BigCommerce Stencil Themes: Features, Benefits, Pros & Cons

Updated: March 29, 2021

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In the world of eCommerce, BigCommerce is regarded as one of the giant marketplaces, particularly in technology. Entrepreneurs can sell their products on this site and other platforms like eBay, Amazon, and Facebook simultaneously.

More than that, this platform also provides entrepreneurs with multiple supports to run their businesses better. One of them can be named BigCommerce themes, enabling developers to generate a good-looking store with ease. To assist developers, recently, BigCommerce launched a theme besides the BluePrint - It is Stencil Themes.

Apart from the similar features on BluePrint, the BigCommerce Stencil theme gives users multiple additional abilities to create a more beautiful and convenient online store and manage their store effectively. It also gives developers more options when choosing themes for their eCommerce store.

So, what is the Stencil theme? Which features can it offer to developers? What is it good at? Bad at?

All will be clarified in this post!

Table of Contents

What is BigCommerce Stencil Theme?

BigCommerce Stencil Theme

Introduced to the public 4 years ago, Bigcommerce Stencil Theme has rapidly developed and become a favourite option of multiple BigCommerce online stores. As advertised by the producer, this theme combines various best practices in terms of design standards, search engine optimization (SEO), and technology.

With it, users will be able to access plenty of advanced features to build a stunning storefront. Users are allowed to personalize their themes even with no knowledge of coding. More than that, Stencil Theme is more responsive and friendly to mobile devices, which makes sure that customers will have the greatest shopping experience.

Features of BigCommerce Stencil Themes

Synchronize data in real time

Sync data in real time

Using BigCommerce Stencil Themes, all the changes will be updated in real-time, allowing users to keep up with the latest news. Whether you are using a laptop, tablet, desktops, or mobile phones, Stencil will automatically update the latest data for you. This also helps developers avoid the case that the views on desktop influence the one on mobile or tablet devices.

Friendly to developers

As we know, BigCommerce is an open-source platform that can be edited and shared by anyone who can access it. Thus, codes will be verified with the Stencil theme without disturbing your cloud-based environment, which is much more friendly than the BluePrint theme. Thanks to this feature, users can view, check, and update their storefront without worrying about the impact on the production version.

Provide Google AMP Support

Google AMP Support

Google AMP Support stands for Google Accelerated page Support. It refers to an open-source HTML framework that helps optimize mobile web browsing and shorten the time spent loading the page on cell phones.

With the development of mobile devices as recently, it is a necessary factor for any pages since the frequency that people use their phone to suft the web by their phone has increased significantly and it is predicted to rise even higher in the near future. Equipped with this mobile-friendly theme, the time for loading your site on mobile phones will decrease considerably which helps your customers have a great shopping experience.

As the first eCommerce platform offering Google AMP, the Stencil theme enables the page loading immediately. It makes sure that merchants will have the same advantage when surfing on mobile devices as on desktops. More than that, it will streamline the content on your website when people access it through mobile phones.

To text the popularity of AMPO site, a survey was carried out in 2017. It revealed that, on average, the rate of click-through on BigCommerce pages with Google AMP Support is 20 percent higher than the one without. Also, people tend to access the link enabling AMP more than others.

Optimize images automatically

Stencil Theme offers users a feature named Akamai Image Manager, which is considered the strongest automated image optimizer. With Akamai, your photos will be resized based on device size or type without human control. After several months of applying Akamai on BigCommerce, it is estimated that the improvement in site load times is up to 70%.

Offer great user experience

Stencil themes are created to help users have greater experiences. Its Lighthouse performance score is very high in desktop and mobile devices, which is 90 and 74 respectively. More than that, it enables the search engine to understand the content on the web-page more clearly and rapidly by rich snippets.

Customize the store easily

Customize your BigCommerce store with ease

By empowering users to update their storefront with no coding requirement, merchants can customize their BigCommerce store with ease. Besides, it helps them remove the barrier of languages. By determining the target’s location on predefined Schema, the Stencil theme can determine visitors’ location and then change to their native language.

Apart from language, Stencil themes also support merchants’ customizing such elements as fonts, colors, items displayed, etc.

BigCommerce Stencil Themes: Pros & Cons

Possessing a plethora of useful features doesn’t mean that Stencil themes have no downside. It has both good and bad sides.

Let’s have a look at its pros and cons to have a deeper understanding of this interesting theme!

BigCommerce Stencil Themes Pros

Offer up-to-date front-end development framework

Offer updated front-end-development framework

Stencil Theme can allow people to conduct handlebar templating language which helps merchants overcome the difficulties from limited editing capabilities and global variables. With it, developers can easily modify and make changes to their BigCommerce store according to their desire. More than that, when doing wrong, redesigning, developing or changing the site are as easy as a piece of cake. Stencil themes don’t require as much coding as other themes like BluePrint.

Also, the speed that a person writing a code will be accelerated since people can write the words’ short forms or abbreviations. Then, they will be translated by CSS preprocessors and converted into full code via Stencil themes.

Support local testing

It can’t be denied that the feature of implementing local testing plays a vital role in managing the BigCommerce store. However, this ability doesn’t exist on the BluePrint framework, which is why it focuses on the new theme - Stencil.

With Stencil, developers can use a command-line interface to support their local testing and development without affecting the live site. Stencil theme also enables developers to test the theme of the store with store data right inside the settings. Moreover, it provides them a lot of industry-specific theme variations, which is 160 variations, 102 more variations than the BluePrint one. With it, users will have more options to select the most suitable for their store.

Besides, the ability to synchronize information in real time on any devices allows developers to ensure that any changes they made will immediately be applied to all devices when accessing their site.

Provide the own base theme

Using the Stencil theme of BigCommerce, developers will exploit their base theme, which is called Cornerstone. Via it, users will be provided with multiple useful features and functionalities. Furthermore, this base theme is frequently updated so users can approach and use the latest features on this theme, such as Apple Pay, Google AMP support, and more.

In fact, it is proven that the native AMP compliance of Cornerstone increases the page speed and helps people have a better experience through mobile devices.

BigCommerce Stencil Themes Cons

Lengthen the time of dev cycle

Lengthen the time of dev cycle

To developers, 5 - 10 minutes is often considered the suitable time for introducing local dev and the way that the theme bundling works. However, when using the Stencil theme, the time for introduction will last longer. The reason for it is that Stencil allows developers to preview everything before actually making the changes, which is more stable but time-consuming. Moreover, it’s hard to let customers understand this since you can’t explain this on an invoice.

Take time to adopt fluently

Perhaps it is not clear at the present moment, in the near future, about 1 or 2 years, you will see the limited set of partners who are good at using Stencil in terms of apps, add-ons, or features. It can be seen that the learning curve of this theme is high, and it also offers users numerous helpful practices. Yet, it is too different from BluePrint, another theme created for BigCommerce stores, making users find it challenging to use at first.

Stencil theme is similar to a version with limited access to the apps, add-ons, and several custom functionalities that are expensive but more stable and scalable.

Final thoughts

Overall, it can be said that the Stencil theme is a helpful theme for any BigCommerce store, which is advertised as a combination of various best practices in SEO, technology, conversion, and design standards.

Via it, merchants can easily customize their stores, optimize the photos, synchronize their data in real-time, etc. This helps them offer their customers the best shopping experience, especially on mobile devices. However, Stencil still has a few disadvantages that you need to consider before using this theme framework.

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