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Why Dawn is the Best Free Shopify Theme (Updated!)

Paige Harris 4/3/24 1:15 PM
best free shopify theme

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Shopify launched its new Online Store 2.0 in 2023 but what does that mean for your business? One of the new Shopify 2.0 themes is Dawn. It is one of the fastest Shopify themes and replaced Debut as the ecommerce platform’s default free theme. Shopify specifically created Dawn to address known issues that previous themes had, yielding a modern and flexible framework to help ecommerce store owners build a brand to their liking that also has the potential to boost conversions and order values.

Here are five reasons why Dawn is one of the best free Shopify themes for 2024:


1. Dawn is the Most Customizable Free Shopify Theme

There are a lot of themes to choose from on Shopify, but not all of them are free. More importantly, many of the free themes are incredibly limiting. Dawn is a customizable theme that doesn’t require a background in web design to use. It is a mobile-first design that’s incredibly flexible.

It lets you create templates to control what is rendered on each page. By selecting the "create template" option in the page selection bar at the top of the screen, you can make a template for a single page or a collection of pages. These templates allow you to customize each page according to your vision. 


Shopify Dawn Theme Example


Each page in the store has an associated template type you can use to add functionality to the page. You can also build multiple versions of a template to use in different situations.

For example, you can create a product template for winter wear products, and a separate template for your pages that contain video content. Other areas of customization include:

  • Hero banners with clear calls to action
  • Dynamic product grids that automatically adjust image ratios for enhanced visual uniformity
  • Responsive design that supports a seamless browsing experience across devices 
  • A shop-first format to prioritize purchases 
  • Product discovery features
  • Merchandising support to feature galleries, slideshows, or even show ingredients to highlight hero products

Dawn Theme Product Page

Dawn works on all browsers, so your customers can view your page however they like to browse. With these customization options, you can create pages that look the way you want them to.

Another often overlooked factor is that Dawn prioritizes accessibility. With 75% of Americans having some form of disability, internet access that makes accommodations is critical for optimizing market share and creating an inclusive browsing experience. 


2. Dawn is Faster Than Other Free Themes

Dawn is significantly faster than its predecessor. It is 35% faster than Debut across all areas and has advanced features that make editing feel fast and easy. Considering that algorithms like Google penalize websites with slow load speeds, having a template that loads faster is essential in supporting an SEO strategy and boosting discoverability.

How Fast is Dawn Theme

These advanced features greatly decrease the time it takes to edit your pages and create brand new ones. These tools are not only customizable, but they're also much more intuitive.

For example, the theme editor board includes a tree view to organize options hierarchically. Such updates minimize the challenges of making your own pages and leave more time for improving your store.

More importantly, for new-to-market stores or mom and pop shops operating on smaller budgets, taking advantage of free solutions helps reduce overhead expenses. That being said though, as with almost any free theme on Shopify, sometimes store owners may need to invest in paid plug-in apps from the Shopify Apps store to optimize functionality.




3. Dawn Prioritizes Conversions with On-Page Sales Functionality

Ecommerce store owners know that it takes a lot of effort to not only bring traffic to your website, but to convince those casual browsers to become active buyers. Page or cart abandonment are two major issues that reduce conversion rates and overall revenue.

Dawn works to combat that by allowing you to leverage the “quick view” feature. This essentially lets shoppers view multiple products without bouncing across your website from product page to product page. Because it feels more native, it increases the chances of a potential customer adding items to their shopping cart.

Along with simply closing the deal, this might also mean you can create larger average order values over time. Meanwhile, more enhanced features like support for natively adding shipping or delivery information, or product details like ingredients and materials means you’re giving consumers more information to make an informed decision — which builds brand trust. 

Shopify 2.0 Theme Sections

The Shopify Dawn Theme also presents a major improvement to metafields. You can now create metafields, which help you add more content sections to your website, without using code or APIs. This lets you rejuvenate your page in creative ways without being bogged down by complicated software and coding issues.

Merchants and other apps are able to retrieve and edit data stored in metafields from the Shopify Admin. You can even use private metafields to protect proprietary information you don't want to be shared. Dawn makes this process easier and gives you the flexibility to add usable content on every page of your site.


4.  Dawn Centers Product Discovery

Piggybacking off of the third point, Dawn continues to help store owners boost conversions and order values with enhanced product discovery functions. Specifically, this template is designed to help consumers quickly navigate and search through collections to find similar products or items that closely align with their search terms.

While this may not seem revolutionary, it’s a major way to help consumers navigate your website and focus on making a purchase. Furthermore, Dawn’s native large menu support means you can easily organize content in intuitive ways — making it easier for web visitors to interact with your store

Shopify 2.0 Embedded Apps


5. Dawn Offers Speedier Checkout Solutions

We initially highlighted that consumers could take advantage of the “quick buy” feature to instantly add items to their cart as they browsed rather than having to navigate to individual product pages to shop. This is revolutionary for Shopify store owners used to previous free themes.

But with Dawn, many of the checkout features that required plugins are now natively supported. For example, accepting multiple payment methods, or even adding notes or options for in-store pickup are now baked into the theme. However, as with other themes, Dawn allows for checkout page customization — ensuring that consumers are treated to a consistent branding experience throughout the user journey, from landing page to checkout completion.


Overall Thoughts

Whether you’re still in the proof of concept stage or prefer to stay lean until your store generates consistent revenue, Dawn is a fantastic starter theme for your site. Its conversion-oriented functionality helps store owners boost sales as well as overall cart or order value and ideally reduces cart abandonment. 

While it's free, there are other Shopify costs you must consider before launching your store such as merchant fees or app integration fees. Understanding these will help you achieve a clearer picture of monthly operating expenses and your target revenue goals to not just break even, but turn a profit.



Paige Harris

Paige is the growth marketing lead at Enzuzo and host of The Living Lab podcast, providing insightful articles in the privacy space.