What's New: Shopify's Online Store 2.0

Shopify introduced a major update at their Unite Conference in June, 2021: Shopify Online Store 2.0.

According to Shopify, they’ve “rebuilt the online store experience from the ground up,” bringing even greater flexibility and performance for merchants along with all new developer tools. 

We had a chance to delve into Shopify’s OS 2.0 last fall with the Dawn House Living website and see the new platform’s capabilities and how it can be leveraged to make a more custom, brand-fitting website.

While there are many improvements in Shopify OS 2.0 that are worth reading about, we’ll call out three of our favorites that we feel are worth highlighting:

  • Managing page layouts
  • The Dawn base theme
  • Code management in Github

Managing Page Layouts

Customization was one of the limiting factors in the old version of Shopify. There was a “page building” tool, but it only worked for the homepage. So to achieve the custom page layouts our customers were interested in, we needed to use an external app like Shogun, or work with blocks and custom HTML. 

In Shopify 2.0, there is now the ability to add sections on every page template (not just the homepage), and the intuitive, admin-managed layout building capabilities that come with it. 

Shopify Dawn theme.

The Dawn Base Theme

We build custom ecommerce storefronts for merchants that match their brand, however, we start from a Shopify base theme and extend it, rather than starting from scratch. This saves both time and money for our clients. 

Shopify 2.0 introduced a new base theme called Dawn. It incorporates all of the features available in Shopify 2.0, minimizes library dependencies, provides all source code, supports WCAG compliance (accessibility), and was built for speed and performance across all browsers and devices. Out of the gate, it loads 35% faster than the old Shopify base theme. 

Shopify Dawn theme.

Code Management in Github

As developers, one of our frustrations with the old Shopify was the lack of direct support for version control systems via code repositories. 

This is a big deal when multiple developers are working on the same website, you need to merge in changes from various code sources, or just want to keep a record of all code updates made. It was possible to make code updates in the old Shopify in the Admin, which would be stored in the database, but it didn’t have version control. 

In Shopify 2.0, there is now integration with GitHub so theme developers can commit code first to Git, a standard version management tool, and both push and pull changes to the Shopify environment. We appreciate the added support for a very standard development workflow.

Consider Migrating to Shopify 2.0

If you are building a new store, you’ll be starting with Shopify 2.0, and likely the Dawn theme. For customers who built their store on Shopify prior to July, 2021 (which is millions of merchants), there is likely an upgrade project needed to take advantage of these new features. Your store and theme will continue to function, but to access any of the theme editor and performance improvements, a migration is required.

The new Shopify Online Store 2.0 provides some great new features, improves the customization capabilities of your theme, delivers much requested page layout management tools, and is built for speed.

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