Top Shopify Ecommerce Website Design Companies

The right E-Commerce website design agency can significantly boost your bottom line. Here are some of the best out there.
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Top Value Propositions and Differentiating Factors of the Best Shopify Website Design Companies

Overview

For a small business launching an online store for the first time, choosing an ecommerce solution can be daunting. There are plenty of worthy options to choose from but the best solution for your brand’s needs is not always obvious. Ecommerce content management systems like Magento and Drupal Commerce are powerful but development costs may prove prohibitive for small sites. Other solutions offer affordability but limited features and little to no customization.

Enter Shopify: a hosted ecommerce platform that is powerful enough to support online stores of all sizes. For those who aren’t familiar with Shopify, included here is an overview of the benefits of the platform, as well as information on what to look for in a Shopify design company.

What kinds of sites should use Shopify?

Shopify is a powerful but easy to use ecommerce solution. Shopify is a hosted ecommerce platform, which means everything a business needs to set up an online store is available out of the box. Hosted ecommerce solutions are distinct from ecommerce content management systems like WordPress’s WooCommerce or Magento which require separate installation and/or development, and hosting.

Think of Shopify as an all-in-one ecommerce solution. As such, it’s an attractive option for small online stores. It doesn’t necessarily require additional design or development (though we’ll talk about custom design later), so costs are lower than with other ecommerce solutions. There is a monthly fee to run a shop on Shopify, but there are a lot of useful features included in the price. For example, web hosting with unlimited bandwidth and 99.99% uptime is included. Shopify is level 1 PCI-compliant, which means merchants can be confident in the security of their stores. Such features are a major benefit to small businesses.

Because Shopify commerce is so easy to set-up, it’s a good solution for businesses that need to get to market quickly. Working with a theme, it’s possible to get a site up and running within a few hours (or less). Quick setup, ease of use, and approachable entry costs are among Shopify’s key benefits.

Shopify Themes vs. Custom Shopify Design

Since Shopify is all about ease-of-use and being a totally out of the box solution, they of course offer many themes for customers to choose from. Shopify boasts over 100 themes available in the Shopify Theme Store. There are free themes as well as premium ones, most of which cost less than $200. Having a store that’s fully functional on mobile is essential in the modern ecommerce environment and many themes meet this demand by offering responsive layouts.

Still, not everyone will be satisfied with a theme-based design. One of the benefits of building a site on Shopify is that the choice whether to use a theme or create a fully custom design is yours. Shopify customers have the option to work with a designer to create a custom layout and visual design for their site -- a preferred option for more experienced retailers with more complex needs. Shopify recommends customers choose from among their Shopify Experts to get help with custom projects.

The choice between using a theme or going with a custom design usually comes down to price versus flexibility. Themes will always be the more cost-effective option, but a custom design is invariably more flexible and allows businesses to build their online stores to their precise specifications.

What is Shopify Plus?

Shopify Plus is Shopify’s enterprise ecommerce solution. It’s Shopify’s answer to competitive ecommerce content management systems like Magento. According to Shopify: “Traditional enterprise ecommerce is broken: costly builds, crashed sites, and infrastructure that burns through development resources. Shopify Plus gives you a multi-channel platform with unmatched scalability so you can grow your business, instead of worrying about your website.”

Shopify Plus is still a hosted ecommerce platform, which means that technical support, hosting, and implementation are handled by Shopify as opposed to managed by an external developer or third-party vendor. It’s a competitive product to Magento’s hosted enterprise solution, Magento Commerce.

Top Shopify design companies are experienced

Though Shopify is somewhat less complex than other platforms, if you’re opting for a custom design it’s still a wise choice to partner with an experienced Shopify design company. Shopify maintains a list of Shopify Experts on their website, broken down by expertise (Setup, Design, and Development). This is a good place to start if your company wants to partner with someone recommended by Shopify itself, though of course there are plenty of worthwhile development companies not listed there.

When evaluating potential partnerships, always be sure to get a good sense of the work the company has done before. Top Shopify design companies will have strong portfolios of previous Shopify work and will be happy to walk you through their process for tackling such projects.

Leading Shopify ecommerce partners are strategic

If you choose to hire a Shopify company to design and develop your ecommerce site, it’s worthwhile to look for one that can act as a strategic partner (as opposed to a team of pixel pushers). Experienced Shopify designers will have significant ecommerce experience and useful insights into what has been effective for clients in the past. Leveraging this knowledge will result in better outcomes for your own project. Look for a Shopify company that can come to the table with ideas and recommendations instead of one that will execute blindly.

Service offerings of top Shopify ecommerce design companies

Though there are plenty of agencies that have Shopify expertise, most of them offer a range of services beyond Shopify design and development. In fact many companies will be able to act as full-service digital partners, covering branding, design, and marketing needs.

Some of the most common service offerings of Shopify ecommerce companies include:

●     Ecommerce strategy - Research into target audience and key competition, as well as recommendations for must-have content and messaging direction.  

●     Shopify template customization - Design tweaks to an existing Shopify theme to meet the needs of a specific store.

●     Custom Shopify design - Design work for a fully custom Shopify online store.

●     Shopify development - Custom web development for a Shopify theme or fully custom design including Shopify app development if applicable.

●     Content migration - Many Shopify companies can assist with content migration from an existing website to a new one, though this service usually comes at an additional cost to the client.

●     Digital marketing - Many Shopify design teams operate within larger digital agencies. In these cases the agency may also be able to handle digital marketing needs including SEO, PPC, social media marketing, and content marketing.

Takeaways:

Shopify is a robust ecommerce platform that marries ease-of-use with powerful functionality. Though many small businesses choose to launch an online store with a Shopify theme, partnership with a Shopify ecommerce web design company allows for greater customization to meet a businesses specific needs.

Things to consider when deciding whether to build an online store with Shopify include:

●     When to use Shopify - Because it’s so easy to set up and manage, and because hosting and support are included, Shopify is an excellent option for small to medium online stores. That said, it’s powerful enough to be a viable option for large ecommerce retailers as well.

●     Shopify custom design - Shopify customers have the option to use an out of the box theme, customize an existing theme, or create a totally unique custom design.

●     Shopify Plus - For large and enterprise ecommerce stores, Shopify offers Shopify Plus. Technical support, hosting, and implementation are handled by Shopify. As a result, this option is much more expensive than Shopify’s other solutions.

●     Shopify experience - The best Shopify ecommerce companies will have deep experience building online stores on the platform. Partnering with an experienced company ensures the best possible result for your project.

●     Strategic Shopify implementation - Look for a strategic Shopify partner that can help guide your ecommerce strategy and put their experience to work for your build.

Top Qualities of the Best Shopify Ecommerce Website Design Companies

Experience

When hiring a Shopify company to partner on the implementation of your project, you’re going to want to pay the most attention to the experience level of each vendor you meet with. The top Shopify design and development companies are the ones who have handled many Shopify implementations before yours. You want to make sure they’ve built up the level of knowledge and expertise with the platform required to manage your project successfully with as few issues as possible. Don’t forget to check references to get a sense for how satisfied previous clients have been with the execution and management of their projects.

Portfolio

Reviewing a company’s portfolio is an excellent way to get a sense for their aesthetic, their vision, and their capabilities. Top Shopify design companies will proudly share their portfolios with prospective clients and will be happy to discuss the specifics of each project. Depending on your goals, it may be important that the company you partner with has experience working with clients in your industry. If that’s the case be sure to ask to see examples that are most relevant to your business. A careful review of the company’s portfolio will help you decide if their capabilities are a match for your vision of your project.

Credentials

Shopify offers certifications that designate designers and developers the company deems to be experts in working with the platform. Many top Shopify companies can be identified by their status as either “Shopify Experts” or “Shopify Plus Partners”. Shopify Plus Partners are technology companies, agencies, and solutions partners who are vetted as experts in Shopify’s enterprise ecommerce solution, Shopify Plus. For companies that want some peace of mind that the Shopify partner they choose to work with is well-acquainted with the platform, searching for a credentialed company is a good place to begin. 

Communication

Website builds are major projects that require collaboration between many different teams with many different areas of expertise. In order to execute your project effectively, the Shopify partner you choose to work with must value open, transparent communication and a healthy relationship with their client. Projects can be stalled or even abandoned altogether if teams can’t get on the same page. Proactive communication is the best way to guarantee the project keeps moving forward as planned. Look for a partner that values honesty and transparency in their dealings with clients. Communication should be regular, predictable, and amicable, even in stressful or difficult situations. 

Project Management

Design and development expertise are key to a company being able to properly execute your vision for your website, but project management is also key. Top Shopify design companies will have a project manager in place on every project making sure deliverables are met and timelines are adhered to. Be sure to ask the companies you meet with about their approach to project management, and don’t be afraid to ask for specifics about who will be managing your account. That person is someone you’ll be working closely with throughout the duration of your project.