Why we integrate third-party themes into custom e-Commerce websites

We can cut big costs from e-Commerce projects by taking advantage of themes already built.

Author
David

As a web development firm, we know a good chunk of cost for any custom project is the design and implementation of the user interface.  This is public facing, what the visitors see, and determines how the user interacts and engages with the website.  A lot of time is spent on a website's front end.

In a modern web framework, the architecture is typically what is referred to as "full stack".  This means a website runs in two places: in the user's web browser, and on the web server.  The front end is designed to receive input from the user, and to securely and efficiently communicate with the server.

A full stack developer is one who does development on the web server and in the web browser, and makes these two seemingly independent systems work in tandem as one web application.  That's what we do.

One important skill of a programmer that's honed over years of experience is to know when to reuse existing code, or to strip away the parts you don't need and re-purpose it for what you do.

This is what we can do with third-party website themes for two main purposes: cost savings and security.

Most website owners simply install their CMS via an installation wizard, buy, install, and configure a theme, and that's it.  They replace the demo content with their own content shoe-horned into regions allowed by the theme, and hopefully continue with their site updates as time passes.

What they don't know is the theme almost always has third-party components that need to be updated, but are skipped during the CMS's core updates.  This security problem is not solved with DIY web builder services, as they're some of the worst offenders we've seen.

We solve this security problem with theme integration because we maintain the theme code and ensure its third-party libraries are updated.

Designing the look and feel of a website is expensive.  There's labor costs involved with a creative graphic designer, lots of sketching and wire-framing, proofs and meetings, and then there's work to integrate the creative with the code.

We cut this cost for the customer, and increase our margin, by taking advantage of theme integration.  Here are a few examples...

Looking to build an e-Commerce platform for your grocery?  Here's an example of a product detail page, filled with demo content, from a third party theme called "Vegist".

 

Grocer theme

Although it's themed for demo purposes as a vegan grocery, it can be used for any grocery of any type.  This theme provides widgets and layouts a grocery may want, and typically what a consumer may expect on commerce websites of the big stores.

There may be an option not included with the theme, but with the cost savings of theme integration, we can develop that option within the uniform styling of the theme.  The uniform styling of the theme, of course, can be changed as well.

We would develop your content and product data structures in the web server and integrate them to render in the styling of the theme.  More time is spent on customization and business-related features like CRM integration.

Maybe you own a small pizza shop and are looking to build an online site where customers can customize their toppings for delivery.  Perhaps we showed you this theme for pizza shops called "Hotpizza", and you like the overall layout and styling.

 

Pizza shop theme

Maybe you don't like the background, and prefer some of the items on the product page be arranged differently.  Perhaps you want the top menu to look and function differently.  These are customizations that can be tweaked cost effectively on this pre-existing theme.

Perhaps the UI mechanism to allow for product customization with the toppings is something you want to work in a specific way.  We can custom-build that mechanism while keeping the project cost very low because we took advantage of theme integration.

Theme integration is not limited to e-Commerce development, but commerce in general is a very expensive endeavor.  We make it much more affordable for any type of store.