What can you do when your theme is lacking a much-needed section?
You’ve gone through the headache of choosing a Shopify theme and finally settled on one. But it’s not perfect.
It doesn’t have some section that you really need - a slider, a place for brand logos, an FAQ section, payment icons…
You wish there was a way to easily add the section you need.
If you want my recommendation, I'll tell you that as of 2023 my favourite method is by using Design Packs.
I’ll elaborate on this below.
However, in this article I want to list all your options, starting with the most obvious.
1. Hiring a developer
The classic and arguably still the most best way to add sections to your theme.The only problem is, it’s expensive!
Hiring a (good) developer usually costs anywhere from $200 up to $1000 for the typical section that you might want to build.
You can find cheaper developers, but obviously the quality will suffer. You should not compromise on things like your loading speed, usability, possible bugs, or your own time spent in communication.
In short - you do not want a cheap developer. In the same way you don’t want a cheap surgeon.
I recommend Storetasker for hiring a developer.
In my opinion it’s the most balanced way - reasonably affordable but also there is a lot of quality-control in the developers that are hired there.
Even if budget isn’t an issue, custom development isn’t exactly the quickest way to get something done. Sometimes you just want to experiment, or run a holiday promo, and you need the ability to quickly do that yourself. Read on to find out how.
2. Page Builders
Page builders have been around for a while. It’s the classic drag-and-drop tool that you can use to build yourself a page without knowing how to code.
Shopify Page Builders are really useful, and can be a total game changer for many businesses, but they have a few downsides. Most notably, they are notorious for coming with a lot of their own baggage and slowing down the loading speed your store.
They also have their own interface, you edit them via the app, and not via the Shopify theme editor. So it’s another small skill you have to learn and get used to.
Despite these downsides, they are massively popular and for good reason. They give you the freedom to do whatever you want with your Shopify store.
You can create beautiful landing pages showcasing every little feature of your product, just like Apple does with their iphones and macs.
Or if you just need a few sections, you can create them in the app and then use them anywhere on your store.
Both Pagefly and Shogun come with pre-designed sections and page templates to get you started, so you don't really need design skills.
3. Pre-built code snippets from creators
As you may know, I sell pre-built sections & blocks on my Gumroad store. And I’m not the only one doing something like this.
The basic concept is we build a section or feature for a particular theme, and publish the code as a digital product (in a PDF) that you can copy & paste into your theme. You also get instructions on how to do that.
This method can be the most affordable and high-quality. The code becomes part of your theme, so it doesn’t slow down your store, and the options are added directly to your theme editor.
It feels exactly like part of your theme.
The prices vary a lot but its usually per-section. I try to stick to around $20-$30 per section as I want them to be affordable for small stores.
The downsides of this are the same as for any independent small business - the creators time is limited.
We are not able to create lots of different types of sections for every type of theme. We can’t provide a lot of tech support, and we can often struggle to answer emails quickly.
4. Design Packs
Design Packs is an app that has a large library of sections that you can choose from, add to your theme, and customize the design.
The awesome thing is that it adds these new sections into your theme as liquid files.
This is different from page builder apps, which just injects the section on the front-end of your website like an embed.
Design Packs adds the new sections inside of your theme. Just like a developer would when working on your store. So Design Packs is like a hybrid between a normal app (below) and the pre-built code option (above).
The new sections become part of your theme, and you can then edit them via the regular Shopify theme editor, together with all the other sections that came with your theme.
This is my personal favourite method, because it's clean and great for performance. It doesn't slow down your store but is still easy to use.
I think the Shopify ecosystem really needed something like this. Because previously we were very reliant on having an app for every single small feature, or page builders, both of which aren't great for performance.
5. Apps for specific sections
This is the way it's been on Shopify for many years.
You need a specific feature or section - an FAQ section for example - and you go searching for an app that does that. Install it, pay $10/month for it.
This works, but a lot of store owners aren’t happy with installing a new app every time they want to do something. You end up with a store with 20+ apps, and paying a monthly fee for all of them.
However there are some apps that really care about performance and get a lot done. They are marketed as "all-in-one" apps.
Since it's just one app, they don't load as many scripts as separate apps from different companies.
Less scripts = increasing loading speed and stability of your website. So if you must go the app route, then I would at least try to use an app that combines many features into one.
Vitals is one such app that I have used. It has over 40 different apps, including a stock indicator, wishlists, volume discounts, trust badges and payment icons, buy one get one free, related products, and more. Getting them all from Vitals is better than having different apps for each.