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I think my Big Cartel theme is broken

Filed in Getting Started & Troubleshooting

Please review ALL OF THIS ARTICLE before contacting Aarcade.

Start with checking and upgrading your browser

Using corrupt, outdated and/or standards-lagging browsers can cause many issues, including problems in your Big Cartel admin area. Make sure you are using the latest version of your preferred browser. Check your browser and upgrade now if necessary – see Choosing the right web browser for more information, including the section Troubleshooting browser issues.

Use our open theme file tool and follow ALL instructions

The most common cause of theme installation issues is failing to follow ALL of the installation instructions and failing to use the Open Theme File Tool. Many popular desktop applications (text editors, etc.) corrupt the code in your theme files when you open them up on your computer.

To avoid this common issue, please follow ALL OF THE STEPS of the official installation instructions.


Do you have a custom domain?

Are you using HTML frames to apply a custom domain?

If your browser address remains exactly the same as you navigate around your shop – for example your cart page URL is instead of – then you are using a HTML frame to apply your custom domain.

This can cause numerous problems with your theme. To correct this, refer to Can I use HTML frames to apply a custom domain to my shop?

Have you set up your custom domain correctly? Does your “View store” link work?

If your admin area View store link does not link to your shop home page and/or your Store > Settings – Domain Test domain button generates an error, your custom domain is not set up correctly. This can cause numerous problems with your theme. To correct this, refer to How do I set up a custom domain for my Big Cartel shop?

Check your “Customize design” preview area

Prevent multiple sessions

If your Customize design preview area is open on any other devices (e.g. other users are working in the Customize design area or you are using multiple devices) this can overwrite or corrupt your new installation. In this case, exit the Customize design preview area on ALL devices for ALL users and then re-enter on one device only and repeat ALL of the installation instructions.

Check preview area

The Customize design preview area may not immediately update to correctly display your new theme, even if your theme is correctly installed. Additionally, some shortcodes and script generated content – like the gallery and sideshow shortcodes – may never display correctly in the preview area regardless of your set up.

To check this, visit your shop outside of your Customize design preview panel

- i.e. load your URL directly in a new browser window -

and refresh your browser by clicking the circular arrow button in your browser toolbar. This will ensure that any old theme assets are cleared from your cache and you are viewing your shop exactly as your visitors will see it.

If you continue to see a disconnect between viewing inside and outside of your preview area, refer to I am having problems with my Big Cartel Customize design (preview) admin area.

Have you customised your theme coding?

Have you edited your custom options?

Check your custom option areas – see How do I use the Custom Options for my Big Cartel theme? – for any text that is not correctly contained by a custom option setting. For example:

{{ *See Note 15 }}
{% assign display_shop_wide_facebook_like = 'yes %}
{% assign shop_facebook_like_links_to_your_facebook_url = '' %}no

<a href="">I inserted a link</a>

The red items above will cause errors. The first item – yes – does not have a closing apostrophe and the following two items are entered outside of the custom option settings.

Have you customised the core coding of your theme (including the addition of custom scripts or other code)?

Re-install your theme without this custom coding and check if this corrects your issue. If it does, you will need to seek assistance for applying your code customisation if necessary – see How do I customise my Big Cartel theme?.

Are some pages of your shop working correctly while other pages are not?

If your theme appears broken only in one area of your shop, it is likely that you have incorrectly installed a particular theme page. Try reinstalling just the associated page before proceeding with the checks in the following section of this article. For example:

  1. If your home page appears doubled up, is displaying a single column of product images, is displaying the wrong products or is otherwise broken – reinstall the theme file home.html to your Home page
  2. If your view all and category products pages appear doubled up, are displaying a single column of product images, are displaying the wrong products or are otherwise broken – reinstall the theme file products.html to your Products page (pay attention to the difference in “products” plural and “product” singular in file and page names)
  3. If your product page does not show an add to cart button or appears to be broken – reinstall the theme file product.html to your Product page

…and so on (refer to the screenshot in the next section for a theme file to page map).

Check all common installation errors

Broken theme layouts are most often caused during the installation process by:

  1. Not installing Big Cartel’s Sexy theme BEFORE installing an Aarcade theme – this can cause theme errors, for example:
    Liquid error: `per_page` setting cannot be less than 1 (0 given)
  2. Not installing the styles.css theme file to the correct Big Cartel admin area, i.e. the Customize design > Advanced (advanced) – CSS area
  3. Overlooking the installation of one of the theme files – the layout.html file is the most commonly overlooked
  4. Copying theme file contents to the wrong page in your Big Cartel admin – the products.html and product.html files are the most commonly mixed up (note the plural and singular)
  5. Not completely deleting the original content in your Big Cartel admin area before adding the new content
  6. Incomplete copying of a theme file’s content to the Big Cartel admin area
  7. Setting the Use my store’s layout option in your Big Cartel page edit area incorrectly. Always ensure that it is:
    • Unchecked for pages “Checkout” and “Maintenance”
    • Checked for all other pages
  8. Persistent browser or local network caching serving formatting or assets from the previous theme. In this case, restart your local modem / network and refer to Clear Your Browser’s Cache to completely clear your browser cache.

If your theme appears broken, repeat the installation process following the complete step by step instructions and carefully check all of the above points at each step.

Match File Name to Page Name

Do you have missing theme files?

If you are missing a theme file to correspond with one of your page names – most commonly the success.html file – this is intentional. Simply leave the corresponding Big Cartel page as it is.

Our theme previews include example custom pages – e.g. FAQ, Lookbook, About Us, etc. – that are not included in theme packages, but are available in our Extras section.

Do you see inserted ads and links to other sites or other spammy behaviour?

It should go without saying that your Aarcade theme will never insert content into your layout that is not related directly to your shop and your theme settings. The most common causes for seeing such content are listed below:

  1. Some web browser plugins will insert links to “related” or “similar” items on the web into the pages that you browse. To test if this is the issue, install a different web browser – see Choosing the right web browser – or use a different device, and see if the issue is present on that different browser or device. If the issue is not present, this confirms that it is specific to your web browser. You will need to consult your browser / plugin support to uninstall the responsible plugin.

    Sometimes the inserted content may display a common plugin brand name, website or help link, in which case following these links or Googling “how do I uninstall BRANDNAME” might also lead you to a suitable fix.

  2. Some malware (i.e. computer viruses, spyware, etc.) may insert unwanted ads or content into your browser pages. If the issue is not present on other devices, this confirms that it is specific to your device and may be malware. Install or update you preferred virus scanning software and scan your device accordingly.

    As with item 2, Googling a description of what you are seeing might also lead you to a suitable fix.

  3. If you are seeing the issue on different devices and browsers, this is most likely due to code that you have inserted after your theme installation to customise your theme. Code examples provided by untrusted web sites may insert spam content into your site. Refer to the previous section Have you customised your theme coding? of this article to address this issue and never use code examples from untrusted sites.

Do you see old content or your old site?

The most common cause for this issue is persistent browser or local network caching. If you have already restarted your local modem / network and cleared your browser cache (as mentioned in Check all common installation errors > Item 8 above) you can force your DNS to flush using the methods described in How do I flush my cache of old domain data?

Checking your shop from other devices and locations can help confirm whether the caching issue is restricted to your local device or network.

If you have recently applied a custom domain to your shop, and the above does not address your issue, you may have incorrectly set up your custom domain. In this case refer to How do I set up a custom domain for my Big Cartel shop? and contact your domain registrar for personal support if required.

Still broken?

If you continue to have issues with your theme after working through this article, please contact Aarcade Support for assistance.

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