Tools are often the difference between hating your working and loving it.
Whatever you use for hours every day has to be a pleasure to use. It should be fast & frictionless to do your work.
Investing in the right tools has often changed my entire apprach to a task. And I don’t use that word lightly - it is indeed an investment because it helps me make money.
For example, I used to hate writing my email newsletter simply because of the clunky editor of the last app I was using. After moving to Beehiiv I started writing 5 times more because it was a pleasure to use and didn’t block my thoughts.
I generally go with premium apps. Don’t penny-pinch on something that makes you money.
Here are my recommendations:
Full article coming soon: Complete Guide to Shopify Apps
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 way better.
It’s a lot more lightweight, faster to load and more reliable, because it actually installs these new sections into your theme. A lot like the add-ons available on my code shop. Whereas page builders usually just load extra code on-top of your theme, making it slower.
Vitals is an “all-in-one app” that combines many features that you would usually get in separate apps. Including upsells, bundles, stock indicators, pop-ups, instagram feed, and more.
Because it’s just one app, it’s better for your loading speed (and your wallet) than having all of these apps separately.
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.
- They help build trust with your customers.
- They allow buyers to provide extra information about your product.
- They have a huge effect on SEO - Google considers reviews very high-value.
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 build a completely custom page design, 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.
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 in real time.
Technically not an app but rather a Chrome extension. It lets you search all your Shopify theme files for a particular piece of text, and then 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.
Full article coming soon: Complete Guide to Shopify Themes
Here are some of my favourite themes. Not in terms of design (that’s opinion), but rather the sections, blocks, and settings that they come with.
I like themes that give you lots of control.
This isn’t a theme but rather a company that makes themes (more accurately, a merger of two companies).
If you want a reliable, high-quality theme then check them out.
One of the most thoughtfully made and feature-rich themes I’ve used. Here are some features that stood out to me:
- Built-in pop-up block that you can use for a newsletter, GDPR cookie consent, or simply for information. You can also set it to be shown on specific pages.
- Highly customizable announcement bar with options for a calculated free-shipping message when the customer has products in the cart.
- Lots of settings for spacing, borders, and the height of sections.
- The “image with text” block is much more customizable than other themes. You will be using this block all the time throughout your site.
Impulse is one of the most feature-packed and modern themes with great filtering, a large mega-menu, and plenty of customizable promo sections that are very flexible.
The aesthetic of Impulse is probably best-suited to the fashion industry.
Themes made by Shopify themselves.
- Built by Shopify so you know they’re up to scratch with pagespeed and overall quality & reliability.
- Lots of tutorials from the community (e.g. my channel), because it’s the default theme.
- Kind of lacking features, not enough variety in sections & blocks.
- All the free themes are kind of the same theme - it’s just Dawn with different looks/presets.
This is a theme that’s been highly recommend by influencers, especially in dropshipping circles.
I have mixed feelings about it. On one hand I dislike how heavily promoted it is.
On the other hand, I’m very impressed with how much it can do. It’s like a theme with lots of apps rolled into one.
You get various features like upsells, bundles, swatches, back in stock buttons, sticky add to cart, stock indicators, and more, all included.
This is something you would usually need lots of different apps for.
Online Business Software
Tools that I use for my personal website, shop, marketing, planning, and more.
The previous version of this website was built using Webflow. I eventually moved to a pure-code website, because I am a developer after all. But I still recommend Webflow if you’re not a developer.
It’s a page builder and CMS that lets you create a fully custom site. But unlike other page builders that generate very bloated and buggy code, Webflow keeps the code very clean and lightweight.
Webflow is undoubtedly a better page builder than Wix, Squarespace, or Wordpress plugins like Elementor. However, in terms of blogging features Wordpress might have a slight lead, so it depends.
My second brain. It’s a task manager and note-taking app. I use it for writing blog posts, scripting video ideas.
I even use it to create my digital products - the instructions PDF is generated in Notion and the online version is hosted using Notions public sharing feature.
Gumroad is the fastest, most minimalist way to sell digital products. There is like zero setup involved. And it’s one of the only platforms that is purely focused on digital products.
Obviously it has drawbacks - it doesn’t give you an entire website like Shopify, and there is very little that you can change in terms of design or layout. But it’s really good at what it does.
Just create an account and you can start selling products. The pricing is a percentage of your sales, so there isn’t even a payment plan to sign up to.
My favourite thing about Beehiiv is the editor. If you’ve used Notion then you will love it. It’s markdown-based and totally focused on the writing experience.
Other newsletter apps have those drag and drop email designers. As though an email has to look like an entire website. I totally disagree with that. An email is writing, and the writing experience should be smooth and not block your flow with needless formatting options.
Squoosh is a quick image compression tool. It squashes down a JPEG file to a much smaller size, often cutting down up to 80%.
I run all of my images through Squoosh before uploading to Shopify or other sites.
Pixlr is a free, online version of photoshop.
I use it for all the basic photo editing tasks you come across in web design - cropping, resizing, rotating, flipping, etc…
Figma is a professional UX/UI design tool. Similar to Adobe XD or Sketch. Except it’s online and collaborative like a Google doc. This is why it beats the competition.
I don’t do a lot of design work, but I often get designs sent to me that were done in Figma. So you could say I use it very often, as a consumer rather than designer.
Shopify Discount Codes
In case you’re shopping around for a new theme or sections, here are some coupon codes that companies have shared for my subscribers. Using them also helps me.
10% off Themes by Out of the Sandbox and Pixel Union
Leading themes like Turbo, Flex, Superstore, Empire, Pacific and more.
Use ‘FAST10’ for 10% off.
10% off Qwiqode Sections
Pre-built sections & blocks that you can easily copy & paste to install on your theme.
Use ‘edcodes10’ for 10% off.
20% off Push Sections
App that gives you a library of sections to choose from an install to your theme.
Use ‘#EDCODES’ for 20% off.
10% off Ecom Graduates
Code snippets that you can easily copy & paste to install extra features on your theme.
Use ‘edcodes10’ for 10% off.