Shopify’s OS 2.0 themes are the future. This is why you should migrate to it

In Unite 2021, Shopify announced something called Online Store 2.0. If you have not heard about it or if you’re wondering what the whole fuzz is about, you have come to the right article.

According to Shopify, Online Store 2.0 (OS 2.0) is the most important rebuild of Liquid( the language Shopify uses for template building). OS 2.0 will make it easy for developers and store owners to add customized features to their storefronts. Themes built with OS 2.0 support will give you a bunch of new features.

In this article, we will take deep dive into the advantages of using an OS 2.0 theme. Everything we discuss in this article is currently live in shopify platform, so feel free to test all in a free theme. A bunch of free and paid OS 2.0 themes are already available to download from the Shopify theme store today. And more themes are added to the store every day. Just look for listings with an OS 2.0 badge.

Look out for the OS 2.0 Badge under the theme listing

So here are the 5 reasons why I think you should consider switching your Shopify store to a OS 2.0 theme

1. Sections on every page.

A section is a customizable modular element in a page, which gives the merchant complete control when editing a page in the Shopify theme customizer.

Sections in a theme

Previously sections were only available on a homepage. But in OS 2.0 themes, sections are available on all pages. That means you could add new elements or arrange elements on any page without touching the theme’s codebase.

This feature alone opens up a lot of opportunities for a store owner. Following are the few use cases that came to the top of my mind

  • Easily create custom product templates without any help of page builder apps
  • A/B test product pages with micro-adjustments without the help of developers
  • Create custom discounts and offer pages easily

2. The All-New App Blocks

As an app developer myself (Check out our apps here #shamelessPlug 😅) im excited for this particular feature more than anything.

Previously, if an app wanted to inject something into the store either we had to use something called script tag or we had to edit the theme code itself. The problem with editing theme code is that even if you delete the app, the injected code stays. And if you use script tag, the customization gets a bit of a hassle.

Here is where the new app blocks come into play. App Blocks lets apps add a custom section to the section list that you could add to your store. For example, if you install the Shopify reviews app today (if you are using an OS 2.0 theme), you will get a new review stars section in the theme editor. You could drag and drop this section anywhere to your product page. And the best part is if you delete the app all the sections and code attached to it will also be automatically deleted.

In simple words, as a store owner, you can add/remove and rearrange UI components generated by apps you install. And all these can be done directly from your theme editor without touching the code. How cool is that?

3. Dynamic Content with meta fields

Metafields is an interesting feature and there is a lot to cover here. So we have written an entire article just exploring this feature and you could read it here.

But in short, Metafields are a bunch of data that you could add to a product/order/customer/collection. Right now you can only edit a predefined set of data of a product (like title, description, image, price, etc). But what if you want a custom piece of data attached to a product.

Say if you want to attach a unique user downloadable manual to every product page. Or you have to add a nutrition list or an ingredients list to each product. In such cases, you could use a meta field.

In OS 2.0 you could add data from a meta field directly to your section. In the supported theme, you could see a small icon as shown in the following image. By clicking that you could add data from metadata to there. A more detailed tutorial is available from our article on meta fields

4. Add custom Liquid code directly using theme editor

if you want to display a specific banner on your product page if the user is logged in. In use cases like these, you need custom liquid codes. But previously you had to add these codes directly to the theme’s source files. And if you had to rearrange the position of the banner later, you will have to go to the code files and change it there. It was quite a hassle.

But in the latest OS 2.0, there is something just for uses cases like this. A section just for writing custom Liquid codes. Previously we had custom HTML sections with no support for Liquid. So we were not able to add logical conditions & dynamic data. But with this new addition, the possibilities are endless. Here are a few use cases

  • Show something like an offer or a review banner for the logged-in user or a specific user with a tag
  • Show a UI element only if something is added to the cart
  • Show a warning on the product page if limited stock is only available

5. Improved speed and future-proofing

Along with the announcement of the OS 2.0, Shopify also released a reference theme named Dawn. It is an example theme made by Shopify to showcase the new features. But what's interesting here is this theme is 35% faster than the current default theme (according to internal estimates).

And with all these features, you could get rid of some heavy apps from your site. That will also contribute to the speed of the website.

And above all, OS 2.0 is the future. Every upcoming feature and app development will be solely for themes supporting OS 2.0.

So should you switch to OS 2.0 today?

Upgrading to Online Store 2.0 isn't mandatory. You can continue using a vintage theme if it meets your business's needs.

But said that, if you are building a new store today you should start from an OS 2.0 theme. There is no downside to using this latest update. Plus you get to be at the forefront of the Shopify platform.

But, it is a difficult decision if you already have an active Shopify store. Technically you could migrate your old themes to new OS 2.0 (go to this doc by Shopify to learn how).

If you have done a lot of custom development on your theme you’ll have to consider the development cost for the migration. So our recommendation would be to do an audit and understand what it will take to migrate. If it's something that you could stomach, it will never be a bad idea to switch to the new OS 2.0.

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