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BigCommerce Stencil Theme Options

Stencil themes are very flexible, allowing you to create a BigCommerce web design that perfectly reflects your brand. Developers love Stencil themes because they allow for “if-then” statements and can be built in an offline development environment. But what if you’re not a professional (or even amateur) coder? What Stencil theme options are available to you?

Every Stencil theme comes with a “Customize” menu, which allows you to modify everything from fonts to colors to layouts without modifying the theme files. The best way to determine what options are available in a specific theme is to review the theme demos.

You can access all the current themes in the official BigCommerce theme store. Once you find a theme, click on it to view the different variations or theme “styles”. You can then click “View Demo” to see the theme in a live store. (I recommend this process over using the Theme Preview option in the themes marketplace area of your BigCommerce store.)

Each theme variation will show you different layout options included with the theme. For example, in one theme style, you might see the logo on the left. On another, you may see the logo in the center. This tells you that the theme has an option for choosing a left or center logo location.

Note that when you purchase a theme, you get all the variations. There is no real difference between the variations, they are just pre-built combinations of different theme options that you can use as a starting point for your customization.

How to Choose a BigCommerce Theme

Once you’re familiar with the stencil theme options available, the next step is choosing the best theme for your BigCommerce store. Ignore the colors and images you see in the demo – you’ll be changing those when you customize the theme anyway.

The only time you should consider the theme’s color is if it comes in a “dark” version. If you want a black background (or other dark color), you’ll want to choose a theme that has a “dark” version. While you can customize the background color of any theme, most themes don’t give you enough options to change the color of all the text to white or light grey so it can be read against a dark background.

So what things should you consider when picking a BigCommerce theme? Here are the elements I look at when making recommendations to clients.

  • Main menu location – horizontal in the header or vertical in a left sidebar
  • Search box – is it visible or hidden behind a search icon
  • Main menu subcategory display – is it a standard dropdown, flyout menu or multi-column mega menu
  • Footer layout – how many columns does it have, is a logo included, where is the newsletter signup box located
  • Category page – are there any advanced options like viewing the second product image on hover, the ability to switch from grid to list view, or the ability to choose the number of products per page
  • Product page – how large is the product image, are the thumbnails under the main image or to the left, is the description to the right of the photos or below it, does the theme use horizontal tabs or expandable accordions
  • Custom content blocks that might be included with the theme on the homepage or other pages

I tend to look for themes that are new-ish, but not brand new. Some of the older themes are no longer being updated, and will likely be retired at some point in the future. But newly released themes can be buggy. You can always check the theme’s release notes to determine how new it is and if bugs have been fixed. If a theme is still version 1.0.0, I would avoid it rather than end up the guinea pig who finds all of the bugs!

To view the full list of currently available themes and their associated release notes, click here.

At the end of the day, BigCommerce merchants have many Stencil theme options. Only you will know which one is right for your brand. Using the tips above, you should be able to narrow down your choices and ultimately pick a Stencil theme that will give you the best design options and features for your store.