The design of your website is a vital part of establishing your brand and differentiating you from your competitors. Most eCommerce platforms make design a bit easier by providing eCommerce templates that can be applied to your website in an instant. This is a huge benefit for business owners without a designer on staff, or for those who simply want to get their business moving and focus on customization later. However, you can't just assume all eCommerce website templates are the same: they vary greatly in quality, price, design, and availability.
The eCommerce website theme you choose affects more than just the look of your website. Of course, your brand's mood, colors, and voice are all crucial and you should pick a theme that works with them, but appearance isn't everything. Website themes are created from graphics and code just like everything else online, and will influence how quickly your site loads, how well it works on mobile devices, how easy it is for customers to navigate, and much more.
X-Cart and Shift4Shop both offer a variety of eCommerce themes. Let's compare them.
X-Cart's theme selection includes several color schemes and layouts mostly focusing on the usual concept of a large banner image above smaller banners, featured products, and other front-page content. Some are geared toward specific industries, but could likely work for a variety of brands. Overall, most are attractive and well-made.
However, a big issue is the small selection, which makes the otherwise varied designs seem repetitive. Themes also need to be filtered by compatible X-Cart version, and if you forget to do this, you'll see themes that aren't compatible with your store. This additionally narrows down the selection of available themes, since you never want to choose one that only works with an older software version.
Even worse is the fact that X-Cart only offers a single free theme, which is extremely generic. Many business owners prefer to launch their store using a free theme and upgrade to a premium one later, but doing this with X-Cart means your eCommerce website will be identical to numerous other stores in the same stage of growth. Your business's ability to brand itself will also be on hold until you get a new theme or put time into customizing the free one.
Most X-Cart themes look nice, no doubt about it. The major problem is that the selection is so small, to the point of being nonexistent if you can't spend money on a premium theme yet. Even the paid themes are few — and some are simply duplicates intended for different X-Cart versions, so there's even less variety than first appears.
Since X-Cart themes are limited by compatibility with different X-Cart software versions, your favorite theme might not work with the current platform version — and if your theme becomes outdated because of a software update, your store could experience problems until an update arrives. Putting off the software update to save your theme is also a bad idea, as it could expose your store to security breaches, or at best prevent you from using new features.
As for customization of X-Cart themes, it's not easy. The tools provided are quite limited, allowing you to change a few things about your layout, but you're unable to add new content areas or change other design elements without editing CSS code. Getting the most out of an X-Cart store's design will require custom work from a web designer.
Shift4Shop has dozens of free online store templates ready to bring next-level design to any online store. With so much more to choose from than X-Cart, business owners have much more freedom for the look of their website, making custom design work an option rather than a necessity. The large selection of free themes also gives new businesses the chance to stand out from the crowd without spending money on their template right away.
All of Shift4Shop's themes are built on our revolutionary Core Template Engine, a Bootstrap-based design framework that makes it easy to bring top-tier website advantages to your online store. Optimized code ensures fast loading, and responsive design allows perfect functionality on every device from a smartphone to a desktop computer.
In contrast to X-Cart, which only offers a single free template in its theme store, Shift4Shop has a wide variety of free themes in many styles you can use instantly with no effect on your budget. You can also preview any theme to see exactly how it looks on both computers and mobile.
A fresh, clean eCommerce theme with banner space for displaying featured categories, new arrivals, and more near the top of the front page.
A sophisticated, dark theme with a large carousel banner, tons of featured product space, and green highlights for lively, eye-catching contrast.
A refreshing blue and white theme with friendly fonts that create a cool, welcoming atmosphere, plus multiple ways to feature products on the front page.
A light, visually-focused theme that puts all the focus on your products and images to engage customers and help them picture owning your products.
Shift4Shop's theme store includes a varied selection of free and premium themes with a full range of looks, from classic to trendy, using modern high standards of web design. Most importantly, there's no need for concern about whether a theme is compatible with your store. Shift4Shop Core themes remain up to date with the Shift4Shop software, which is automatically updated for you as part of the SaaS model.
Customization is much easier and more flexible with Shift4Shop as well. You can use our Theme Editor to change colors, fonts, and other design elements, and our Drag n' Drop HTML Builder allows you to rearrange and create the layout and content areas of your home page, blog, and other content-related parts of your website. Professional developers love Shift4Shop too, as the Core Template Engine's modular format provides unlimited freedom for web design. Whether you want a fully custom website or just want to fine-tune an existing theme, the possibilities are endless.