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Shopify Dawn Theme Review: The Next Generation Of Shopify Theme?

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As Shopify is launching its Online Store 2.0, people (from developers to merchants to customers), are seeing big changes, especially in the theme architecture with more flexible customization options.

Dawn, the most mentioned theme at the moment in the Shopify community, promised to be a pristine reference theme that converges upgrading features to accompany the OS 2.0 debut. 

Dawn... sounds like a good start for a new generation of an online platform, doesn't it?

So, what does it have? How is the theme different from the previous Shopify themes? How to get started with it to set up a Shopify store? Let’s find out the answers in our Shopify Dawn Theme review today.

💡 We meticulously evaluate Shopify themes and apps based on our hands-on experience. Read more about our comprehensive review process and methodology.

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Dawn Theme Overview

About the Shopify Dawn Theme

Before we jump into the backend interface and see what happens inside the store setup with Dawn, let's learn about its background. 

The Shopify Dawn theme is designed by the Shopify team and is the first source available reference theme, which means that it will be replacing Debut as a default theme for all new stores in due course. If you want to see its code, check out Dawn’s repository on GitHub.

Electro - The Dropshipper’s Dream Theme
Electro theme is tailored for dropshipping success. Experience lightning-fast load times and enhanced product presentation, vital for high-volume dropshipping stores. Our intuitive design streamlines customer navigation, boosting sales potential.

Updated on Sep 20: Shopify Dawn Theme is now available to all Shopify Merchants.

Shopify Dawn Theme Overview

Credit: Shopify

According to Shopify Developer team, Dawn is built to improve store performance, presenting flexibility and ease of use for merchants and customers. They created the theme with HTML and CSS with the effort of minizing the use of Javascript as much as possible to reduce the complexity and boost the loading speed.

And yes, the loading speed has been tested many times during Dawn's building process with the result, whatsoever, that is 35% faster than Debut. And another thing is it can work well on all browsers, even the non-evergreen one that many people don't even use it anymore like Internet Explorer 11. 

With that being said, it's promising to see what Dawn can actually do for merchants since it will be the default theme in the OS 2.0 and might be used by more than half of Shopify merchants in the near future as Debut is right now. 

PageFly Verdict

Based on PageFly’s experience with designing high-converting stores, the Dawn theme is an excellent option for starting to build a store on Shopify. For new merchants, the theme offers sufficient functionality and straightforward navigation for setup. Beyond these basic functions, we highly recommend taking the time to explore the theme's notable advantages:

  • The theme is free.
  • The product page effectively showcases product media, which can enhance conversion rates.
  • The design is simple and user-friendly.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider, such as limited customization options.

If you're more of a video person, check out the Demo of Dawn Theme in this video: 

Related articles:

How Does It Work In The Editor?

Well, Online Store 2.0 gives you a new experience with many cool features, and the theme editor is no exception. With Dawn, there are several winning points that need to be mentioned.

Tree View For Separate Settings

There's an enhancement to the appearance of theme editor board with OS 2.0, we can see that in many themes and also with Dawn. 

Previously, with each section, there is a block that contains the content and smaller sections inside for users to make changes to them. But for now, everything is organized in a hierarchal way to help you better follow and edit. This could provide better UX since you will know immediately what is what (what this or that part contains). It would be easier for users because things are all out there, separate and clear. 

For example, in the “Image Banner”, you will see there's a heading, or there's a button, and when clicking there, you will know how to edit and customize it. 

Tree view for separate settings in Shopify Dawn Theme

Content Sections On All Page Types

Yes, it's the truth. Merchants can add content sections on all pages (Homepage, Product page, Collection page or even the About Us page that you’ve created). Dawn is built with the purpose of renovating the user experience, so there's room for better customizations with an intuitive interface. 

Shopify Dawn Theme has content sections on all page types

So, it's great when you can build a custom layout for any page to fit your business. Your Product page can also be decorated with Image banners, videos, custom text boxes and so on like on the Homepage. Or, in your “FAQ" page, for instance, you can drop a blog post section to direct people to the latest articles so that you can educate them about your business or industry. 

Metafields 

Since Dawn is the first theme built for the OS 2.0, it inherits the lastest and advanced features. One of them is the improvement of metafields. Merchants can directly create metafields without using API or code. 

To make it easier for you to understand, metafields help add more contents or sections on your website. You are able to insert additional information in your articles, blogs, products, collections, pages, customers, etc. So, with Dawn, as you are setting up the shop, you can “spice up" a product info by using metafields, give customers more insights to your products or collections. 

Metafields

And with the flexibility in the editor, you can move the content to wherever you feel right.

Metafields in Shopify Dawn Theme

Check out this video to learn how these guys using Dawn and metafields to customize a product:

Template Creation

In the Dawn theme, you will see the “create template" option in the page selection bar on the top. Basically, you can create a template for a page (product or collection page, for example) in the theme you've selected, and then assign it to specific products or collections. 

Template creation

Remember that the template file should be under .JSON or LIQUID.

Electro - The Dropshipper’s Dream Theme
Electro theme is tailored for dropshipping success. Experience lightning-fast load times and enhanced product presentation, vital for high-volume dropshipping stores. Our intuitive design streamlines customer navigation, boosting sales potential.

Shopify Dawn Theme: Key Features

As mentioned, the Dawn Theme is free. However, it includes many useful features that are adequate for merchants who want to launch their store quickly. Moreover, the theme is also designed for stores that need to stylishly display items, such as clothing or decorations.

Cart and checkout

Regarding the cart and checkout functionalities, the theme offers only basic options, such as:

  • Cart notes
  • In-store pickups
  • Quick buy

With these functions, the theme enables merchants to sell both online and in-person. Additionally, merchants can enhance the customer experience by offering personalization services through cart notes.

Although the mentioned simple cart features can improve the customer experience, the theme lacks sticky cart or slide-out cart functionalities.

Marketing and conversion

Having powerful marketing functions is crucial as they can help increase the conversion rate and ROI of an online store. The Shopify Dawn theme offers several features that enable merchants to implement marketing tactics, including:

  • Blogs
  • Cross-selling
  • FAQ pages
  • Press coverage
  • Product reviews
  • Promo banners
  • Recommended products

However, global sellers may face challenges, as the theme lacks translation functionality.

Merchandising

Although the Shopify Dawn Theme is free, it boasts many excellent features for displaying items. This could be ideal for merchants looking to enhance storytelling and visual aids in their store. Additionally, it can be particularly appealing to fashion stores or beauty shops. Below are some merchandising features offered by the Dawn theme:

  • High-resolution images
  • Image galleries
  • Image rollover
  • Image zoom
  • Ingredients or nutritional information
  • Lookbooks
  • Product options
  • Product videos
  • Shipping/delivery information
  • Size chart
  • Slideshow
  • Usage information

Product discovery

Highlighting the functionality of product discovery, this plays a crucial role in your store's conversion rate. With user-friendly features, buyers can quickly navigate through your collections, find what they need, and make a purchase. Below are the product discovery features offered by the Dawn theme:

  • Enhanced search
  • Mega menu
  • Product filtering and sorting
  • Recommended products
  • Sticky header

Top 3 Stores Using Shopify Dawn Themes

Life2Saucy

Life2Saucy online store

The first example is Life2Saucy - a clothing store. Regarding the store interface, Life2Saucy embodies a vibrant and engaging aesthetic, capturing the essence of its brand ethos. Merging bold colors with an intuitive layout, the website facilitates an immersive shopping experience that appeals to a youthful and fashion-forward audience.

Products are showcased through high-resolution imagery and dynamic presentations, emphasizing their unique style and quality. Navigation is streamlined, ensuring that customers can easily explore categories, view product details, and access customer reviews.

Irresistible Me

Irresistible Me online store

With Dawn theme, Irresistible Me's online store design exudes elegance and simplicity, reflecting the brand's focus on high-quality hair extensions and beauty products. The website employs a clean, minimalist layout, facilitating a seamless shopping experience that highlights product excellence and sophistication.

The color scheme is soft and inviting, creating a welcoming atmosphere that encourages exploration.

Runners Athletics

Runners Athletics’ online store seamlessly blends minimalist design with user-friendly features, appealing directly to the active lifestyle of its target audience. The website's aesthetic is characterized by a clean, modern layout that prioritizes ease of navigation and quick access to product lines. With a color scheme that echoes the outdoors and endurance sports, the design fosters a sense of adventure and durability.

How To Set Up Your Shopify Store With Dawn?

Dawn is replacing Debut. It's a fundamental theme for the newer version of Shopify, so obviously, Dawn has what Debut offers. But, it is be better and gives merchants more options. 

The important thing is how people are going to utilize its attributes to modify their store look and improve the site performance.

Here are our suggestions:

Add Hero Banners With Clear CTAs

Big image banners with captivating headlines and CTAs help direct your visitors to pages you want them to visit. Bigger chances are you will get them dive down deeper into your funnel, and better, boost conversion rate.

In Dawn, you can easily find Image Banner or Image with text sections to customize your store. 

Add hero banners with clear CTAs in Shopify Dawn Theme

Feature Your Products On The Homepage

Want customers to access your products quickly? Showing best collections or products on the homepage is always good to help visitors learn about your products, also encourage them click on the “add to cart" button right on the homepage. 

Feature your products on the homepage

Utilize app block to add more information to your products

App blocks can be introduced in any pages with Dawn theme, and this feature helps you connect with Shopify apps that you've installed for your marketing activities. For example, if you're already added a product review app in your Shopify store, you can use “App block" to adjust the review section in your product page.

Utilize app block to add more information to your productsCredit: Shopify

Add More Content On The Product Page

You can add a lot of content on the product page now with Dawn, so why don't you take advantage of it to add more useful information about your cool product? You can even use “Multimedia Collage" to showcase a video of the product, or insert a blog post about it for customers to read. 

Add more content on the product page

Pay Attention To Mobile Version

Dawn theme gives you a responsive mobile layout since Shopify themes are often created with mobile-friendly purposes for mobile lovers. You can adjust your image banner size to fit with mobile device while you are setting it up on the homepage.

Use tools like Mobile Friendly Test or Mobi Ready to test your site performance on mobile devices; Varvy for mobile SEO, and Google PageSpeed Insights for loading speed on both desktop and mobile.

More to readTop 8 Best Shopify Themes for Clothing Stores (2023)

So, Is Dawn Better Than Debut?

Needless to say, Dawn is better than Debut because it must be better and enhanced to catch up with the advancement of OS 2.0. To summarize in a few words about Dawn: 

  • It is faster than Debut by 35%
  • It includes all of the advanced features that Online Store 2.0 brings about (theme editor, metafields, app block, design, etc.)
  • It gives more content sections than Debut, and obviously facilitate customization on every page as much as possible
  • It works on all browsers
  • You can check out real store reviews about the Shopify Dawn Theme on the HeyCarson website to have a clearer understanding of what to expect.

Blum Theme - An Alternative Stylish and Customizable Option for Shopify Stores

the Blum theme - Mondo style

If you're looking for an alternative to the Shopify Dawn theme that is specifically designed for fashion and beauty e-commerce stores, the Blum theme could be a fantastic option! With a modern and simple design, the Blum theme is perfect for showcasing your Shopify store in a visually appealing way.

Enjoy a variety of customization options with the Blum theme, letting you fine-tune it to your brand's look and feel. Personalize your homepage, product pages, and collection pages while utilizing handy marketing and sales tools like promotional banners, newsletter signups, and product quick views.

In addition, this theme's adaptability ensures a seamless fit for your brand with easy-to-use settings to adjust colors, fonts, and layouts.

Like the Dawn theme, the Blum theme is mobile-friendly and responsive, ensuring a fantastic appearance on all devices. Also, it comes with built-in support for Shopify's section system, so you can effortlessly manage your store without any coding or technical know-how.

Moreover, the Blum theme not only excels in design and functionality but also prioritizes optimal page speed, ensuring a smooth and satisfying shopping experience for your customers. 

page speed insights of Blum Mondo style

In essence, the Blum theme is an ideal alternative to the Dawn theme for fashion and beauty e-commerce stores. It offers a trendy, modern design, numerous customization possibilities, and built-in conversion tools, making it a cinch to design an immersive and visually striking online shopping experience for your customers.

Exclusively distributed through the Shopify Theme Store, Blum Theme has garnered plenty of positive feedback for its high quality.

Pros & Cons of Shopify Dawn Theme & O.S 2.0

Pros of Shopify Online Store 2.0

01. Ease of Use, UI/UX

  • The new editor centralizes all available features and functionalities, reflecting real time changes in the editing page
  • The reference theme Dawn, the new standard storefront theme in development, is 35% faster than the current default theme

02. App Integration (with app block)

The theme app extensions for developers can help add a number of features as well as extensions. Before this, there was no way for apps to integrate with themes.

03. CostFree of charge

04. Flexibility

Prior to Online Store 2.0, you can only add these theme sections to the homepage. With Online Store 2.0, these theme sections are now dynamic and can be added to any page, like Product Page or Product page

pros of shopify online store2.0

Cons of Shopify Online Store 2.0

01. Styling Customization

The only thing you can do is to heavily rely on the pre-conditioned elements. Changes of background color or font are not widely available. 

cons of shopify online store 2.0

02. Layout Customization

The product page here is quite predictable. Although you can have many new features, yet you can’t fully structure their look and placement.

cons of shopify online store 2.0

I tried adding the most layout-flexible feature called Multicolumn. This was all I could get. The description box is self-explanatory.

disadvantage of shopify online store 2.0

03.Support

If you run into an issue while operating the page editor, most likely you can’t have an immediate answer. This is because you will be pointed to a help center that only addresses commonly asked questions, making it difficult to locate a specific answer to your particular problem.

it's difficult to get support from shopify online store 2.0

contact support from shopify online store 2.0

04. Landing Page Creation/Customization

If you need a standalone page that can serve your pay-per-click or Facebook Ads campaigns, you’ve come to the wrong place! At this point Shopify Online Store 2.0 only allows for standard pages such as home pages and product pages.

Dependence on theme features: Similar to other Shopify themes, for Shopify Online Store 2.0 themes, you get what you’re given. Some themes have a Countdown Timer, and some don't. Some have Slideshow, some don’t. If you demand a few modifications to your page other than what’s offered on the page editor, you need to reach out for help. Please don’t get me started on the sourcing fees!

Recommendations

Dawn Theme & Online Store 2.0 is an effective launchpad for starting merchants or SMB with a modest budget.

The new editor makes a fresh editing experience for tech-novice business owners to build storefronts from scratch, add various theme extensions and manage apps within themes. If you just need to build a basic online store as part of your general business development scheme, this is also a great place to start.

Conclusion

Is Dawn setting new standards for a new generation of Shopify themes? Well, we can affirm that Dawn brings a fresh wind to both developers and merchants in the world of eCommerce as Shopify is stepping up to a higher level (OS 2.0). 

We can see there're huge improvements in UX design and the accessability to help merchants build their online shops with more ease. And with theme developers, they should definitely innovate their themes to better adapt to such big movement. 

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