So recently I started to join the WooCommerce community on both Facebook and LinkedIn. What impresses me is that just like the WordPress community, the WooCommerce community is full of enthusiastic, charismatic and supportive members.
One of the greatest WooCommerce groups I joined is the Advanced WooCommerce group on Facebook (which reminds me of the Advanced WordPress group). From here I discovered that many members are willing to tell their stories as well as share their experiences regarding WooCommerce. One of the coolest developers there I had a chance to talk with is Eric Buckley.
Here is what we discussed together. It’s all about WooCommerce why he chose this platform, his thoughts on building a good e-commerce WordPress website with WooCommerce, and the e-commerce market there in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is living.
Hi Eric. Let’s start with introducing a little about yourself.
Eric is the owner and lead developer at Siam Communications
I am the Lead Developer at DSA Global (dosa.io) based in Thailand. I have been running my own Web Development company in Bangkok (Siam Communications) for the last 7 years and recently merged with DSA Global. My web development projects are primarily PHP, with a focus on WordPress and WooCommerce websites.
You can get connected with Eric via his profiles here:
Twitter: @erbuc and @siamcomm
LinkedIn: Eric Buckley
There are many solutions for building e-commerce websites. Why did you choose WooCommerce to work with?
I have tried many e-commerce platforms. But I have found the WooCommerce platform to be better suited to small companies that want control over their web shops while allowing them an easy, browser based method for keeping their web sites up to date.
Do you use WooCommerce for your own store?
I have a few e-commerce shops of my own which I have recently ported to WooCommerce.
So, while building your websites with WooCommerce, how did you find suitable themes and plugins for your WooCommerce website? Where did you start the adventure? Via WooThemes.com or Google, social groups or anywhere else?
I always start from WooThemes when determining the style and functionality of my WooCommerce websites. But I tend to find some of the best themes and plug-in from the Envato websites.
What is the budget for building your WooCommerce websites?
Budgets vary greatly based on what is being sold, the number of products, and many other factors that the business dictates. I walk all of my clients through a process to help them understand the requirements before any work is started, and develop a firm budget.
In your opinion, what are the MUST HAVE plugins for launching a basic WooCommerce website?
As far as “must have plug-ins”, the first and most important consideration is security, followed by SEO and performance. So I tend to use the following as a base plug-in set:
- iThemes Security
- WordPress HTTPS
- WP DB Manager
- Little Hippo (basic SEO)
- WordPress SEO or All In One SEO (optional)
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Smush.it
I’d also like to add a few WooCommerce tools, but only if they will benefit the shop owner or improve the user experience:
- WP-Mail-SMTP – Allows the user to add a more personal email address when the system sends automated mails (replaces email@example.com)
- WooCommerce Print Invoice & Delivery Note – It’s nice to provide a personal note when shipping items to your customers
- Screets Live Chat – Enables you to conduct live chats with your website visitors, all from the WordPress dashboard
Wow. Great list there. I’m sure many WooCommerce users can take a look and try some of these.
So, how long have you been working with WooCommerce? What do you think about it?
I have been using WooCommerce for a few years now. As with all e-commerce platforms, I still think there is a lot more work that could be done to make the operation of an e-commerce site much easier. But I do think that WooCommerce has come a long way since it first launched.
As far as I know, you’re also WooCommerce developer. So, as a WooCommerce theme developer, do you have any tips for fellow developers out there to craft real good WooCommerce theme?
Yes I do some WooCommerce development. The best advice I could give is “keep to the standards and code”. Like WordPress, WooCommerce also provides hooks (actions, filters) that let you hook into events as they are processed on a page. I find many developers ignore these hooks in favor of writing their own code and basically breaking out of the flow.
I have found a few themes that state they are “built for WooCommerce”. But once a WooCommerce update becomes available and is applied, the theme stops functioning properly. Do your homework and ensure that best practice is applied.
I must also say though that this issue also needs to be addressed by the folks that develop WooCommerce. If they could restructure their documentation better and keep it up to date, I feel it would assist theme developers in making their themes even more compliant. There is a lot of documentation, but it seems a bit disjointed in many places.
And what do you think users should be aware of when choosing a WooCommerce theme for their needs?
Scalability and compatibility. If you purchase a theme for WooCommerce, check out the themes forums and comments area. This will tell you if users are having a lot of issues with the theme before you make the commitment to purchase. You want a theme that doesn’t break when you update the WooCommerce plugin or WordPress.
Another thing to look out for is add-on plug-ins. Many theme developers now bundle plug-ins that are required for their theme. Some of these plug-ins function, but still require you to purchase an additional license to use all of the features. I really feel this is a bad direction that many theme developers are taking by including many additional plug-ins, especially when they require an additional license to be purchased.
What do you think about the potential of WooCommerce in the future?
I feel WooCommerce is well positioned to become the preferred e-commerce platform. Especially with the popularity of WordPress. But performance will continue to be an issue, as will simplicity and scalability.
How’s about Thailand? What do you think about the WooCommerce community there? Honestly I’m really interested in e-commerce market there too, especially WooCommerce.
Thailand is still playing catch up with the rest of the world on the e-commerce front. But they are catching up quickly. When I first started in web development, getting a payment gateway specific to Thailand was impossible. Now there are at least 2 very robust payment gateway options here.
During the past year, the number of e-commerce start-ups seems to have skyrocketed. I’m looking forward to seeing this market develop further.
Did you know about WooConf 2014 which was held recently? Did you have chance to join in? The WooRockets team didn’t have the chance to join in this year. I really hope that we can attend next year’s WooConf. Will you attend?
I did hear about the conference but I was unable to join in. Perhaps when we get more staff on board to handle our current workload, I can take some time to enjoy next year’s conference.
Thank you so much for sharing so many valuable experiences and thoughts here, Eric. Let’s keep in contact and exchange ideas regularly!
Do you have stories and experiences to share with us and other developers here? Please feel free to let me know by leaving a comment here, or buzz me via @vivian.jedi. I’d love to learn more from you, so let’s get in touch!