If you watch my channel you know I don't like using apps, and many features can just be coded into your theme instead.
But there are some features you can't code, and in those cases an app is unavoidable. These are some of my favourites for using on my clients stores.
They're also mostly the market leaders for their category (for good reason).
Design Packs is an app that adds new sections to your theme.
It has a catalogue of sections for you to choose from. And it comes with plenty of settings to customize their appearance.
If you're thinking this is like a page builder app (e.g. Shogun or Pagefly), it isn't.
It's a lot more lightweight, faster to load and more reliable, because it actually installs these new sections into your theme files. This is a lot like the add-ons available on my code shop.
Page builders on the other hand usually just load extra code on-top of your theme, making it slower.
If you don't like Design Packs' subscription model, then you can buy sections individually using Push Sections.
Loox lets customers leave reviews on your product page, and even attach a photo of them using/wearing the product.
A review app is a must-have for Shopify stores for many reasons.
I prefer photo review apps because customers often want to see what the product looks like in real life and in-use.
Also the photo adds trust - you can be sure its not a fake review made by the store owner.
Both of these apps are page-builders for Shopify. They let you create a completely custom page, not just using the sections that your theme gives you.
So you can tell a story on a product page, showcasing every feature like Apple does for their iphones and macs.
Or you can have a custom 'about us' page, where you explain why your brand is so unique - whether its the materials, origin, or innovation.
Custom pages hand-coded by a developer like me, but then they are hard for you to manage later on. A page created in a page-builder is much easier for you to create and edit by yourself.
Vitals is kind of like many apps in one. Including upsells, bundles, stock indicators, pop-ups, email capture, and more.
Basically it replaces lots of different apps, but because it's the one app - it loads a lot less scripts and is better for your loading speed than if you had all these different apps. Saves money too.
Matrixify is like Shopify's export/import products feature, but on steroids.
The problem with Shopify's product export/import is that it exports all the product info, then you edit the file and when you re-import - it overwrites everything with the new file. Which feels kind of unsafe, what if the re-import messes up other fields?
Matrixify is better because it allows you to export and import only certain fields from the products. So if you only want to update prices you can export just the prices as CSV, edit them in Excel or Google Sheets, and then re-import. Other product fields like the titles, descriptions etc... are not touched.
Alternatively, you could use an Automation app (see below) to make bulk changes to your products in-place.
This app allows you to set up certain actions and run them across all products on your store. For example, you might need to add a tag or a metafield across hundreds of products. Or maybe you want to add a word to the title of each product.
You can set rules based on certain conditions, e.g. "all products in X collection, or all products with a combo of tags", and then set what you want to be done. Then just hit "run" and it does it all for you.
Alternatively, use Matrixify (above) to edit everything offline by exporting and re-importing.
Metafields Guru is the best app for bulk editing metafields. This is a common task when you are using metafields to control things like related products that show up on the product page. You might need to change the metafields for 100's of products.
Technically not an app but rather a Chrome extension. It lets you search your Shopify theme code for a particular piece of text, and shows you what file that text is in.
This is great for following my tutorials, particularly if you are using a different theme. It lets you find the piece of code you need to edit.
This is a trick question! And I only put this here to warn you - there are very few apps that are a must-have for every store.
Don’t listen to people telling you about “the top 24 apps that every store needs”.
You should be trying to keep the number of apps as low as possible!
Apps can slow down your store when you have too many. They can make it harder to track down bugs, and to update or change your theme. They also cost you monthly.
Therefore, you should only use apps that have a measurable impact on your sales.
So in general there are very few must-have apps. There may just be one exception that I can think of:
Review apps let customers leave a review on your product page. They are incredibly important both for conversions and for SEO.
It’s impossible to add reviews to your store without an app. That’s why it’s a must-have app.
I prefer photo review apps because customers often want to see what the product looks like in real life and in-use. Images also add a lot of trust - you can see the review is genuine.
By the way, don’t confuse reviews with testimonials.
You might have a testimonials section available in your store settings, but this is just something you fill out as a store owner. It doesn’t have the same genuine appearance of reviews made by the public, and your customers won’t be fooled.
Google doesn’t care about your testimonials either, only real reviews with star ratings! These output a special code that Google recognizes and sometimes uses to show stars in the search results page.
It’s well-known that apps can slow down your Shopify store. But there is a lot of confusion around this.
Firstly, slow page speed can often be caused by the sheer number of apps that are installed. If you have 20+ apps on your store - things might get a bit slow. But that’s not the only factor.
Not all apps are the same, some are well-optimized and efficient, others might not be.
It’s also possible to slow down your store by using the app incorrectly. This is true of all web design. Including too many dynamic elements that Shopify needs to loop over (e.g. a grid of products), or heavy elements like videos, gifs, and large images, will all slow down your store.
Staying organized and keeping things simple is really important.
But first and foremost, if you’re trying to figure out if an app will slow down your store. Consider if the app is customer-facing.
Not all apps slow down your store. There are back-end apps that handle store organization, shipping, and various admin tasks.
These are only seen by you. They load when you go into the app admin, you use them, and then they do their thing in the background. An example is a bulk editing app, that you use to tag or rename hundreds of products.
This type of app is not going to affect your loading speed at all. You can have as many of these as you want. Because they don’t affect the public front-end of your website.
In contrast, customer-facing apps may slow down your store. These are the apps that customers see on your website.
These types of apps need to load on the page, and they bring with them a lot of their own code that needs to be downloaded by your customers browser, on top of your website.
Your website is made of code, which is written on various different files, HTML files for content, CSS for design, and JS for behaviour, and the typical web page might have around 50-100 of these files.
When a customer visits, their browser downloads all these files to display the website.
Apps also have to load files, and they are not aware of the existing stuff on your website. You may already have something they need (jQuery) but without being aware, every app loads it again and again.
Aside from that, apps just have a lot of their own files too. Especially if the app is loading any images on the page.
Images are often a large download and there can be a lot of them. So it’s important to optimize or compress your images when possible. Check out my video on image compression in Shopify.