Get your bearings
New to BigCommerce?
If you're setting up a BigCommerce store for the first time, we highly recommend heading over to their site and taking a look at their support resources. From their community forums to their documentation to their BigCommerce University video series, they have everything you need to start your ecommerce journey on the right foot.
Here are a few articles that cover the basics of setting up a store:
The BigCommerce dashboard
This is what your dashboard will look like when you first sign up for BigCommerce. You can go just about anywhere and do just about anything from here. It can be a little overwhelming at first, which is why we recommend taking a quick guided tour to get your bearings.
Our documentation deals primarily with customizing the content and design of your store. If you're looking at the dashboard, we'll be covering the items listed under Storefront Content, Storefront Design, and a little bit of Marketing in these docs. If you're looking for basic information on how to add products, configure categories, set shipping rates, or anything else that isn't directly related to your theme, please consult BigCommerce's documentation or contact their support centre.
Upload and customize your theme
How to upload your theme
If you've purchased your theme directly from BigCommerce, it will be automatically installed when you log into your BigCommerce dashboard. You'll find all of your themes by navigating to Storefront Design>My Themes. Your Current Theme will display at the top, and any previously installed themes will appear below it.
If you want to publish a theme that isn't currently installed, simply select it and click Apply on the next screen. If you have a theme from another source besides BigCommerce, you can click Upload Theme and either drag or upload it from your computer. Once you click Apply on the following screen, it will be installed on your store.
How to select a theme style
You can change the style of your theme from the Stencil Theme Editor. We'll dig deep into this below, but for now, all you need to know is how to navigate to it: Storefront Design>My Themes>Customize (it's that big blue button next to your current theme).
Once you're in, select Styles from the sidebar menu and you'll be presented with your options:
Select the one that closest matches your vision for your store, click Save Changes, and you're good to go!
Note that applying and saving a new style will overwrite your current style settings, however you will not lose any content from your store. It's always a good idea to make a backup copy of your theme before you start making customizations.
The Stencil Theme Editor
Once you've uploaded your theme and selected a style, it's time to make it your own. While all of your products, collections, pages and marketing (including the slideshow) will be configured from the BigCommerce dashboard, most of the changes you make to the look and feel of your store will happen in the Stencil theme editor. You'll access it by navigating to Storefront Design>My Themes, and then clicking the blue Customize button under Current Theme.
You'll notice that the theme editor sidebar menu is divided into a whole bunch of sections: History, Styles, Typography, Colors, and more. We'll cover all of them — in more or less the order that you might encounter them — below.
Like the History tab on your web browser, the History section on your theme editor keeps a log of all the changes to your store since you first started building it. All of the entries are time stamped and include the name and version of the theme you were using. This is handy if you ever want to revert the settings on your store back to a previous version. Just select the version you want to use and click the blue Apply button in the bottom right corner.
Scales comes with four unique theme styles that curate the fonts, colors, and general style of your store: Chic, Modern, Minimal and Pop. You can preview how they will look in your store by clicking through the options in the sidebar and watching for the change.
Once you've settled on a look, click Save Changes in the bottom right corner, and you're good to go!
Note that applying and saving a new style will overwrite your current style settings, however you will not lose any content from your store. It's always a good idea to make a backup copy of your theme before you start making customizations.
Scales comes with a selection of hand-picked fonts and colors for your store. You'll find them under the General tab of the theme editor. You can select the Primary Font Family and Secondary Font Family from the corresponding dropdowns under Typography, and the Accent Color, Background Color, and Border Color from the color swatches under Colors.
Simply find the feature or area of your site you want to customize and click the swatch beside it. A dropdown color selector will appear, which allows you to adjust and experiment with custom colors. You can also add a hex code as a text input if you wish. This can be helpful for matching colors across your site (you can copy and paste the codes into multiple fields).
Any changes you make here will be automatically displayed in the preview.
All BigCommerce stores, including Scales, come with the ability to create marketing banners that display across the top or bottom of your site. Banners allow you to add promotional links and images throughout your store to advertise special deals and discounts to your shoppers. You can set these up and edit their content in the BigCommerce dashboard under Marketing>Banners. Here's how to create and edit them.
The Banners tab of the theme editor is for customizing how your banners display (fonts and colors). You can customize the Banner Font and Banner Size under Typography, as well as the Banner Color and Banner Background under Colors.
The header is the rectangular area that runs across the top of your store containing your logo, navigation, search, currency converter, and cart. It appears on every page and is intended to be used to promote your company's brand and make it easy for customers to root themselves and navigate from any page of your site.
There are a number of settings in the theme editor that allow you to customize this space.
From the top and as with the General and Banner sections, you can customize the fonts and colors of the header area of your store using the dropdowns and color swatches under Typography and Colors.
Below this, there are a number of Options:
- The Background Opacity sets the transparency of the background. 0% is completely transparent and 100% is completely opaque.
- The Border Opacity sets the opacity/transparency of the border. 0% is completely transparent and 100% is completely opaque.
- Set the Logo Size to small, medium, or large. Keep in mind that the logo size can affect the size of the banner itself.
- Set the Logo Alignment to left, right, or centre.
- If you want to include a Header Border (a line below your logo, navigation, search and cart), ensure that option is checked.
- If you want to Show Pages in Navigation (that would be your About, Contact, and any other pages you've created for your store), check that box.
- If you want to Show Products in Navigation (instead of your About/Contact/etc. pages), check that box instead. Don't check both these boxes at once. This is an either/or decision.
In web design parlance, the carousel refers to the rotating cycle of images that generally occupies the "above the fold" area of our store. You'll set up the "slides" for your carousel in the BigCommerce admin under Storefront Design>Design Options>Carousel & Social Media (more on that below—or here), but you can customize how it displays in the theme editor.
You can set the Heading Font and Caption Font font to the Primary font or Secondary font using the respective dropdowns. Set the Heading Size and Caption Size dropdowns to set the font size.
Click on the swatches next to Text Color and Overlay Color to edit the colors. A popup with a color selector will appear, which allows you to adjust and experiment with custom colors. You can also copy and paste a hexcode, so that the carousel colors match the other colors on your site.
The Options below the typography and color sections allow you to further customize your carousel. You can:
- Set the Height to either Full Bleed (meaning your images will extend to the edge of users' screens and become the background of your header area) or Cropped (which will constrain your image to the landscape-shaped carousel area and keep your header area whatever background color you've set it to).
- Set the Transition between slides to either Slide or Fade.
- Customize the style of your Arrows (Scales comes with three arrow styles).
- Set the Overlay Opacity by percentage (where 0 is clear and 100 is opaque). This allows you to set a desired contrast for your text content (e.g. If your carousel image is dark and your text is dark, you could make it "pop" or become more legible by using a light overlay color and pumping the opacity).
You can set the Body Font, Heading Font, and Meta Font to the Primary font or the Secondary font of your content. Use the Body size and Meta size dropdowns to set the font size.
Click on the swatches next to Body color, Heading color and Meta color to edit the colors. A popup with a color selector will appear, which allows you to adjust and experiment with custom colors. You can also copy and paste a hexcode, so that the color matches the other colors set on your site.
Your homepage is made up of five basic sections: Carousel, New Products, Featured Products, Popular Products and Blog Posts. The content for these sections is pulled from your dashboard. With the exception of the carousel, the latter four sections are all optional. You can disable any of them by selecting Disabled from the Number of Products/Posts dropdown at the top of each section's settings under Homepage.
New/Featured/Popular Products and Blog Posts
By default, your new, featured and popular products as well as your latest blog pots are displayed on your homepage. You can choose to show 3, 9, or 9 products (or 2, 4, or 6 posts), or disable them from being shown, using the Number of Products/Posts dropdown menu.
You can also customize how your products display using the checkboxes below:
- Full Width means the images will expand to fill the entire width of your users' screens (as opposed to being constrained to fit the size of the container). Note that you may not notice a difference if you are viewing your site on a laptop, tablet or other small screen.
- Mosaic Layout will apply a unique masonry-style layout to the section (as opposed to a uniform grid). Note that you may not notice a difference if you are only displaying three products (this will depend on the dimensions of your images).
- Display Section Title will do just that — display the section title (e.g. "New Products) above your product images. If you don't want to display the title, uncheck the box.
These settings control the display of brands at /brands, where all the Brands you've created in the control panel will be displayed. To manage your brands, have a look in your control panel under Products>Brands.
BigCommerce automatically generates a brands page for you at your URL/brands (the URL for our Minimal demo is http://scales-minimal-demo.mybigcommerce.com/brands). Not all stores opt to include a brands page (you wouldn't need one if you produced your own products or only sold a single brand) but if you want to, that's where it is, and here's how to customize the page.
From the Listing Display menu, you can opt to display brands Alphabetically (A-Z), in Columns, or as Logos.
You can also set the Brands per page using the corresponding dropdown menu.
The Product Grid settings apply to any area of your store where your products appear as a group or collection. You can customize how your product tiles display on these pages using the settings here.
You can set the Product Title Font and Product Brand Font to the Primary font or Secondary font using the respective dropdowns.
Click on the swatches next to Text Color, Overlay Color, Border Color, or Sale Badge Background Color to edit the colors. A popup with a color selector will appear, which allows you to adjust and experiment with custom colors. You can also copy and paste a hexcode, so that the color matches the other colors set on your site.
The Options below the typography and color sections allow you to further customize your product grids. You can:
- Show breadcrumb links. Breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation that show the current location of the visitor on your website. Here's an example of what they look like on the After Masques page of our Minimal demo:
- Show sort dropdown. This allows users to sort the order in which products in a product display. Here are the options:
- Set the Overlay Type to Quick Shop or Hover Preview. Quick Shop overlays a semi-transparent mask over the product tile when a user hovers over it that includes the product name, price, and a link to open a "quick view" popup modal (from where they can view details or add the product to their cart). Hover Preview means that when a user hovers over a product tile, they will be able to flip through different image views of the product without actually clicking through to the page.
- Set the Image Aspect Ratio. Aspect ratio refers to the proportional relationship between an image's width and height. You'll notice that 1:1 is square, whereas 4:5 is a portrait-oriented rectangle and 3:2 is a landscape-oriented rectangle. Click here for a great article on understanding aspect ratios.
- Set the Products per page. This one's pretty self-explanatory.
- Include Grid Item Borders. This adds a very fine border to the images in your product grid. You can change the color of it in the Border Color field above.
- Make your product grid Full Width (as opposed to constrained to the size of the container and padded with white space).
The settings under Single Product pertain to the treatment of your products on product pages. Like this:
You can set the Product title font and Product brand font to Primary font or Secondary font using the dropdown menus.
You can also select the Images Layout (one column or two) and set the Number of related products (2-4 or disabled if you don't wish to show any related products on your product pages). Related products are automatically selected by BigCommerce based on similar words in the title and description. You can also manually set related products. More on that here.
Like all BigCommerce themes, Scales comes with a built-in blogging engine. You'll do all your blogging in the BigCommerce admin ( Storefront Design>Blog, more here), but there is one setting for you to customize in the theme editor and that is how many Posts per page you want to display. Pick your favourite number from the dropdown menu (2-10) and you're golden.
Buttons appear all over your store—as CTAs on your carousel, as login buttons, and, most importantly, as add-to-cart functions on your product and quick shop pages. In this section, you can customize how buttons appear throughout your store.
You can set the Button font to the Primary font or Secondary font. Use the Button Size dropdown to set the size of your buttons.
Click on the swatches next to Primary Color, Primary Background, Secondary Color, and Secondary Background (the latter two of which refer to buttons of "lesser importance" rather than secondary colors on the same button type) to edit the colors. A popup with a color selector will appear, which allows you to adjust and experiment with custom colors. You can also copy and paste a hexcode, so that the color matches the other colors set on your site.
Like the site header, the footer is a long rectangular area that appears on every page but runs along the bottom of the site. Footers are used to display important store information, like addresses and contact information, as well as, menus featuring links to specific categories, brands and pages. The store information that appears in your footer is set up in your dashboard under Store Setup > Store Profile.
Scales contains a number of settings that allows you to control what information is displays in your footer and how it displays:
First up, you can customize the Footer Font and Footer Size using the dropdowns under typography.
Click on the swatches next to Primary Color, Primary Background, Secondary Color, and Secondary Background to edit the colors. A popup with a color selector will appear, which allows you to adjust and experiment with custom colors. You can also copy and paste a hexcode, so that the color matches the other colors set on your site.
Scales also allows you to turn on and off some basic site information under Options.
- Checking Show Theme Credits will display the Pixel Union and BigCommerce credits found right at the bottom of the footer.
- Checking Show Sitemap Link allows you to control whether a link to your store's sitemap shows in the footer. The sitemap is basically an XML file the contains a list of all the URLs in your store. To customers, it looks like a page with links to all the other pages in your store:
The sitemap also helps search engines find all the pages on your site and is important for your SEO. To learn more about sitemaps and SEO in general, cehck out. BigCommerce's awesome SEO Success Essentials.
- Checking Show Copyright will display a copyright mark in you footer with the year.
Lastly, the Payment Icons settings allows you to control which icons show in your footer, just above the credit messaging. Just check or uncheck the box next to the payment method to show or hide that particular icon.
The settings listed under Misc include everything that doesn't fit neatly under one of the tabs that precede it. Here, you can set a bunch of colors (Table Color, Error Color, Success Color, Input Color, Input Background, Input Border) as well as elect to Show breadcrumb links on pages, and customize the look of your Apple Pay Button Color (you can set that up in your BigCommerce dashboard under Store Setup>Payments>Digital Wallets).
Edit Theme Files
If you have a knowledge of CSS and HTML, editing your theme files can be a great way of taking your store customizations to the next level. We're not going to go there in these docs, but if you're looking for a good primer, you'll find it here.
The Storefront Content tab of your BigCommerce dashboard is where all of your pages, blog posts, and images live. If you're looking to create or edit a page or post, or if you want to manage the images contained in those pages and posts, this is the place to do it.
BigCommerce has some great resources on these topics (which we've linked to below) but we wanted to supplement them with a bit of quick n' dirty setup info so you can get your store up and running (and selling) ASAP. Scroll down for Storefront Content 101.
- BigCommerce's Guide to Adding Web Pages
- BigCommerce's Guide to Using the Built-In Blog
- BigCommerce's Guide to Using the Image Manager
The web pages on your BigCommerce store should be used to display content that doesn't change very often. Yes, your product, brand, and category pages are all technically web pages, but they are all generated and managed automatically. It's pages like your "About," "Contact" and maybe a "Size Guide" or "Return Policy" that you'll create and manage here.
How to add a contact page
Our BigCommerce themes have a built-in Contact Page that provides customers an easy way to send a message or question to store merchants without leaving the storefront.
To create one, go to Content > Web Pages and click Create a Web Page at the top of your Pages list.
Under Web Site Link, enable the Allow people to send questions/comments via a contact form option.
Then, under Web Page Details, enter a name for your contact page. The Page URL will auto-fill based on the page name.
You can also insert content (such as text and images) in the Page Content area that will appear above the Contact Form.
Now, if you navigate to that page in your store, you should see something resembling this:
Now your customers can get in touch to tell you how much they love your store!
If you want to create any other type of page, just use the radio buttons under Web Site Link and complete the fields that display below. You should be able to create most kinds of ecommere store pages (About, FAQ, Size Guide, etc.) by using the Contain content created using the WYSIWYG editor below option. You'll find more information here.
How to set up a navigation menu
Your store's navigation menu will be generated automatically from your created pages and categories.
To control which pages are displayed in your menu, go to Content > Web pages. Here, you can select and deselect pages using the check mark under Visible. You can also drag and drop your pages into the desired order.
The categories that automatically display as links on your main navigation can be controlled in the same way. Just navigate to Products > Product Categories and under the Visible in Menu? column, you can select or deselect products as well as reorder items. The changes will automatically be reflected in your live store.
You may also find this video on updating the links of your main navigation helpful.
Blogging can be a great tool for promoting your products and giving your store a personal touch, as well as give a boost to your site's SEO ranking.
By default, a basic blog is included on the BigCommerce platform, which you can access by navigating to Storefront Content > Blog. Here, you'll see an index of all the posts — drafted and published — on your store's blog.
If you've yet to publish your first post — what an exciting and precious time for you! — then you won't see much here yet. You might want to start by naming your blog. Here's how:
Navigate to the Blog Settings page by clicking the "..." button at the top of the page (between the "+" button and "Blog Visibility"). This is where you should be:
Give your blog a name in the Blog Title field (a simple "Blog" will do) and set the URL in the Blog URL field.
You can also enable or disable Disqus Comments at the bottom of this page. Social Sharing is now controlled under Store Settings>Share (more on that here).
Create a blog post
To add a post, navigate to Content > Blog and click the + icon under the Published tab. Your screen should look like this:
Give your post a title in the Title field, write the content in the Body field, add some images (using the toolbar icon that looks like a photo of mountains or a house or a Tetris piece), and enter the author of the blog in the Author field. You can also add tags for each post in the Tags section. To add a tag, type a tag in the Tags field, and hit Enter or the comma key to separate the tags.
To upload an image that will appear as the post’s thumbnail, choose a file and click Upload in the Summary thumbnail image section.
You can also customize each post’s URL in the Post URL field, and add a Meta description to help improve your blog’s SEO. Click Save Draft to save the post without publishing to work on it later, or click Publish to publish the post immediately. Make sure your Blog Visibility is set to On on the main blog settings.
For your blog featured image, we recommend using an image both wide and short. The minimum width is 020px and is ideally within the 1020 x 420px range.
The Storefront Design section of your BigCommerce dashboard is the place to be for all of your logo, carousel, social media needs. It's also where you go if you want to change or update your theme ( Storefront Design > My Themes > Customize/Upload Theme). In this section, we'll focus on the things you'll want to do to get your store up and running — and looking good.
How to set up a carousel
In web design parlance, the term "carousel" refers to the rotating cycle of images that generally occupies the "above the fold" area of our store. Scales' carousel displays up to five images with a heading, subtitle, and call-to-action button that can link to any page within your store or an external site.
To add images to your Carousel, go to Storefront Design > Design Options and click the Carousel & Social Media tab.
Click on Slide 1 (or whatever slide you want really) and either drag and drop a file to the outlined area or click Select from your computer to upload an image.
ADD CAROUSEL TEXT CONTENT
Once you’ve uploaded an image, you can add a Heading, Subtitle, and Button Text by typing in the corresponding fields at the top. Click Save when you're done.
You can set the URL for the call-to-action button links by either typing the link directly into the Link field or clicking Browse to choose a Product, Category, Brand, Page, or Blog from the Store Linker. Click Insert Link and Save.
SUPPORTED FILE TYPES AND IMAGE SIZES
The carousel supports JPEG, GIF, and PNG file types, but we recommend using JPEG files to ensure a balance between image quality and fast loading-time. We also recommend using images at least 1200px wide. But most importantly, you'll want to ensure your slide images are consistent in dimension.
SET CAROUSEL AUTOPLAY TIME
Along with the carousel’s content, you can customize the duration that each slide appears on the screen before automatically switching to the next slide. Type the number of seconds between slide changes under the Settings heading on the right side of the same Home Page Carousel page. Then click Save.
How to upload a store logo
Your store's logo provides branding for your site and a clickable link to return to the homepage. The logo will appear in the header of your site.
To replace your store title with a logo image, go to Storefront Design > Design Options and then click the Logo tab.
Select the option to Upload an image from my computer. Then choose the image file you want to upload under the Logo Upload section. We recommend an image no larger than 350 x 80 px. Once your image is selected, click Upload Logo Image.
How to set up your social links
You can include links to your different social media accounts (e.g. Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram) on your storefront. With Scales, these links are displayed as icons in your store's footer. By providing links to your social media accounts, you can encourage shoppers to follow you and share your business and products with their own friends and followers.
To set up the social links on your store, navigate to Store Design > Design Options and click the Carousel & Social Media tab. Scroll down to the Social Media section, and input the your various profile links into the corresponding fields beside Available Networks. Make sure to include http:// before the link.
You can also re-order your social media links to display in a particular order by clicking on the dotted grid to the left of the icon and dragging it to rearrange the order.
The links that are live on your storefront will, predictably, appear in the top Live on Your Storefront section.
How to set a favicon for your store
A favicon (also known as a website icon, tab icon, or bookmark icon) is a small icon that represents your website and provides a shortcut to it wherever the icon appears. There are a whole bunch of sites that can help you generate a favicon for your store, or you can create your own.
To upload a custom favicon for your store, first find or create an image 16 x 16px or 32 x 32px in dimension. The image must be saved in ICO, JPG, GIF, or PNG format.
Then go to Store Design > Design Options, then click More > Favicon. Click Choose File to select the favicon from your computer. Click Upload Favicon.
Marketing is a huge topic, and we don't have the space to get too deep into it here. If you're looking for some basic articles to get your marketing juices flowing, BigCommerce has some great resources, but for our part, we're going to focus on two things that most merchants want to get up and running before they launch their online store: banners and newsletters.
How to add a banner to your store
Banners allow you to add content to the top or bottom of categories or web pages without the need for code. They're great for advertising sales, displaying coupon codes and shipping information, and creating urgency around limited-time offers. A banner can only be applied to one page at a time.
To create, edit, or delete existing banners go to Marketing > Banners.
Click the Create a Banner button in the top left side of your screen.
Enter a Banner Name (which will only be used internally, and will not be visible to your customers). Then enter your Banner Content in the field below.
Select the page you want your banner to display on from the choices adjacent to Show on Page. Note that you can only add a banner to one page at a time.
Next, select the Date range for the banner to display. If your summer sale ends August 31st, for example, choose Only display this banner between specific dates, and make sure 31/Aug/2017 is selected as the end date.
Ensure you've checked the box Visible before you save your banner if you're ready to have it live on your site.
And finally, use the Location dropdown to select whether the banner should appear at the Top of [the] page, or Bottom of [the] page.
Save your work, then go to your store to see how your banner looks. You can customize the fonts and colors used in your banners from the Banners tab of your theme editor (see instructions above).
Email Marketing is a great way to keep in touch and build relationships with your customers. BigCommerce comes with a built-in newsletter sign-up box and easily integrates with email marketing apps such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, and iContact. All customer data is stored on a CSV file, which can be accessed from Marketing › Email Marketing.
This is where you can select your email marketing service provider and customize the experience of visitors who add their email to your list. In Scales, the newsletter signup appears in the footer of your store. Here:
By default, it also appears on the 'Order Confirmation' page at the end of the checkout process.
To configure your newsletter, start by selecting your provider from the Email Integration Providers box at the top.
Then, check Yes, allow customers to subscribe to the store newsletter from the Allow Newsletter Subscriptions? box. If you want to disable email collection at any time, you can uncheck this box and it will remove the field both from the footer of your store and the order confirmation page.
You can learn more about collecting newsletter subscriptions here.
World-class customer support
We've covered a lot of ground in these docs, but there will no doubt be questions they don't answer. If you've got a burning question—or if you're just stuck—don't hesitate to get in touch with us. Our friendly and knowledgable support team will dig into the issue and get you back on track ASAP.