Some of our potential customers are surprised to learn that their business doesn’t need a custom-built Shopify website. Of course, custom design is nice to have, but it’s a luxury that not every business needs. Ultimately, you will need a custom Shopify developer if you have specific business needs that only a custom website can accommodate (or a big budget for high-quality design).

Why some businesses don’t need a custom Shopify developer

Not everyone needs to hire a Shopify developer. In fact, hiring a Shopify developer is often a big waste of money for small and medium-sized businesses.

Lots of businesses build their own Shopify website using a drag-and-drop editor because it saves them much-needed money. All they need to do is pick a theme and add their own art and copy

If your business decides that a homemade website is the right choice, be very careful when picking a theme. Lots of themes look pretty good and work for lots of businesses.

However, other themes look really outdated and ugly.

If you don’t have a very good eye for design, reach out to someone on your team who can help pick a good-looking theme for the face of your company.

However, not every company should build their own website. Many large and enterprise-level companies would benefit much more from a cusom-built Shopify website from a developer.

How to build on your own

Building your own Shopify website is very easy. Use the built-in editor to add your own content, images, and products.

If the default builder isn’t up your alley, try using a third-party service. Buildify is a popular option that integrates a Wix-like interface into the Shopify platform for easy page-building.

The one downside to builders is that they’re extremely limiting. Unless your eCommerce website fits the template exactly, you’ll be losing lots of important features, elements, and micro-interactions that could make or break a sale. For small businesses, these features tend to be less important, but for businesses with lots of revenue, small setbacks add up quickly. That’s why most medium or large businesses hire a custom Shopify developer.

Why some businesses need a Shopify developer

Bigger businesses tend to hire Shopify developers because they can afford paying extra for better results. Custom-made Shopify stores almost always look better because they’re fine-tuned to meet a business’s exact needs.

Instead of using a templated theme, a Shopify Developer will code a custom theme in the rare, but powerful coding language Liquid. Because they work on the code-level, a custom developer can make anything you can dream of.

Spread the Love, for instance, needed custom page designs, custom navigation, custom product pages, and a custom checkout flow. Instead of sacrificing their needs for an easier build, they hired custom Shopify developers to build the exact website they needed. The result was worth every penny: a beautiful, custom website that boosted sales and brand reach.

The story is similar for many companies: they need so many custom features that it becomes much more economical to hire a custom Shopify developer than to build it themselves.

But not every story is so clear-cut. If you’re unsure, we recommend starting with a templated Shopify website. Use the cookie-cutter website to collect data about what works and what doesn’t, and once you outgrow the templated version, upgrade to a custom solution using your newfound analytics. You can read more about this careful experimentation in our detailed guide to upgrading from template to custom Shopify websites.

If you decide that a custom Shopify developer is right for you, here’s how to find a good fit.

How to find the help you need

Whether you’re building your own Shopify eCommerce website or hiring a team of expert developers to code to your exact specifications, you’ll probably need some help along the way. Lucky for you, the people you need are right around the corner.

Small business owners looking for a little extra help should look no further than Shopify’s own Experts page.

The page is full of experts willing to take jobs you post. Best of all, it has lots of courses to help you iron out problems on your own. Using Shopify Experts may not be quite as good as hiring a full-fledged agency, but it offers lots of quick and very capable solutions.

How to find a freelance developer

Freelancers are another amazing option. Agencies tend to bash freelancers a lot, but they’re very capable, talented individuals that will produce high-quality work for relatively cheap.

Upwork is a great website for finding freelancers, and many of the individuals produce much higher quality work than those on Fiver (although it depends on the person).

Freelancers are best for specific projects. If you only need design work, for instance, hiring a freelance designer will give you fast, strong results.

However, if you find yourself hiring multiple freelancers at once, an agency may be more efficient (that’s what an agency is, anyway: a team of experts under one roof).

How to find an agency

In nearly every instance, a small, local agency is more than equipped to conquer your project. After all, big agencies can coast on their brand name and charge extra, while small agencies have to deliver results twice as good for half as much just to compete. It’s a no-brainer; small agencies are better.

The best websites for finding agencies are Clutch and UpCity. Clutch is the bigger of the two: with one search engine, you can sift through thousands of Shopify developers.


UpCity, on the other hand, focuses on quality. You have fewer options available, but they’re all guaranteed to deliver amazing service.

No matter what option you choose, there’s a perfect team waiting for you.

Ultimately, not everyone needs a Shopify developer. Try building the site yourself if . . .

  • Money is a major concern
  • Your website doesn’t sell many different products
  • Templates work well for your needs and branding

However, many businesses do need a custom Shopify developer to make their website as good as possible. Look for a developer if . . .

  • Your website has lots of products or product options
  • The company has outgrown the existing website
  • Templates don’t fit your brand
  • Important features can’t be built in templated websites
  • Hiring experts would reduce internal costs or boost profits
  • Your website must look amazing

While the rule of thumb is that small companies don’t need a developer and big companies do, it’s much more complex and nuanced. If you need help figuring it out, reach out to our team today. We’ll walk you through the specifics and give you a free consultation.