Magento as an ECommerce Platform – A Case Study

To date this year, I have inherited several Magento stores to perform web updates on. I thought I’d write a small post on my experience and thoughts in using the system and how that system translates to real world, non technical clients.

As a bit of background, I’m by no means a fully fledged Magento developer in the least. After a few hours of experimenting I managed to get a template based upon my design, up and running.

It’s common knowledge that Magento is touted as the best thing since sliced bread – you constantly see companies selling the (what I call), “Magento experience”. Sales based pitches such as “you’ll never need to upgrade again”, “Magento can do everything out of the box” and “Magento will infinitely scale with your business” are very common from web companies. The latter does not apply to all businesses in my experience. To illustrate, I’ll use the example of a client who came to me in despair at their current web company and Magento based website – I won’t be using any real names.
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CRO and SEO – The Essential Relationship

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of SEO related posts at the web design forum and have been contacted by a lot of seo agencies at work (my email may be doing the rounds). The thing that I’m most amazed by is what a narrow and ultimately incorrect, view of search engine optimisation some people and companies seem to have.

Let me elaborate.

As much as I love the web design forum, some of the advice given is frankly, awful, I can’t not post a reply. A lot of the advice given is a range of generic seo quotes that people have picked from the web. E.g. ‘use headings’, ‘have a keyword density of 4%’ and ‘get backlinks’. The majority of the advice centers around simply getting people on a website or appearing for a generic, competitive term. Compare the latter to SEO’s calling me up at work (and I quote) – “there are 9,000 people searching for xxxxx every month, imagine having 9,000 more people on your site every month”.

All this is fine in theory. However, say you do manage to appear for a generic competitive term or get 9,000 new people on your site – what then. There is a high likelyhood that your boucne rate (or percentage of people who leave your almost immediately) will increase a lot.

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JQuery UI Love

Recently, I’ve completed a fairly large project that involved an invoicing system and electronic time cards. As the system was based in house, I decided to make extensive use of JQuery UI. After taking some time to reflect on this I decided to show JQuery UI some love and write a short list of reasons whyit totally rocks, as it made my life as a developer a lot easier. Yes, it is overkill importing the whole Jquery UI library and using a single, none essential widget, on a one page smaller site. However, when you have a medium sized system, that requires a large range of interactions, there really isn’t anything else I’d rather use, personally.

The Range of Widgets Available

Firstly, I made use of nearly all the widgets available – this resulted in the final system being highly interactive and useable. For instance, having the ability to sort items simply via dragging and dropping when down extrememley well on the useability front with users. JQuery UI made it very easy to save these sorted positions to my database. Having to write something like this from scratch would have been impossible (for me anyway :)) and been very time consuming.The dashboard/portal area was another area, where the requyirement to personalise the location of various content boxes was made easy.

The JQuery Dialog went down a storm too on the useability front too, as people were used to nasty old default JavaScript ones – the ability to include HTML within each dialog, on the fly allowed me to achieve some pretty informative and useable diaglog.

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