We all want beautiful looking and well-functioning websites that we can use for our passions or for commercial purposes.
And if you are looking to build a website and are considering Shopify as a viable option to build and run your website there, then this quick guide is going to be useful to you.
I will be walking you through the process of building a Shopify website or online store, step by step, from scratch to having a fully functional website as well as offer you great tips to help you keep growing and help you achieve your website goals.
So let’s jump right in and see how it is done.
Overview of Shopify
To start with, Shopify is a platform that allows you to set up a website or online store, or both, and sell your services or products as well as create your presence online.
It provides you with effective tools so that you can run your business online, manage your website resources and needs, build and maintain your online store, get customers, makes sales, as well as generally manage the day-to-day activities of your business or brand.
In short, it has everything that you need to help you launch, manage, and grow your business.
They are a large successful e-commerce platform that has helped build over 1,000,000 businesses in 175 countries around the world that have made over $200 billion USD in sales.
And it is one of the most popular platforms when it comes to building online stores.
Some of its most interesting features include awesome themes to improve the look of your website, getting expert customer support with building your website or store, over 100 payment gateways, dropshipping capabilities, Shopify app store, inbuilt hosting services for your website, ability to recover lost sales and website performance tracking, among many others.
The good thing about it is that it can be used by people who are just getting started with running websites and online stores, those who have limited technical knowledge of building and maintaining websites, and even those who are well versed with website development and coding.
There are features available that cater to everyone at any level.
A Full Walkthrough on How to Build a Shopify Website
In Shopify, you can build a free and a paid or self-hosted website.
A free website is great to start with and test out the features of Shopify but if you want to create an actual business that you want to be benefitting from financially, then the self-hosted or paid website is the best way to go.
And we will be looking at how you create both websites in Shopify.
1. Creating a Free Shopify Website
Here are the steps you should follow in order to create a free Shopify website successfully;
Step 1: Go to www.shopify.com
Step 2: Click on “Start your free trial” to create your account and get the free trial. Here you will be asked to provide your email address, your password, and your store name.
Choose a good store name that will identify with what you want to build and your brand in the long term.
If you are building a website for your business, you can use the business name as your store name. If you already have an offline store, you can also use the name of that store to build your online store.
However, if you are just getting started from scratch and don’t already have an offline business, you should take time to decide which name is good for your website.
Make sure the name is brandable and memorable and relates to the activities or niche you intend to be involved in.
For instance, if you are going to sell shoes in your store, you can call it, Footwear Hub or use your name as a brand. For instance, Jane’s Greens could be a good name for a store that sells fresh veggies.
It is entirely up to you what name you give your website, but in essence, try to be creative and come up with a name that you and your customers will love.
When you are done filling out this part, click on “Create store” and the Shopify website builder will build a website for you.
Step 3: Explain more details about what you want with your Shopify account and store. Once your store is created, you will be taken to a page where you will be asked to explain your current situation better to help Shopify understand where you are at in terms of business, what you intend to do and how they can help you achieve your goals.
Some of the questions you will be asked include if you are already selling and how much revenue your business is bringing in if you are using other methods to sell your products online or offline, the niche your business is in, or which one you’d want the store to be in and if the store you are creating is for yourself or a client.
Be sure to fill in these details as accurate as you can because it will help you get the perfect resources for your situation and make everything super easy.
When you are done explaining your situation, click “Next”.
Step 4: Enter your business address details for your account to be getting payments. Here, you will be asked to provide personal details such as your name, address, location zip code and city among others. Fill out the form and when you finish, click “Enter my Store.
Step 5: Check out your backend area of your store. After the previous step, you will be directed to the back end of your website where you can now see some of the aspects of the store that you will be managing there.
Some of these aspects include orders, products, customers, analytics, marketing, and apps.
And you are now done creating your free Shopify website.
You can check how your website looks like, you can go to “Online Store” on the bottom left of the backend area, then click on “View your store” on the top right corner.
That will show you how people who visit your website right now will see it from the external view.
Creating Your Paid-For website With Shopify
This part is for those who want to create a website that is more professional and ready for business. With this option, you get access to more functionalities and you have more freedom over your store.
But with this comes a cost.
You have to pay for a few resources which we will be looking at which will help enhance the functionality and flow of your business.
Creating a self-hosted website with Shopify is not as difficult and you are mostly going to follow the steps above for creating a free website and then take a few more steps to upgrade the free website to a paid one.
Here are a few other steps for that, starting from the above steps for a free website:
Step 6: Upgrade to a Paid Plan. To access the other features that will help solidify your business such as gift cards, sales channels and more, you will have to subscribe to a monthly plan.
Based on your needs and desires for your website and what you intend to build, you can choose the following subscription plans; $29 for Basic Shopify which is great if you are getting started, $79 for Shopify, and $299 for Advanced Shopify.
You can see this by clicking “Select a plan” in the backend area.
Take your time and determine which plan fits your visions and subscribe to one.
Step 7: Buy a domain name. Once you upgrade, the next thing you are going to want to do is to buy a domain name for your website. This will take your business from using the less professional domain name with the Shopify extension to a domain name that only has the name of your store.
For instance, since I am using the free “www.juicyart.shopify.com” domain name, I will get to buy “www.juicyart.com” which is neater.
To buy your domain name, you go to “Online Store” on the bottom left side, then to “domains” and then to “buy new domain”.
If you have already bought a domain, you can connect it through the “connect existing domain” button or choose to transfer the domain to Shopify to manage everything there.
The good thing with Shopify is that you get website hosting for your website with every plan you choose and this will save you the money you would have to spend on hosting if you went somewhere else to build your website there.
Customization Of Your Website
Now that you have your website in place, the next natural step you want to take is to customize it to your desires.
Everyone is different, our goals are different and our preferences are also different.
So you will want to take your time and customize some areas of your website to match your goals and visions.
There are 2 types of customizations, there is basic and deep customization.
Let’s see how each works and how to do them.
This is the type of customization where you change a few basic but really essential aspects of your website to make sure that gives it a personal look.
I recommend doing this customization soon after you created your website as it is important.
So here are the things you customize in basic customization:
* Change your website theme.
If you are okay with the theme you already have, you can skip this step. But if you want to change your theme to a much better one that you feel better defines your website layout and the resources you intend to add to it, you can choose another that best matches what you have in mind.
Shopify provides lots of themes for their users and you can check out their theme store, the Shopify theme store, and look through the options you have. You can choose to go with a paid or free theme, as you wish.
You can also get a Shopify theme from other Shopify theme sellers and upload it to your account.
Some of the best Shopify theme sellers are Out of the Sandbox, Portotheme, and ThemeForest.
All you will have to do here is go to any of these sellers, choose and download your preferred theme and then upload it to your account on Shopify.
You upload it by going to the backend area of your website and clicking on “Online Store” then click on “themes” which directs you to “upload theme”.
There you can upload it and activate it on your website.
* Customize your homepage.
Now to customize your homepage, it’s important you know that essentially, the home page of any website should have the summary of the whole website.
This is where you give people the purpose of your website, give them a sneak peek of your other blog page, if you have, and other key areas of your website.
The homepage should be so informative that when a visitor comes to it, they should know right away what you are offering and what the entire website is about.
I normally recommend having a header section that briefly describes your website, then having a sneak peek of other pages in the middle section and then your online store below that.
You can also have a customer reviews section for your potential customers to see what other users are saying about your products.
Here is what I have chosen for my store.
You can even choose an Instagram feed for your Instagram account for people to see your latest posts and other notifications about your shop.
But as earlier mentioned, we all have different intentions with our website and also varying touches of design.
So, feel free to establish the things you want on your on this page and add them.
To customize your homepage, you go to “Online store” then go to “Themes” and then press “Current theme”, and with this, you will see “Debut” on the right of “Current themes” and then to “Customize”.
You will be taken to a page that has a view of how the homepage looks like currently and then you will see the sections on the right that make up the homepage.
Click on any of the sections you want to change and make the changes you want.
* Add other critical pages.
Now if you want to have a website that has that official, business-like touch, there are some pages you should add to your website.
The pages make the foundation of your website and also give you the direction of your website and store.
To add new pages on Shopify, you simply go to “Online store” then under it, you will see “pages”. Click on that and you will now be directed to another section labeled as “Add Page” on your top right section.
Add the page you want, create content for the page and then hit “Save” to add it to your website.
And that is all you need for the basic customization.
Deep customization involves making more technical changes that improve the structure and functionality of your website.
Here are the areas you target with deep customization:
* Adding blog posts.
If you are going to have a blog page where you create content often, you will need to use blog posts. These will help you build content that can help you with ranking on search engines and targeting organic traffic that converts well.
To add blog posts to your website, what you do is click on “Online store” then below it you can see “Blog posts”. Click on that and then go to “create blog post” so that you get started on creating content.
* Adding Plugins.
First things first, plugins are website extensions and their work is to add more functionalities to your website.
They help with backing up your website’s content, speeding up your website, photo optimization, site maps as well as with Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
You just choose the functionality you want to work on your website and then get a plugin that helps with that. You then add it and activate it on your site so that it starts working right away.
Now with Shopify, to get plugins you go to the Shopify app store, search for the plugins you want based on your needs.
After that, you install the plugin and then activate it on your website.
Some of the best and popular Shopify plugins include the Free shipping Bar plugin for shipping, Returnly for handling product returns, One-Click Social Login for E-commerce, and Page Speed Monitor for website speed.
* Adding menus.
Menus help you organize your pages and post better and give your users an easy navigation process.
To add new menus for specific content and functionalities of your website, you go to the backend area of your Shopify store and then go to “Online store”. After that, go to “Navigation” and then to “Add a new menu” on the top right.
You can also customize the existing menus by going through the same route of “Online Store” then “Navigation” and then you will see the menus you have on your website in the middle section of that page.
Click on any menu and make the changes you want to it.
Shopify is easy to use and you can keep making the customizations I recommend as well as any other you want with relative ease.
If you get any trouble doing this, you can always use Google and Youtube tutorials to help you know where to find the features you want and how to customize them.
There is also customer support to help you make other more technical and specific changes.
It is also a great idea to get yourself acquainted with the backend area and other features of Shopify so that you can discover all the potential you have with Shopify and see that you don’t get stuck with doing anything on your Shopify business.
Tips to Help Your Shopify Site Succeed
Here are some tips that will help you scale your website and realize the dreams you have for the newly built website:
• Grow your website
Always ensure that your website is growing and you are adding value to it every so often.
If you have new products you are selling, add them to your online store, add content to your blog page, improve upon the design, market your store, check and optimize your website performance and other aspects of your website.
As you do this, your store is going to become better and grow popular which will increase your sales.
• Keep updating your homepage
Your homepage is going to evolve as you build your online store or website.
And as you add more content, more products, more services to your online business, you should also update your homepage and include those new aspects.
This will ensure that your homepage is always reflecting a summary of what your entire website does and seeing that there is nothing that’s missing in there that your users can miss as they view it.
• Ensure your website is fast and smooth to navigate
Am sure you have had an experience before where you open a website trying to learn or find something and you couldn’t do that because the website was super slow to load, right?
Now, since you know the frustration that causes, try and avoid that on your website.
Ensure the website speed is fast by using few plugins, optimizing your photos and content, and clearing the website cache.
• Optimize your website for search engines
If you are going to want to get website traffic and other search engines to your website and get them to make purchases, you are going to want to optimize the website for search engines.
And you do this using the best SEO practices.
Shopify offers a few SEO provisions for your website, but you will also need to work on other aspects like content optimization and building your website’s authority.
• Ensure that your website can run well on mobile phones
Since many people use their smartphones to look for information online and even to make purchases, you will want to make sure your website is mobile-friendly so that you can get these users as well.
Ensure your theme is mobile friendly and your website doesn’t have design and functionalities issues when viewed on mobile devices.
And that’s pretty much the gist of Shopify websites.
I now hand over the rest to you to decide what kind of website you want to create with this website building platform.
And I hope the customizations and tips are going to help with personalizing and enhancing your website as a whole.
If you need more help in this area, don’t hesitate to ask for help through the comments and I will be more than happy to help. 🙂