Web Design Tips

A Design Tools Showdown: Zoey vs. Shopify

By Ryan Gilmore on October, 14 2015

As you may have see, we just released a revamped design suite. We invested in creating these industry-leading design tools for two reasons:

  • Design is a powerful medium that can help your store’s bottom line
  • Today, implementing great design requires coding knowledge and we want to remove those limitations

To help you understand how groundbreaking our design suite is for designers and merchants without coding skills, let’s take a look at how our tools compare to those offered by another popular platform: Shopify. 

Downloading and Publishing Themes 

Shopify locks you into a look and feel with a theme. Zoey gives you the tools to customize a theme however you want.


Shopify has invested heavily in themes. They currently offer over 100 different themes. A few are free, but most cost upwards of $100. You can download multiple themes, make a few customizations and install the one you like best. The downside to this pretty easy process is that you end up with a lot of stores that look the same. This is less than ideal from a branding point of view.  


We take a different approach to themes. Because our design suite is both easy to use and powerful, we view themes as a starting point, not the finished product. You can literally take any Zoey theme and modify it to look however you want. This combination of capabilities and philosophy means that we offer fewer themes than Shopify, but all are free, responsive out of the box and a canvas for you to customize.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Will a standard theme communicate my brand in the way I want?
  • Am I comfortable with a store that looks like 1000s of other stores?
  • Do I have the financial resources to invest in a custom theme built by an outside agency?
Editing Site Styles

Shopify’s WYSIWYG tools give you limited control over styling. Zoey’s WYSIWYG tools give you total control over site styling.  


Shopify gives users control over fonts, font sizes, and colors across a site. However there are some limitations:

  • Font choice is limited to approximately 20 choices. To access more fonts you need to integrate a tool like Google Web Fonts by editing the site code.
  • All styling choices are global. To edit the styling of an individual element, you need to edit the element’s CSS.

We give you more control over your site styling than Shopify. With our Style Editor tool you can control:

  • Font choice, font size, font color
  • Link color, link hover color
  • Background, menu and button colors
  • Button shape by rounding corners
  • Page width

You can also specify the styling for individual elements in your design. So if you want to make one block of text look different from another on the same page, you can do that.

Editing styles in Zoey, whether globally or for an individual element, is all done with WYSIWYG tools that don’t require writing any code. Of course, if you’d like to drop in custom CSS, you can do that too.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I OK with only having limited control over site styles?
  • Can I afford to hire a developer to perform custom styling adjustments?
Editing the Page Layout

With Shopify, it’s not possible to edit your site layout without writing code or buying a new theme. Zoey allows you to totally customize your site layout with easy to use tools.


If you want to edit the layout of a page in a Shopify store, you have two options:

  • Redesign you entire store by buying a new theme that has the layout you want
  • Edit your HTML and CSS to achieve the layout you want

That’s it. Shopify doesn’t give you any WYSIWYG tools to modify your theme layout.


This is where our design suite really shines. We give you total control over the layout of your site via a drag and drop tool we call the Page Editor. If you want to move elements around, just drag them where you want and you’re done! You can even edit your layout to create custom designs for mobile and tablet users. No coding required.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I comfortable not being able to edit my theme’s layout with WYSIWYG tools?
  • Do I have the budget to buy a new theme or hire a developer to make customizations to my existing theme?
Adding New Content and Pages

In Shopify, adding new content elements to your sites requires custom code or purchasing a special app. In Zoey, new content elements can be added with a few clicks.


If you want to add new content like banners, slideshows or text to a Shopify store, then you have two options:

  • Pay for an app in Shopify’s app store that lets you add additional content elements to your theme
  • Insert new content elements with custom code

Adding a new page like an About Us page or a Team page is pretty easy in Shopify and can be done without writing code. However, the design and styling of that page will follow the rules established by your theme. If you want to override these rules, you will need to write custom code for this page.


Adding new content to a page is very easy. You just use our drag and drop tool to literally drag the content you want to add onto the page. You can add elements like banners, image slideshows, product grids and much more.

Adding a new page is just as easy and you have a lot of control over the design and styling. You can base the look and feel of the page on an existing page or you can use the Style Editor and Page Editor to build a custom design for that page.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Am I comfortable being locked into the layout of my theme?
  • Do I have the financial resources to pay for the app or services needed to add new content elements to my site? 

At the end of the day both Zoey and Shopify offer few design limitations. However, the path you take to building great designs is far different. If you’re a designer or merchant that knows how to code, then Shopify’s design tools will seem very familiar to you. If you’re a designer or merchant that doesn’t know how to code, then Shopify will present problems for you.

I’d like to end by saying that while Zoey's Design Center was intended to create amazing designs without writing any front-end code, we recognize that some users will want to insert their own custom HTML, CSS and JavaScript. So, all Zoey customers and partners can use our built-in code editor to add custom front-end code to their site and that will not change.

Want to take our Design Center for a spin? Just sign up for a free 14 day trial!

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