Alternative to Luma?

First released in 2021 and with more than 1,500 Magento sites now using it, Hyvä Themes is often positioned as an alternative to the default Luma theme. We think this is an oversimplification.

For one, Luma is still very much a viable option, mostly since Hyvä doesn’t yet have the wide range of module and plugin compatibility Luma offers.

The default Luma Magento theme has helped InteractOne solve a lot of problems for our clients over the years. When developed with discipline and expertise, Magento and Luma provide a migration path away from buggy, crippled customized themes. Luma also provides a viable performance path for small and new Magento merchants who can live with the standard design theme and want to minimize or eliminate developer involvement. Luma starts out acceptably light/fast, but it is not immune to bloat and compatibility issues that accumulate along with customizations, modifications, bug fixes and the layered technologies that accompany these actions. Ironically, given the wide scope of its use for many years, Luma is best when mostly left alone. It is this conundrum that motivated the Hyvä Themes’ creators. 

OK, The PWA Alternative?

Hyva is touted as an alternative to the PWA approach. PWA stands for Progressive Web Apps, which are web applications optimized to work on mobile and desktop devices. PWA for eCommerce helps you generate a more user-friendly site by allowing customers to access information regardless of their location or device. However, realizing the benefits of PWA can be fussy and expensive – involving lots of setup, testing, tweaking, monitoring and more tweaking. Hyvä employs Alpine JS to allow a flexible presentation on all platforms while clocking super fast page load, right out of the box.

Thinking About Going Headless?

Headless commerce detaches the front-end architecture and interface from the back-end commerce functionality and database. A key benefit of headless should be that changes can be made to the user experience without fear of introducing bugs to the core functionality. In reality, it’s not so much like a CMS, since most changes still require developer involvement. Because of this headless tends to be rather expensive, sometimes buggy and often difficult to maintain, leaving many marketing departments to regret going headless. 

Less is More

While they are powerful technologies, the limitations of PWA and Headless make the case for a solution like Hyvä. The vastly simpler structure of the Hyvä theme means it is an alternative to Headless and PWA – approaches that merchants adopt to solve problems around speed, flexibility and compatibility. The big difference is that both headless and PWA involve adding technology to make good things happen, whereas Hyvä Themes opts for subtraction.

Much lighter than a standard Magento theme

Hyvä Themes is based on a blank Magento 2 theme, not using the Luma code.  Most Magento theme developers start with the Luma code, so the finished product is – in most cases – slower than Luma.

The developers of Hyvä left out all layout.xml, .phtml files and JavaScript files. While Hyvä uses the PHP-templating system that is built into Magento, it departs from standard theme architecture, using newer lighter-weight components, such as a Javascript framework that is only ⅓ of the weight of Jquery.

Does it Cost More?

As of this writing, Hyvä charges 1,000 Euro for a one-time license. No limits are placed on the number of domains or storeviews.

While the simpler architecture of Hyvä themes should ultimately reduce programming costs, customizations and demand for favorite modules and plug-ins will impact initial build cost. Already though, Hyvä has incorporated compatibility with more than 100 popular modules and plugins and we expect 3rd party module compatibility  to grow.

One key affordability benefit of Hyvä Themes is that templates can be implemented one at a time – start with the product page and category pages, leave the checkout for later. This is where Hyvä excels.

What’s the catch?

If omnichannel drives your volume, a headless commerce approach might still be the way to go. You’ll have to balance those benefit calculations with the cost of development and ongoing maintenance.

Further, Hyvä’s checkout is still pretty young, lacking documentation at this writing. Hyvä Themes  offer the Magento One-Step checkout (based on Luma) as the preferred path for most.

So, despite a fast-growing pace of adoption, Hyvä still carries a whiff of the bleeding edge.

What does this all mean for you? 

For most of InteractOne’s clients, and most midsize e-Commerce retailers, chasing cutting edge technology can be a risky bet. Most retailers don’t have large IT teams that can research, manage and maintain the most fussy tools to keep you at full optimization. You already know that improving page load speed is beneficial, but you also have your eye on diminishing returns. Granted, twelve second page-loads were killing you. Getting to six seconds made a big improvement and dropping that to three seconds was excellent for conversion. Is your traffic and volume big enough to make the needed investment to get to 1.5 or .75 seconds justifiable?

The point is, a lot of Magento retailers haven’t made the leap to headless or PWA either because of cost or because they didn’t feel confident in managing it. Hyvä changes that decision in that it cures the speed problem with simplicity, not with another layer of technology. Hyvä Themes  isn’t a cure-all, but it sure looks like a start.

Contact us to learn more about how to optimize your eCommerce site.

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