out. These free themes are easy to manage and customize with its drag and drop features.
Are free Shopify themes good?
Inside the dashboard itself, most of the free themes can be installed in a few clicks. As a beginner with Shopify, you don’t want to jump into purchasing a premium theme. Aside from being more complicated, it is not practical and it can hurt your budget as they are not cheap.
Are free Shopify themes really worth to install? Yes, they are. They are completely free but it doesn’t mean that they are no good. In my opinion, they are not far from the paid ones especially if you have an eye at design.
Here’s the thing:
Do not get too concerned over the pressing thought of the difference between a free and paid theme. Premium themes cost some money for obvious reasons which include additional features. But it doesn’t mean that you really do need these “premium” features.
One of the questions when building a Shopify site would also be that why do people pay for themes if the free ones work perfectly fine? Although it is agreeable that shelling out funds for a premium theme is a form of investment for your business, the money can also be allocated to some other necessary add-on which is vital to the business operations.
These questions may seem very familiar to you:
- Will my website look more beautiful and neat with a premium theme?
- Do premium themes really make a website load faster?
- Are there advantages if I stick to a free theme?
Fortunately, we will have some answers to these pressing questions below.
FREE DIGITAL LIBRARY ACCESS
It’s pretty easy to find free Shopify themes as they are right there on the dashboard when you click the “online store” link. However, free Shopify themes aren’t limited to the ones available there. Other independent developers are also offering free themes. You can find them with a quick Google search.
The main advantage of the free Shopify themes that you can find on the official Shopify site is that those are officially approved – have passed through the standards. Compatibility and user-friendliness are also advantages.
Pros of free Shopify themes
- Who does not like free? Its almost always a good thing. It is best as well for store owners who want to test out their store designs and what looks best for their online store. Buying a theme upfront makes some people regret when later on they realize that it does not perfectly fit with what they hoped for in terms of features. Stick with a free theme initially to avoid being stuck with a premium theme that you don’t really like.
- Free themes that you can find in the Shopify directory (at least) are officially approved to be used and are compatible with the platform.
- Free themes were built considering start-up stores and beginner users in mind. For this reason, you can assure that you can customize the pages on your own.
- It’s easier to find DIY fixes with free Shopify themes. More users mean more people have encountered the same issues as yours and with just a Google search, answers will show up.
Debut is by far the most used theme that I have encountered among Shopify stores that uses a free theme.
Cons of free Shopify themes
With the saying, “You get what you paid for”, which in this case is nothing, there are drawbacks to consider when using a free theme.
- It has limited features. If you have a fashion store for instance and you wanted a specific design or functionality to show up within a page, you may not find that feature in a free theme.
- It’s quite hard to achieve a unique feel to your website with a free theme. If you have no experience in editing a theme code, you will get stuck with icons that look exactly the same as the other 1000 websites who used the same theme as yours.
- Free themes that aren’t on the official depository can contain bugs and are probably poorly coded. This will make your site vulnerable to security issues.
Why do companies/developers create free themes?
- These design individuals or companies have also business goals. One of these goals is to create more work porfolio.
- Others create free themes to reach more potential customers and show people their sincerity in providing quality work.
- These free themes also add passive income to them by driving traffic to their website with monetization set-ups.
- It can also be a form of advertising. Free products attract more customers. By giving away a free theme to download, they are getting leads (email address or other info) which they can later use to promote other related products or services.
- Upselling is another good reason. As mentioned, free Shopify themes have limited features. They use this gap to fill in a paid add-on that a user can avail at any time if they wish to do so or if the need arises.
You may not believe this but other people release free themes with a dark plan in their mind. They may use it as an opportunity to plant malicious codes into other people’s websites.
How to spot suspicious free Shopify themes?
- Perform an online search. See if there are negative feedbacks about it.
- Scan the theme files for viruses. Use online scanners such as VirusTotal – it’s free.
- If you have already installed the theme, you can use the Google Safe Browsing tool. Add your domain at the end of this URL to check for malicious contents on your site: http://www.google.com/safebrowsing/diagnostic?site=
When to use a free theme?
There are things to consider if you are thinking of sticking with a free theme.
- If you could care less about your site looking almost the same with most Shopify sites.
- You just want your store up and running right away without spending on a paid theme.
- You are okay with basic features and functionality.
- If you prefer easy to customize themes.
As an alternative, here are some reasons to buy a premium theme:
- If you are serious about your business and have the budget to purchase a theme.
- You want your site to look and feel unique to your customers.
- If you have a large number of inventories that require the functionality of a premium theme.
- You don’t have any coding experience and can use a dedicated support team to fix issues and add website functionalities.
At this point, you may be torn with a decision. A free or paid theme? To help you decide easier, you must first define what your long-term goals are with your business. And then go back and consider the advantages and disadvantages mentioned above.
To alleviate your decision-making, there are many Shopify apps available to add a feature in case the free theme is lacking. If you’re lucky enough, you may find a completely free app that suits your needs.
I was once in your shoes trying to wrap my head around these free themes. Honestly, I have tried all of the available free themes in the Shopify depository. I wasn’t really impressed with all of them especially when it comes to responsiveness. Websites need to be mobile friendly at this age of the internet and most of the free Shopify themes do not cut it (for me).
My web research led me to Debutify which I swore for its awesomeness. They aren’t on the official Shopify theme list but it is certainly a game-changer when it comes to features. It’s absolutely free to download which is the best part. It also has a drag and drop style – very easy to manage and customize. It’s almost the same as the Debut theme with its beginner-friendly interface but absolutely has more awesome features in it. I use it in one of my stores here.
A free theme may have disadvantages but it all depends on the current needs of your website and your goals. It is absolutely okay to use a free theme and stick with it if you are contented with what it does to you and your website.