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Building The World’s Best Commerce Apps With Built For Shopify


What makes a great Shopify app? Today, we're taking the guesswork out of that question. We're sharing a set of clear standards for app quality, design, and performance that can help developers build better apps and succeed in the Shopify ecosystem. We call these standards Built for Shopify, and they are a blueprint you can use to build and scale more effectively, all while making it easier for merchants to find and access the apps they need.

Built for Shopify gives our developers the documentation, technology, and promotional opportunities to excel. Not only that, but we believe these standards will democratize how commerce developers build for merchants all over the world. We’re thinking big, and whether you have an existing app or are building an entirely new app, keep reading. We'll explain what makes a great Shopify app, walk through how your app can meet these requirements, and where we feature apps so merchants can discover them.

Everything that goes into Built for Shopify

Built for Shopify is a new program created specifically for Shopify app developers that includes the tools and documentation needed to create an app that looks, feels, and performs like it's part of Shopify. Apps that meet Built for Shopify standards will be eligible to be featured on our new high-converting surfaces in the Shopify Admin and the Shopify App Store.

“Apps that meet Built for Shopify standards will be eligible to be featured on our new high-converting surfaces in the Shopify Admin and the Shopify App Store.”

This all starts with our new App Design Guidelines, a set of clear guidelines that detail what it takes to build an app merchants will love. We took years of experience serving millions of merchants and crafted guidelines on some basic principles, supported by clear directives, to help ensure you can design apps that deliver a best-in-class experience. This includes design guidance in areas of high importance to the user experience:

  • App structure
  • Layout
  • Visual design
  • Content
  • Navigation

In each section of the App Design Guidelines, you can find development tips, required guidelines to list your app on the Shopify App Store, limitations for component and design decisions, and discouraged actions that will result in negative merchant experiences.

Puzzlify mindmap of creating a template
Shopify App Design Guidelines provide guidance on elements like Information architecture (IA), for organizing sections so that they make sense as a whole.

After designing an app with beautiful UI design and exceptional user experience, we focus on the holistic value of an app for the merchants who use them. These attributes contribute to how we select apps to be featured on spaces in Shopify. Developers should consider and optimize for these areas when building for Shopify merchants.

Proven usefulness. If an app has shown value for merchants, it’s more likely to be useful for new merchants in the future. Consider your app metrics, including installs and how merchants have rated and reviewed your app recently.

Ease of use. A merchant’s time is valuable, and high-quality apps make life a little easier for them. Apps should work well with Shopify Admin, so a merchant does not have to spend time navigating between different interfaces to run their business. Developers can achieve this through the use of App Bridge 2.0 and session tokens.

Performance. Merchants want fast loading times so their apps can work at the speed they do. They also expect apps to not only to load quickly, but also perform well under heavy usage conditions and during peak hours when their store experiences higher traffic (e.g., Black Friday). Test your app’s lighthouse score for performance on storefronts.

Quality merchandising. Having a clear brand identity that spells out exactly how your app will help merchants makes it easy for them to spot what they need. Your brand is how you tell your story. Be sure to share your story with merchants by creating a strong app profile.

At all times, your apps must meet Requirements for Public Apps and uphold Shopify’s API Terms of Use. This is a minimum requirement to be published on the Shopify App Store.

Seamless integration into Shopify

To build a best-in-class app, developers need fewer constraints and greater access to the technology that internal Shopify teams have. We want to empower developers to build high-quality app experiences that seamlessly integrate into the Shopify Admin. That way, merchants won’t be jolted into a new tab with a completely different user experience. To help achieve this reality we’re focused on three key App Bridge improvements — making apps faster, integrating app navigation into the Admin, and opening up full screen mode for advanced app use cases.

Optimized Mobile Loading

Our ultimate goal is to make all apps as performant as Shopify features. The first step on this journey is improving loading times for embedded apps that use our App Bridge technology. With our recent App Bridge mobile optimization update, load times for mobile apps are 85% faster. Remember, this is just the beginning when it comes to app speed improvements. Stay tuned for more embedded app performance launches coming soon.

App Navigation

We’ve also greatly improved the navigation options for embedded apps. In fact, App Bridge apps can now integrate their navigation directly into the Shopify Admin with our new App Nav functionality. Not only that, merchants can also pin their favorite embedded apps directly to the Admin nav for quick access. Together, these navigation improvements make embedded apps look like they’re truly a part of Shopify and make it easier for merchants to find and use their favorite apps.

Full-Screen Mode

Last but certainly not least, apps can now enable full-screen mode directly in the Shopify Admin. Practically speaking, this means that apps can use the full real-estate of the screen—when needed—to highlight intricate use cases or highlight advanced app functionality. We know how important full-screen mode is to the developer community, so we’re excited to see how apps take advantage of it.

Unlock new feature spaces

Building a great app is only part of the story. To help merchants confidently grow, and make your apps more accessible, we built new surfaces in the Shopify Admin and the Shopify App Store to enable brands to discover and quickly select apps that will work well for their business. We will prioritize apps that meet the above criteria and guidelines for these high-converting areas.

“We built new surfaces in the Shopify Admin and the Shopify App Store to enable brands to discover and quickly select apps that will work well for their business.”

Shopify Admin

Our new Picked for You modal in the Admin, lets merchants discover apps right where they are working, including a personalized selection of apps that Shopify recommends for each merchant’s individual business.

As an added bonus, embedded apps can be pinned in the Admin, making it easier for merchants to access apps they regularly use.

Screenshot of the picked for you page in the Shopify store
The Picked for You screen allows merchants to discover high quality apps right where they work.

Shopify App Store

Merchants visiting the Shopify App Store will now be greeted with a revamped In the Spotlight section on the home page as well as higher quality apps in search, with our updated search algorithm that incorporates quality criteria into the ranking.

Finally, we’ve added new App Highlights to listing pages, so merchants can spot high quality apps and make informed decisions based on attributes they find valuable for their business. These highlights show tested indicators of merchant success, including its integration with Admin, how it works with other Shopify features, and impact to online store performance.

Screenshot of the Puzzlify listing in the Shopify App Store

We’re excited to share these features and insights with you for the first time. Our goal is to make it easier and more accessible for all developers to build incredibly valuable commerce apps. Thank you for helping us to make commerce better for everyone. Let us know what you think.

Here’s how to get started with Built for Shopify:


This article originally appeared on the Shopify Web Design and Development blog and is made available here to educate and cast a wider net of discovery.
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