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What to Consider When Changing Your Theme

Theme Marketplace

Getting a new theme for your BigCommerce store can be an exciting yet intimidating process. In this guide, we’ll go over our recommended process and best practices for transitioning to a new theme, so that you have the confidence and know-how to change themes on your own.

Want someone to assist you through the process? See Working with a Design Partner.


Evaluating your Storefront Design

Since storefront design is critically important for gaining buyer confidence, you'll want to evaluate your design and consider if and how you need to change it. As a rule of thumb, you should consider updating the design of your site every 2 - 3 years. Having an outdated site can damage your brand’s reputation, and make it difficult for shoppers to complete their purchases.

Some key points to evaluate are:

  • Page load time — how long does your site take to load?
  • Mobile — how does your site look on phones and tablets?
  • Navigation — is the navigation easy to use on mobile and full versions of the site?
  • Customer Feedback — have you gotten any feedback from your customers?

Pro-tip: The Critique My Site group in our Community is a great place to get feedback on your current design from other BigCommerce merchants and partners.


Did you know? Page loading time and responsive design are are both incredibly important factors for Search Engine Ranking. Your SEO can suffer if you do not have a mobile-friendly version of your store.

BigCommerce Stencil themes are designed with SEO in mind. They are responsive, meaning visitors to the site can view it with ease on mobile devices, tablets or computers without any need to develop a separate mobile theme. The page load times are optimized to be some of the best performing designs available. BigCommerce continues to update themes to make sure they outperform web design and site performance standards.

See 7 Steps to Building Brand Trust and Customer Engagement Through Your Homepage Design on our blog to see how Dainty Jewell went through the redesign process.


What to Expect

Changing your theme is primarily a cosmetic update that changes how your products and other aspects of your storefront appear to your customers. Your analytics, products, SKUs, images and category structure will remain as they are. Think of your online store as a physical storefront: repainting the building does not change how you run your business.

That said, custom coding will not transfer over when you switch to a new theme. You will need to back up and potentially replace any custom code you have.

There are many scenarios that may have led to you adding custom code to your store. Use this list as a checklist to make sure that you don’t lose any customizations you’ll need for the switch:

  • SSL trust seals, credit card logos, or other images you want to appear on every page
  • customizations added to your checkout page
  • third-party apps or apps from the App Marketplace that required custom code directly in theme files (these apps will not function correctly without the code)
  • custom page layout templates, fonts, or icons

Changing from Legacy Blueprint theme to Stencil

BigCommerce has two main theme platforms Stencil (the current platform) and Blueprint (our legacy platform). See The Stencil Theme Platform to learn more about the differences between the two theme platforms.

Some settings in the store’s control panel will be moved if you switch from a Blueprint theme to a Stencil theme:

  • Some of the display and image settings in Store Settings are now handled in Store Design.
  • Code pasted in Footer.html needs to be pasted in the Script Box on a Stencil theme.
  • The Carousel Image dimensions may be very different. Most stencil themes have a carousel of about 1200 x 600 pixels.
  • Credit card logos can be added directly in Store Design.

Did you know? When you apply a new Stencil theme, the default, uncustomized version of your previous Blueprint theme remains in the Storefront › My Themes area. Note that this version of your previous theme will not have any of your customizations, but you can reapply them if you backed up the theme files before changing themes.

For more information about what carries over from theme to theme, see Transitioning Themes FAQ.

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