E-Commerce Jun 27, 2024

BigCommerce theme development and customization: key points to explore

Kateryna Kornieva

Kateryna Kornieva

Market Researcher


BigCommerce theme development and customization: key points to explore

Time to read: 13 minutes


  1. Why are custom themes so crucial?
  2. BigCommerce themes: how to pick the right one
  3. BigCommerce theme customization: main tips
  4. Basic customization tips for your website pages
  5. Pro tips for BigCommerce Stencil development
  6. One more option for BigCommerce template customization
  7. What are the challenges of custom BigCommerce design?
  8. Dinarys – your BigCommerce customization agency

“BigCommerce theme customization, BigCommerce Stencil development, BigCommerce template customization” — no matter how you search it, we’re here to cover the topic of theme development and customization. The very first results on the internet may confuse you. You may be left wondering: What’s the difference between all these terms? And is it possible to customize a BigCommerce theme on your own?

This article will simplify your choice of a theme for building your online store. We’ll show why you need to stand out among competitors, highlight the main criteria for finding a theme that perfectly matches your needs, explore customization possibilities, and show use cases to demonstrate that customization is worthwhile.

What makes BigCommerce such a great platform for business owners?

BigCommerce started its groundbreaking journey in 2009, offering various built-in features and theme files for store design so companies could swiftly enter the e-commerce market. Today, the platform powers 44,000 businesses (and growing).

Advantages of BigCommerce:

Simple and flexible page builder
User-friendly interface and valuable insights for data-driven decision-making
Time to market
Go from business idea to store extremely fast
Product management
SEO-friendly tools and marketing capabilities improve conversion rates
Designed for businesses of all sizes, BigCommerce offers various pricing plans (from $29/month if billed annually)

At the same time, the rising number of online stores based on pre-built themes means it is essential to stand out. Thus, demand for BigCommerce theme customization is growing.

To ensure your store’s uniqueness, you may start with basic features that only require HTML knowledge. Depending on your business needs, the basic and free Cornerstone theme may be enough for you to enter the market. If this is the case, then congrats! You’ll save time, effort, and money.

If you want to go beyond typical settings, it’s likely that you’ll need to make some changes deeper than in the theme files. As customized features like an interactive 360-degree view or gamified loyalty programs require coding experience, you may need a skilled developer or an agency for BigCommerce Stencil development. Or you can go even deeper and build a unique front end.

There are many ways to meet any particular need. Let’s explore them!

Why are custom themes so crucial?

No matter on which platform you create an online store, you should follow some common rules of web development based on customer behavior. According to GoodFirms, 88.5% of potential customers will leave a website that loads too slow, and 73.1% will leave a non-responsive site. However, we’re even more interested in the percentage of potential customers who will leave a website due to insufficient content structure (34.6%), poor design (38.5%), and poor navigation (61.5%). Taking into account the total number of websites in existence, we can see that customization options are invaluable. From the possibility of adding new features to improving the customer experience, customization brings new opportunities to the table — and custom themes are worth developing to catch a visitor’s attention from the first glance.

A chart showing the top reasons customers leave a website

BigCommerce themes: how to pick the right one

It can be challenging to pick among the more than 190 themes available on the BigCommerce store. To help you choose, themes are divided into collections (B2B, editorial, optimized for large or small catalogs, etc.), as well as by industries (from pets and toys to fashion, health, automotive, and arts). Each theme has a full description, so you can find all the features it provides and check style variations it includes. Make sure that your preferred theme will meet your needs within your business niche. You’ll find suggested use cases for each theme in the “Optimized for” column. Also, feel free to request a demo and review theme documentation.

Note that customizing BigCommerce themes can boost your store, but only to an extent. That’s why you should take time to choose your theme carefully.

Important metrics to pay attention to before creating a custom theme

To make your choice easier, we have gathered a list of the main things a successful theme should include. You can use it as a checklist to make sure you won’t have any regrets after picking your BigCommerce theme.

SEO-friendly settings

Your theme should be optimized for the keywords you need and have relevant tags for your business. Data should also be well-structured to simplify search engine optimization, and the theme should be optimized for various devices.

Speed metrics

Customers appreciate when you care about their time, so make sure to check your theme’s speed metrics. It’s crucial to have fast times for first contentful paint (FCP), time to interactive (TTI), largest contentful paint (LCP), and time to first click (TTFC). These metrics will show whether a theme is convenient for users. You can check them all via Lighthouse.

UX that helps in implementing your customer journey

Compare a theme’s route with your goals. Will customers see all the pages you want them to as they select items and make a purchase? Will the journey be intuitive or hard to finish? And most importantly: Will your customers be satisfied or exhausted in the end?

Alignment with your brand identity

As a business owner, you should not only pick a theme you personally like but should pick a theme that matches your brand identity and helps you meet your goals.

BigCommerce theme customization: main tips

Now that you know the main criteria for picking the right theme for your BigCommerce store, it’s time to consider your customization options. But first, let’s review the main components of a theme that you can customize.

A BigCommerce theme is actually a set of templates, which are made up of CSS and JavaScript files. You also need an engine that will run, process, and render the files that compose the theme. According to your business needs, coding experience, and budget, you can choose anything from making minor changes in the basic Cornerstone theme to getting a custom frontend design with the help of Stencil CLI.

No matter how deep you go into customization, keep in mind that you should have:

Basic customization tips for your website pages

The BigCommerce store has both free and paid themes. Cornerstone is a free theme created by BigCommerce that is available to all online stores. You can also find themes created and supported by third-party vendors. Each of these user-friendly themes boasts a fully responsive design, ensuring it adapts seamlessly to any device, whether desktop, tablet, or mobile. Themes are easy to apply, as they require little coding experience.
The large library of simple and flexible ready-made themes is ideal for beginners who prefer code-free customization. To boost your sales (and depending on your pricing plan), you can customize your BigCommerce store with:

Homepage Carousel: Dynamically promote featured products on your homepage

Social Media Integration: Connect with your customers with built-in social media icons

Product Highlighting Panels: Showcase top products, bestsellers, or new arrivals with dedicated homepage panels

Product Filtering: Refine your customers’ search with user-friendly functionality (check function availability in the selected payment plan)

SEO optimization: Follow SEO best practices to help your store rank higher in search engine results

Although you can choose from three styles for each theme, your BigCommerce design customization opportunities end at changing text attributes (font, size, color) and design elements (logo, header, navigation, product panels).

To dive deeper and edit theme files, you may need a BigCommerce Stencil developer.

Pro tips for BigCommerce Stencil development

BigCommerce customization has reached new heights with the Stencil framework. Although it requires strong coding knowledge (JavaScript, React), Stencil makes it possible to go beyond a classic theme editor and offers a brand-new way of personalizing theme files. So what does BigCommerce Stencil development bring to the table when creating engaging online stores?

Enhanced product display and user experience

Interactive product carousels: Showcase products with dynamic carousels that allow users to zoom in on details, view multiple angles, or compare features side by side.

Custom product filtering and sorting: Develop advanced filtering options so users can filter by specific features, price ranges, compatibility, or ratings, streamlining product discovery for customers with particular needs.

Product comparison tools: When you customize BigCommerce themes with a comparison tool, you can significantly help your customers with making informed purchasing decisions. Additionally, you can add a 360-degree view option.

Personalized checkout experience

Dynamic product recommendations: Develop a recommendation engine to suggest relevant products based on a user’s browsing history or previous purchases. This option will personalize the shopping experience and increase conversion rates.

Account dashboards with tailored content: Create custom account dashboards where users can easily access their order history and manage wishlists. Personalized product recommendations based on preferences will help users make repeat purchases.

Third-party applications

Custom live chat: Integrate a live chat service and develop custom functionality like chat transcripts and product recommendations. Enhance your customer support and personalization.

Social media integration: Custom features for social media integrations allow users to share products directly via their social media pages with personalized messages or offers.

Gamification and engagement

Gamified loyalty programs: You can develop a custom loyalty program with points, badges, or leaderboards. Such attention to the customer experience will bring you repeat purchases and increase customer engagement.

Interactive quizzes or product finders: Create fun and interactive quizzes or product finders with Stencil. Help your users discover the products they need while gathering valuable customer data in a gamified way.

Content marketing & brand storytelling

New approach to infographics: Easily develop engaging infographics or interactive buying guides for your customers. Present complex information in a visually appealing and informative way.

Custom blog layouts and content integrations: Craft unique blog layouts to seamlessly integrate with your product catalog. Demonstrate your brand’s expertise and stand out in your industry.

Use cases to inspire

A responsive design that enriches the customer experience is the main reason to customize your online store. Here are just a few examples of how business owners have increased their sales by upgrading their BigCommerce themes.

Example of a functional empowering of BigCommerce store

For an electronics store, developers created a custom blog section with interactive buying guides. It allows customers to compare various TV models based on use cases (gaming, watching movies, and so on).

Just a friendly notification

Customizing processes may be both exciting and challenging without coding knowledge. If you find it hard to make changes to template files or encounter issues with page builder, do not hesitate to contact a BigCommerce customization agency. Working with a custom template is complicated, and no one was born to edit theme files brilliantly (except Stencil developers, of course).

One more option for BigCommerce template customization

Another option when the default theme isn’t enough to cover your business needs is to create a progressive web app, or PWA.

BigCommerce’s robust back end and APIs allow us to create a PWA using React or Vue.js that is tailored to our unique expectations. We can also seamlessly integrate a PWA with your current platform using APIs, giving you complete control over your online store’s look and feel.

While custom development may be expensive, in some cases it is justified. For example, a fully custom theme is needed when a client has a fully custom UI and UX and the default theme is insufficient.

Our experienced developers can create a theme from scratch that is tailored to your expectations. This theme will be rendered through a custom engine on our server and connected with BigCommerce through its API.

We understand the criticality of exchanging information between the front end and back end and are adept at handling format differences across platforms. We will analyze the specific differences in your case and implement necessary connectors to ensure your custom front end runs as it should.

What are the challenges of custom BigCommerce design?

As we’ve mentioned, every theme runs with the help of an engine. Although BigCommerce Stencil development is powerful and uses the latest technologies, you may still have some challenges. Among them are:

Some challenges you may face using Stencil framework

Whenever you want to customize BigCommerce themes not only by changing fonts or colors, you should keep in mind that massive changes add fragility to the template. And massive changes may be painful for your budget as well. Last but not least: While a skilled BigCommerce Stencil developer or BigCommerce customization agency will solve your issues, note that it takes time to explore and fix bugs, even for a well-tested customization.

Have a project in mind?

Lets talk about it

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Dinarys – your BigCommerce customization agency

At Dinarys, we’re honored to create web stores on the world’s most powerful ecommerce platforms, including BigCommerce. In fact, you’ll find us among the list of official BigCommerce partners.

Dinarys badges
For over nine years, we’ve provided our clients with development, customization, and cross-platform migration services, third-party system integrations, and many more services. Here is what our clients say:

BigCommerce customization: summing up

A personalized BigCommerce theme can be your key to prosperity if you use it correctly. In a world where the way products are displayed can influence your customer’s decision, it’s impossible to ignore the possibilities of custom development.

A skilled BigCommerce Stencil developer can boost your store with custom integrations, improving your ranking and meeting your needs. And whenever you need BigCommerce design services, Dinarys is here to help.

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Our certified specialists will find the most optimal solution for your business.

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