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How to Use a BigCommerce Theme to Design Your Online Store

This post is part of a series called How to Use BigCommerce to Make Your Online Store (Starter Guide).
15+ Best BigCommerce Themes: New on ThemeForest (2017)
15+ BigCommerce Design Tips for Better eCommerce Websites
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Opening an online store is a great way to start selling your products or expand your existing customer base. In the world of eCommerce platforms, BigCommerce is one of the popular ones that will allow you not only to launch your store but to also sell and market them on places like e-Bay, Amazon, and Facebook at the same time.

Aside from selling on multiple channels, you also get access to a rich set of marketing features, complete management of your inventory, SEO tools, and beautiful themes that will allow you to take your store to the next level and showcase the products in an organized fashion.

If you’re new to BigCommerce, this article will walk you through the steps of using a BigCommerce theme to design your online store quickly and start selling your products in style.

How to use a top BigCommerce theme to design your online store
How to use a top BigCommerce theme to design your online store. (YourStore)

However, if you need a primer on what the powerful features of BigCommerce are, and why you should consider using it as your online store platform of choice, first read this article: 

Now let's get started with today's tutorial, by beginning with how to pick the best eCommerce theme to design your online store with: 

How to Choose the Right BigCommerce Theme (For Your Online Store)

With many BigCommerce themes available, choosing the right one for your store may seem daunting at first. But, there are a few quick tips that can make your process easier:

  • Powerful Features - Look for an eCommerce theme that has features like mega menus, price filtering, and product quick view. Those features will not only allow you to put all your categories in the menu without cluttering your main navigation bar but also allow your visitors to access the desired categories and view products and add them to their cart without clicking through to the product page.
  • Responsive Design - Choose a website theme that is responsive so your customers can have a smooth shopping experience even if they are using their tablet or a smartphone
  • Easy Customization - Ensure the site theme can be customized so you can integrate your brand seamlessly and make your store stand out among the competition
  • Includes Blogging Tools - Consider an eCommerce theme that offers a blog option, which will help you increase the visibility of your store in search engines and allow you to market your products.
  • Modern Design - Don’t ignore the design aspect of the theme. Make sure the theme you choose has an appealing design that suits your niche. You can also choose a multipurpose theme as those have been designed to work well across a variety of niches

Find the best BigCommerce themes with beautiful modern eCommerce designs, featured in this curated article on Envato Tuts+: 

Now that you know what to look for in a theme, let’s cover how to use one to design your online store. We'll take an innovative online store theme from the article above and show you how to set it up quickly.

How to Start Setting Up Your Online Store Design

Once you purchase your chosen BigCommerce theme, download the zip file to your computer. For the purposes of this tutorial, I’ll be using the YourStore BigCommerce theme design, but you are free to use a theme that appeals the most to you.

YourStore BigCommerce theme design
YourStore - Premium BigCommerce theme design.

1. Install Third-Party BigCommerce Theme

To begin the process of designing your store, unzip the folder that you downloaded and open it. You’ll find the documentation folder and the theme folder which has the zip file you need to upload to your BigCommerce website.

Uploading your theme.

Login to your site and then click on Storefront > My Themes in the left-hand side menu. You’ll already have a theme installed for you by BigCommerce but if you scroll down the page, you’ll see a button that allows you to upload a third-party theme. Click the Upload Theme button.

Once the ZIP file has uploaded, a theme card will appear under My Themes showing theme processing progress. When the theme is done processing, it will show up in your dashboard and all you have to do is to click on the theme and then click the Apply button to make it active on your site.

Applying your new BigCommerce theme
Applying your new BigCommerce theme.

Now that your new eCommerce theme is active, let’s set up the necessary pages before customizing how your site looks.

2. Set Up Your BigCommerce Theme Pages

By default, you’ll have some pages already set up when you sign up for BigCommerce. You can view and create new pages under Storefront > Web Pages. The default pages include Shipping and Returns, Contact page and the Blog page. Clicking on any page name will take you to the editor where you can replace the default text with your own or customize it to match your store.

Editing existing BigCommerce theme pages is easy
Editing existing BigCommerce theme pages is easy.

You can also enter SEO information for the page under the Advanced options, and control how the page appears in the navigation menu. When you’re done editing any of the pages, simply click on Save and Exit to save your changes.

Creating additional pages like an About page, requires you to click on Create New Page. You can then decide whether this page will be an actual page or point to a different website, enter the contents, configure the SEO options, and decide on how it will display in the navigation menu.

Lastly, selecting the Blog page will allow you to edit the default blog post and create new blog posts. As you can see from the screenshot below, the post editor allows you to enter the title, the author, and the contents of your blog post. You can upload images and choose a thumbnail image that will appear as the featured image for your post.

Your options when creating a new blog post in BigCommerce
Your options when creating a new blog post in BigCommerce.

Once you’re done editing and adding new pages, it’s time to customize your online store design.

How to Quickly Customize Your BigCommerce Theme

Customizing your store’s design involves several steps: customizing the theme itself, uploading your logo, editing the homepage carousel to include your product images, and adding your social media links.

To access the customization options, go to Storefront > My Themes and then click the Customize button on your active theme.

BigCommerce theme customization is pretty straightforward
BigCommerce theme customization is pretty straightforward. 

The sidebar menu on the Customization screen will allow you to choose a different style of the theme, change the fonts, colors, logo dimensions, forms, and more.

The Design Editor is super easy to use
The Design Editor is super easy to use. 

You can even change the icons used on your website and set your colors so you can easily reuse them in other parts of your store.

Configuring your custom logo
Configuring your custom logo. 

The editor also allows you to control the number of products displayed on your homepage, the number of product reviews that display on individual product pages, and more.

Lastly, you can also edit the theme files if you know your way around code and want to truly customize the site. After making the desired changes, click on Save Changes.

When you’re done customizing the look of your site, navigate to Storefront > Logo to upload a logo image and a favicon for your site.

The next step is to customize the homepage carousel. To do that, select the Home Page Carousel link. On the following screen, you can upload your own images, reorder them, and control the text overlay that displays on the images.

Setting up the homepage carousel
Setting up the homepage carousel in BigCommerce.

Lastly, navigate to Social Media Links and enter the links to your social media profiles. This will allow you to start building your following and reach your customers on their preferred platform to keep them up to date with the latest products added to your store or special promotions. You can add up to six profiles and order them however you like.

You can add up to 6 social media profile links
You can add up to 6 social media profile links. 

How to Add Your First Product to Your Online Store

Once your BigCommerce theme is setup, you can begin adding products to your store and configuring product options. 

In your BigCommerce dashboard, navigate to Products. When you sign up for BigCommerce, you’ll have a few sample products already set up. 

The menu above the product list allows you to see all the products or to see your featured items or products that have free shipping. This is a handy feature that allows you to quickly find the product you want and edit it later.

Model your new products after the included sample products
Model your new products after the included sample products.

To add a new product, you can click on any of the sample products and edit the information with your own. On the editing screen, you can enter product name, tax information, product category, and a description of the product. 

You can also upload images and videos that showcase your products, configure product options such as sizes and colors, set bulk pricing and more.

Heres your view for editing products
Here's your view for editing products. 

When you’re done editing the product in BigCommerce, you can save it. Or, you can click on the arrow next to the save button for additional options, such as save, and duplicate.

If you’d rather start from scratch, simply click on Products and then Add to insert a completely new product. You can then delete the sample products by selecting them and clicking on the Delete icon.

5 Design Tips to Get More Out of Your Online Store

With your BigCommerce theme customized and your products added to your store, the bulk of your customization is done. However, there are important eCommerce design techniques that will help increase your conversion rate. Here are five quick design tips to apply to your online store:  

1. Use High Quality Images

When it comes to eCommerce, product images are the most important element on your website. This is not the place to use small or blurry images. Instead, ensure your images do your products justice. 

Your images should be well-lit and large enough to display your products clearly. However, do make sure to optimize your images before uploading them to your site to ensure image size doesn’t slow down your website.

Learn all about product photography in our series on Envato Tuts+, or get started with the tutorial below: 

2. Choose Contrasting Colors for Your Buttons

Ensure that your buttons stand out from the rest of your site. This applies to your Buy buttons and any other Call to Action button as well. By using a contrasting color, your visitors will be able to notice them more which increases the chances of them actually clicking and making a purchase.

3. Ensure Your Theme Is Responsive

Plenty of online research shows that more people are using their mobile devices not only to start their research but also to purchase various products. It’s also worth mentioning that search engines favor mobile-friendly sites. 

When you take that into consideration, it’s easy to see why your online store needs to look good no matter which device your visitors are using. Choosing a responsive BigCommerce theme out of the box will save you the trouble and eliminate the possibility of your visitors abandoning your site.

Keep in mind that BigCommerce also allows you to customize how your store looks on mobile phones, tablets, and desktop computers so you can easily test your theme and see if everything works the way it should across different screen sizes.

4. Avoid Cluttering Your Site

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to clutter the pages of your store with navigation links and too many products on one page. BigCommerce allows you to fine tune the number of products displayed on your homepage as well as the number of reviews on individual product pages. Avoid setting this number too high as it will distract your visitors and result them in abandoning your site.

You should also ensure that your main navigation displays only the most important pages and top level categories to make it easier on your customers to navigate your site. Use a theme with a mega menu feature to add sub categories and display them as a drop-down menu without cluttering your site.

Make sure you're featuring only the best products on your site: 

5. Make Use of the Quick View Feature

Many BigCommerce themes come with a built-in quick view feature. This allows your customers to click on any product and instantly see all the product details. They can also add the item directly to their cart and then proceed to checkout or continue shopping. 

By using this feature, they don’t have to click through to the product page which simplifies the shopping experience and increases the chances of them making the purchase. Pair that with a one-page checkout to further simplify shopping and boost the conversion rate for your online store.

Conclusion: Make a Great Online Store Quickly With BigCommerce

Getting your store started on the right foot increases your chances of success and makes it easier to display your products in an appealing way. Luckily, BigCommerce is a great platform with plenty of features to help you set up your store right and start selling online right away. 

Use the tips above to choose the right eCommerce theme for your store and to customize it to match your branding.

If you're still in the research phase of considering what type of online store to launch, read this comprehensive tutorial from Editor-in-Chief at BigCommerce Tracey Wallace. Learn all about the key decisions you need to make as you get started: 

What key features are going into your online store design? Have you set a timeline to launch and are you on target to hitting it? Good luck with starting your online store.

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