With all the time and energy you put into running a successful online store, it can be easy to overlook the importance of updating your Shopify theme. Not only can routinely updating make your store run easier and unlock new theme features (reducing your reliance on apps), it can also protect you from major headaches down the road.
First, it’s important to have an understanding of when it’s time to update your theme. For less complex updates, your theme may update itself automatically. But for larger, more robust updates, you will need to update your theme yourself.
To know if it’s time to update your theme, determine the theme version you’re currently using and compare that to the theme’s release notes. If it’s been six months or longer, or if the latest version contains new features you want, it’s a good time to update your theme.
To get into the habit of updating your theme, create a biannual reminder in your calendar to check for new versions. If you purchased from the Shopify theme store, you can visit the theme listing page and add the new version from there. If you've purchased directly from a developer (like us), you can contact their support team to request the latest version. Alternatively, if you have a Pixel Union or Out of the Sandbox theme, you can install the Theme Updater app and update via your Shopify admin.
Not all theme updates are created equal. While some updates include exciting new features, others might just fix a few bugs. If you’re curious to know what each theme update includes, check out its accompanying documentation.
If you’re ready to update your theme, check out our guide on how to make it happen, and download the Theme Updater app. If you’re not quite ready, or if you just want to learn more about the benefits of updating your Shopify theme, read on to learn more.
Take advantage of new features
A Shopify theme is never a finished product—it’s always evolving. Our theme support team is constantly taking feedback from merchants and relaying it to our theme developers. From there, our developers prioritize the feedback and work toward adding new features that will solve our merchants’ problems and meet the strict requirements of the Shopify theme store.
Whether it’s an updated header, new search function, or added image zoom, our developers are always looking to improve our themes to help you sell more on Shopify. When an update includes major feature additions, we’ll reach out via email and let you know. If our email slips through the cracks, you can always check out a theme’s documentation to discover what updates have been made.
It’s important to remember that when you pay for a theme, you’re not just paying for that iteration of it. All theme updates are free and are accounted for in a theme’s price.
Refresh your storefront
Some theme updates include design changes that can have a big impact on your store’s user experience (UX). For example, we released new layout options for our Reach Shopify theme in October 2018. This created an opportunity for stores using Reach to improve their UX, an integral component of keeping customers engaged with and returning to their store. After all, people on the internet judge websites mostly based on their aesthetics.
Make future updates easier
You know that one chore you’re always putting off? Maybe it’s cleaning your desk drawers or tidying the garage or weeding your garden. Whatever it is, when you finally get around to doing it, you think to yourself, “If I had just done this regularly, it would’ve been so much easier.” Updating your Shopify theme falls into the same category.
When updating your theme becomes habitual, the amount of work for each update decreases. Like we mentioned earlier, create a reminder for yourself to check for theme updates every six months so you’re not left with an overgrown garden of a theme.
Review your store’s performance
When setting your theme update reminder, be sure to choose times when you’re not focused on an important promotion or off on holiday. If your business relies on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holidays for sales, schedule your theme update reminder for January and June.
Scheduling your theme updates for these quieter times of the year will allow you to perform a full audit of your store. This could include:
- Assessing what’s working and what can be improved.
- Reviewing the apps you’re using and seeing if any new options have popped up in the app store.
- Working on improving your SEO.
- Checking to see if you can speed up your load times.
Coupling your theme updates with store audits is a great way of ensuring you’re taking advantage of the many tools out there that will set your business up for success.
Get to know your theme developer
When you first start updating your theme, you’re going to have questions. And while we have some great resources on how to update your Shopify theme, questions might pop up that aren’t answered on a support site or by a quick Google search.
That’s where theme support teams come in. And while we can’t help with customizations (until you’re ready to work with our agency), we can answer all theme-related questions with confidence and get you back to focusing on growing your business.
Spend less time getting support
While we love hearing from our theme customers, we also know that you have better things to do than email back and forth about a problem you’re trying to solve. Our support staff are experts when it comes to themes, but they will always be most familiar with the newest versions. (Just like you’re more likely to know more about your latest products than last season’s.)
Routinely updating your Shopify theme allows developers like us to solve issues faster and get you back to working on other aspects of your business.
Fix nasty bugs
No one likes bugs. Especially us! We prioritize fixing all the bugs we discover in our themes, no matter the size or scope. These bugs may not always be apparent and can have negative impacts on your store’s performance. Keep an eye on your Shopify theme’s updates to know which bugs are being squashed.
Use the Theme Updater app
While this post isn’t about how to update your theme (we’ve already written about that), we’d like to take a moment to shout out the incredible Theme Updater app. This Shopify app makes updating your theme quick and easy.
Developed by Out of the Sandbox, this app is compatible with all sections-based Pixel Union and Out of the Sandbox themes. If you’ve purchased or updated your theme since the beginning of 2017, it will be sections-based. If you’re unsure if your theme is sections-based, get in touch with your theme developer to confirm.
Bonus: priority support
Another bonus of updating via the Theme Updater App, is the chance to utilize priority support when you sign up for the pro plan membership. In addition to jumping the queue to receive quick and helpful support for your theme, you'll also receive these exclusive features for prioritizing and accelerating your theme updates:
• Move configured theme settings over automatically
• Transfer basic customizations when possible
• View template file customizations within a theme
• Automatically include new or updated languages
• Get notified when a new version of your theme is available
• Access to exclusive discounts
To learn more, visit the link below for a free trial.