Magento 2 is a fantastic backend commerce platform, providing advanced services for enterprise-level and rapidly scaling online brands.
But what’s the best solution for your frontend layer (or everything your shopper interacts with) as you grow your ecommerce business?
For accelerating your customer base and accommodating new product lines, you need a fast-loading, scalable, and robust storefront able to provide an outstanding shopping experience to every visitor.
And there are several routes you can take to create the storefront of your dreams with Magento (or Adobe Commerce)— from using one of the many out-of-the-box themes available—to designing your own custom theme, to using an all-in-one Frontend Platform for headless flexibility.
Today, we’ll walk through the options, running through the best Magento themes on the market, and covering what’s involved in creating a custom theme.
Try out the jump links below for skipping to what you’re most interested in:
Before we get into the details of which specific Magento 2 or Adobe Commerce themes offer the best options for your online store and how you can install them, let’s look at all of the things that any good theme needs to do.
Here’s your checklist for evaluating any Magento 2 theme for your ecommerce brand:
And of course, once you’ve found the theme you’d like, next up, you need to install it. Which leads us to…
There are a few different ways to install your Magento 2 theme. How you do it will depend on a) what kind of theme you want to install, and b) how it’s packaged up prior to installation.
In assembling the best resources for you on this:
Once your theme is installed, you can easily change from the default Magento theme to the one you want to use for your storefront.
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There are a huge number of Magento themes to choose from. You can pick one of Adobe’s own themes or go for a third-party option. You can even decide to create your own theme completely from scratch—something we’ll cover later in this post.
But, with all the choices, what’s the best option for your business? Remember that the requirements of your store will be unique and there is no one-size-fits-all option, so keep in mind the checklist we covered earlier and what your priorities are.
All that said, here are five of the best and most popular Magento 2 themes available to you:
One of the most widely used Magento 2 premium themes, Porto offers a clean design and a lot of layout flexibility and choice. Despite being able to choose from over 25 homepage layouts, Porto is a lightweight theme, meaning your pages are quick to load.
One of the most attractive features of Porto from an SEO perspective is the flexibility it provides when creating your menus and categories. You can configure the depth of your menus and display images from your product categories on your homepage. It allows you to create fast and intuitive navigation and move visitors quickly to your product pages.
This theme, developed by Magentech, is good for online brands operating stores with extensive product categories. It’s been a big hit with Magento customers as it integrates with several of the most popular Magento extensions, especially marketplace extensions.
Extensions like Ajax Layered Navigation are available with Market theme and provide extra search functionality. But be careful not to load up on too many extensions when customizing your theme—they can have a negative impact on your page load times.
Another lightweight theme that allows Magento store owners to choose from a wide variety of homepage layouts. Claue is based on Luma, one of two default Magento themes, but has advanced features and integrates with all of the most popular Magento extensions.
It comes with the MGS Page Builder extension, which is a useful drag-and-drop editor, allowing store designers to edit content right from the CMS. It is now available in a PWA, which will increase the performance of this already fast theme.
Some of the most notable extensions it supports are :
This third-party Magento theme is one of the most well-known, with over 5,000 stores running on it. Argento will install their theme for you and offer updates and support for a $25 monthly subscription.
Even though it’s a third-party theme, it’s built according to the same rules that in-house Magento themes use, so will integrate with any extension that’s built in the same way.
It also offers:
Another popular third-party theme, Pearl boasts that it’s the most documented Magento 2 theme available. Its price tag includes access to a self-service center and email support.
Pearl comes in three formats:
Pre-packaged Magento themes have many advantages: they’re quick and easy to set up, provide a professional-looking storefront, and are usually designed in such a way as to integrate with the ecommerce extensions you’ll need to power your store.
However, there are some drawbacks to using a pre-designed theme you should be aware of, including:
With the potential downsides of a third-party theme to consider, many brands opt for creating their own theme entirely. A Magento 2 custom theme is a theme that’s built entirely from scratch to meet the exact needs of your online store and brand.
This can be a good solution if you have a very strong handle on your tech stack. You’ll need to be sure you can take on the challenge of designing, building, and maintaining a bespoke theme. This can often require having the staff for maintenance of a theme on hand, or at least readily available.
There are several agencies that will develop a custom Magento theme for you, so you don’t have to worry about the technical details. But these bespoke services can be expensive and you may need to pay ongoing costs for maintenance and any third-party contracts involved in the theme development and delivery process.
If you have a strong team of in-house developers, you could decide to build a theme yourselves, although this is not something that should be taken on by inexperienced teams.
If you do decide to go it alone, here’s a brief workflow to give you some idea of what you should expect:
Magento comes with two pre-installed ‘starter’ themes - Blank and Luma. If you’re building your own theme, there will be common elements that you’ll need regardless of the kind of store you’re building, so using a basic template will save you a lot of time. Luma is more advanced than Blank, so use Luma if you’re happy with working from a more established foundation. Use Blank if you want to do a lot of the development yourself.
This is where you show Magento your theme exists. Go into the Magento root directory and go to app>design>frontend then create a folder with the name of your theme.
This file gives Magento basic information about your theme. If you’re creating a theme from a Blank or Luma template, this is the place to tell Magento what the ‘parent’ theme is. It’s this step that generates the foundations of your theme as the code for your theme will be created according to your parent theme.
Your theme.xml file will sit in the theme directory you’ve just created.
#cta-paragraph-fe#The code you need to insert in the theme.xml file can be found on the Adobe developers’ site, along with a more detailed technical walkthrough of the theme creation process.
Magento uses Composer to manage dependencies (packages or libraries of code needed to make the theme work). To enable composer, add a composer.json file to your theme directory folder (again, you can find an example on Adobe’s site.)
You need to add a registration.php file to your theme directory folder to register it on the Magento system.
The above steps are the basics for creating a theme completely from scratch in Magento. But you’ll have inherited a lot of specifications from the parent theme, so now you need to customize things like your image sizes, add a logo, and add your own static CSS, fonts, images, and JS files to your theme. This is the hard part, and if you’re serious about creating a Magento 2 theme robust enough to handle your online brand’s requirements, you should work with developers to make it a reality.
Creating a Magento 2 theme from scratch is no doubt a big undertaking, but can be very rewarding for your business. Before you start down the custom Magento theme route, you’ll need to decide whether it will be worth the time and effort and will give you the shopping experience you need.
Here are some benefits and drawbacks of a custom approach to help you decide:
Ok, so you’ve scaled past the pre-built Magento theme phase and feel an off-the-shelf theme may be too slow or inflexible. But you also don’t want the headaches, expense, and long lead times associated with designing a custom Magneto theme.
What’s the alternative?
Well, like many forward thinking brands—you can explore gaining total frontend control via headless commerce (and a flexible frontend layer atop Adobe Commerce, which is headless enabled).
Shogun frontend is a unified frontend platform that gets you flexibility, unrivaled speed, and the ability to craft totally unique design—without performance tradeoffs or developer reliance.
The low-code environment means your non-technical team members can make changes quickly with an intuitive Experience Manager. Further, by restructuring Adobe Commerce with a headless architecture, this means you can create consistent experiences across platforms and channels.
Using a unified frontend platform can free your teams up to focus on the core needs of your scaling business and the experience that differentiates your storefront—while technical frontend considerations for your stack are handled by a dedicated team of experts that you partner with. You outsource all the infrastructure, so you can focus on what’s most important (afterall, your content delivery network isn’t what your shopper is going to notice and keep coming back for!)
Shogun Frontend is built with underlying Progressive Web App technology, meaning you can achieve sub-second load times, even on mobile.
The speed inherent in PWA technology will also help boost your SEO, with Google rewarding fast-to-load sites that aren’t hampered by heavy add-ons or elaborate coding changes.
A flexible frontend decoupled from your backend also gives you a lot more flexibility when it comes to integrating with third parties and swapping out parts of your tech stack as your needs change.
It’s an approach that can future-proof your business, as well as providing lightning-fast, ultra-responsive customer experiences in the here and now.
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