Moving My Plugin Shop To WooCommerce

I’m finally making a change I’ve been mulling over for several months.  I’m switching platforms for my plugin shop from Magento to WordPress and will be selling plugins with WooCommerce.

Evolution of a site

When I began freelancing six years ago I started Grow Development as a freelance web developer business. I was building Magento sites for clients when I needed my own site so it was an easy choice to build my own site using the same platform.  Magento isn’t the best choice for a portfolio site, but the CMS features were usable and I used the ecommerce capabilities to accept payments from clients.  I had WordPress installed in a subdirectory for a blog and even though there are methods for single-sign-on and data sharing between the two platforms I was still running two separate sites.

When I quit client work to focus on building products I changed the site to a pure ecommerce site and not the portfolio-Frankensite I had cobbled together. Since most of my products sell on other marketplaces I sell only one plugin on my own site.  Magento hummed along just fine albeit was a little overkill. Using Magento to sell one digital product was like using an 18 wheeler to deliver a hand written note.

Time for a change

Being a WooNinja with WooThemes supporting WooCommerce extensions I now spend the majority of my time in WordPress.  Beyond spending most of my development time in WordPress I also spend time in the WP community at WordCamps, in IRC, and local meetups.

Even though I don’t do client work anymore I manage over a dozen WordPress sites for friends and family.  When I looked at a lineup of the sites I run my plugin shop was the odd man out. It was a lone red line in a sea of blue. I recently added an InfiniteWP control panel to manage all of the WordPress sites and that was the last straw. I was ready for a change.

DDD:  Developers Doing Design?

I said I’ve been mulling over the move for a few months, but the reality is that I’ve been fidgeting over a design for the site. My wife has the gift of speaking the truth and often reminds me that I’m a developer not a designer. After trying a few premium themes and pondering hiring a designer to create a custom design I decided to go against her sage advice and do the design myself. Since I’m not a designer my ‘process’ took several months and made little progress. Because of this I kept putting off the move.

Finally a good friend who is a talented designer stepped in and offered advice to help smooth the edges of my work in progress design. Emboldened by having a design I wouldn’t be embarrassed to show off at a party I coded the site using Underscores as a base because I wanted the site to be responsive and I wanted to learn the theme.

I had to build WooCommerce compatibility into Underscores and tweak several of the WooCommerce templates. I’m still finishing some of the design and content, but am excited about the new look and feel.

The purchase process in WooCommerce is very similar to the former one. Customers can access digital downloads as soon as the purchase is made.  I’m using my Pushover for WooCommerce plugin for sales notifications while I wait for the native WC app.  I’ll blog about any other tweaks or modifications that I make.

Selling plugins with WooCommerce

My reasons for switching platforms are:

  1. Easier Management: Using the InfiniteWP control panel I can automate many admin tasks and have a single point of access for the rest.
  2. SEO: There’s probably a comparable plugin to Yoast’s SEO in the Magento world, but I don’t know what it is, and don’t want to spend time finding/learning/working with it.
  3. Same Payment Gateways: I use Stripe and PayPal for collecting funds and WooCommerce has both so this was a lateral move.
  4. More Simple File Structure: Magento’s unique theme/plugin structure is infamous. I like having all files for a plugin or theme in one directory.
  5. Mobile App:  I use the WordPress iOS app to check vanity statistics, reply to comments and record ideas. Also, I’ve seen an upcoming WooCommerce iOS app that I’m excited to use.
  6. Support Site: I’m going to be building a support site to compliment my products and that will be built on WordPress.

Overall the move will save time and mental energy by having all sites on a unified platform.  I will still be developing plugins for Magento and am very excited about the future of Magento 2, but my day-to-day sales effort will be with WooCommerce.