Top five Magento Themes for ease of use, customization and functionality

Choosing a theme for your Magento eCommerce website is a big decision. When making the investment of opening up an online store, it’s crucial to…
  • Caitlin Mekita
  • Customer Success Manager
  • November 13, 2013 Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Choosing a theme for your Magento eCommerce website is a big decision. When making the investment of opening up an online store, it’s crucial to choose correctly and think critically. You need to know what you’re looking for, so we first need to answer the question: What makes a theme great?

1. It suits your needs – you have a product to sell and it needs to be sold in a certain way. Will you need to add lots of specifications? Do you want to incorporate sizing charts? Do you need large and zoomed-in images to capture lots of detail? Or would you rather put the spotlight on your descriptions? Do your customers already know what they are looking for or do you need to push certain new products that they might not know about? These are all things to think about when deciding which theme presents your business in the appropriate light.

There are themes designed for almost every industry, but this doesn’t mean you need to choose a theme based on this alone.

2. It’s functional & supportive – Your theme needs to work. It also needs to work well with others – meaning it will be compatible with not only the latest version of Magento, but also any of the extensions you might want to add on. Read the reviews and see how other developers have reacted to the theme’s functionality. You will also want to discover the theme developer’s support policy – whether or not they will be available and/or willing to assist with major issues.

3. You can customize it (if you want to) – Perhaps your budget is tight and working with a designer isn’t really a possibility. Your theme is already equipped with colors, gradients, shadows, and all the bells and whistles that make a website beautiful. But what if you want to change all that? How are the visual aspects of the theme created?

If every single button, gradient, and line is created with an individual image, it will take your designer infinitely longer to download all of these images, edit or customize them, and then re-upload them to replace the old effect. The faster and more efficient way to customize the look of your theme is with the theme’s CSS stylesheet. If the theme developer relied heavily on CSS to create the colors, styles, and looks of your theme, then your designer will have a much easier time going through and changing things to match your branding. Have a designer take a look at your chosen theme and estimate how long it could take to change the look and feel – this decision could make a huge impact on your budget.

4. It isn’t over-branded – You want your theme to look nice, but remember that your online store is for your business and not for the theme. You want to be able to add your own style and flare, so a theme that’s way overdone with tons of different colors, fonts, styles, and images will be less customizable to your brand.

5. It is current – It is up to date with the latest version of Magento, and it is also compatible with the latest (and older) versions of all web browsers. Basically, it needs to be compatible all around.

 6. It is responsive – Most themes you’ll find nowadays are responsive, but they also need to do it right. Test a theme’s look on your phone and iPad to make sure you like what you see, and that nothing that you are trying to feature is getting cut off, shrunk, or otherwise destructed.

Based on these guideline’s, I have compiled a list of 5 of the best Magento themes on the market today.

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1. Celebrity

This theme has really got it all. It’s extremely easy to customize with CSS. It’s compatible across every browser. The images it does use are organized into CSS sprites, which makes them really easy to change because they are conveniently all located in one document. The theme comes with color options, as well as options with the header and footer layouts. There is a tabbed product data area with reviews.

The CSS and HTML are nicely commented and developer / designer friendly.

2. Ultimo

Cuztomization is key for this extremely popular Magento theme. Perhaps the hottest theme on the market right now, Ultimo features tons of CMS content placeholders. It’s product page and product grid have customizable layouts, and designers will love the highly customizable styling options. Ultimo also boasts “the best Magento theme documentation” with 150 + PDF pages to help you get the most out of this theme.

3. Santana Fashion Store 

Designed for fashion but usable in plenty of other ways, Santana has a look of pure class and sophistication. Fashionistas will enjoy the sizing chart Santana has incorporated into the product page. Your designer will love the PSD files that come with the theme – they will help you achieve the exact look you are going for. The them also includes a quick view feature, a quick shopping cart feature, product slider, and a fully customizable drop down menu.

4. Blanco

Possibly the cleanest and most simplistic looking theme I have come across, Blanco is all about customization. It is responsive, cross-browser compatible, and extremely good looking. Keeping up with current trends, Blanco is heavily reliant on white, puts images in the forefront, and keeps information highly organized in a  sophisticated grid. The product page layout is easily customized, and the slideshow works perfectly with the touchscreen of a mobile device. This theme is perfect for the new direction of online selling.

5. Fortis

Fortis is one of the most popular themes available. Almost every part of this theme is customizable. It has extremely consistent CSS styles, making it a breeze for your designer to make changes. It includes a ton of CMS blocks so you can add content almost anywhere. You can change product image sizes, customize the grid view.

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