Shopify Development: A Beginner's Guide to Essential Terms

Shopify Development: A Beginner's Guide to Essential Terms

Embarking on the journey of building your online store with Shopify can be both exciting and overwhelming, especially when faced with a myriad of technical terms.

In this beginner-friendly guide, we aim to unravel the complexities surrounding key Shopify terminologies, making it simpler for you to comprehend the foundational elements of your digital storefront.

From Liquid, the language that breathes life into your web pages, to the mechanics of layouts, JSON templates, and the functionality of sections and snippets – we'll break down these concepts into easily digestible explanations. Dive into the realm of CSS assets, where the visual appeal of your store takes shape, and discover the significance of JSON configurations and locales in shaping a seamless user experience.

Whether you're a budding entrepreneur venturing into the world of online business or looking to enhance your store's appearance, understanding these terms lays the groundwork for a more confident Shopify journey.

Even if you're not a developer, understanding these basic programming terms will enable you to best communicate with the future developers you hire (and enhance your ability to assess their work!):

While some concepts like JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) are more general programming and web development terms, their application and specific usage discussed in the context of this guide are tailored to the Shopify ecosystem.

Understanding these terms is necessary for anyone looking to customize and manage their Shopify store efficiently. However, keep in mind that terminologies and development practices may vary across different e-commerce platforms and web development frameworks. The explanations provided in this guide are focused on how these concepts apply specifically to the Shopify platform.

shopify programming terms


Liquid is a templating language used in Shopify that helps you display data dynamically. It's like a set of instructions you give to Shopify to show specific content or perform actions based on the data in your store.

Imagine Liquid in Shopify as the conductor's baton orchestrating a symphony of data, seamlessly weaving together the elements of your online store to produce a harmonious and dynamic user experience.


A layout is a template that determines the structure and style of your Shopify store. It's like a blueprint for your web pages, defining where different elements like the header, footer, and main content should go.

Consider a Layout in Shopify as the blueprint guiding the architectural design of your online store, determining where each element fits to create a cohesive and visually pleasing digital space for your customers.

JSON Templates

JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) templates are used to store and organize data in a structured way. In Shopify, these templates help define certain settings or configurations for your store, ensuring consistency and ease of management.

View Shopify's JSON Templates like a recipe book for your online store, detailing the ingredients and steps needed to create a visually and functionally delightful experience for your customers.

Liquid Sections

Sections in Liquid are like customizable blocks that you can use to organize and display content on your pages. Think of them as individual building blocks that you can arrange and customize to create different sections on your website.

Liquid Sections in Shopify are akin to building blocks in a customizable LEGO set, allowing you to effortlessly piece together and rearrange unique sections of your website, creating a dynamic and personalized online presence.

Liquid Snippets

Snippets are reusable pieces of code in Liquid that you can use in multiple places across your store. They make it easier to maintain and update your code since changes made to a snippet are reflected wherever it's used.

Consider Liquid Snippets in Shopify as the puzzle pieces in a versatile board game, each uniquely crafted to fit seamlessly into different parts of your online store, allowing you to play and rearrange for a captivating and ever-evolving user experience.

JSON Config

JSON configuration files store settings and preferences for your theme. It's like a control panel where you can adjust various aspects of your store, such as colors, fonts, or the number of products displayed on a page.

Within Shopify, the JSON Config, or configuration, is pivotal in transmitting information to your store's customization section. These JSON Config files store preferences and settings, serving as the control center for various aspects of your theme and store presentation. By modifying values within the JSON Config, you have the ability to shape the visual and functional characteristics of elements within the Shopify customization section, allowing you to refine and customize your store to align precisely with your unique requirements.

Imagine JSON Config in Shopify as the steering wheel of your online store, providing the driver's seat to adjust and tailor the essential settings, ensuring a smooth and personalized journey for both you and your customers.

CSS Assets

CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is used for styling your website. CSS assets are collections of style rules that define how different elements on your pages should look. It's like the paint and decoration that make your website visually appealing.

Think of CSS Assets in Shopify as the fashion stylist's curated wardrobe, defining the visual personality and aesthetics of your online store by selecting the perfect combinations of colors, styles, and embellishments for a captivating and on-brand appearance.

JSON Locale

Locales in JSON format store translations for different languages used in your store. If your store is available in multiple languages, these files ensure that the correct language is displayed to the user based on their preferences.

View JSON Locale in Shopify as the multilingual storyteller, adeptly translating the narrative of your online store into different languages, ensuring that each visitor hears the story in a language that resonates with them, creating a truly global and inclusive experience.

In simpler terms, these elements collectively help you structure, design, and customize your Shopify store, ensuring it looks good, functions well, and can be easily managed and updated.

Understanding these key terminologies—Liquid, Layouts, JSON Templates, Liquid Sections, Liquid Snippets, JSON Config, CSS Assets, and JSON Locale—equips you with the foundational knowledge needed to sculpt a unique and seamless online presence.

These elements are the building blocks that empower you to not only create a visually appealing store but also to tailor the user experience to the specific needs of your audience.

Whether you're delving into the realm of e-commerce for the first time or seeking to enhance your store's functionality, a grasp of these fundamental concepts lays the groundwork for a confident and successful Shopify journey.

development questions

FAQ on Shopify Programming Terms

How can Liquid enhance my Shopify store?

Liquid is Shopify's templating language that allows dynamic content display, making your store more personalized and engaging for visitors.

What role does a Layout play in Shopify?

A Layout serves as the blueprint for your store's structure and style, determining the placement of elements like headers, footers, and main content.

Why are JSON Templates important for my store?

JSON Templates help store and organize data, providing a structured way to define settings and configurations for a consistent and manageable online presence.

How do Liquid Sections contribute to website customization?

Liquid Sections act as customizable blocks, enabling you to organize and display content flexibly, creating a unique layout for your store.

What purpose do Liquid Snippets serve in Shopify development?

Liquid Snippets are reusable pieces of code that enhance maintainability and efficiency by allowing you to use the same code in multiple places across your store.

Why is JSON Config crucial for my theme?

JSON Config files store settings and preferences, offering a control panel to adjust various aspects of your store's appearance and functionality.

In Shopify, the JSON Config (or configuration) plays a crucial role in pushing information to the customization section of your store. The JSON Config files store settings and preferences that are utilized to control various aspects of your theme and store appearance. By adjusting values within the JSON Config, you essentially influence how elements look, behave, and are customized within the Shopify customization section. It acts as a control panel where you can fine-tune and tailor the visual and functional aspects of your store to meet your specific requirements.

What is the difference between JSON Config and JSON Template in Shopify?

JSON Config and JSON Template serve distinct purposes in Shopify. JSON Config files store preferences and settings, acting as a control center for customizing various aspects of your theme and store appearance. On the other hand,

JSON Templates are used to organize and structure data in a formatted way, defining specific settings or configurations for your store.

While JSON Config focuses on overall store preferences, JSON Templates are more concerned with data organization and structuring.

How does JSON Config differ from Liquid and Layout in Shopify development?

JSON Config primarily deals with overall store preferences, serving as a control center for customization. It allows adjustment of various aspects like theme appearance. In contrast, Liquid is a templating language used to dynamically display data in your store, providing flexibility in content presentation.

Layout, on the other hand, acts as a blueprint, determining the structure and style of your Shopify store, specifying the placement of elements such as headers and footers. While JSON Config focuses on preferences, Liquid and Layout are more intricately tied to dynamic content display and overall store structure, respectively.

How do CSS Assets impact the visual appeal of my store?

CSS Assets consist of style rules defining how different elements on your pages should look, essentially shaping the overall visual aesthetic of your Shopify store.

What does JSON Locale bring to my Shopify store?

JSON Locale is essential for translating your store's content into different languages, ensuring a global and inclusive user experience for visitors around the world.

Among the Shopify elements mentioned, which ones can be in any order within their respective content, and which ones need a specific order?

Can be in Any Order:

CSS Assets: Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can generally be placed in any order within the content since they are used to style and format elements on your Shopify store.

Liquid Snippets: Liquid Snippets are reusable pieces of code that can be included and arranged in any order within the Liquid templates, providing flexibility in customization.

JSON Templates: JSON Templates, used for data organization, are flexible and don't require a specific order within the content.

JSON Config: JSON Config files, responsible for store preferences, often allow for adjustments without a strict order requirement.

Need Specific Order:

Liquid Sections: Liquid Sections, being customizable blocks, are typically organized and placed in a specific order within your Liquid templates to structure the content effectively.

Layout: Layout in Shopify acts as a blueprint and usually follows a specific order to determine the structure and style of your store, including the placement of essential elements like headers and footers.

Understanding the flexibility of certain elements allows for more adaptable customization, while others, like Liquid Sections and Layout, may require specific arrangements to maintain a coherent and organized design.

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