How To Edit Code On Shopify: A Step-by-Step Guide
By Sam Thomas Davies Head of Content
@ Sleeknote

In the world of eCommerce, having a well-designed and functional website is crucial for success. That’s where Shopify, one of the leading eCommerce platforms, comes in. Shopify provides users with a user-friendly interface to build and customize their online stores. However, there may come a time when you need to make more advanced changes to your store’s design or functionality. This is where editing code on Shopify becomes necessary.

Understanding the Importance of Code Editing on Shopify

Before diving into the details of editing code on Shopify, it’s essential to understand why it’s important. Editing code gives you the ability to modify your store’s layout, add custom features, or optimize its performance. It allows you to create a unique and personalized shopping experience for your customers, ensuring that your store stands out from the competition.

Furthermore, editing code on Shopify gives you more control over the appearance and functionality of your store, beyond what can be achieved through the built-in customization options. Whether you want to change the colors of specific elements, add custom animations, or integrate third-party tools, knowing how to edit code will empower you to achieve your desired results.

Getting Started: Navigating the Shopify Code Editor

Before you start making any changes to your Shopify store’s code, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with the Shopify Code Editor. This web-based editor is where all the magic happens. To access it, log in to your Shopify dashboard and navigate to the “Online Store” section. From there, click on “Themes” and select the theme you want to edit.

Within the theme settings, you’ll find the “Actions” dropdown menu, where you can choose to “Edit Code.” Clicking on this option will open up the Code Editor, where you can explore and modify the various sections of your store’s code.

Exploring the Different Sections of Shopify Code

When you enter the Shopify Code Editor, you’ll be greeted with a list of files and folders. These represent the different sections of your store’s code. Here’s a brief overview of some of the most important sections you’re likely to encounter:

Layout: This folder contains files that control the overall structure and layout of your store’s pages.

Templates: This folder houses the individual template files that determine the structure of specific pages, such as the product page or the cart page.

Sections: In the sections folder, you’ll find files that control the content and layout of reusable elements, such as headers, footers, or banners.

Assets: This folder stores all the uploaded images, stylesheets, and JavaScript files used by your store.

Navigating and exploring these different sections will allow you to pinpoint the specific file or files you need to modify when making changes to your store’s code.

Customizing Your Shopify Theme: Where to Begin

When you’re ready to start customizing your Shopify theme, it’s crucial to have a plan in place. Before diving into the code, take the time to outline the specific changes or additions you want to make to your store. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you achieve the desired result.

Once you have a clear vision in mind, begin by identifying the appropriate file or files to edit. For example, if you want to modify the layout of your store’s home page, you’ll likely need to edit a template file. On the other hand, if you want to add a new section to your product pages, you’ll need to create or modify a file within the sections folder.

Making Changes to HTML and CSS in Shopify Code

HTML and CSS are the building blocks of web design, and being able to modify them effectively is key to editing code on Shopify. By editing the HTML and CSS files within your theme, you can control the structure, appearance, and style of your store.

When modifying HTML, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the different elements and tags used in web design. You can use these tags to add or remove content, change the order of elements, or create new sections. Take the time to study the existing HTML structure in your theme to ensure you make changes in the right place.

CSS, on the other hand, is responsible for styling the elements defined in your HTML. By editing the CSS files, you can alter the colors, fonts, spacing, and other visual aspects of your store. Shopify uses a language named SCSS (Sassy CSS), which allows for more advanced features like variables and mixins. Understanding how to leverage SCSS will help you make more efficient and maintainable changes to your store’s design.

Understanding Liquid: The Language of Shopify Themes

When working with Shopify, you’ll come across a unique templating language called Liquid. Liquid allows you to dynamically generate content in your theme and perform logic operations. It provides a powerful set of tools for manipulating data, making it a valuable asset when editing code on Shopify.

With Liquid, you can add conditionals, loops, and filters to your Shopify theme. These enable you to create dynamic sections, display content based on specific conditions, or modify the data you’re working with. Learning Liquid is essential for harnessing the full potential of Shopify’s customization capabilities.

Mastering the Art of Liquid Variables and Filters

In Liquid, variables are used to store and manipulate data. Understanding how to use variables effectively will help you create more dynamic and personalized sections in your theme. By assigning values to variables, you can reuse and display dynamic content based on user interactions or backend data.

Add {{ variable_name }} to your Liquid code to output the stored value. For example, if you have a variable named product_title containing the title of a product, you can display it on your store’s pages using {{ product_title }}. This makes it easy to showcase specific product information or personalize the shopping experience for your customers.

Filters, on the other hand, allow you to modify or format the data being displayed. They can perform various operations such as formatting dates, converting text to uppercase or lowercase, or manipulating strings. By applying filters to your Liquid code, you can ensure that the displayed content is presented in the desired format.

Adding Custom JavaScript to Your Shopify Store

While HTML and CSS handle the structure and appearance of your store, JavaScript empowers you to add custom functionality and interactivity. By including custom JavaScript code in your Shopify theme, you can enhance the user experience, track analytics, and integrate third-party tools.

Shopify provides a dedicated section within the Code Editor to add your custom JavaScript code. Simply navigate to the “Assets” folder, click on “Add a new asset,” and choose the JavaScript file extension (.js) from the dropdown menu. You can then paste your JavaScript code into the file and save it.

When adding custom JavaScript to your Shopify store, it’s crucial to test it thoroughly to ensure it works as intended and doesn’t introduce any conflicts with existing functionality.

Best Practices for Editing Code on Shopify

As with any web development process, there are some best practices to keep in mind when editing code on Shopify. These practices will help you maintain a clean and efficient codebase and minimize the risk of introducing errors or conflicts:

Backup your code: Before making any significant changes, it’s always wise to create a backup of your theme. This will allow you to revert to a previous version if something goes wrong.

Use version control: Implementing version control, such as Git, enables you to track changes, collaborate with others, and easily revert back to previous states if needed.

Document your changes: Keeping track of the changes you make to your store’s code will make it easier to troubleshoot issues or revert changes if necessary.

Test thoroughly: Before deploying any code changes to your live store, thoroughly test them in a development or staging environment. This will help ensure that everything works as expected and doesn’t negatively impact the user experience.

Troubleshooting Common Issues in Shopify Code Editing

When editing code on Shopify, it’s not uncommon to encounter issues or errors along the way. Here are some common problems and their solutions:

White screen of death: If your store suddenly shows a blank white screen after making code changes, it may indicate a syntax error or an issue with the code. Double-check the affected files and review the changes you made.

Theme update conflicts: Sometimes, updating your Shopify theme may cause conflicts with custom code. Keep an eye on Shopify’s theme documentation and release notes to ensure a smooth transition.

Browsers inconsistencies: Different web browsers may interpret code differently, leading to inconsistencies in appearance or functionality. Test your changes across various browsers to identify and resolve any compatibility issues.

App integration issues: Modifying your theme code could potentially affect the functionality of integrated third-party apps. If you notice any issues, double-check the compatibility of your code changes with the respective apps.

Using Version Control to Safeguard Your Code Changes

Version control plays a crucial role in safeguarding your code changes, facilitating collaboration, and enabling seamless code rollback if needed. By using a version control system like Git, you can keep track of all changes made to your Shopify theme and easily revert back to previous versions.

Git allows you to create branches, work on separate features or fixes, and merge those changes back into the main codebase. This ensures that your code remains organized and that multiple individuals can collaborate without conflicts.

By committing your changes regularly and pushing them to a remote repository, such as GitHub or Bitbucket, you have an extra layer of security against accidental data loss or code corruption.

Optimizing Your Code for Performance and Speed on Shopify

One crucial aspect of editing code on Shopify is optimizing it for performance and speed. An optimized codebase can reduce loading times, improve the user experience, and potentially boost your store’s ranking in search engine results.

To optimize your code, consider the following practices:

Minify CSS and JavaScript: Minification removes unnecessary characters and spaces from your code, reducing file sizes and improving loading times.

Optimize image files: Large image files can significantly slow down your store. Compress and resize images to the appropriate dimensions without sacrificing quality.

Cleanup unused code: Review your theme’s codebase regularly and remove any unused files or code snippets. This will make your codebase leaner and easier to manage.

Caching and CDN: Utilize caching techniques and explore content delivery networks (CDNs) to store static files closer to your customers, reducing server response times.

Testing and Previewing Code Changes on Your Shopify Store

Before deploying any code changes to your live Shopify store, it’s crucial to test and preview them thoroughly. Shopify provides several tools and options for testing changes without affecting your customers’ experience.

Theme preview mode: Within the Shopify Code Editor, you can enable theme preview mode. This allows you to make modifications and see how they affect your store without making those changes live.

Development stores: Shopify offers development stores specifically for testing purposes. These stores allow you to experiment with code changes without impacting your live store.

Staging environment: If you have a separate staging environment, it’s recommended to deploy your changes there first. This gives you the opportunity to thoroughly test your code in an environment that closely replicates your live store.

By taking advantage of these testing and previewing options, you can catch any issues, ensure a smooth implementation, and provide a seamless experience for your customers.

Collaborating with Developers: Tips for Effective Code Editing on Shopify

Working with a team of developers to edit code on Shopify can be a collaborative and efficient process when done correctly. Here are some tips to ensure effective collaboration:

Set up a workflow: Establish clear guidelines and processes for working with your team. Define the roles and responsibilities of each team member and set up a workflow that ensures efficient code merging and deployment.

Use Git branching: Each team member should work on separate branches when making code changes. This allows for concurrent development without conflicts and makes it easier to review and merge changes into the main codebase.

Communicate effectively: Regular communication and feedback are critical when collaborating on code editing. Use project management tools, like Slack or Trello, to stay in sync and discuss specific tasks or challenges.

Document changes and updates: Documenting code changes, updates, and issues encountered during the process will help maintain clarity and transparency among team members. Use tools like Git commit messages or project management boards to track progress.

By following these tips, you can ensure smooth collaboration, minimize conflicts, and make the most of the expertise and skills within your team.

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Remember, editing code on Shopify is a powerful tool that allows you to take your online store to the next level. With a solid understanding of the Code Editor, HTML, CSS, Liquid, and JavaScript, you’ll be equipped to make customizations, add unique features, and optimize your store’s performance and user experience. Embrace the possibilities, test thoroughly, and enjoy the freedom that code editing on Shopify brings to web design!