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Episode 2: The conceptual phase

Episode 2: The conceptual phase

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After getting to know me in the first episode of our series, we’ll now go deeper into how I’ve prepared for my first project at Shopware: developing a fashion theme. Below I’ve summarized the most information from the video for you to use as a resource, including tips on how to develop an impressive theme and earn some extra money in the process. But first, sit back and let’s get on with the feature presentation:

Note: If they don't automatically play, be sure to turn on the closed captions at the bottom-right corner of the window!

As promised, here is the summary with a few more detailed titbits:

What should you first ask yourself when developing a new theme? 

My advice is to first and foremost consider your target groups. You can actually distinguish between two target groups: on one hand, you have the shop operators, who are looking for a theme in the Community Store and on the other are the end customers, who will interact with the theme in the online shop.

Important criteria a shop owner considers when choosing a shop theme:

  • Relevance to their market
  • Quality
  • Security
  • Update capability
  • Personal taste (design approach)
  • Price-performance ratio
  • Scalability

Criteria the end customer evaluates the shop according to:

  • Optics and overall appearance
  • Product presentation
  • Professionalism and security features
  • Usability
  • Checkout process

Of course, a template can be individually adapted and redesigned for every industry and corporate identity.

How can influential factors from stationary retail, such as light and colours, be transferred to an online environment?

In stationary retail, you have employees devoted solely to the task of product presentation. Visual merchandising is concerned with how light, colour and product placement influence a customer’s decision to make a purchase. So for example, a retailer might place a low-priced blouse directly next to a more high-end pair of trousers to boost cross-selling. Precisely for this reason, Shopware’s Storytelling feature brings a tremendous advantage as it transfers these influential factors to an online scenario.


Now that you’ve drafted the first concept of your theme, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • In general, how should the shop be built?
  • What should be addressed directly on the landing page?  
  • How should the categories and groups be organized?
  • Does it make sense to create landing pages in certain areas?
  • Where should specific themes be communicated with your customers?
  • What kind of campaigns could be planned throughout the year?  
  • Should any seasonal business be considered?

Should any gender-specific shopping behaviour be considered?

The purchasing behaviour between men and women and just as different as men and women themselves. For example, many women are often on the look-out for fashion inspiration and new items for their wardrobe. While I can confirm this is true from personal experience, this tendency is backed by a recent study from IFH Cologne, which reported that 54% of study participants watched TV with a smartphone in order to find fashion products. 77% of women surveyed between 25-40 years-old said they were more likely to shop with a smartphone than they were three years ago. The conclusion is clear: it’s incredibly important to adhere to the “mobile first” when developing a new theme.  

What are the requirements for a shop’s typeface?

Throughout the shop, the highest priority should be that every piece of text is easily legible. The fashion theme I’ve developed is built on a responsive theme in order to use the existing functionality and responsiveness. It’s very obvious when text has incorrectly resized and appears inconsistent with the rest of the page. Particular areas to pay attention to include the homepage, banners and landing pages.

What should be considered in terms of scalability?

In the first step, you should always be sure that that your theme is compatible with the Shopware Premium Plugins. Since many shop owners are using these plugins, compatibility becomes important criteria when selecting a new theme for their online shop. In addition, the theme should be developed following the “mobile first” approach and be 100% responsive. I also recommend that categories are planned well in advance and grouped in a logical order.

Also think about landing pages in advance - these should make it easy and enjoyable for the end user to reach their goal. It goes without saying, everything should also work on mobile devices. If there are too many landing pages, the customer might find their journey cumbersome and have trouble reaching products. Therefore, you should always be sure that customers can easily reach products using only a few clicks.

How can you create good usability for a theme?

From my point of view, the most important thing is to look at your competitors and market leader for inspiration. From a usability standpoint, find out what makes their online shop so successful. Then use your research to consider which aspects you’d like to incorporate into your theme. It’s also very helpful to take an unbiased user and ask them to go through the theme. Let this person describe what the usability feels like, what works well, and – most importantly – what could be improved. Ultimately, a feature is only good if it can’t be noticed by the user.

Where can you find more tips and inspiration?

Here is a small overview resources for tips and inspiration for your themes:

Depending on which industry your theme will be catering to, it’s also important that you not only do some research on the internet, but also turn to your circle of acquaintances and analyse your own buying behaviour.

All tips have been summarised here in this checklist:


Coming soon: From theory to practice

In the next episode, I will take you to my workplace, where we’ll move away from theory and go more in-depth into the actual development process. I’ll clarify how I transferred my research and preparations into my finished product: a new fashion theme for Shopware.

See you there!


To the first episode


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