More on the new store

The new Magento based store is now fully working (except for the PayPal account, of course) and we will have enough fine art prints available in the new range of sizes to open the store on the 8th March  2009.

Getting the store (B.T.W. which term do people prefer: store or shop?)  up and running was relatively straightforward but far from simple. The documentation is not the most comprehensive I have seen but in its favour it has an active forum where you are very likely to find a solution to most any common problems and the software is pretty much “feature complete” “right-out-of-the-box”.  So for basic use it is simply a matter of choosing a theme and away you go! That is assuming you are running it on your own server. If, like us, you are running on a shared host you need a provider who is either very understanding, like ours, or one that is optimised for Magento. It is rather demanding of the server. We think we have ours configured for our use.

We didn’t want our store to look like anyone else’s, of course, so I had to modify the theme a little. I started with the Telescope theme from www.magthemes.com, there are only a few free themes available, with hindsight I would, probably, been better off starting from the Default, Modern or Blank theme that come with Magento. A lot of the look and feel of the site is done using CSS so it is quite easy to change although without any documentation there is a lot of trial and (mostly) error. I also wanted to modify some of the basic behaviours of the theme so that meant delving into the PHP/HTML and XML of the template. Finding which template file to start looking for a particular element on a page is made very easy with a little function  you can get from the developer’s configuration page for the store (Magento can support multiple stores in one website as well as multiple websites) that highlights (in bright red just so you don’t miss it) the .phtml file responsible for each block on the page. Tracking back to the actual piece of code you need to get at may take a little longer.

One other feature we have installed is an iPhone/iPod friendly interface. The iPhone is detected automatically and the user will then be presented with a simplified interface that is suited to the small screen of the iPhone. If there is enough interest in this we will look at extending it to other mobile formats. The rest of the site is not yet mobile friendly but when the new store is up and running and time allows I will look at the possibility of converting it. Anyone who does want to see the rest of the site mobile friendly and/or would like to use other mobile formats in the store please let me know in the comments and which type of mobile you would be using.

Mike

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