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Tessa Wuertz Posted by Tessa Wuertz on April 09, 2020

Should You Update Your BigCommerce Store From Blueprint to Stencil?

Should You Update Your BigCommerce Store From Blueprint to Stencil?

eCommerce Website Design Question: Should You Switch from Blueprint to Stencil?

As BigCommerce Elite Partners, we’ve had the opportunity to work with a number of amazing merchants who have been working on their store for quite some time. Recently, merchants have been encouraged to update their site onto the Stencil framework. This has brought up a lot of questions for many of our customers asking what exactly that means and if they should change. 

We wanted to walk through what this means for your eCommerce website design, functionality, and overall business. 

First, what is the framework?

To put it in laymen's terms… Stencil Framework is basically the “shell” of a store that you can build on top of. It’s like having a foundation and framework already built for a house that you can then customize on top of that. 

So, why the switch? BigCommerce states that the Stencil framework “incorporates industry best practices in technology, design standards, SEO, and allows developers to build a stunning storefront that engages shoppers and encourages checkouts on any device.” The change in technology means that updates and changes have been made to evolve with ever-changing technology standards as well as added some new features and fixes to issues in the Blueprint theme. 

Should You Update from Blueprint to Stencil?

We’ve been building on the Stencil Framework for quite a few years now and have found it to be a great framework to build on. That being said, making the switch is obviously a big step for your business. 

We’ve worked with a number of merchants on the switch from Blueprint to Stencil and while they’ve been extremely happy with their new design, they’ve also been satisfied with the new framework and what they mean for their business. 

There are a few pros we can share specifically regarding the Stencil theme: 

  • Responsive Design
    Nowadays responsive design is a standard, especially in the world of eCommerce websites. All sites built on the Stencil framework allow for responsive design, meaning your site will scale to any size based on whatever screen you’re looking at it on.
    This also includes a mobile-optimized checkout. We can’t stress how important this is! Having a checkout that’s specifically designed for mobile devices makes it easier for users to checkout and make a purchase, greatly decreasing abandoned cart rates. 
  • Better Features
    We only want the best of the best for our clients, so features are an important part of scoping. Some of the new features include: Faceted Search, reCaptcha, Google AMP, image manager, and better multi-currency features.
  • Speed
    We’ve seen some great leaps in the load speed of Stencil frameworks sites comparative to Blueprint themes. The average is anywhere from a 10-15% speed increase which is beneficial for both user experience as well as SEO rankings.  
  • Custom Designs
    If you're going to do any sort of customization on your website, the agency you work with will most likely insist that it's built on Stencil. It allows for a lot more flexibility as well as range of features. You should know how we feel about custom designs... but here's our Template vs. Custom Pros and Cons in case you want to read up. 

What changes can you expect? 

In addition to the benefits we listed above, there are obviously some other changes you'll see when you make the switch from Blueprint to Stencil, both in the performance of your website, as well as the backend changes. 

  • Access to New Features & Apps
    As BigCommerce continues to better it's system, it seems that the new features and updates will only be applied to the Stencil framework. The same goes for new apps. Most app developers will probably begin working on updates, upgrades, and support that will work on the Stencil framework. That being said, as new apps come out, you'll be able to install and access them through the Stencil theme
  • Search Engine Optimization
    Like we mentioned, your site will be faster which will increase the performance of your site overall - both in performance in search engines (meaning you'll rank higher!) as well as lower bounce rates. Does that mean your store will magically start increasing in sales? No, but it's a great long term strategy for you to build up your SEO and therefore leads. 
  • Backend Changes
    The dashboard of your store really won't change a whole lot. You'll obviously have access to a few of the new features mentioned as well as the apps which may make the look and feel a little different. Some of the store set-up will be changed, with the design and theme being under Store Design.

Looking at it from an agency perspective, the benefits of switching make a lot of sense. One way we recommend merchants to think about it: would you rather be proactive and make the change now so that you can scale your growth in the future, or wait until a problem prompts you to have to make the switch, stunting your potential growth? 

Ready to switch from Blueprint to Stencil? 

We’re ready to help. Updating your website doesn’t have to be a hassle. Our experienced team of Account Managers will walk you through the process, while our designers and developers will work hard to build your beautiful new website on a sturdy new framework. Reach out today and learn more about what the process would look like for you.