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The Benefits of Upgrading From Blueprint to Stencil on BigCommerce

In 2016, BigCommerce launched Stencil, a new framework to succeed Blueprint. Many have already made the jump, but many site owners are still using Blueprint as the backbone of their online businesses.

The notion of switching to a new theme platform can seem intimidating. However, moving from Blueprint to Stencil on BigCommerce will make your website better, faster, and more accessible.

With Stencil, BigCommerce has carried over its best services while incorporating a whole host of new features to capitalize on advancements in search engine optimization, design, and technology. Switching to the updated framework can bring a number of benefits to business owners while reducing the cost of fixes and upgrades down the line. Ultimately, moving from BigCommerce’s Blueprint to the new Stencil framework is the smart move for those looking to draw new customers while incentivizing them to keep coming back.

For those still using Blueprint, here’s why you should make the switch:

Stencil Is SEO-friendly

Stencil’s performance rating in Google page speed is around 90 for desktop and 74 for mobile. Those are solid numbers, particularly on desktop, making Stencil a winner for sites looking to maintain SEO best practices along with strong user experience.

Some may fear that a jump from Blueprint to Stencil will lead to an SEO downgrade, but that’s not the case. A site migration from one platform to another can hurt your rankings if not performed correctly, but a move from Blueprint to Stencil is not a full migration – you’ll still be on the BigCommerce platform. When Google’s bots recrawl the revised site, they’ll find an improved code and an upgraded design, which will contribute to better SEO rankings.

Additionally, Stencil supports rich snippets, which allows search engines to gain a better understanding of what’s on a web page. Rich snippets are also used to present more nuanced search results, like images, ratings, reviews, and other features that may incentivize clicks and ultimately, conversions. Support for rich snippets is essential for sites looking to stand out among competitors on the same search results page.

Stencil Means Speed

The Stencil framework supports sites in a number of ways, including:

  • Akamai Image Manager: Stencil uses Akamai Image Manager, which optimizes website images based on device size. That means images will load faster for visitors, regardless of the browser’s origin. This is a game-changer for online businesses looking to enhance a user’s experience through videos and high-quality images without needlessly adding to the page’s load time. Stencil also enables “lazy loading” images, which enhances speed and UX.
  • Minification of CSS & JS: The Stencil framework minifies and combines JavaScript and CSS scripts, which cuts down on web requests and limits the size of files. By condensing it all down to single CSS and JS files, HTTP requests are reduced, which makes for a much faster site loading speed.
  • Google AMP Support: BigCommerce’s standard Stencil theme supports Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), an open source initiative to make sites load faster on mobile devices. AMP enables the creation of websites that are consistently fast with pages and ads that load almost instantly. Meanwhile, it allows publishers to hone and tweak their content to best suit their users and position themselves to attract new customers.

Customization Made Easy

The Stencil Theme Editor allows you to customize and manage storefront attributes with zero coding required. That means publishers quickly can adjust components such as colors, fonts, and many items displayed quickly and easily.

Localization has become extremely important for globally-focused merchants, and Stencil’s framework can let your site seamlessly adapt to any targeted customers’ language. Previously, content translation was an onerous task requiring manual revisions along with separate sites and content. With Stencil, you can set a defined number of languages to translate within each theme based on a predefined schema. There may some cultural or linguistic nuances you may need to account for such as colloquialisms and phrasing, but theme translation options enable you to feature site content that’s relevant to an international audience.

Stencil Is Developer-Friendly

The Stencil framework allows you to develop and test code locally, which means that you can try a new approach without overhauling a complete instance of a development storefront. Stencil accomplishes this by referencing the production storefront of your choosing, meaning that you can test, tweak, and transform without the involvement of production code.

Blueprint represented a significant step forward at the time of its release, but Stencil’s code is considered even more developer-friendly. That’s great news for online entrepreneurs who will save money in the long run with fewer hours billed to developers.

Stencil Extends BigCommerce’s Default Functionalities

Extending default functionalities allows for a more in-depth shopping experience for users. For instance, let’s say you run an online clothing store. Stencil themes make it easy to display secondary images when users mouse over category pages. You can even show a listing of swatches on category pages and add a ‘shop the look’ feature to product pages.

All of these features give customers a better perspective on products they are considering, and it’s definitely easier to implement these on your site with Stencil than BigCommerce’s Blueprint framework.

Blueprint Is On Its Way Out

Today, new features are being developed exclusively for the Stencil platform – not for Blueprint. Effectively, this means that your website’s development will stagnate without upgrading from BigCommerce’s Blueprint to Stencil. Since there are no new developments to come for Blueprint, and it only makes sense to switch to Stencil in the near future.

Eventually, BigCommerce will cease to support Blueprint entirely, which means that the switch to Stencil is not just a good idea, but an imperative step site owners will have to take in order to implement vital upgrades. Instead of waiting for that day to come, you should act on this as soon as possible.

Don’t Delay, Switch Today!

To make the seamless transition today, or to inquire about the benefits of switching from BigCommerce’s Blueprint to Stencil, contact our experts. We lead the industry in site migrations that retain valuable rankings, traffic, and revenue. Coalition Technologies is also a Certified Elite BigCommerce partner. If you’re interested in making the switch, call (310) 905-8268 or email sales@coalitiontechnologies.com.

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