The 6 Most Useful Updates of Shopify Online Store 2.0

By 2020, the number of Shopify users grew over 450 million. The company processed over $120 billion in Gross Merchandise Volume. That’s clearly apparent that Shopify has an immensely big community and it is only growing bigger.

In June 2021, this e-commerce giant announced Online Store 2.0, introducing plenty of new features, all of which are aimed towards making the platform more customisable and offer a richer shopping experience for anyone running an online storefront on Shopify. As a result, developers can design a more diverse range of apps and themes for their clients.

Shopify Online Store 2.0 adds a whole host of new features, improvements and benefits that enable store owners to personalise their sites while saving time and making it easier for you to make more money. For developers, it gives them more freedom to build custom features and apps for their merchants.

What’s New in Shopify Online Store 2.0 and Why Should You Upgrade it?

As the future of e-commerce depends on how creative you can get at every touchpoint, Shopify Online Store 2.0 gives Shopify merchants a greater level of customisation and flexibility, so you can get as creative as you can. From architecture changes to introducing new tools, let’s take a look at these new features and understand how they can benefit your business.

#1 Introducing a new faster reference theme – Dawn

Shopify has introduced a new reference theme called Dawn for developers to begin theme designing for the storefront. This new theme is 35% faster than the previous theme ‘Debut’. The load time of an ideal website should be 2 seconds or less. If a website takes more than 2 seconds, the bounce rate may increase up to 32%. Shopify has added a lot of functionalities to Dawn right out of the box. That means the developers will need to employ as lesser apps as possible, which will eventually increase page load times.

Dawn is built with HTML and CSS rather than relying on external libraries and polyfills in order to deliver a great browsing experience across all devices. Shopify has designed it to minimise complexity and maximise flexibility, which means merchants can make changes to their website easily without having to deal with complex codes.

#2 The new theme architecture with sections on every page

In the previous version of Shopify, merchants were restricted in the number of blocks available for use in the store. Earlier, they could add sections to only homepage. But, with Online Store 2.0, you can add sections to each page throughout the site. Sections are the page elements that are adjustable and modular, allowing you to be more creative and unlock a range of opportunities to personalise each page of your online store. You can now drag and drop multiple sections and arrange them the way you like and add desired content, such as text and images to the section.

The templates for each page can be activated with a JSON file that contains particular settings for each page. This feature is truly a game changer. For instance, if you want to add a banner ad that you have on the top of your home page to the bottom of the product page, you can easily do using Shopify’s theme editor. Now you can easily customise product pages, category pages and blog pages within the JSON template files without needing a custom app builder or a developer to add elements manually.

#3 Modular app blocks for better theme app extension and configuration

Theme app extensions enabled developers to extend the functionality of the merchant’s site. In the previous version of Shopify, there was no easy way to integrate apps with themes. Although there were thousands of apps available, their integration into the store left many developers thinking if they could be implemented in a more efficient way. Developers were forced to program integration logic for every theme.

But, with Online Store 2.0, this is no longer the case. Apps are now delivered in blocks with the page giving designers and store owners full control over which pages the app will be displayed and where on those pages. This makes a big difference when it comes to personalisation of Shopify stores. Merchants can update app settings and configure apps in a way that delivers maximum benefits.

#4 An improved checkout experience

Before Online Store 2.0, the ability to personalise checkout steps were limited to only Shopify Plus store owners only. Shopify has announced in its Online Store 2.0 update that the checkout apps will be available to non-Shopify-Plus users as well. The new update will allow developers to extend the checkout functionalities and customise many areas for the ultimate checkout experience. The app extensions make customisations fast to install and easy to distribute for merchants, allowing them to reap benefits as Shopify introduces new features.

With Online Store 2.0, the process of checking out will be significantly faster and stores will be able to handle thousands of transactions per minute. You will be able to present custom content, such as exclusive offers, shipping options, payment methods and personalised messages on the checkout as well as post-purchase page. This altogether delivers a more personalised shopping experience and boost conversion rates. Please note that Online Store 2.0 may offer many checkout apps, but full customisation is still available to Plus stores only.

#5 Metafields updates allow for more flexible store content

Metafields are additional blocks of data that can be assigned to any part of your Shopify store, such as product pages, customers and orders. Before this recent update, Shopify allowed only the page title and one single rich text editor for updating page content or collection. Developers need to write code or use APIs to make any changes. There was no easy way to add more fields or information in a particular space.

With Online Store 2.0, merchants can update metadata and attributes of their Shopify store easily using the new theme editor. Page contents can be uploaded without any hassle or using APIs or coding. You may now add information to any product page that may seem beneficial to your prospects. It can also be used to update data that is not present in the store editor. Moreover, metafields can also be used for storing media assets, such as PDF files and images. The product page media selection and upload have also been simplified.

#6 Improved developer tools for faster and more efficient development

Shopify Online Store 2.0 open doors to many opportunities for developers to create new themes and apps for merchants. This is a benefit not only for developers, but for merchants as well. Online Store 2.0 introduces new developer tools that work along with Shopify to integrate and assist with developing, testing and deploying new themes. It uses its own coding language called ‘Liquid’ that is meant to enhance speed and efficiency from the developers’ point of view.

Furthermore, developers can connect your Shopify theme with GitHub, which makes it easy for them to use the Shopify CLI tool besides Theme Check for more advanced theme development. Developers can send code changes from a local dev environment to the GitHub repository, making it easier to create new branches and combine them to the master branch.

Are you ready to upgrade to Online Store 2.0?

The launch of Online Store 2.0 has truly revolutionised Shopify as a whole. From improved editor UI, full page editing ability to much-need developer tools and metafields natively, it will be mesmerising to see how more and more store owners upgrade to Online Store 2.0. Whether you wish to update your theme or design a new website on Shopify 2.0, Island Wizards offers complete Shopify solutions to build a store that matches your business goals.

Top 6 Benefits of Using A Custom Theme in WordPress

WordPress still remains one of the most popular Content Management Systems (CMS) for many brands and marketers across the globe. WordPress is a dynamic platform that can be used for powering numerous types of websites – from individual blogs and non-profit organizations to feature-rich online stores. Many internationally renowned companies, such as Microsoft, Mercedes-Benz and Bloomberg favor WordPress, so there must be something behind its immense popularity, right?

WordPress is an open-source CMS platform that is easy to setup and offers vast community support. It also has a variety of custom themes and plug-ins to cater any type of business. For any website to stand out, it should be unique in all aspects. Having just a website is not enough, but it should be user-friendly, responsive and well-designed. It should be visually appealing that can have a positive impact on a success of a business. Let’s dig into how custom WordPress themes can benefit your business.

#1 Unique look and feel

The internet is overcrowded with hundreds and thousands of businesses operating under the same niche. Among this noise, many businesses tend to lose their identity, which is why it is important to create a unique website that reflects your brand identity. With WordPress theme customization, brands can give a new face to their website, creating unique landing pages and other visual elements. You can completely customize the look and feel of the website based on your needs, allowing you to offer a truly unique user experience. A unique theme will also help your business stand out among others, and get noticed by target audience.

#2 Faster load speed

Often theme comes with fancy features that your business may not really need. As a result, your website will not only look crowded and confusing, but it will also run much slower. For any website, page loading speed is a crucial factor. If it doesn’t load in less than two seconds, users are likely to move away to your competitors. Along with the reduction in sales, this will also blow your SEO rankings. But, with custom themes, it is much easier to manage and optimize. A custom theme contains only your business related features and nothing else. This allows your WordPress site to run much faster, resulting in better user experience. Moreover, you can rest assured that your site theme has been rigorously tested to ensure it is free of bugs.

#3 Easy to Update

A website cannot stay the same forever. It needs to be updated on a regular basis to keep up with the business growth and address the needs of the customers. Without custom themes, it becomes quite difficult to bring new features and updates to your WordPress site. But, if you choose to implement a custom WordPress theme from a WordPress expert, you can have all the latest features and security patches applied to keep your website up-to-the-date. All you need to do is inform your developer when you wish to update the theme. Your business grows and evolves every day, and therefore, your website should be able to cope with it.

#4 Improved Security

Security is a major concern for every business. The internet is full of cyber criminals looking to exploit vulnerabilities in your site. And, unfortunately, 90% of all websites that are targeted by the hackers are powered by WordPress. So, how do criminals get into a WordPress site? Simply by purchasing a theme and breaking down its code to explore loopholes. That is why the majority of WordPress developers choose to go with a customized theme. No attacker will be able to get into your custom theme code. Although a custom theme doesn’t guarantee complete protection from hackers, but there will be fewer bugs and your site will be more secure than other readymade templates.

#5 Better Support and Maintenance

While using readymade templates, you may encounter a number of issues, such as certain elements incompatible with your design, which can altogether make your website inoperable. On the contrary, you can expect prompt, high-quality support with a custom theme. If anything goes wrong, the theme developer will readily available to fix issues. Furthermore, it will be easy for the developer to maintain the website and keep it functioning as he himself is the creator of the custom theme.

#6 SEO-Friendly

SEO plays an important role in getting your website on the top of the SERPS and get it noticed by potential customers. While most WordPress ready-made themes come with basic SEO features, you will still have to put a great amount of efforts to optimize it according to your business goals and fully leverage its potential. When you build a custom theme from a scratch, you have the control of developing its structure, which also plays an important role in achieving better SEO results besides keywords. The search engine crawlers can better index your content if your website structure is simple and organize. Moreover, the limited source code used in creating a theme also adds an extra edge in SEO compliance to reach a wider audience.

Final Thoughts

Above are some benefits of WordPress that are worth considering. We admit that creating a custom theme is an expensive outlay, but given the benefits it offers, a custom theme is worth every penny. Your custom WordPress theme will have its unique feel and look, and always offer the latest features for your users to enjoy. It will also be more secure, giving your prospects a peace of mind that their crucial details are always protected. This one-time investment will go a long way in reaping substantial returns.