Alina Stegarescu
Practical Trends for Developers in Building Shopify Stores

Developers are responsible for creating apps that meet customer expectations, so security, performance, and accessibility are the key elements of Shopify apps that contribute to a user-friendly experience. 

In this article, we present some practical E-commerce app development trends recommended by Shopify experts that you should consider to increase your sales. 


#Headless app design 


In the e-commerce ecosystem, headless is known as "headless commerce" which is an e-commerce solution that stores, manages, and delivers content, as a template or theme. 


Whether it's an online store, a mobile app, or an in-store experience, developers should create apps that facilitate various benefits for both businesses and consumers. 


How does Headless work? 

A headless e-commerce system is working by sending requests between the presentation and application layers via web services or application programming interface (API) calls. 

For example, when the user clicks the "Buy Now" button on their smartphone, the presentation interface of the "headless e-commerce" system sends a call to the API to process the order. The app layer sends another API call to the app layer to present the customer with the status of their order.


A few practices developers should consider when designing for Headless are:


  • Maintain an independent domain model: Don't tie your application too tightly to data structures or concepts that may only be available on a particular platform or in a particular context. 
  • Choosing an appropriate API stack: Think about how and where your API will most likely be used and let this determine how you expose your service. A series of REST/JSON endpoints might be most appropriate.
  • Understand API usage patterns: headless APIs often see a lot more read-intensive usage than a "regular" admin-focused API, as they are often used in ways that result in every view of the client page triggering an action (think of uploading reviews to every product page as an example).  
  • Use headless-friendly authentication methods: many applications need securely authenticated customer access to be useful - an example might serve subscription management tools.
  • Invest in developer experience: Headless Storefront implementations often involve custom development, so it's even more important than usual that your app has excellent documentation about how the APIs work, accompanied by code snippets and practical examples. You can go further by developing tools and client libraries that encapsulate your Headless API into simple, easy-to-use modules.


#Optimising front - and back-end performance 


Performance is an ongoing trend in the Shopify ecosystem, which is why the focus is on the customer's experience on the website. 

With the growth of the Shopify platform, a challenge for e-commerce applications is keeping up with requests from users as well as from Shopify in the form of webhooks, which is a method of modifying the behavior of a web page or web app with custom calls. 


 The recommendation for developers is to focus on the following directions:


  • Reviewing application performance 
  • Adjusting slow running processes and queries
  • Decoupling incoming webhooks from the core application and moving them to a serverless architecture.


#Applying sustainable development practices


The pandemic has contributed significantly to raising awareness of the environmental impact of digital technologies. Consumers are much more conscious of their purchasing decisions and pay more attention to sustainability and the environment. 


Tom Locke, Creative Director and Founder of Shopify Expert Noughts & Ones comes up with a series of best practices for developers. Locke recommends the following:


  • Developers need to be designed conscious: Locke recommends applying low-impact principles to design and UX, such as discrete color palettes to reduce the light emitted onto the screen.


  • Developers need to be code aware: Reduce script size, compress downloads, set appropriate cache times, combine files.


  • Developers need to be people aware: Accessibility must play a key role in both design and delivery, and stores and apps must be accessible to all, achieving at least a WCAG AA rating.


  • Developers need to be aware of partners: Locke recommends only bringing in technology partners that meet sustainability standards.


  • Developers must be aware of ongoing performance: Implement an overall website "budget" as a great way to ensure that the performance of the entire site is kept under control.


#Using Shopify's AJAX API to improve the customer browsing experience 


 One of the most important features that need developers' attention is the AJAX API. It finds its usefulness when designing a standard collection page with a product grid. 


Developers can achieve: 

  • Ajax filtering, down to variants and meta fields, without reloading the page.
  • Ajax pagination, which allows getting pages 2,3,4 etc. without reloading the page.
  • A dynamic pop-up window with product information, including alternative product recommendations.
  • A search bar with predictable results as you search for something. 


#Use native meta fields to add more custom options for merchants


Meta fields are applied to either a product or a variant and can contain a wide variety of data, including text entries, measurements, file uploads, other products, and even a data selector. 


Meta field values can also be dynamically extracted into the text content areas of the theme for stores upgraded to Online Store 2.0. This means merchants have more control over where these dynamic values appear on their product page. Native meta fields are not available on collections, customers, orders, blogs, or articles, but hopefully, Shopify will roll out these updates soon. In the meantime, there are plenty of use cases such as custom icons, event data, wash instructions, and more that can be implemented.



#Creating photorealistic 3D models


The pandemic has reduced the possibility of photo shoots, which is why product photography has been replaced by 3D models, which have significant advantages of reducing costs, being more environmentally friendly, and creating a more engaging customer experience. 


3D models allow for accurate realism and meticulous detail which are widely available and becoming increasingly affordable.


What is essential for developers is testing websites and applications before launch. Performance remains a key concern for marketers, which is why developers need to ensure that the app creates a good browsing experience for users and does not affect page load times. 


We recommend keeping in mind the practices outlined in this article to make your website or app make sense for your brand, product, and user. 


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