• Home
  • Advice
  • BigCommerce Theme Updates: Important Info for Stores with Customized Themes

BigCommerce Theme Updates: Important Info for Stores with Customized Themes

It happens every day, app developers release updates to our smartphone apps, and we click the “update” button.  A few seconds later we have the latest version complete with all the new bells and whistles.  But what about when the “update theme” prompt appears in the backend of your BigCommerce store?  While it may be tempting to just click it and have the latest version, it’s important to know the implications of updating a BigCommerce theme.

First off, we all know that keeping your BigCommerce store’s theme up-to-date is crucial.  Theme developers release updates to roll out new features, improve compatibility with the latest technology, and fix bugs or security issues. These updates ensure that your store remains competitive, secure, and aligned with web standards.

For store owners who have not modified their theme, updating is generally straightforward. However, if you’ve customized your theme—whether by altering layouts, adding custom scripts, or changing the style elements—updating your theme could overwrite all these customizations. This can result in a loss of functionality or a departure from your brand’s visual identity.

Before we get into more details, it’s important to understand what type of theme you’ll receive notifications for:

  • Marketplace Themes: These themes are available on the BigCommerce Marketplace and receive automatic update notifications within your store. If you haven’t modified them beyond using the Page Builder tool, updating is safe.
  • Modified Marketplace Themes: If your store is using a theme from the BigCommerce Marketplace and you have modified it beyond using the Page Builder tool, it will require you or a developer to manually complete the update. Updating it by clicking the update button will have any code modifications overwritten during the update process.
  • Custom Themes:  These are themes built by you or a developer and are not available on the BigCommerce Marketplace.  They won’t receive automatic updates.
  • Copied Themes: Themes copied within your store and then edited are considered custom themes. They won’t receive automatic updates either.

Step 1: Take Inventory of Customizations

Before you even consider updating your theme, take a comprehensive inventory of all the customizations you’ve made. Document these changes thoroughly, noting any code snippets you’ve altered or added. This documentation will be crucial for comparing changes in the update and ensuring no critical custom elements are lost.

Step 2: Back it Up!

Create a complete backup of your customized theme files. This backup serves as a safety net in case the update goes awry, allowing you to restore your previous theme. BigCommerce recommends backing up not only the theme files but also the config.json file, which stores vital configuration details for your theme.

Step 3: Compare Versions

If you are comfortable with code, compare the old theme files with the new ones to identify exactly what has changed. If you’re comfortable doing this yourself, you can compare these files with your existing customized theme files line by line. Find the changes in the update and determine if your customizations conflict with them.

We know that many store owners aren’t familiar with code, which is why we recommend reaching out to us or your developer to review the update and compare it with your current theme.  A BigCommerce developer, like Your Store Wizards, can review the update and merge your customizations into the updated theme files. This involves additional costs but saves you time and ensures a smooth update process.

Step 4: Understanding Release Notes

Always check the release notes associated with the new theme version. These notes provide detailed information about what has changed in the update, including any new features, bug fixes, or compatibility enhancements.

Step 5: Test the Updated Theme in a Staging Environment

Once you or your developer merged your customizations into the updated theme files, it’s crucial to test the theme thoroughly before deploying it to your live store. BigCommerce offers staging environments, allowing you to create a replica of your live store where you can test the updated theme without affecting your actual storefront. This testing phase ensures the updated theme functions correctly and your customizations have been copied over and continue to work as intended.

Step 6: Updating Your Live Theme (Proceed with Caution)

After testing in the staging environment is complete and you’re satisfied with the results, you can proceed with updating your live theme. BigCommerce recommends creating a new copy of your theme (or the base theme) for editing rather than modifying the live theme directly. This approach provides an additional layer of security in case something goes wrong during the update process.

Step 7: Post-Update Monitoring

Following the update, monitor your store closely for any unexpected behavior or functionality issues. If you encounter problems, revert to your backup and reach out to your developer for assistance.

Updating your BigCommerce theme is not just about clicking an update button. It requires a structured approach, especially if customizations are involved. By following these steps – reviewing customizations, checking release notes, backing up data, testing updates, and collaborating with a trusted BigCommerce developer – you can ensure that your theme update goes flawless.

For more information on how we can help you update your BigCommerce theme, email us at support@yourstorewizards.com.


Leave a Reply