Shopify Dawn Theme: Is Shopify Free Default Theme A Winner?

dawn-shopify-theme-review

If you are just getting started building an eCommerce store with Shopify, your default theme would be the Shopify Dawn theme – a free theme developed by Shopify themselves. Apparently, Dawn isn’t a bad idea if you are on a budget, huh? 

Well, pricing shouldn’t be the only factor you need to weigh in. A good theme has to meet other important criteria as well. This includes visual appeal, customization options, ease of use, eCommerce features, and the list goes on.

And if you don’t know whether to stay with Dawn or switch to another one, our comprehensive Dawn Shopify theme review will give you the answer you’ve been searching for.

1. Overview Dawn Shopify theme

👉 Install Dawn or See how Dawn works in action

1.1. Dawn Shopify theme: A general look

First thing first, let’s have a Shopify Dawn theme quick view so you can have a better understanding of the theme’s origin and popularity. 

shopify-dawn-theme-on-shopify-theme-store

 

Similar to the Taste Shopify theme, Dawn is developed by Shopify itself and is one of 12 free themes on the Shopify Theme Store. According to the latest data from BuiltWith, the Shopify Dawn theme is currently powering over 800,000 Shopify stores. 

Unlike other premium Shopify themes that are loved for their extensive features and unlimited customizations, most Dawn aficionados love the theme for its elegant design and simplicity.

1.2. Pricing

As the default template, the Shopify Dawn theme is completely free. This makes it a brilliant choice for merchants seeking value without the excruciating cost. Dawn’s appeal lies in its modern, spacious design, loaded with essential sales and marketing features you need to set up a functional web store.

While Dawn may not boast the extensive customization or advanced features of pricier themes, its cost-free nature combined with customizable designs and essential functionalities makes it an excellent option, especially for small to medium-sized businesses.

Hence, if you feel like not wanting to spend $150 to $380 for a ‘pro’ Shopify theme, Dawn should be at the top of your go-to choices. 

1.3. For which businesses is the Dawn Shopify theme best used?

There is a reason why Dawn is the default option when you sign up for a Shopify account. From our observation, Dawn can work great for literally any store that sells tangible products– be it fashion, health and beauty, electronics, pet stores, etc.

With that being said, given Dawn’s relatively basic features, we don’t think it would be a great fit for stores with a large catalog or advanced demands. 

However, if you just get started with a few dozen to a hundred products or so, rest assured that Dawn will equip you with more than enough features you need to run a functional store.

1.4. What people say about Dawn Shopify Theme

Compared to other themes on the Shopify Theme Store, Dawn has quite a humble satisfaction rate of 32% from 161 reviews only. While some merchants are crazy about the theme’s ease of use, many find Dawn a little bit too limited in terms of customization and features.

Let’s hear from some of Dawn’s users who have had positive, negative, and neutral experiences with the theme!

😁Light City Central

Love this theme, so simple and so easy to use!

😐Fluffels

It’s good enough to get started and test your concept. But there were some minor things I had to manually change myself like the Currency selector and social icons appearing in the slider menu on mobile view even though they are turned off in the settings.

😞Modest Collection

I can’t edit colors, it shows No color schemes defined. Color schemes must be defined in settings_data and settings_schema files. add to cart and buy buttons are showing as plain text, no borderline.

 

1.5. Pros & Cons – Evaluate from our real experience

Dawn’s affordability isn’t the only advantage of the Shopify Dawn theme. It’s pretty easy to use and is packed with a clean design and various essential eCommerce features. Nevertheless, Dawn also comes with several setbacks for stores with more sophisticated needs. 

From our experience with the theme, below is a list of all Shopify Dawn theme’s pros and cons for your reference: 

ProsCons
+ Dawn Shopify theme is an ideal choice for startups or small shops with limited budgets.
+ The theme design is quite sleek and clean, allowing you to touch up your visual storefront with ease
+ Dawn performs exceptionally well across various devices
+ For someone with minimal technical skills, Dawn’s user-friendly setup and customization options are a relief
– Dawn falls short in advanced customizations offered by premium themes.
– Though it covers the essentials, the theme lacks advanced eCommerce features like sophisticated filtering or 3D product models.
– For stores with a vast range of products, Dawn’s performance can be less optimal.
– Despite its modern look, Dawn’s design can feel quite generic.

2. Dawn Shopify theme review – highlighted features 

Now that you have a better overview of the Shopify Dawn theme, its origin, advantages, and disadvantages, let’s analyze the theme in greater length under 8 criteria. 

2.1. Design and layout

From the way we see it, Dawn stands out with its modern, minimalist design, offering a professional and sophisticated look that’s ideal for contemporary online stores. 

Dawn’s focus on high-resolution imagery is perfect if you are into storytelling or simply want to put your products front and center. 

Dawn-shopify-theme-design-and-layout

 

However, though Dawn’s minimal style and layout are neat and spacious, we personally are not very impressed by its overall looks and feel. 

Hence, if you decide to stay with Dawn, make sure that you go the extra mile in customizing it to your brand vibe. Otherwise, the theme’s generic style might be a limitation for you to seek a unique identity.

But what kind of things can you customize with Dawn? Let’s find out right next!

2.2. Customization options

Shopify Dawn theme gives you ample customization options, allowing you to have great control over how your web store looks and works. Below is a list of features and elements that are customizable with the Shopify Dawn theme:

  • Color schemes and animations: You can choose different color schemes for various sections and add interactive hover effects like “Zoom in on scroll” and “Vertical lift”
  • Product display: Customize the shape and size of product cards, and use high-resolution images and videos. Features include image rollover, zoom, and product videos.
  • Content layout: Adjust the layout by adding or removing sections and blocks. Incorporate lookbooks, size charts, and detailed product information for a personalized touch.
  • Marketing tools: You can integrate with any third-party app to enhance your store’s functionality and appearance. 
  • eCommerce features: Enjoy advanced customization without coding, including a mega menu for navigation and options for product filtering and sorting. (we will discuss this in greater length below)

For more advanced customizations that Dawn doesn’t support natively, you might need to tweak Liquid code– which can be tough for non-techies. However, we believe you’ll hardly ever need to code, given the theme’s flexible customization options. 

2.3. Ease of use

As with other themes in the Shopify Theme Store, the Dawn theme is notably user-friendly. As a product of Shopify’s in-house development, Dawn adopts the intuitive structure of Shopify OS 2.0 themes: each page consists of multiple sections, with each section comprising various blocks.

And the incredible part is that you can leverage Shopify’s built-in drag-and-drop theme editor to customize your store intuitively. For instance, you can effortlessly drag a featured product section to the top of your homepage or relocate a newsletter sign-up block to a more prominent position on your store. 

Such flexibility in customization, without requiring deep technical knowledge, makes Dawn an attractive option for merchants seeking a straightforward yet versatile Shopify theme.

2.4. eCommerce feature

Yes, Shopify Dawn theme is free. But this doesn’t mean that the theme developer cuts corners on essential eCommerce features you need to launch and run a proper online store.

Indeed, we found the theme’s eCommerce features are quite abundant compared to other free Shopify themes in the market. 

For those interested, you can refer to Dawn’s feature listing section for a full feature list. However, in this review, we will focus specifically on the standout eCommerce features that make Dawn a noteworthy choice for merchants only.

2.4.1. Sticky mega menu

The first eCommerce feature we love about Dawn is its sticky mega menu. It’s always visible, no matter how far down you scroll, enabling your customers to navigate your store and browse your products without getting lost.

shopify-dawn-theme-sticky-mega-menu

 

2.4.2. Lookbook

The lookbook feature in Dawn is fantastic for storytelling. If you’re showcasing a fashion line or a new collection, Dawn lookbook’s visual appeal is sure to help you captivate and encourage your customers to ‘shop the look’.

dawn-shopify-theme-lookbook

 

2.4.3. Recommended products

Pretty similar to many other Shopify themes in the market, Dawn allows you to add a ‘You may also like’ section at the bottom of your product pages. If you give your customers relevant suggestions that add up to their shopping experience, this feature can work great for your average order value.

shopify-dawn-theme-recommend-products

 

2.4.4. Sort and filter

The easier and quicker it is for your customers to find the items they want, the higher the chances you have to convert them into sales. And that makes Dawn Shopify theme’s sort and filter the next eCommerce feature we discuss.

If you have a small product catalog, Dawn’s sort and filter is quite handy as it allows your shoppers to filter your products by availability, prices, etc., and sort them by order, reviews, etc.

However, we found the theme’s sorting and filtering is still a little basic for stores selling a wide range of product lines that come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, materials, etc.

dawn-theme-sort-and-filter-features

 

2.4.5. Product video

Including videos with your product listings is a breeze with Dawn. This can be a game-changer in providing a richer, more detailed view of your products, which is particularly useful for items where texture, movement, or context is important.

dawn-product-video

 

2.5. Compatibility

From our testing, Shopify Dawn theme works like a well-oiled machine with Shopify’s native features. A clear example of this is in how Dawn interacts effortlessly with Shopify’s inventory and product management systems. For instance, it automatically displays sale badges on items that are on sale and out-of-stock badges on products that are no longer available.

Regarding its compatibility with third-party apps, Dawn doesn’t let us down either. We have tested the theme with various apps that have an impact on storefronts, like page builders, upselling, loyalty, etc., and it works great with them all.

However, though Dawn is compatible with all Shopify apps, not all Shopify apps work seamlessly with each other, especially if they have overlapping functionalities. For instance, if you install two promotional apps, it might lead to code conflict and potential glitches in your store. 

2.6. Performance and page speed

A slow loading speed is not only bad for SEO but also awful for your customer experience. Therefore, choose a high-performing Shopify theme if you want to optimize your store for both search engines and user experience.

So is Dawn optimized for page speed? Well, not so much. If you have a small catalog and don’t feature tons of multimedia content or install lots of apps, Dawn’s loading speed is fine.

However, as your store grows, Shopify Dawn theme’s page speed can get unstable. Not to mention that from our research, recently Dawn has released a new update and unfortunately, many users report that the new version slows down their speed performance.

Hence, if page speed is really important to you, we guess other premium themes like Debut or Booster will be more suitable choices.

2.7. Mobile responsive

Having tested the Dawn theme across a range of devices – including laptops, mobile phones, and tablets – we can confirm with you that Dawn offers excellent adaptability to different screen sizes. 

Specifically, the layout, images, and text within the Dawn theme are all optimized for optimal viewing and interaction on any device.

2.8. Support

Based on the user reviews on the Shopify Dawn theme’s page, we noticed that Shopify’s support team is responsive and always actively works to resolve issues.

However, given Dawn’s huge user base, there might be some delays as the Shopify team can only assist a certain number of users at a time.

💡 Curious to explore other Shopify themes that ‘hit all the right notes’? Feel free to check out our well-curated list of the 12 best Shopify themes for their value.

3. Top 5 stores using Dawn Shopify theme

While we’ve outlined the various highlights of the Dawn theme above, we believe seeing it in action in real-world scenarios will give you a better perspective. 

Thus, our team has put together a list of the top 5 Dawn theme Shopify examples for your reference:

NoStoreNiche
1The Sendlane Merch StoreApparel
2MD Complete SkincareHealth and beauty
3Stride RiteBaby footwear
4Poochles IndiaPet food and accessory
5Palm BitesFood and beverage

3.1. Sendlane

dawn-shopify-theme-example

 

If you’re in the fashion industry, Sendlane’s implementation of Dawn is a must-see. The theme’s minimalist design brilliantly highlights their trendy apparel and accessories, offering a clean backdrop that lets their fashion pieces shine. 

3.2. MD Complete Skincare

Shopify-dawn-theme-examples-mdcomplete

 

For those in the skincare market, MD Complete is one of the best Dawn theme Shopify stores. They’ve used the theme’s crisp and clear layout to bring attention to their range of skincare products. What’s impressive is how they’ve detailed product information and images – a key factor in convincing customers in the skincare domain.

3.3. Stride Rite

stride-rite-shopify-store-using-dawn

 

Running a children’s footwear store? Stride Rite’s application of Dawn is inspirational. The theme’s playful design is ideal for showcasing kids’ shoes. It’s not just about looks; the user-friendly navigation makes it easier for parents to browse and choose the perfect pair for their little ones.

3.4. Poochles India

poochles-shopify-dawn-theme-store

 

Poochles shows how well Dawn adapts to a pet care store. The theme helps organize a vast array of products in a user-friendly way. As you explore their site, notice how each pet product is presented with clarity, making it a breeze for pet owners to shop.

3.5. Palm Bites

Palm-bites-dawn-theme-store-example

 

In the gourmet food sector? Palm Bites’ use of Dawn is a great example. The theme’s elegant and clean design superbly showcases their gourmet dates and treats. The inviting aesthetic aligns perfectly with the luxury feel of gourmet products, appealing to food lovers.

4. Our verdict

As a free, default Shopify theme, the Shopify Dawn theme shines with its affordability, ease of use, and minimal design. 

No matter what niche you’re in, if you just get started, Dawn is a great option that doesn’t cost you an arm and leg. However, if you are a growing store with certain needs, Dawn may not be that wise of a choice. 

By the way, remember to visit the topic of Shopify themes and eComStart.io for battle-tested tips and tricks to start a business without the hassle.

5. Frequently Asked Questions

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