The Boundless Shopify theme is unique. To be honest, as a marketer and CRO expert, I don’t like Boundless theme due to its lack of conversion optimization element.
But is it popular with Shopify merchants?
Well, that's a tie since Boundless Shopify theme received a low review score on Shopify Theme Store for their limited customization, and at the same time, Boundless theme still receives about 100,000 install rates, with more than 50,000 sites using this theme to sell their goods, according to BuiltWith.
So obviously, there's something special about the Boundless theme that only resonates with a particular niche product/market, like those we find out in our Store Example. They may shrug and simply go with Boundless’s lack of customization, or they may give precedence to the distinctive aesthetic that Boundless creates.
This is what we set out to discover in this in-depth review article.
- Boundless Shopify Theme overview: a minimal Photography-driven theme
- Boundless Shopify Theme Key Features
- How to build a homepage with Boundless Shopify Theme?
- What do people say about Boundless Shopify Theme?
- 5 stores examples of Boundless Shopify Theme
Boundless Shopify Theme overview: a minimal Photography-driven theme
Boundless is a photography-first free theme made by Shopify. Hence, Shopify itself officially supports this free Shopify theme. You can check out all the documentation here or reach out to Shopify support should you need any help setting up your store.
Boundless Theme is officially supported by Shopify themself
Like all other themes in the Theme Store, Boundless theme is mobile-friendly (I actually prefer Boundless’s mobile version to the desktop’s one). Moreover, Boundless theme is also search engine optimized and seamlessly integrated with Burst - Shopify Free stock image platform.
Who should use the Boundless Shopify theme?
- Stores that have small to medium inventory with the basic need for store setup.
- Brands with a strong emphasis on visual storytelling.
- Visual-driven brands like decor stores, jewelry stores or fashion stores.
- Gallery stores or Exhibition stores where showcasing products is of more importance like interior design agency, art gallery, etc.
- Stores operating in low-competitive industries, where good products can sell themself.
The Boundless Shopify theme is free to use. You can install it via the Shopify Theme Store.
The theme comes in two basic styles: Black & White, Vibrant. As the name suggests, the black and white version has a black and white color scheme only.
The overall aesthetic is still mostly black and white on the Vibrant version, with some bright color in the header and text link. This design helps users focus on the imagery without losing your brand’s color swatches.
The Vibrant style still keep the overall black & white aesthetic of Boundless theme
Boundless Shopify Theme Key Features
There are four main key features of Boundless Shopify Theme designed for displaying edge-to-edge photography throughout the store. Keep in mind that these features are already baked in the design layout of the themes, so you don’t have to go to theme settings and enable them. You can, however, customize how the theme will display your photography to best suit your needs, especially on the homepage.
1 - Optimized for displaying large images
This is one of the essential features of the Boundless theme. This Shopify theme can nicely showcase high-resolution product imagery throughout your store. Moreover, all the images will be spread full-width in most elements.
Boundless theme can beautifully display bespoke images
The amount of customization for the images using the Boundless theme is actually quite decent.
You can customize the image ratio, image size, and add some padding between images. Depending on your product inventories, you can set the image size large, or more compact to display many products at the same time (maximum of 6 products per row). Please note that this level of customization is mostly available on the laptop version. On the mobile one, you only have the option to display 1 or 2 two products per line.
2 - Slideshow with fading effect
Unlike other free Shopify themes, the slideshow element on the Boundless Shopify theme is quite robust. Simply add a handful of nice images in the slides, your store can definitely leave a great 5 seconds impression on first-time visitors. The slideshow has a nice fade-effect when transitioning. It provides some level of customization (like the ability to add overlay, text, CTA button, etc). You also have two options to adjust the slideshow height: full-width, or base on the first image.
Base on my experience, using a full-width slideshow may increase the image size. Therefore, affecting your PageSpeed on mobile, especially your Time to Interactive and Large Content Painful index. Hence, I recommend sticking with the “Base on the first image” option.
PageSpeed in "Based on the first image" vs "full-width" options
3 - Single product gallery
The Product page of Boundless can feature large, high-resolution images in a dedicated product gallery. This feature can be a great complement to products that have small variants and a limited image gallery.
Single image gallery layout of Boundless theme
However, the story is different with products having large variants. For example, this is my product page for a Herschel backpack. You will have to scroll infinitely through a list of product images without understanding its core features.
Infinite scroll to a large number of images may not be a good idea
Moreover, please note that the header will not be sticky on the product page, regardless of your configuration in the theme settings.
In the product list, you also can add the product recommendation element. However, this element will be based on the theme’s suggestion, and you cannot manually edit the product list.
4 - Full-width collection images
Collection images are presented in a full-width grid layout, great for showcasing product imagery. Like the “Optimized for display large images” feature, you can also customize many aspects of the image aesthetic to fit your needs.
One thing that I need to point out: on this collection page, it seems like the Boundless design team focuses too much on the aesthetics aspect of the collection page without considering the conversion rate optimization one. As a result, several critical CRO elements, like the Add to Cart button, color swatch indicator, etc., have been removed for the sake of the minimal design. After using this theme, I also noticed that this is the trait prevailing throughout the methodology of Boundless theme design.
The collection list lack of product details
5 - Announcement bar
The announcement bar is a great, not intrusive way of introducing your summer sale campaign, clearance sale, or shipping policy. Combining with Boundless’s minimal design, the announcement bar is highly recognizable when the viewers first visit your page. Not many free themes provide this feature, so this is a big bonus point for Boundless Shopify theme.
The announcement bar is highly recognizable on the homepage
How to build a homepage with Boundless Shopify Theme?
Like most Shopify free themes, the customization of Boundless Shopify theme is quite limited. Most of the customization the theme provides is on the Homepage. So we’ll start to build our Shopify store with the homepage.
The building experience is quite effortless. You can add rich text, collection list, image with text elements on the homepage like most free Shopify themes. However, most of the customization of the Boundless theme lay on the image customization aspect. As I mentioned earlier, you can flexibly modify how the pictures look on your pages. However, if users do not crop images appropriately before uploading, it will create a jagged look. This is especially worsening on the desktop version, as images usually display side by side.
If the images are not properly cropped before uploading, it will create an non-unify look
On the other hand, the mobile version stacks images vertically, so this might not be an alarming issue. Nevertheless, I recommend cropping the picture before uploading.
Images display on the mobile version
For the sake of keeping the focus on photography, the collection list, one of the most important elements on your homepage, is kept clean and simple. Some product information like the product name, price, and inventory status are hidden in the desktop version. Hiding product info may not be a good experience if you have an extensive collection of products, as viewers have to hover on each one of them to find out about their name and price. Luckily, the product name and price are not hidden on the mobile version. But some may find a lack of an add to cart button (similar to the collection page) quite inconvenient.
I recommend staying with the original color scheme because any other color will easily break the minimal aspect of the theme and distract users from the imagery aspect of your site. Take a look at the Vibrant style if you want to keep the photography-oriented aesthetic of the theme while still maintaining your brand identity.
Be careful when using your bold color in Boundless theme
For other pages, the customization is quite limited. For example, you cannot narrow down the product details description on the product page, or change the product recommendation and review elements. Lack of customization on the product page is the reason that many merchants rate this theme poorly. The product page is the most crucial page of your eCommerce store. Therefore, if you want to create a high conversion product page, take a look at PageFly. PageFly is a page builder tool that provides a robust way to customize your product page. You can add a 3rd element on your homepage; highlight key features; add cross-sell, upsell element; and urge buying decisions via our built-in FOMO element like a countdown timer, Product badges, etc.
A quick product page I made using PageFly template
Design Your Own Shopify Store With No Limit
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Overall, the performance of the Boundless Shopify theme is quite good. I use Google PageSpeed to measure the score of some example stores. There are still room for improvement, though, for example, store owners could optimize images before uploading and enable lazy load.
8 Bit Apparel PageSpeed
What do people say about Boundless Shopify Theme?
It has 46% positive reviews on Shopify Theme Store, out of 28 reviews, which is not a great score. Most users don’t like the lack of customization that Boundless theme provides, especially on the product page. This issue can easily be solved by using a page builder app.
Boundless theme receive bad reviews for its lack of customization
Switching to review from other sites, Boundless Shopify theme is praised for its beautiful design. Regardless, again, the odd layout on the product page seems to need some improvement.
A Reddit user experience regarding the Boundless theme
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5 stores examples of Boundless Theme
Alright, obviously, the Boundless theme is not the right theme for everyone. It lacks customization. The conversion aspect of an online store is neglected. You also have to invest a lot in bespoke images when using Boundless.
Nevertheless, remember that beauty lies in the eye of the beholder. There’re still more than 50,000 websites using Boundless Theme. After looking at some of those sites, I understand why many merchants still love this theme.
More than 50,000 active merchants still use the Boundless theme. Source
Most of the stores using Boundless theme have some kind of unique aesthetic, from their products to imagery. Some of them are services companies, and they only need a website to showcase their achievements, or provide essential information. Others are merchants with limited product categories, selling niche items like art books, crystal sculptures, industries with low competition, and the products could sell themselves through word of mouth effect. Consequently, the product image must be as stand out as possible. This is the aspect that Boundless theme really resonates with these brands
David Vance Fine Art is a gallery shop that sells his personal photography. They are printed on museum-quality archival, Hahnemuhle paper.
Professional Autograph Dealers Association (PADA) is an international organization of dealers in autographs and manuscripts, promoting the highest standards in this field.
8 Bit Apparel is an apparel merchant focusing on pixel art and cartridge era nostalgia.
Checking with our Shopify Theme Detector tools, I found out that this site is built with the help of Heycarson, a Shopify Expert. You can also asking for a Shopify Expert to help building your store via the Shopify Marketplace
Checking with our Shopify Detector tool reveals a lot of interesting fact about a Shopify Store
86Brunch is a T-Shirt brand based in Brooklyn, inspired by personal experiences working high volume New York City brunch shifts.
Able Ground specializes in high-quality curated crystal collections and wearable crystal sculptures.
3 pros and cons of Boundless Shopify theme
- Optimized for displaying high-quality images
- Minimal look
- Mobile friendly
- Lack of customization
- Lack of elements to increase conversion rate (eg. ATC button)
- Product page is not optimized for a large collection of images
Boundless theme is not ideal for customization. Therefore, if you want robust customization, take a look at other Shopify theme:
Not every store is suitable with the Boundless Shopify theme. Dropshipping merchants are definitely not fit for this imagery-oriented theme. But this theme has its own unique aesthetic that some brands, which focus on low competitive markets, really appreciate.
Haven’t opened a Shopify store yet? You can click this free trial link below:
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