Everyone’s had an experience with an old clunker of a car that should have been replaced years ago but wasn’t. Maybe as a kid your parents bought a used station wagon rather than a new van to fit your new baby brother into the planned road trip with the rest of you. Maybe it was a special vacation you’d all been waiting for for months when you were going to drive over the Colorado Rockies.

lithograph of a broken down covered wagon with Pike's Peak or bust written on the side
LITHOGRAPH COLLECTION, COURTESY OF PIKES PEAK LIBRARY DISTRICT, 257-6377 via https://gazette.com/news/pikes-peak-or-bust/image_8d3e2625-2318-55c5-9bb2-43b0f489ed71.html

Maybe you’d been telling each other, “Pikes Peak or bust!” since school got out weeks ago, and when you finally set out, you enjoyed the novelty of watching the miles slip away behind you as you sat in the rear-facing back seat of that old tan station wagon with your big sister, drawing lines down the seat over which the other was not supposed to cross. And maybe, on a desolate stretch of road in Colorado between Flagler and Arriba, that old jalopy broke down.

Maybe on that dusty road you had to wire your muffler up with an old coat hanger and skip Pikes Peak entirely and go through Denver instead and on to your destination as quickly as you could. Maybe you went bust.

Hoping that old jalopy would get you to all the wonderful places you’ve dreamed about visiting is about the same as hoping that your Shopify 1.0 theme will help you achieve all your goals and dreams in ecommerce. You can keep limping along with it for a long time, but eventually you’re going to go bust.

What are we talking about here?

First, what is Shopify 2.0, and how is it different from 1.0? In the summer of 2021, Shopify made a change to their theme architecture that revolutionized how things work for store owners, making things easier, faster, and better. Shopify 2.0 brings quite a few new capabilities, but there are mainly three that affect store owners significantly.

First, sections are now available throughout the site. Sections have been available on the homepage for some time making it easy for owners to customize the home themselves. Since they’re available on other pages now, store owners can just as easily customize their other pages.

Second, metafields (or additional data about products) are now natively available to owners rather than requiring an outside app. This makes it so store owners can add extra data like ingredients lists, special features, or even videos to products. Your products are inherently more flexible so you can do more with them.

And third, there’s a new way of adding apps, called “Theme App Extensions” that makes it very easy and quick to add extra functionality to stores without having to add any code to the theme to get the app in there. Furthermore, if you decide to take the app out, it’ll remove effortlessly without leaving any code behind that you’ll have to go clean up. These three features translate into a couple significant benefits to store owners: easier customization throughout the site, and quicker development timelines.

Why Migrate?

In addition to these features, and in some cases directly because of them, the stores running Shopify 2.0 are significantly better in several ways. This is why we here at SeaMonster Studios recommend all store owners seriously consider upgrading to a Shopify 2.0 theme.


A default implementation of Dawn, the standard Shopify 2.0 theme from Shopify, is 35% quicker than a default implementation of Debut, the standard Shopify 1.0 theme from Shopify. Now, different themes may vary widely in terms of speed, but it’s pretty significant that the change from 1.0 to 2.0 would lead to such an increase in speed. Page load time isn’t the only consideration in determining the success of a site, but by all counts it is a significant one.

More Accessible

Accessibility can seem like a bit of a moving target, with official standards being periodically revised (WCAG 2.2 is supposed to be released any minute), though many things can unequivocally result in a more accessible site, and Shopify has chosen a set of these to require all 2.0 themes to meet by default. Some of these requirements are that all site features must be keyboard accessible, forms must be properly labeled for assistive technologies, product images must have alternative text, color contrasts must be sufficient, and a few more.

In addition to these specifics, the average default page accessibility score needs to be 90 according to a Google’s Lighthouse accessibility test. None of these requirements can ensure that the site you build with one of the 2.0 themes will be perfectly accessible, but as 1.0 themes had no accessibility requirements whatsoever, it’s a safe bet that you’ll have fewer needs for remediation after building your site with a 2.0 theme.

screenshot of Lighthouse accessibility scan with a score of 93screenshot of Lighthouse accessibility scan with a score of 80

Can get rid of some apps

Because sections can now be easily included nearly everywhere in the site, you really have no need any longer for page builders like Shogun or PageFly. Since these apps have a monthly fee associated with them in most cases, ditching them will save you money, and it’ll also tend to further speed up your site. This is because one of the largest factors contributing to slow sites is the number of apps. Furthermore, page builders are some of the ones that slow the site down the very most.

Another app you can get rid of is whichever one you might have been using to manage metadata, such as Metafields Guru or Metafields Editor. These apps didn’t likely slow your site as much as page builders do, but often come at a cost of from a few dollars a month to thirty or more. Speed up your site and pay less? Definitely worth it.

Add and manage what apps you need more easily

While previously to add an app in Shopify you’d have to jump into the code and manually put in a few or half a dozen snippets of code across several files in the back end of the site, Shopify’s Theme App Extensions make adding apps simple, as well as removing them if you decide to get rid of or replace them.

Why not migrate?

Despite all the advantages of Shopify 2.0, you may be tempted to stick with your old site. Change is difficult, and you can be pardoned for not wanting to engage in it at a moment’s notice. The following reasons strike us as reasonable and understandable, but we hope to show that these are outweighed by the benefits of upgrading to a 2.0 theme.

The old site works fine

According to the wisdom of the ages, if something isn’t broken, you shouldn’t fix it. Your store has made you thousands of dollars over the past several years you’ve had it, and presumably it’ll go on making those thousands, so why mess with a good thing? If it ain’t busted, don’t fix it!

This is a reasonable thought process, but it’s unfortunately probably not fully formed, or fully informed. Most industry experts recommend that you get an entirely new website between every two to four years because after about that amount of time the site will start feeling stale and dated. Hubspot says sites really ought to get a refresh every year and a half to two and a half years.

Since Shopify 2.0 came out nearly two years ago, chances are that if your site is running a 1.0 theme, it’s getting to the end of its useful life anyhow. It’s likely built on some deprecated technologies that probably don’t work as well as they did when your site was first built. In short, to the statement, “If it ain’t busted, don’t fix it,” we humbly reply: “but by now it probably is busted, even if you don’t know it”. The muffler of that jalopy is just waiting to fall off…

It takes some time and effort

This is definitely true. Redoing a site does take time and effort, even if you plan to generally keep the same content and just finesse it into a new theme. There will still be a bunch of little choices you’ll have to make in connection with the project, and it’ll take a few meetings with your web development agency and also probably some back and forth via email.

While it won’t be a hands-off process for you, if you work with a reputable and friendly dev agency to get it done, they should be able to make it as simple and even enjoyable a process as possible. And at the end of the project, you’ll have a site that’s no longer as dated, slow, and glitchy as the old one. Your efforts won’t be wasted; your customers will thank you for them.

It takes some money

They say that time is money, but even aside from the time you’ll spend working on the next iteration of your site, it will likely cost you some money, too. Since the best idea is probably to have you focus on the aspects of your business that you’re best at, and hire a web dev agency to redo your site, you’ll likely pay that agency upwards of $10,000 or more to move your site over to Shopify 2.0.

If along with the new theme, though, you want to add some apps and features to increase your customers’ lifetime value, such as Recharge to add subscriptions to your offering, it will be so much easier to install and set them up on 2.0 that you’ll save even more money from your web dev agency. Wes, our CEO here at SeaMonster Studios, told me that to set up Recharge from scratch on a Shopify 1.0 theme takes us about 20 to 25 hours, while on a Shopify 2.0 theme it only takes us three to four hours. At our shop rate, that’s a savings of about $5,000.

Even with the 20-hour setup time, Recharge is a great investment and will pay for itself many times over throughout a store’s lifetime (see Spin up Subscriptions to Increase Your Bottom Line. Saving $5000 on the setup up front makes it just that much better!

Potential Monetary Benefits

  • Adding apps: as much as a 75% decrease in development time to set up
  • Liability for accessibility law suit: significantly decreased likelihood of getting sued for violating accessibility laws
  • Increased speed leading to increased sales

While all of this may seem like a significant investment, and it is, remember that your new Shopify 2.0 store will do a few things for you that should be weighed in the balance. Because 2.0 stores have significant accessibility requirements imposed from Shopify before they can even make it to the theme store, it’s likely that off the shelf your risk of having to face an accessibility lawsuit is already greatly diminished.

Furthermore, any accessibility remediations that you may still need to ask your web dev agency to make to bring the store into full compliance will likely cost less than trying to remediate your old store from scratch. Since according to lawyer Kris Rivenburgh, the average cost of an accessibility lawsuit is about $25,000 dollars, redoing your site for less than half of that seems a good deal for dramatically reducing the likelihood of facing a suit.

Besides the money you could save by not getting sued over accessibility issues, I mentioned that the site will likely be significantly faster than when it was running the 1.0 theme. According to research done by Portent, a digital marketing research agency, assuming a thousand visitors come to your shop looking for a $50 product, if your site loads in four seconds rather than one, statistically your potential sales will drop by almost $1200 due to consumers simply impatiently leaving your site.

Stated in reverse order, by speeding the page load time from four seconds to one, you enable a potential sales gain of nearly $1200. With a speedier site, that cycle of a thousand visitors coming doesn’t have to run very many times to make up for your investment in a new site.

There’s a learning curve

Another objection you might have is that you’re used to the old site, and so are your loyal customers. Changing things up will result in both you and them having to learn a slightly different system, and this learning might not be immediate or automatic. This is true, unfortunate, and impossible to avoid. We think the benefits far outweigh the detriments attendant to this fact, though. Particularly after going through the learning curve, we think you’ll end up agreeing that the new way of doing things in Shopify 2.0 is better than the old.

As an example of what you’ll have to learn to do differently, and how it’s superior to the old way, take Shopify 2.0’s sections everywhere. Perhaps you’ve always made changes inside your pagebuilder app and feel most comfortable with that, never having had the opportunity to modify the homepage with Shopify’s sections.

Once you try modifying sections in Shopify’s own architecture, though, I think you’ll find that though it’s not as wide open in capability, the very restrictions themselves make the process easier to engage in, and result in cleaner designs implemented more quickly than having to fiddle around with the pagebuilder to get it just right (or giving up after a while and calling it “good enough”). Working with a prebuilt component and just modifying the text or image can be a real treat by comparison. After going through the learning curve, I predict you’ll find your feelings are similar about the other changes, too.

A needed upgrade

Regarding that clunky old station wagon we talked about at the beginning of the post, I’m sure you’ll remember how your parents did bite the bullet the next year, got rid of the old clunker, and replaced it with a minivan. Doubtless your childhood is full of memories of the many road trips you took in that van that didn’t involve going bust. You should follow the same course of action with your clunky old site. Do your business a favor and upgrade your store to Shopify 2.0 so your business doesn’t go bust. See you at the top of the mountain!

Convinced you should move to Shopify 2.0? Contact us for a consultation and we'll make sure you don't go bust on the way.