#19: Online Store Design 101 with Shopify Ninjas

In this episode, I interview Tristan King from Shopify Ninjas on some design basics of an eCommerce store. Tristan started out with Shopify, and after building several stores for his own ventures, he began specializing in it, helping friends and clients build killer online stores on Shopify eCommerce platform.

With over 10 years in web production, development, usability and project management, Tristan has done work for companies like IBM, Accenture and Deloitte, and clients like the Australian Government, Insurance Agencies, GE Finance and Major Banks. These days he just loves helping smaller businesses establish sexy-looking, sustainable websites that are a joy to manage.

Topics Discussed:

  • Shopify’s angle from a developer’s standpoint
  • The engine of Shopify – Liquid
  • Getting your feet wet with trial and error customization
  • Common design mistakes new store make
  • Why you should put yourself in the users shoes
  • The best places to put your buy button (s)
  • Paths of store design – free, paid, and custom themes
  • Ballpark cost of free, paid, and custom themes
  • Cost/benefit analysis of a fully customized store design
  • Tips for cart abandonment optimization and shipping disclosure
  • Should customers create a user for purchase?
  • Pros/Cons of Shopify and what they can improve upon
  • Selling information products on the Shopify platform
  • Switching between eCommerce platforms

Mentions in the Episode:


Episode Length: 38:24


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  1. Tristan, you were right about the quote and LBP reference. I heard it there too.

    Great episode! I’m on the verge of signing up for shopify for my upcoming product launch and episodes like this give me confidence I am making the right choice. Thanks for the app recommendations too.

    A couple quick questions: I have a professional website designer friend plus a wiz programmer friend doing the ecommerce site for me. Will I be able to create a fully customized site with their combined assistance? I’m thinking I will…

    Additionally, do you recommend I start with a basic theme and have them customize and hack it from there? Or pay for a fuller more expensive theme from the start and customize and hack?


    1. Hey Jeremy,
      Sorry I’m late on this – hadn’t seen the comment until now. Sounds good that you’re getting started. How’d it go?

      To your questions:
      – If you have a programmer and designer friend, I think you should be able to customise it as you need, for sure. They’re the two key ingredients (design + a developer to bring it to life).

      – I’d recommend you start with a more expensive (e.g. $100-$200 theme) and customise it from there. That price tag – say $150 – is worth about 2 hours or less of a developer’s time. It’s much cheaper to get a premium theme that comes with a lot more options you can customise yourself, than it is to pay a developer to add in those options. You’d spent a lot more than 2 hours’ of a developers time to customise a theme to the extent that the paid themes are already done. Worth the investment, if you ask me.

      Good luck with it!

  2. Great episode!! really helpful!! but there was no discussion of video ad marketing though. I’d like to suggest a tool, that you can use to create and market video ads. Its free give it a shot, its called Octovid

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