We continue our ‘nuts and bolts of Shopify’ series with this post discussing theme sections. Working with themes is one of the most misunderstood aspects of using the Shopify platform. Why? Because themes represent a sort of a Catch-22 for store owners.
Using an out-of-the-box theme makes it possible for store owners to get up and running without having to learn any coding. But the Shopify platform has to have some hard rules in place so that poorly-designed themes do not throw everything out of whack. This creates a conundrum for store owners. What is supposed to be simple theme modifications can render unexpected results.
One of the ways Shopify has sought to address this conundrum is to encourage developers to divide new themes into sections. This strategy enables modifying one section without affecting the others. It is a strategy that minimizes some of the problems inherent to using third-party themes.
Here are three things you need to know about Shopify theme sections:
1. Sections Should Be Fully Customizable
Shopify introduced the concept of sections with the expectation that theme designers would respond by creating theme templates that are fully customizable, section by section. Store owners should be able to modify sections by adding content, changing images, modifying colours and fonts, and even incorporating video content.
This is not to say that all theme designers now meet Shopify’s lofty expectations. As a store owner, you need to decide how much customization you want and then find a theme that supports it.
2. Some Sections Are Fixed
By necessity, the Shopify platform requires that some sections be fixed in place. In other words, the header and footer are two sections that cannot be moved. They can still be modified in terms of their content, but they remain fixed in place so that they display correctly on virtually any browser.
3. Shopify’s New Theme Editor
In order to accommodate new theme sections, Shopify has introduced an updated theme editor that includes full support for customizable sections. In theory, the new theme manager should only display when working with themes that have customizable sections, but the official Shopify documentation says that this is not always the case. The editor may display even if you do not have a section-supporting theme. Don’t assume the editor is broken if it displays but does not allow you to modify sections.
Commonly supported sections include:
- featured products
- about us
- comments from customers
- links to other sites.
Of course, all the sections will have different names as chosen by the theme designers. And because sections are customizable, you can change the names to whatever fits with your site. If your chosen theme supports it, Shopify’s new theme editor even allows for adding additional sections as a store owner sees fit.
Encouraging theme designers to create storefronts in sections was one of the best ideas Shopify designers ever came up with. It should make the lives of store owners a lot easier.