How to change your Shopify theme: 2022 guide

How to change your Shopify theme: 2022 guide

To stay ahead of the curve, utilize your full brand potential, and improve user experience, a theme change might be the best way to go. 

Today, we’ll show you not only how to change your Shopify theme but also some things to consider before choosing a new theme for your store. This article will also cover what changing a theme means for theme customization, what data might be lost, and if there is any way to preserve the data. 

And if you are a beginner trying to move past your default theme, don’t stress. We’ll cover upgrading from the default theme and into a more creative e-commerce terrain. 

What to consider when switching themes on Shopify

Whatever your reason for wanting to move to a different theme, the process is pretty simple. But before we switch themes, here are some things to consider first.

What about your current theme do you want to keep?

Before you let go of your old Shopify theme, identify the parts that worked well with your Shopify store needs. It’s easy to get lost in the currents of change. You will be grabbed by the temptation to throw everything away and start from scratch, but we suggest going against that urge. 

Your current theme might be outdated in some areas but if you’ve been using it for some time, there are bound to be some things you’ll want to keep. Make a list of everything that worked well and what aspects or features you would like to adopt into your new theme. 

This can be anything from the checkout process to the layout. Look for these same features in your new theme. Also, use this opportunity to record the features you didn’t use or didn’t like from your old theme. This way, you can avoid them in the future. 

how to change theme on shopify

Analyze competitors

Stay ahead of the curve by being in the know of what’s hot in your niche; the best way to do this is by analyzing your competitors and taking note of what features are working for consumers.

We’re not saying to do what everyone else is doing—creating a brand that is recognizable and memorable as your own is a must for a successful business. But there are things you can learn from competitors without losing your brand identity. 

What payment portals are they using? What are reviewers saying about their shopping experience? What do consumers feel is missing in the niche? How are they displaying and marketing their best sellers?

Keep track of what’s working in your market and find ways to incorporate it into your Shopify store. Just make sure you do so authentically and organically.   

Conduct a customer survey

Nobody knows what works best for consumers than the consumers themselves. It’s a super simple but effective strategy – ask your customers what they want from their shopping experience.

Conduct a survey with your customers and ask how they perceive the purchase journey in your store.

  •  Do they like the product layout?
  •  Are any parts of the store difficult to use?
  •  Are there features they would like that could make their shopping experience better? 

These are just a few examples. But questions of this grain can make a dramatic difference that could positively influence your thought process when choosing a new theme. 

Send out an email or offer an onsite survey in exchange for a small reward. Let them tell you what they like about the current features, what they don’t like, and what they would like to see in the future.  

how to switch themes in shopify

It’s easy to miss obvious issues when you’re the one choosing or editing your Shopify theme. Being exposed to something for long can make spotting mistakes a lot harder. You might be surprised by the issues your customers have noticed and how changing these can greatly improve user experience and sales conversion. 

While this will only work if you’ve been running your store long enough to have loyal customers, it’s still good to keep in mind for the future. 

Free, paid, or custom?

Not all themes are created equal. But it might not be necessary to have a premium Shopify theme for a new store unless the store requires some of the more complex features offered by paid themes. 

If you are just starting out on Shopify and want to test your options, a free theme will work great. Free themes are beginner-friendly and also work well if your store has an existing and loyal client base. 

If your store is bringing in a steady stream of revenue, a paid theme might be the better option for you. 

Paid themes may also have more industry-specific advanced features like animations, recommended products, or promo pop-ups that can help you develop a brand identity and increase profit by drawing in new customers. 

Another option is to go with a custom theme. Shopify offers store owners the option to upload a theme to Shopify and use it with their store.

If you want your theme to be tailored exactly to your business, you can outsource the process of Shopify theme building to developers who will understand your unique needs. This option is best for those who are looking to upscale their store and have the cash flow to develop a theme that fits their store and industry like a glove.

Consider where you would like to see your Shopify store in five years. Make sure that whatever option you choose doesn’t overextend your store and budget capabilities.

If you don’t want to have an entire theme built from scratch, you can still hire a developer or designer for existing theme tweaks, custom functions, and design work. 

Will any data or content be lost? 

Changing themes is a little scary, especially if you don’t know what content or data could be lost. Luckily, Shopify keeps your core store data separate from your theme files. This means they won’t be affected by a change or a theme update. 

how to change current theme on shopify

This data is not part of the theme but rather part of the store itself. 

The unaffected data includes: 

  • Navigation
  • Products
  • Pages
  • Blogs
  • Collections

Data that can be lost because of a theme change are the edits made directly to the theme. When the theme changes, the new theme will replace these edits with the new themes template files. 

  • Shopify Theme Customization: These are the changes you made in the Shopify theme editor. This will be replaced by the new theme editor and the changes that come with that particular theme.
  • Changes Made To The Theme Code: If you made changes to the theme code – HTML, CSS, Javascript – they will be within that particular theme and not the new one. If you reset your Shopify theme or deleted that particular theme after changing to a new one, the code will be lost. 

If you don’t want to risk losing any of this data, export the theme file to save a backup for peace of mind. If you didn’t make any edits to your theme and aren’t too fond of the customization, you can move on to the next part without any worry. 

Shopify help

How to change your current theme on Shopify

Now that you know what to consider before changing your Shopify theme, we’ll jump right into the tutorial. 

Step 1: Log in to Shopify Merchant Dashboard

Log in to your Shopify account with your unique log in details. This will bring up your Shopify Merchant Dashboard. 

To the left of the Merchand Dashboard will be a sidebar with categories like Orders, Customers, and Finances. Below these categories will be a section labeled Online Store. Click on Online Stores. 

Under this section with be a Themes category. Click on the Themes category.

Step 2: Download your theme

Your Merchant Dashboard is now showing all your Shopify themes. The one at the top is the one actively published with your store. 

When you scroll further down, you will find the Theme Library. The Theme Library holds all your downloaded themes. 

Below this will be an option, Free Themes, to explore free themes. The other option, Shopify Theme Store, will let you explore and download other free themes and selected paid themes. 

If you haven’t downloaded the theme you want to change to, now is the time to do it. Browse the catalog and find a theme that fits with the considerations discussed earlier in the article. 

download shopify theme

Shopify lets you try a theme and view demo stores running the theme. Make sure to use these to get a real feel for the theme’s capabilities.

Step 3: Customize your theme

After you have downloaded your chosen theme, return to the Theme Library, where the downloaded theme should now be available. 

To the right of your chosen theme will be a Customize button. Click on this button. This will take you to the Shopify theme editor, where you can customize the theme to your liking before publishing it to Shopify. 

Step 4: Preview your theme

After you have customized your theme, return to the Theme Library. There will be an Actions dropdown button to the right of your chosen themes title. Click on this button until the dropdown menu is available. Find the Preview option and click on it. 

This will bring up another window and let you explore your store as a visitor instead of a merchant. Check that everything is in working order and looks good. 

If you are satisfied, there will be an option to the bottom right to Close Preview. Click on Close Preview to return to the Themes Library. 

Step 5: Publish your theme

Find the theme your want to change to. In the Themes Library, the most recently customized theme will be near the top. 

how to change shopify theme without losing content

Once you have found it, click on the Actions button to the right again. Find the Publish option and click on it. 

A pop-up window will appear to make sure you really want to change your current theme for the new theme. Press Publish to activate the new theme and deactivate your previous one. 

If you don’t want to change your theme anymore, click on Cancel. 

Step 6: Enjoy your new theme!

You have successfully changed your theme! View your store from a few different devices – mobile and desktop – to make sure everything is working and to marvel at the glory of your new theme. 

How to change the layout of your Shopify theme

If you don’t want to commit to a full theme change, changing the layout might do the trick. 

Step 1: Go to theme settings

From the Shopify Merchant Dashboard, select the Online Stores section on the sidebar. Click on the Themes category. 

Next to the theme, you are running will be the Customize button mentioned in the previous tutorial. Click on Customize and then Theme Settings. 

Step 2: Change the Theme layout

Under the theme, settings will be a Layout option. Click on Layout. This section might have different views, depending on your theme. 

  • Layout Option: If your theme has a layout option, it will let you choose between a grid or a list layout. Some might also let you customize how many rows or columns there are. Play around until you have found a layout that works for you and your store. 
  • Range Slider: The range slider will let your choose between a page width of 1000px or 1600px. The default page width is 1600px. Use the verticle range slider to add a maximum of 100px between sections.

For a grid layout, use the verticle and horizontal sliders to add space between the content. The horizontal slider can add a maximum of 40px space in between rows. The vertical slider can add a maximum of 40px between columns. 

  • Page Variant: Some themes have limited customization options and will come with preset variants. You will find this when you are on your Customize Theme tab, under Homepage Configuration. Under the Homepage variant, choose the variant and corresponding layout you would prefer. 

Step 3: Save the layout settings

After you have changed the layout to your liking, hit the save button. Refresh the page and check the new layout on mobile and desktop devices to make sure it is responsive. 

change shopify theme

How to change your Shopify theme (FAQ) 

How do I change the default theme on Shopify?

When you set up a Shopify store for the first time, you are provided with a default theme. For older stores, it was the Debut theme and for newer ones it’s Dawn. 

These Shopify themes are great – for beginners. But if you are ready to upgrade your Shopify store, changing to a new theme is a great way to start. And with all the free themes available, money shouldn’t present a problem. 

Luckily, changing from your default theme works the same as any other theme. Follow the steps from the tutorial above by downloading a theme, free or paid, and publishing it to your store. It can take some getting used to but nothing feels as good as seeing a fresh Shopify store. 

Does changing Shopify themes affect SEO?

Yes, changing your Shopify can affect SEO because certain SEO elements might change, like custom changes made for SEO rankings. This includes product titles, canonicalized product URLs, structured data, and content layouts. 

To minimize the impact of a theme change, make a backup of these customizations and migrate it to your new theme. This might require the help of a developer. You can also do an SEO audit after changing the theme to see how much of an impact changing to a new theme had on your store’s SEO. 

how to change theme shopify

Should you update your Shopify theme?

As a general rule, a theme update is always a good idea. An update introduces new features to your theme and may fix any previous bugs that were present. That being said, a Shopify theme update should not be done lightly.

Plan ahead. Don’t update the theme during peak hours and beware that if any edits were made to the theme code, it might be overwritten by the theme update. To avoid this, download a copy of your theme or enlist the help of a developer to migrate your edits to the updated theme.


And, there you have it. We know that was a lot of information to take in but hopefully, it gave you the confidence to change your Shopify theme without worry. Not only can you change your theme but you can customize it to stand out from the crowd and make it an experience users find to be easy and pleasing to the eye. 

Don’t go into it blindly – keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t; ask consumers what they want; analyze competitors; be smart about theme choices. Combine this strategy with your next theme change and we’re positive you will see an increase in visitors and sales conversions. 

And if you’re looking for more specific customizations, why not submit a task?

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