When BigCommerce came to us wanting to redesign their entire theme marketplace, we knew it would be bigger than any theme project we had ever delivered.

For mid-market brands in need of a powerful ecommerce platform, few options can compete with what BigCommerce provides. With support for massive catalogues, advanced filtering, and an expansive product search, it’s a developer’s dream. But a powerful engine isn’t the only thing that drives sales, and with the rise of other platforms built around smart, stylish UX, BigCommerce knew it had fallen behind.

They came to us with a pitch bigger than any theme project we had ever delivered: they wanted us to completely reinvent their theme experience, taking exclusive control of their theme marketplace, ensuring that not only would every store on BigCommerce look amazing, but every BigCommerce theme would address the individual needs of merchants across a range of verticals.

In short, BigCommerce had seen how our themes helped build Tumblr and Shopify into the successful platforms they are today, and they wanted us to do the same for them—only on a much, much larger scale.

When the project began, our team was tasked with designing and developing 40 new individual themes, each with four distinct style variations, for a total of 160 unique storefronts. That’s way more themes than we had ever released or even had in production at one time—so we knew we had to take a measured approach.

We started by working closely with BigCommerce’s product team to gain insight into their platform and user base. We studied their data, as well as consumer data from across the ecommerce industry, and landed on a dozen core merchant verticals, each with drastically different needs. We knew that some merchants would require their themes to handle large or single-product inventories, some would need to be optimized for downloadable or B2B products, some would be more comfortable than others relying on full-width imagery, and so on.

Ultimately, we knew every BigCommerce theme we designed would have to be flexible and scalable to keep up with the world’s fastest-growing industry.


We leaned heavily on our design team to come up with a “perfect state” solution that would function as a product roadmap for BigCommerce’s revamped theme platform. We used the resulting master theme as a framework for all of the theme design and development that followed, right down to naming the themes.

One of the biggest challenges we faced tackling the BigCommerce theme project was finding the human power to keep up with demand. Since 2009, Pixel Union had always been a small team, but suddenly we found ourselves hiring new designers, developers, and QA/support staff. We also added a full-time art team to source and license visual content for 160 demo stores.

At the end of the day, we reinvented our own approach to theme development in order to reinvent BigCommerce’s theme marketplace.

“Our new themes are among the most beautiful and feature-rich available on any ecommerce platform. Through our work with Pixel Union, more than 60,000 BigCommerce merchants around the world now have access to the latest in ecommerce designs, with merchandising and conversion best practices built directly into their stores.” Brent Bellm, CEO, BigCommerce

Already, our work on BigCommerce has led to a substantial increase in overall conversions on the platform, helping merchants all over the world do more and better business. It’s always a joy watching stores use our new themes to reinvent themselves, and the BigCommerce project has been no exception. As an agency, it feels great to know that our work has given merchants a real advantage, and helped another amazing platform take a giant leap forward.

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