Shopify Narrative Theme (2020): The Best Free Theme For Storytelling

Designed distinctly for visual storytelling, Shopify’s Narrative theme stands out among the e-commerce platform’s free templates. Across its four different styles, striking images and refined typography define its layout. The theme also renders beautifully on tablets and smartphones, a testament to Shopify’s dedication in building mobile-friendly designs. It’s a perfect example of form and function working together.

Moreover, Narrative is a fully-customizable theme. This means businesses will waste no time adapting this template and making it their own. Interested? Here, we review the theme’s features to see if it’s the right one for your online store.

Narrative Theme vs Top Shopify Free Themes Comparison Chart

ThemeNarrativeBrooklynMinimalSimple
StylesEarthy, Warm, Light, ColdClassic, PlayfulVintage, Fashion, ModernLight, Beauty, Toy
Ideal ForSmall CatalogsModern Apparel StoresFashion, Accessories, Furniture, Consumer TechFashion, Sports, Accessories
Home Page VideoYesYesNoYes
Product ZoomNoNoYesYes
SlideshowVerticalHeaderStandardNo

Design

Narrative emphasizes on brand storytelling through full-screen imagery and refined aesthetics. 

The theme’s header accords prominence to your product through edge-to-edge image displays.

Narrative’s appeal comes from combining bold and minimalist design elements to its highly organized layout. On top, there’s a Hero Section that features full-screen imagery and the website’s menu. Next, there is the promotional content section that serves as a break between the edge-to-edge header and the subsequent product displays. With Narrative, these product displays come in two formats: an intuitive fixed scroll up navigation, and the standard grid display.

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Essentially, the theme is structured to flow exactly like a narrative. There’s a bold introduction, an appealing story, choices, and a resolution. And the carefully-thought of design elements serve to support this. Given the theme’s structure, Narrative is definitely ideal for merchants with a single product or a small catalog.

Styles

The free theme from Shopify comes in four distinct and customizable styles.

Clockwise from top left: Warm, Earthy, Light, and Cold.

True to Shopify’s love for options, Narrative comes in different styles: Earthy, Warm, Light and Cold. Each offers a distinct color palette that should appeal to different businesses. For instance, Warm comes in neutrals, ideal for hole-in-the-walls and specialty stores. On the other hand, Light’s bright white contrasts well with vibrant tints of red and orange, perfect for jewelry and apparel in need of a bold statement.

Meanwhile, Cold distinguishes itself with its unexpected color pairing. Combining different shades of black with an eye-catching teal, the layout suits tech brands who want to convey professionalism and authority. Lastly, Earthy features minimal olive green accents that’s a match for restaurants, merchandise, and retail.

Features

Narrative boasts of customizable sections, social media integrations, and mobile optimization.

One of this theme’s key features is its support for full-screen video blocks.

Narrative comes with great customization options. The template is made of manageable blocks of content that users can rearrange. But since it’s built for stores with small inventories, there’s also strong emphasis on featuring the catalog.

For instance, the theme’s Product Pages support variant labels and dynamic recommendations. On the other hand, the Collection Pages can be set-up to allow customers to filter and sort products. However, because the theme uses a lot of full-screen imagery, it does not come with a mouse-over zoom feature. But if you want make the most out of Narrative’s image-centric elements, you can check out Shopify’s image upload guidelines.

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Next, the header or hero section supports slideshows for videos and images. It also comes with a menu carousel or quick-link to your catalog. You can also add breaks between images through customizable block quotes. It’s the perfect way of sharing your brand story: from value propositions to testimonials, blogs to inspirational quotes.

Vertical slideshows are also available across all four Narrative styles. Like most of Shopify’s free themes, you get search engine optimization and social media integration. To ensure your online store always looks great, you also enjoy free template updates. Lastly, the Narrative theme comes optimized for mobile, so you know your website looks great across all devices.

Examples

Narrative’s unique layout enjoys great application from thousands of businesses across a range of industries.

Clockwise from top left: Drizzle Honey, Sweet Tooth Hotel, Crazy Horse Craft, and Wacaco.

As one of the free themes on Shopify, Narrative has been used by a range of businesses. From hotels to leather goods, the layout continue to appeal to a number of brands looking to harness the power of storytelling.

For example, Drizzle Honey uses Narrative to showcase its bee-friendly, raw honey. Images with vintage filters fill the website. In between, customer testimonials are framed in block quotes. And by customizing the theme’s color palette and typography, Drizzle Honey lends an authenticity to their unique product.

On the other hand, Sweet Tooth Hotel avoids the neutrals which is typical of Narrative. Instead, it opts for vibrant imagery and flamboyant pink accents to market the hotel. Apart from galleries and blogs, the establishment also employs newsletter signups to strengthen its customer engagement.

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Lastly, Crazy Horse Craft takes full advantage of image and text overlays to advertise its artisan, leather goods. Their logo’s bold font contrasts well with Narrative’s more understate typography. The result is an interesting visual layout that evokes America’s Old West with the modern look of e-commerce stores. For easy navigation, their website also includes grid product displays, fixed naviation, and newsletter signups.

Verdict

For a free template, Shopify’s Narrative theme boasts of a striking design and great functionality for small catalog stores.

If you’re a business with a small catalog, then the Shopify Narrative theme is perfect for you. The template certainly puts emphasis on the power of storytelling in selling. Moreover, Narrative points the spotlight on the product, making it the ideal medium for telling your brand story. It’s edge-to-edge video and image displays, minimal design accents, and functional features all make for an immersive shopping experience. Plus, it’s free, customizable, and enjoys extensive support from Shopify.