If you are into WooCommerce, you won’t want to miss the chance to learn from other WooCommerce warriors in the community.
As one of the members in the Advanced WooCommerce group on Facebook, I’ve been watching the WordPress Community here getting more and more supportive in helping each other to resolve their problems with WooCommerce. Currently, with more than
300 10,700members, the group is still growing and busy with questions as well as comments each day.
This time, I’d like to bring you an interesting WordPress developer interview with Constantin Schneider one of the admins of Advanced WooCommerce. We talked about the Advanced WooCommerce group itself and Constantin shared many of his real life experiences with WooCommerce development with us.
Here we go!
Please introduce yourself a little bit to our readers.
My name is Constantin Schneider. I am 33 years old and currently live in Mainz, Germany. At the moment I work at conceptArchitects, a small-sized company that sells online shops and sites built on WordPress and WooCommerce. I am the technical lead there and responsible for technical setup, troubleshooting, embedding plugins, customization and customer support.
You can find me online on Facebook and Twitter via @conschneider.
The Advanced WooCommerce (AW) group was created recently but there are more and more members joining and exchanging thoughts in this group. What were the reasons for you to create AW group? What do you hope members in the group will get from joining the group?
Two months ago I read a post at WPTavern. They cited Matt Mullenweg and his 5% rule of thumb:
I think a good rule of thumb that will scale with the community as it continues to grow is that organizations that want to grow the WordPress pie (and not just their piece of it)should dedicate 5% of their people to working on something to do with core- be it development, documentation, security, support forums, theme reviews, training, testing, translation or whatever it might be that helps move WordPress mission forward.
I had joined the “Advanced WordPress” group a couple of weeks before that and was delighted to see how alive the community there was. Every day, a couple of people came with their questions. Every day, most of them had a reaction or even a complete answer within hours. It was impressive and exciting to see this.
I find providing support very interesting. Good customer support requires a multitude of elements: the ability to listen and to change your perspective combined with professional knowledge plus good communication skills.
WordPress and its community has given me so much. For the last 12 years I have been able to make my living all thanks to WordPress, WooCommerce and its great community. Many plugins that I come across, I donate some bucks whenever I find that PayPal button. I have also asked developers to setup their PayPal donate button, when I could not find one. I hold the values of Open Source in high regard and am ever so grateful for them.
One day, as I was scrolling through the AWP posts, I noticed a post where somebody had commented on how WooCommerce post always get so little attention and if there was a dedicated group. The replies told him that there was none, one I remember urged him to open one up: “Do it!”
At that point I had had the same thought for a couple of weeks and when I read the post it resurfaced. This time I kept on thinking, but I waited if something would happen in reaction to the comments I had read.
Nothing happened. One week passed and I decided to take a leap of faith. I had never opened a Facebook group, let alone for such a big topic. I posted in AWP if somebody would be willing to support me in my idea. Not one minute passed and Ines van Essen responded to support me. 15 minutes later I opened up the group and 24h later we were over a hundred members. Among them Bryce Adams from WooThemes who had joined after Matt Cromwell had suggested it. It was a wonderful experience.
It’s surely a good thing you did because many WooCommerce users now can find a place to ask for support with their problems.
What do you think about the growth of AW in the near future? Still a place to share experiences and help each other? Do you have any plan to widen the community?
In the future I hope that the group will be a great place to get help for WooCommerce and to connect with people that share the same passion about the greatest eCommerce system I know.
In the coming days I will organize a meetup of admins to discuss the further development and get everyone’s perspective and ideas on how to proceed. Since there are now a number of members that work at WooThemes (among them Mark Forrester) this is really exciting.
Wow, I’d love to know more about the further development you guys are planning on. Maybe I could talk about it with you after the admin meetup.
Regarding your own experience, what kind of challenges did you have with WooCommerce? How did you get over them? I’m sure many readers can relate to and learn from your experience.
WooCommerce and WordPress are simple and stable out of the box. The greatest challenge for me, and I believe for most people, always is the customizing of the plugins and overall site to cater to my needs. Having a system run smoothly with 50+ activated plugins can be quite challenging.
At the moment I am up to 67 active plugins with Canvas as theme and the site is still running fast and stable. I love Canvas very much since it does play very well with most plugins and therefore saves me a lot of time compared to other premium themes that have more embedded plugins. Framework themes for me are a lot better to work with since I like finding and installing my own plugins rather than using embedded ones.
One of the biggest challenges I had for the recent shop I built was the topic payment and automatic invoices. The shop sells services as a product, thus the prices are rather high (480 and higher). The requirements were allowing deposits, recurring payments, subscriptions, automatic invoice generation and payment reminders. In the end I used a combination of:
to achieve the right process. At the moment we are quite happy with the solution and I plan on adding WooCommerce API Manager soon to further extend functionality.
Since most of the products needed to be configurable I also had to look around for a suitable “product customization” plugin. This took rather long, as I needed the plugin not only to allow for flexible configuration but also for it to change the price with each option selected.
I tried all the extensions I found on WooThemes but they left me unsatisfied. Finally I found WooCommerce Extra Product Options which for me is the most flexible and overall best solution for this. I have been recommending the plugin ever since. It does an outstanding job and also plays nice with other advanced Woo plugins (i.e. Subscriptions) which is really something.
Thank you for such a detailed and valuable experience sharing. The capability of WooCommerce is really impressive. No wonder WooCommerce has been praised as the ultimate solution for eCommerce WordPress websites. Do you agree?
Absolutely, a 2-minute install and off you go with your very own online shop. How awesome is that? I am always very impressed with how stable Woo and WordPress run. I used to work with other CMS and eCommerce systems in the past years and compared to WooCommerce they are all very cumbersome.
Before I committed myself to WooCommerce only, I did look around at the other solutions. I looked at simple cart plugins, Jigoshop of course, the WP-eCommerce plugin and many more. In the end none performed as smooth or were as compatible with other WordPress plugins as was Woo. Four years ago I decided to work with WooCommerce exclusively and I have never looked back.
The perfect integration with WordPress makes so much possible. Sometimes the saying “standing on the shoulders of giants” comes to my mind, when I think about the possibilities that I have, thanks to Woo.
Did you join the WooCommerce Conference this year? I’d love to know what it was like, since like many others, I didn’t get the chance to be there. Please share with us.
I would have loved to, but by the time I had heard of it, it was already too late for me to go. I bet they all had a blast and am very jealous. But do count me in for WooConf #2!
Let’s talk about the upcoming WooCommerce 2.3. Please share with us your thoughts on what will be coming in the new version?
The handsome hippo, yes :). I heard that email customization will be improved and am excited to see this feature. This is something that I have been waiting for quite some time, so kudos. The hippo will also bring a new flat design and I am very curious how this will look. I try to stay updated via Develop WooCommerce but overall I just wait around until the release before I become fully engaged and read up on all the info provided.
What do you usually do and enjoy when not being a WooCommerce ninja?
When I am not working I enjoy playing around with Ableton live and make some electronic music sets. Every week I go contact juggling at the university or do a little weight training; both help me to put my thoughts far away from work.
I always have one or two books that I read. Audiobooks are fun but at the moment I am back to paper. I currently read “Thinking Fast and Slow” which is awesome and the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” which I just started. Since I also want to improve my coding skills I have signed up for a Treehouse account recently and am very curious on how this will go.
I also like measuring myself with my jawbone up and from time to time accept the little challenges the app suggests. Every now and then, when there is a good DJ around I hit the clubs with my friends to enjoy a night out on the dance floor. Since Christmas season is coming up, there are a couple of very good parties that I really look forward to.
That sounds really entertaining and lots of fun. For me, I love reading books too (yes paper, not eBook or audio ones though). Mostly, books I’m reading are from Haruki Murakami and Japanese related.People usually joke thatdevelopers have no life but they’re totally wrong, aren’t they? (smile)
Thank you so much Constantin for spending time with me and this interview.
Next time we’ll have another WordPress Developer Interview series with Danny Santoro and then Bryce Adams from WooThemes. I can’t wait to share with you what I learnt about WooCommerce and its community from them. Stay tuned!