One of the most important decisions you'll make when you’re getting started on BigCommerce is which theme you'll use for your store.
No matter what kind of products you sell, your theme must be easy to navigate. You want users to stick around on your site long enough to buy products, of course — and that’s already an uphill battle, as most visitors will leave within 15 seconds of landing on your site. If it’s hard for visitors to find what they’re looking for, that just makes it all the more difficult to convert them into customers.
You’ll also need to consider which design elements make the most sense for your particular niche.
For example, stores that only sell a small selection of items based around a single product should use a theme that allows them to highlight the single product their store is focused on. On the other hand, stores with a wide selection of different products will need a more utilitarian design with prominent links and menu options that help the visitor browse through everything they have to offer.
If you’re on a tight budget, you should know there are plenty of excellent BigCommerce themes available that are absolutely free.
Below, we’ll show you which free BigCommerce themes stand out as some of the best.
As we touched on earlier, each store has different design needs depending on the products being sold. The following selection of free themes has something to offer everyone.
After you create your BigCommerce account, you’ll find that Cornerstone Light is set up as your theme by default. Many merchants find that there’s no need to change it.
Cornerstone Light offers a design that’s clean, yet also gives you the opportunity to include many navigation options. The centerpiece of this theme is the homepage carousel, which allows you to display multiple messages (a limited-time sale, details about your loyalty program, etc.) on the most prominent part of your site.
And without installing any plugins, using Cornerstone Light or any of the other templates available in the BigCommerce theme store will provide you with the following features:
On top of all that, this theme offers free updates and customer support as well.
Cornerstone Light isn’t the only version of the Cornerstone theme — there’s also Cornerstone Bright and Cornerstone Bold.
Cornerstone Bold is especially worth some extra attention, as its design includes a significant change: The spacing for the title and menu options at the top of the site is tighter, providing room for a bigger carousel below.
If you have a large catalog, you’ll likely be better off with the cleaner home menu section of Cornerstone Light. But if you have a relatively small catalog or the appearance of your products is particularly important (for example, single product stores, clothing stores, etc.), then you should consider that the bigger carousel section of Cornerstone Bold gives visitors a better look at what you have to offer.
According to BigCommerce, this theme is optimized for:
This free PSDCenter theme is an enhanced version of Cornerstone Light.
It comes with some extra design elements for improving customer experience, including:
One reviewer said they chose this theme through PSDCenter because they like the minimal approach to design, plus it's "feature-centric and user-friendly."
Fortune Contrast is an excellent theme for grabbing the visitor’s attention.
The huge hero image area takes up almost the entire screen, making it a very appealing choice for single product stores. High-end tech and other industries that focus on trendy, innovative products should also give this theme a look, as its design is quite modern.
In addition to its front-page slideshow, this theme features product showcase, switchable grid/list product view and more.
As with the Cornerstone theme, there are multiple versions of the Fortune theme.
With Fortune Minimal, you get something that’s a little more balanced than Fortune Contrast — it still has the clean and modern feel of Fortune Contrast, but the shorter hero area allows you to present more images and navigation options above the fold.
While this sleek theme would work for more than one type of business, it's specifically suited for stores in the home furnishings space.
LifeStyle Default is another theme developed by PSDCenter. But unlike CityCenter, it’s available for download directly from the BigCommerce theme store.
This theme is also fairly balanced, featuring:
With this mix of imagery and navigation options, Lifestyle Default can satisfy the design needs of a wide variety of stores. This slick theme is also optimized for mobile, tablet and desktop.
Roots Original, which was developed by Weizen Young and is available in the BigCommerce theme store, is another option that’s heavily image-based.
In fact, the imagery in this theme takes up more above-the-fold space than any of the other themes in this guide.
However, Roots Original allows large inventory stores to do this without sacrificing user experience, as the imagery is broken up into three sections for multiple categories or promotions. Also, the space around the images efficiently includes a full navigation menu, search bar and account sign-in/register area.
Vault Natural, which was developed by Lonestar Templates and is available in the BigCommerce theme store, also offers a combination of attention-grabbing imagery and user-friendly navigation.
What sets it apart from your other options is the built-in marketing banner, which you can add to the homepage without modifying code. You can use this to highlight a sale, information about your free shipping policy or any other important message at the very top of your site.
This theme works for multiple industries and — like others on this list — is available in three styles, too.
This ThemeVale product is clean, modern and designed specifically for clothing stores. Its features include a popup for newsletter subscriptions, a basic mega menu, a drop-down shopping cart and a Google Maps integration for your contact page.
Note: MODA is only available outside the BigCommerce theme store, so you’ll need to install it manually. Also, support is not included in the free version, but is available for paid users.
With an annual revenue of over $280 billion, Amazon is one of the most successful ecommerce companies of all time. The company happens to have an extremely large inventory as well.
Web design has played a key role in Amazon’s success. Compared to other top online stores that have taken on a more sleek and modern appearance, such as Apple, Amazon tends to look more busy. There are links to different categories and products and offers scattered all over the homepage.
But while this design may not be the most aesthetically pleasing, it does expose visitors to more products, which leads to more sales.
Stores that also have a large inventory would be wise to follow this lead.
There are many themes that mimic these Amazon web design principles, but only Ebajes does it for free. Just keep in mind that this is another theme that’s only available through ThemeVale — you’ll need to install it yourself and there’s no support available.
At this point, you’ve probably identified at least one or two themes that would work well for your store.
The themes on this list are versatile and will suit a variety of businesses. Not to mention, on top of being free, they look great and offer a ton of features.
However, if you own a larger operation and need more functionality, opening up your search to premium BigCommerce themes will provide you with hundreds of other options to choose from. The pricing for premium themes tends to start around $150.
Regardless of your decision, you have a lot of solid choices when it comes to choosing a BigCommerce theme for your store — free or paid.
Adam Ritchie is a writer based in Silver Spring, Maryland. He writes about ecommerce trends and best practices for Shogun. His previous clients include Groupon, Clutch and New Theory.