Switching To Stencil? Your Five Most Common Questions, Answered

March 27, 2018 | |

Busting Myths About Blueprint vs. Stencil

By now, you’ve probably heard about BigCommerce Stencil, the ecommerce platform’s newest and most advanced framework. You know that Stencil is faster and better-performing, and might be considering a move for your own business.

Like many BigCommerce merchants, you might understand why moving to Stencil is important but not how to do it. So we put together a list of our most frequently asked questions to help you figure out what exactly a Stencil move means and how it can help your business.

1. How is the Stencil framework different than Blueprint?

A common misconception is that Blueprint and Stencil are just different styles of BigCommerce theme. In fact, the differences between them are much deeper. Stencil and Blueprint are different frameworks.

A framework is the foundational code base that a website is built on. It’s like the engine that powers a car. Stencil outperforms Blueprint is because its “engine” (code base) is better. Its code is cleaner and more modern, resulting in the Stencil benefits you’ve heard about like:

  • Faster page speed
  • Better for SEO
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Easier to customize
  • Local development (i.e. our developers can “draft” changes on their machines before making them live on your site)

2. Can’t I just copy my Blueprint site over to the new Stencil theme?

Unfortunately, no. When it comes to Blueprint and Stencil, the actual code is different. Our developers have to “translate” what was coded according to Blueprint’s conventions into Stencil’s.

However, that’s actually a good thing! Stencil’s code is written in a much more modern and developer-friendly way than Blueprint’s. Not only will this improve site performance and SEO, it will save you money in the long term when it’s easier for your developer to make further changes.

“I can make site modifications more easily and in less time with Stencil.” –Aaron Nowlen, Lead Developer

3. Will moving to Stencil hurt my SEO?

This is a common misconception based on a misunderstanding about what it actually takes to move your site to Stencil. Site migrations – such as moving a site from another platform, like Shopify to BigCommerce – can mess with your rankings if not done properly (and, even when done properly, usually still have a temporary negative effect).

But a Stencil move isn’t a migration. It’s the same website and platform, just with better code. So, while Google’s bots will have to recrawl it, they’ll encounter streamlined code and a user-friendly, modern design. This will actually boost your SEO rankings, which has been the experience of our clients that move to Stencil from Blueprint.

“Across the board, we see that clients who move to Stencil see SEO improvements.” -Eric Hansen, Director Of Marketing

4. Can I keep my customizations and add-ons ?

This is one of the most common questions that we get from merchants thinking about moving to Stencil. The short answer is: yes, you can, and they’ll perform even better on Stencil. The slightly longer answer has to do with how these customizations are developed.

Stencil allows developers to create customizations by making modifications to its base code. This is the best and most efficient way to create a customization. For example, if you wanted a make a change to your your Shopping Cart, the developer can write code that works with Stencil to tell the Shopping Cart what to do.

This isn’t the case with Blueprint, where the code base cannot be modified. Customizations written on Blueprint must work against the existing behavior, resulting in bulky code that slows down your loading time. For example, if a developer wanted to make a change to the Shopping Cart on Blueprint, they couldn’t just tell Blueprint to do it. They’d have to stop Blueprint from executing its default behavior before being able to tell it to do the new behavior. This is far less efficient.

“It’s so much easier to customize a Stencil site than a Blueprint site. It’s much more developer-friendly.” – Aaron Nowlen, Lead Developer

5. Do I have to make changes to my BigCommerce back office?

Nope! This is one of the most convenient things about a Stencil move. You don’t have to make changes in the back office to things like Products and Categories. Since it’s the same website, your inventory can stay the way it is. Moving to Stencil only affects the customer-facing part of your site.

6. Why should I hire a theme developer instead of buying a template?

You may be wondering – why should you pay a professional developer for a Stencil move when you could just buy a Stencil theme and install it for less time and money?

In short, when you work with IntuitSolutions, you get a developer who’s not only an expert in website development, but the BigCommerce platform itself. We’ve moved dozens of sites from Blueprint to Stencil and understand the intricacies of both frameworks.

Plus, you also get our optimized version of Cornerstone, which includes hundreds of hours worth of optimizations and customizations that our developers add.

Move to Stencil The Right Way! Call Us Today!

A Stencil move can do wonders for your SEO and conversion rate. But make sure you make the switch the right way, with a developer who knows how to make the most of the framework’s most advanced features.

Think a move is beyond your reach? At IntuitSolutions, we have Stencil move packages to fit almost any budget. Call us today at (866) 590-4650 to set up a free consultation!

Emma works on IntuitSolutions' internal resources and marketing initiatives. Previously, she taught ESL and worked as a freelance writer on a variety of subjects ranging from healthcare to education.