Skip to main content

Shopify Online Store 2.0 has landed, and there’s already a real buzz in the Shopify community around Shopify’s new flagship theme Dawn – which showcases all of Shopify 2.0’s new features. New upgrade features converge in this polished storefront with a brand-new editor and highly customisable theme architecture.

So what’s on offer and what’s so different from previous themes like Debut? Our Shopify Dawn theme review looks at its features, some pros and cons and even some real-life feedback.

What’s new with Dawn?

Built by the Shopify team, Dawn replaces Debut as the default theme for all new Shopify stores. Shopify’s development team have really considered how to improve performance for merchants and customers, and the new reference theme is flexible and easy to use.

By building in HTML and CSS and minimising the use of Javascript, developers have reduced complexity and given loading times a significant boost.

As a result, Dawn is 35% faster than Debut (mightily important for SEO!) and works well across all browsers, including legacy software like IE11.

dawn theme review

Dawn vs Debut

It’s pretty evident that Dawn is an improvement over the original Debut theme which is impressive considering Debut powers over 600K live websites! Here’s why we believe Dawn is a better option:

  • Dawn is ultra light with modern design capabilities to impress customers.
  • It includes all the advanced features of OS2.0
  • The greater customisation means less reliance on apps – which are an additional expense and can slow down your site.
  • It’s compatible with all browsers for a better customer UX

But while that’s all great for customers, how does Dawn work for ecommerce sellers looking to set up their own stores?

Pros of the Dawn Theme

  • Open source theme code: Dawn is a completely open-source theme, making it a very useful reference point for developers to understand its architecture and setting the benchmark for related themes and apps.
  • Ease of use: the new theme editor has enhanced functionality with the latest tree hierarchy and customisation features like metafields. The interface makes it easy to drag and drop components with the changes reflected in real-time.
  • UX: Dawn, the new default theme, is highly customisable as well as being faster to both edit in the backend and load in the storeforent.
  • Flexibility: Theme sections are dynamic in Online Store 2.0, which means they can be added to any page like Collection or Product pages as well as the Homepage. This flexibility creates plenty of opportunities to customise your store.
  • App integration: This is a big step forward for OS2.0. Previously there was no functionality for apps to integrate with themes, but the theme app extension for developers has made seamless integration of features and extensions possible.

Cons of the Dawn Theme

  • Layout customisation: Despite all the flexibility of the theme editor and the new features, the layouts can look similar without hiring a Shopify developer to make custom changes. On top of this, if you were used to making changes to liquid templates, you will now need to learn a new coding language – JSON -which you may not be familiar with.
  • Support: Unlike paid themes that usually have dedicated support, Dawn theme support is via a help centre and a series of commonly asked questions. But it can be challenging to find specific answers to your issues.
  • Arguably, doesn’t go far enough: The theme updates are a big improvement on Dawn in terms of ease of setup, but still don’t go far enough to enable it to be an advanced ecommerce web solution for retailers without coding knowledge. For example, creating custom page templates is still more difficult than it should be requiring developers to add in schema for creating modular sections to use on pages.
  • Bugs still need to be ironed out: See the point below for some real-life feedback which highlight some outstanding issues which still need to be resolved.

Real-Life Feedback

As of November 2021, the Dawn theme had a review score of 37% on the Shopify theme store. It seems that whilst many users were impressed with the site speed, sleek styling and new customiser possibilities, there were still several bugs and functionality not working as it should.

Complaints included being unable to customise colours and font without a developer, the add to cart button not working correctly and videos not displaying properly were some common issues.

It may that as a new theme there are still some issues to be ironed out. This is often the case with a new theme and we expect there to be several updates over the coming months to improve these snags.

Dawn theme: conclusions and recommendations

If you’re on a tight budget, the Dawn theme and Shopify Online Store 2.0 can be an effective way to launch your online business.

The new theme editor interface gives even tech novice merchants the tools to build a professional storefront off the shelf. And the app management and theme extensions give you all the flexibility you need to create a unique look and feel. While it may not put all the functionality some merchants will need in one place, the Dawn theme is a great starting point.

Thanks to the Dawn theme being completely free, it’s easy to trial how your store would function with the Dawn theme, you can simply install the theme in preview mode and preview the changes to your site.

There’s no doubt that Dawn and Shopify 2.0 creates a fresh new experience for merchants and customers alike. Shopify has really stepped up a level in helping merchants create online storefronts that deliver an excellent UX for their customers. And it surely won’t be long before developers innovate Dawn even further to create a reference theme that’s even more exciting.

If you would like any help setting up the new Dawn theme or with custom edits to make it more personal for your brand, please get in touch with the UK-based Shopify website development team at Search Hog today.

Matthew Pavli

Matthew Pavli is the founder of Search Hog and resident SEO expert. When he's not geeking out on Google algorithm changes, he can be found surfing at one of his local beaches in Cornwall.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.