When you visit are in your twenties, and you visit the home improvement store for the first time, you buy your first set of tools. A hammer, a screwdriver, wire cutters, etc… They become yours- they become who you are. You can pick them out of anyone’s garage that may have borrowed them.
Other tools you buy, a circular saw, a ratchet set, you tend to upgrade because that first set looses its luster, or they fail in comparison to the newest toys advertised in a Black Friday sales ad.
When I started my business in developing websites for people other than myself or my direct employer in 2008, I started into ‘buying’ into specific technologies that I knew would be outshined as time went on. Getting used to certain tools would certainly be a time limited thing.
But, at the huge risk of sounding archaic or happy with the status quo, I can say there are certain tools that I go to that provide my clients with the most standard, easiest to manage technology. One of course being the now ubiquitous WordPress content management system, and the other being WooCommerce.
What is WooCommerce?
WooCommerce is shopping cart software that plugs into WordPress. I like it because it fits neatly into the WordPress framework, there are tons of plugins available, and because I (and many others) can customize it quickly.
Fits Neatly into WordPress
WordPress does make it easy to conform to its standards. Objects in WordPress, whether they be pages, blog posts, or custom definitions like testimonials or products, the structure and the methods by which a web programmer sees them are similar across the board.
WooCommerce is not unique in its ability to conform to the standards, but it does it well.
Another way that WooCommerce keeps up with standard practices is its common use of hooks and filters. Consider a WordPress web page. WordPress creates the page piece by piece- for example the headers, titles, content, sidebar, footer. At every point inside of and in between those areas you can ‘hook in’ different code. Woocommerce provides its own sets of hooks and places to put filters.. And makes various parts of its pages unhookable to- making simplifying and uncomplicating its pages as incredibly easy as adding features.
Plugins for WooCommerce
I am not a fan of overloading a website with tons of features, to only make things so crazy and cumbersome they slow down the page loading or break the site on older browsers that can’t handle the complexity. With that said, there is a place for add-on code!
Plugins for WooCommerce include things like hooking in email newsletters, using different payment gateways and shipping tools, and applying different ways in which to look at or sort products.
Plugins are often at a cost as opposed to the free offering of WooCommerce itself, but these plugins run at a much lower price than those available for a system like Magento.
Quick Customization of WooCommerce
I mentioned above that the hook and filter system of WooCommerce is plenty easy to work inside of.
Product and Catalog pages can be customized quickly, and hook into the WooCommerce system in one place. Other ecommerce tools overload the process with applying layers upon layers of control- but when the point is to offer simple ecommerce tools to one website in often times just one language- WooCommerce wins.
I’m a fan, yes. And have I purchased a tool that will sit in my toolbox for a decade? Maybe not, but for the next 2 to 3 years- yes. And I hope forever. Of course maybe that’s just me getting old!