Part 1. The differences, Shopify and my opinion as a user.
Part 2. How to tackle the design hurdles. WordPress and my opinion as a user.
Part 3. The benefits of WordPress + Shopify and how I make it happen.
Shopify and WordPress, what’s the difference?
When venturing out on your ecommerce journey understanding the differences between Shopify and WordPress is essential. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion integrating both is the best option and I will explain why later.
To the User a website just looks like a functioning website right…! However as website designers / developers / deviners…at both the backend and frontend, Shopify and WordPress are different in virtually every way.
The simplest way to explain this is to imagine that Shopify is an out-of-the-box app. Once you have configured your settings, added your products and have attempted to add a few basic info pages you are ready to launch a basic fully functioning website.
WordPress is where designers and developers use their superpowers to make design dreams come true. It is, amongst other benefits, open source PHP software, versatile, responsive and free. It does require a lot of knowledge pertaining to its set up and hosting .
Currently wordpress runs 32% of all websites in the world, the second is Joomla which runs less than 3%…go figure.
Shopify, the advantages.
In short Shopify is a bootstrapping dream and a design storytelling nightmare.
I used Shopify when I set up my first company Nomad Design. A homewares and accessories company that specialised in hand making products from West African and Central Asian handwoven textiles and Moroccan homewares. Initially I used Squarespace and outgrew this platform within a year. Shopify was a fantastic second step towards growing my small business.
Shopify was designed specifically for ecommerce businesses and I found every aspect simple to configure. These can be configured by almost anyone. Their phone app meant I could run Nomad Design from my phone, from anywhere in the world all day everyday. Fulfilling orders was seamless, inventory tracking was easy, security was tiiiiight! setting up sales was easy, creating collections was easy, configuring the homepage, collection page and product page was simple and replying to clients via Ping was useful too. I could even make small amendments to the theme from my phone too… A lean set up if you are bootstrapping your business and only need the basics.
So, let’s run through the basic set up steps:
- Choose your plan (if integrating with wordpress get Lite)
- Create your Shopify account.
- Buy a template (the design settings apply to your homepage, collection pages and product pages, preview it beforehand).
- Configure the relevant settings for shipping, bank deposits, address, automated messages etc.
- Add your products and all relevant information; images, variants, pricing, SEO descriptions etc.
- Configure the preset elements of the template stylesheet. Fonts, font sizes, sections and their layouts etc.
- Now, info pages…faced with a 10 x 10cm text box to create an info page, eg. Who We Are. Hit publish aaaaaaaaand the page layout looks abysmal. Your images are squashed or sized weirdly, the text does not line up how you want it to, there are elements you want to add that don’t exist but the plugin is super expensive… You are stumped after adding some images and text and can’t figure out why it looks squashed and terrible. So, you carry on to the next step.
- Connect to your Mailchimp account. Configure this perfectly..
- All set? Hit go, share with your world, ping ping ping the sales come through and it works like a dream. It has a default structure for a database created by the default template builder. Ready-made and ready to go.
- Receive your first orders, ca-ching! and fulfil them with ease. (The barcode scanning feature when you fulfil your order is a godsend when you get busy with all our orders.)
A blissful period of sales and a few minor tweaks commences, until you realise your customers do want to hear the story. How did you start, why do you love artisan textiles and Moroccan ceramics? Who do you work with and the projects you have loved working on.
Turns out you should have hired that website designer now! Because now you are faced with hiring one of Shopify’s super spenny developers at approx $150 a task…
In my opinion, design and function are equally important when it comes to making website. On WordPress both design and function can work together equally and can be integrated with Shopify (my secret weapon).
Stay tuned for next week’s piece on WordPress and my thoughts on taking the leap to building on WordPress…