I’ve addressed Beardbrand’s technology stack over the years. I’ve done that to hopefully help other merchants with their decision-making and to highlight good and bad choices we’ve made along the way.
Beardbrand has been on Shopify since our launch in 2013. We started with a free Shopify theme. In 2014 we built an entirely custom version, and in 2020 we switched to a premium theme. Late last year, we decided to migrate to Shopify’s 2.0 platform with a new paid theme to complement it.
Jenny Durre managed that entire process. She is Beardbrand’s in-house designer, marketer, and project manager. I recently asked her to recap her work of choosing the new theme, designing its layout, migrating the content, and ultimately taking the new site live. That entire audio conversation is embedded below. The transcript is condensed and edited for clarity.
Eric Bandholz: We just launched the fourth version of Beardbrand.com.
Jenny Durre: It’s been an exciting process. We upgraded to Shopify 2.0 using a premium template. We did a lot of research. Shopify has free 2.0 templates, but they didn’t meet what we needed for customization.
It may seem like minor changes, but the new site is drastically different than the previous version.
I dove into reviewing templates last November. I made a spreadsheet to help us narrow it down. I wanted to pull in the key features in 2.0. Many of the 2.0 themes were recently released at the time. We couldn’t find many reviews. We went with a relatively new theme, called Split. The risk of new themes is you don’t know exactly how they will work or what bugs you might encounter.
Our top criteria for choosing a theme was site speed. We’re still working on getting faster. Beyond speed, we sought a superior user experience and a clear and concise layout.
Our previous theme had many layers in terms of our navigation and collections. We tried to simplify the steps for visitors to add products to the cart and find the right information without having to click through several pages.
The entire process took about six months. We chose Split and then customized it. I work remotely, but all of us collaborated — you, me, and the Beardbrand staff. Launching a new site is much more than design. It’s reviewing, testing, and tweaking.
Bandholz: What do you mean by a “clear and concise layout”?
Durre: The previous theme, Prestige, had a lot of navigation options. Split is more streamlined, focusing on product types. I customized the product pages to make them more visually pleasing.
We have a great copywriter, a great photographer, and good content. We worked on breaking things up into digestible pieces that tell the Beardbrand story. Now that we’re narrowing our offerings, it’s much easier to focus on primary products and provide helpful information and tutorials.
We tested imagery on the home page, but it did not perform better than text. Now we’re implementing more of a story. The above-the-fold home page section tells who we are. Below that we dive into building product bundles, where customers can buy three products and get one free, for example. We’ve shifted to letting customers build their own bundles versus having pre-built kits. It’s more interactive and easier to navigate.
Additionally, we built a “Shop” landing page with sections and categories. Customers can automatically add products to the cart or create a bundle on that page.
Bandholz: Talk about the navigation and the customization process.
Durre: The navigation is more focused now. It’s easier for customers to make decisions. Our product pages contain all the essential info without the clutter. Many brands have extensive navigation options on product pages. I prefer having everything on a single layout.
Project management was essential. It took a while to sort out what we needed and what to bring over from the previous version. I went app by app. When I was unsure if an app would translate to a 2.0 theme, I would talk directly to Shopify or look for third-party resources.
Integrating Recharge, the subscription management app, was a challenge. Recharge has recently merged its checkout to be part of Shopify’s cart. Before it was separate. We have it on the main checkout now. It’s more prominent. Customers can easily switch their products in the cart to a subscription.
I hope to create a page that talks about the benefits of subscriptions and how to choose the right frequency.
Bandholz: Where can people follow you?
Durre: My Instagram is @woodandshadow and I’m on LinkedIn.