First Impressions of Magento – eCommerce Platform
Got it installed last night
If you read my post yesterday, you know I installed Magento – eCommerce Platform. I have to say, after I actually got it it loaded an ready to go, it seemed more scary than it was. If you want to see what it looks like, take my rul and replace /blog with /magento. I don’t want to post a link, because I don’t want anyone trolling that isn’t reading this, and I got a ton of spam the past few days.
Love at first site?
Not love, but my thought was, “Wow, this is a nicely organized admin panel (which you can see a screen shot of below). Seemed easy enough to understand from the looks of it. You would be dead wrong though, if you thought that. Which I did….and I was. I have played with it now for about 2 hours, which in all honesty, you will need to do also if you plan on using it. If you have never used an eCommerce platform before, like me, then there is some stuff that will confuse the crap out of you. Getting a new product to display was not easy. Why? Because you have to create a category, which has a ton of options to choose and fill out, to put the product in. Then you have to create the product, make sure you place it into the category, fill out pricing, tax info, and a bunch of other stuff. It took me an hour and a half to actually get 1 product up.
Of course, now that I have done it, no problem next time. Except for the taxes part. What if you are just a designer/developer guy selling themes or something, do you need to charge tax? If so, do you have to enter the different percentages for every state? Where do you get that info? I plan on selling some WordPress themes, and I’m wondering now, if this package is just a little beyond the scope of what I need. Paypal is so much easier if I just need one or two buttons. These will be the questions you will be asking yourself with Magento.
I want to say that it is bloated as hell, that it didn’t need to have all this crap, but having never used an eComm, I have nothingn to compare it to. I just get the feeling that a much lighter option could have been developed.
CMS and themes
I am following a tutorial set over at Nettuts, which you can find part 1 of here, and after having just the little amount of experience I have now, I understand now why they decided to start directly from the install. Some of the comments there were like “I was expecting to get right into designing a theme, lets skip this crap!” If you don’t take the time to get to know the actual platform a little, Magento will kick you in the face with its complexity. Take it slow before you jump right in, or you will be hurting. From what I have read, creating a theme for Magento is NOTHING like making one for WordPress.
Speaking of which, if you use WP as a CMS/blog, you know then what the actual back-end CMS looks like. Easy to understand editor, with everything clearly labeled. If you do go to my /magento, you will notice that my home page content is a little jacked up. That is because I was messing with the editor to see what I was deleting where (I still haven’t figured out how to get to the sidebar editors or how to change them). The editor is indeed bloated with options, using a ton of icons that don’t seem all that intuitive. I had to hover over quite a few just to find out what they did. It reminds me of Joomla’s editor, and frankly, that is NOT a compliment.
Onward to customizing a theme
Now that I have a slight grasp on what it is that I am doing with the beast, I will move on to how to theme it. Doesn’t look easy from the little bits I have read, but I will keep you informed. Also note, I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, if you are installing this on a live server, do NOT import the sample data. That is mostly for you to try out and mess around with. I now have to delete everything, dump all the crap out of the database, and reinstall. They need a button that can just trash the sample. Oh well, part of the learning process, just don’t make the same mistake when doing it live.
Would you recommend Magento? That is what you were thinking in the back of your head right? I…don’t have an easy answer for you. If you are selling just one or two things, then no. Stick with some PayPal buttons or use some service online. If you are running a store front, then yes. I think the install was easy enough, and probably no different than most eCommerce solutions. The learning curve on this product though is higher than I thought it was going to be. Not impossible, just really freakin’ annoying.