11/23/2021

Customizing Shopify Dawn with the theme editor

Author: Julia

Dawn Theme is a new default theme available for your Shopify store. With the recently enhanced theme editor you can highly customize it without the need to write a single line of code. What exactly can you change with it? How easy and intuitive is it?

First things first - let’s set some global theme settings. Not many are available, you can mostly change colors and fonts. You can set two fonts and a few colors (two accents, two backgrounds, etc.). For most websites, however, it should be enough.

The first thing that strikes you (especially if, like me, you are coming from a Magento background) is you can customize every page in your shop. You know, Magento has quite an extended Page Builder (it was available in Magento Enterprise for some time, since 2.4.3 it is part of an open-source solution), but you can use it only for customizing static pages and blocks. Shopify gives you some control over PDP or categories as well. Sure, you cannot change everything (you cannot control the size or position of the product image, you cannot change the font size of the product title or price, etc.), but even changing the order of elements in PDP is something worth noting. Also adding static content to PDP should be so much easier and more intuitive than in Magento.

Generally, there is quite a nice set of sections available out of the box:

You can build attractive and functional pages using just them. There is no slideshow or carousel - Dawn creators decided that it is not really needed, it requires a significant amount of JS code and it can slow down the page. Of course, custom sections can be added as well.

For better or worse, you cannot freely change fonts or the colors of elements. You define them once, in theme settings. So, for example, you can choose one of three sizes for your heading, you cannot use the exact value:

That’s fine, I think, but it is kind of disappointing how few options there are in the rich text editor (no underline, no option to add heading, etc.).

Well, at least it means that Shopify will efficiently prevent you from making a mess of your theme.

What I find even more disappointing is that you have almost no control over the page layout. You cannot build your page from rows and columns, you cannot create a nice custom collage of promo blocks (well, there is a Collage widget, but it has predefined sizes and positions of elements), you cannot decide that this particular page needs two columns instead of one. All of this is possible in Magento Page Builder. Here you can only add widgets one below the other.

Still, Shopify allows you quite a nice level of customization and at the same time it is intuitive, clean and easy to manage. However, it surely won’t be enough for a highly customized store. Shopify gives you a lot of great features but not too many. It seems that they don’t want to give users too much power as a means of protection from breaking things. It’s good in many cases, but it can be frustrating as well. Sometimes the theme editor for Dawn surprises you with its flexibility. Sometimes it disappoints with a lack of it. Some changes will be needed to be done in the code anyway, but all in all, it is a nice tool that can be a great help in many cases.

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Contact with: Julia