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How to build a website with Shopify

Shopify's homepage
(Image credit: Shopify)

Shopify is a complete ecommerce platform for building online stores. You can use Shopify to sell via the web, mobile, online marketplaces, and social media. It’s cloud-based, so you don’t have to worry about installation, and you can try it free for 14 days without a credit card.

Shopify also ranks highly in terms of the best website builders as regards the tools we’ve tried. You can build a complete, professional ecommerce store without touching a line of code - and in this article, we will show you how to build a website with Shopify.

Step 1: Sign up for Shopify

Shopify's free trial page

Fill in your details to get started (Image credit: Shopify)

To begin, head to Shopify.com and choose "Start free trial". Enter your email address, create a password, and choose a store name.

Step 2: Complete the Getting Started wizard

Shopify's short questionnaire on sign up

Fill in your business details on the short questionnaire (Image credit: Shopify)

Shopify has a short questionnaire that sets up the defaults for your website. Fill in whether you’re already selling, the size of your business, and the industry you work in. On the next page, you’ll be asked for your full address.

Step 3: Add products

Shopify's website editor in use

Add a few products to your online store (Image credit: Shopify)

To get a feel for how Shopify works, we suggest adding a few of your products first. In the menu on the left, click "Products". 

There’s a large amount of information that you can add to each product, some of which might not apply to your business. At the very least, add a title, description, price, and images. You can upload images and videos from your computer or include media from a URL. If it’s a physical product, you can specify details, such as weight and country of origin. 

You can organize products by product type, vendor, collection, and tag. The more meta information that you add to your products, the easier it will be to categorize them in the store.

Step 4: Choose a site theme

Shopify's theme store

Browse the Shopify Theme Store to find a theme to start with (Image credit: Shopify)

Your store will have been set up with a default theme based on the category that you chose in the questionnaire. When you click on "Online Store" and then "Themes" in the left-hand menu, you can see the current theme and choose from others.

To preview your current theme, click on "Actions" and then "Preview". You can also choose from the free themes and paid themes at the foot of the page. There are currently nine free themes and 64 paid themes in the Shopify Themes Store. Don’t worry if you don’t find a perfect one—you can edit your chosen theme in the next step.

Step 5: Customize your theme settings

Shopify's theme settings menu in its website builder

The Theme Settings menu is where you can edit site-wide settings, such as fonts and colors (Image credit: Shopify)

Click on "Customize" to edit your theme. At the bottom left of the page, choose "Theme settings". Here, you can choose the colors, typography, borders, and image opacity of your website. You can also set options such as whether to include social sharing buttons or show a notification when an item has been added to the cart.

Step 6: Edit your home page sections

Shopify's website editor in use

It’s easy to edit each section of the page by clicking on the relevant section in the left-hand menu (Image credit: Shopify)

Return to your home page, and think about how you want each section of the page to look. On Shopify, pages are split into horizontal sections that you can move up and down, edit, and delete by using the left-hand menu. There’s also an editable header and footer section.

Click on any of these page sections on the menu, and you can change their details. Each section has different options depending on its type. For example, in an "Image with text" section, you can select the image, specify the text, and add an optional button. 

You make all your edits in the box on the left-hand side, and your changes are reflected in real time in the preview pane. If you’re not happy with a section, you can hide it completely. Remember to click "Save" to save your changes.

Step 7: Add more pages

Shopify's website editor showing the add page function

It’s easy to add pages to your Shopify site (Image credit: Shopify)

If you want more pages on your site, click on "Online Store" and choose "Pages". Here, you can add more pages and edit them just as you did with your home page.

Step 8: Set your site’s title and meta description

Shopify's website builder preferences menu

Set a few final details about your site in the Preferences menu (Image credit: Shopify)

Click on "Online Store", and choose "Preferences" to find more site settings. Here, you can set the homepage title and meta description, which is the text that will appear on search engines describing your website. 

You can also set up a social-sharing image, Google Analytics tracking code, and Facebook Pixel tracking if you plan to use these services.

Step 9: Set delivery options

Shopify's shipping and delivery processes menu

Every business has unique shipping and delivery rates to consider (Image credit: Shopify)

Click on "Settings" and choose "Shipping and delivery". Here, you set the delivery options available to your visitors at checkout. You can set domestic, international, local, and pickup rates, if applicable. Next, choose the package sizes that you use to ship your products.

Step 10: Buy or connect a domain

Shopify's domain purchasing options

You can optionally buy or connect a domain name to your Shopify site (Image credit: Shopify)

Your website is now available at yourstorename.myshopify.com, but for a more professional site, you should get your own domain name. Click on "Domains", and you’re presented with a few options. You can buy a domain through Shopify, transfer a domain that you own from another registrar, or get your existing domain registrar to point your domain to Shopify.

Step 11: Launch your website

Shopify's pricing plans

Your website will be a holding page until you buy a Shopify plan (Image credit: Shopify)

Your site is available online already, but it's password protected. Until you buy a Shopify plan, when anyone visits the page without the password, they just see a holding page. To buy a plan, choose "Select a plan". Shopify plans start at $29 a month, and can be paid for by credit card or through PayPal.

Summary

Shopify is one of the best website builders for businesses looking to begin selling online. Its tools are laser-focused on the things that ecommerce stores need to get right, while still offering the power to design websites as desired. 

Now that you know how to build your first website with Shopify, there's so much you can do to personalize and improve it. Browse through all of Shopify’s settings, apps, and marketing tools to perfect your ecommerce website.

You can also read our Shopify review to learn more about the platform, and what we made of it, or read our comparison article pitting Wix vs Shopify.

Richard brings over 20 years of website development, SEO, and marketing to the table. A graduate in Computer Science, Richard has lectured in Java programming and has built software for companies including Samsung and ASDA. Now, he writes for TechRadar, Tom's Guide, PC Gamer, and Creative Bloq.