A blue shopping bag

Notes on eCommerce: WordPress

Last week I went through Paul Boag’s lectures why web designers should consider eCommerce. So I am starting a series of posts through which I will do my best to explore this area of web design. At the same time I am not going to judge any platform from the beginning even if it is a seemingly illogical idea.And this is an illogical idea since WordPress began as a blogging platform but all those people who use it must see a reason why it is a good idea. Also there is a book, which I own, which suggest that the WordPress is a good enough content management system to build apps around. So I am naturally curious about it.

In today’s post I will not go deep into code or design. Today I want to talk about what is available, what I was able to find, and what it can do out of the box. Posts about how to create custom themes and plugins for eCommerce solutions on WordPress will appear later if I think it is worth my time to explore them.

WooCommerce

WooCommerce is the first thing on my mind when someone says WordPress and eCommerce. It is a free WordPress plugin with a lot of free and paid extensions1. There is also a free theme ready for the WooCommerce plugin made by the same people.

WooCommerce Wizard Greeting pageIt has it’s own configuration wizard which users can skip if they know what they are doing. All the options here are accessible through a sidebar as WooCommerce adds two new items between “Comments” and “Appearance”. One is “WooCommerce” and the other is “Products”.

Both are somewhat intuitive, in case you are using WordPress for some time now. Under “WooCommerce” you can find every setting for your eCommerce website. And through “Products” you can add new products, manage product categories, shipping classes and other attributes2.

Expanded products item Expanded WooCommerce itemThe feature which I like the most after a quick overview are “Reports”. Even though I can enjoy reading tables of interesting data just for the sake of it. Reports show all the date in a nice graph. There is also an option to export all data in to a CSV file which is something that Excel users will appreaciate.

Screenshot of a reports page, everything at 0I will most likely talk about WooCommerce after the Christmas.

WP eCommerce (WPeC)

I found out about this eCommerce plugin when I installed “Storefront Paper” theme. At first I thought that it is a theme from the same people as “Storefront” theme but it required me to install several plugins including this one. I am not sure why because WooCommerce has all the functionality which an eCommerce site needs.

That said my point isn’t to say that WPeC is bad and WooCommerce is the best. All I am saying is that my first encounter with this plugin wasn’t the best or at least good.

After some tinkering with it’s features, it adds one item to the sidebar, I must say that I am not impressed. There is no need to go deep into it. Because I am heavily invested in User Interface design I must say that I am disappointed by the process of adding a new product.

I don’t see a big problem using two columns for adding a new product, although I think it would be beneficial if user had to use only one column. It would reduce the number of errors caused by adminitrator’s short focus span3.

What I consider a big problem is this:

Unreadable gibberish Unreadable gibberishThere is an unreadable information which is difficult for sighted users to see. Screen reader reads the information fine.

Conclusion

I plan to look in to theme creation for WooCommerce during the Holidays and after New Year I will publish several posts about it. When it comes to WP eCommerce, I won’t look in to it in the near future. I also plan to look in to the development for Shopify which sponsored Paul Boag’s lecture.

  1. practically plugins for a plugin
  2. They are supposed to serve as extra information you can add to your products
  3. or human error if you want to move the responsibility from designer to user