How do I know if I need a theme, app, or custom development?

by Mel Dominguez April 02, 2020

One of the most common questions we get asked when clients come to us for a project quote is: How do I know if the solution I need is a theme, an app, or a development?

This is an excellent question, and although every project is unique, here is a simple table with a few scenarios and their solutions.

Priority Project Size Recommended Solution Examples
Add new functionality at the lowest cost Small / Medium Apps Need to add a currency converter to the site
Adding new functionality but we're flexible on the design Small / Medium Apps Enable product customization options for my products
Adding new functionality but replicating a specific design or layout is a requirement Small / Medium / Large Development Create a product builder with multiple steps and conditional logic with a specific design and workflow that must match our mockups.
Theme customization and I'm flexible on the design Small / Medium Theme You may want to customize a new theme on your store but you're happy with the theme's options and its limitations
Theme customization but need my design to match my mockups or samples Small / Medium / Large Theme + Development You may want to customize a new theme on your store and although you like the main layout and features, you will need to further customize one or more pages to add small or medium functionalities, change the layout, or styles in more detail.

 

Here is the main idea to keep in mind:

The more specific and intricate your functionalities/designs/layouts/styles are, you will eventually reach a limit on what Themes and Apps can do for you so your best solution is Custom Development altogether. Otherwise, a Theme or an App could be a more convenient solution for you.

All projects are different so you may end up with even a combination of the 3. Contact us if you have questions and we can discuss your project.

Pros and Cons of each

Themes

Pros Cons
  • Accessible price ($140 ~ $180)
  • One-time investment
  • Provides some core features to the store
  • Limited in default available customizations

Apps

Pros Cons
  • Accessible price (starting at $5 / mo)
  • Provides one or more specific feature to the store
  • Monthly pricing and commitment
  • Limitations in functionality, design or customization ability
  • If the theme is changed, some apps may need to be reinstalled in the new theme

Custom Development

Pros Cons
  • Full flexibility to let you add almost any feature and any design or layout to the store.
  • It's the most expensive of the options
  • Depending on the complexity of the project development can take weeks or months
  • If the theme is changed, all custom developments will need to be made again in the new theme


    Mel Dominguez
    Mel Dominguez

    Author

    Co-Founder of NinjaNutz, Melissa is passionate about technology and gadgets. She also loves animals and coffee. All of these are part of her daily life. Her job makes her work with Shopify stores 99% of the time and is a Shopify Expert since 2016.


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