With 23,751,208 downloads, WooCommerce powers over 28% of all online stores. (woocommerce.com)
I started building my first e-commerce store in 1995. In those days you pretty much coded everything from scratch. PHP was only just starting development; there were no significant frameworks or themes and WordPress wasn’t going to exist until 2003. Even the concept of e-commerce and paying for things with a credit card over a modem was foreign and scary to most people. When Amazon.com launched in 1995, all they sold was books. I remember asking one of my colleagues: “Why did they call themselves Amazon if they are just selling books?” Her reply: “They don’t plan on just selling books.” How right she turned out to be.
Fast forward 22 years and now every man, woman and their fox has an e-commerce site. Instead of having to invest millions of dollars and thousands of development hours you can go online and fire-up a brand new WooCommerce or other e-commerce store in a few minutes. When I look at what is available off the shelf via WooCommerce and its over 300 extensions it really boggles the mind. Yes, building an e-commerce website is so much easier than it was in the 90’s.
However, just because there are almost zero barriers to entry does not mean it is easy to create, configure and run a WooCommerce website. In fact, because there are so many millions of online stores these days and intense competition for every click, making a single sale is often the biggest challenge. So although technology has evolved there is still plenty of room for differentiation.
One of the things you will often hear about is how important website speed is. Thanks to useful free sites like webpagetest.org you’ll see comparisons like this:
Who wouldn’t want a site where everything is green? Well for one thing it costs money to pay for better servers and to maintain performance over time.
Once you have a handle on your performance you need to get a sense for how you are doing with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Security, and other potential issues. One useful free site that will run a quick scan against your site is from those helpful folks at wpmudev:
The report will provide lots of ideas on how to improve your website SEO and security. The higher the score the better of course, and just like performance these tend to go down over time so checking on your site periodically is highly recommended.
One of the web features that Google started pushing over two years ago was the use of SSL everywhere (i.e. secure https pages vs insecure http pages). In 2017, there really is no excuse to not be using SSL everywhere. But it turns out that not all SSL set-ups are the same. Fortunately there is a very useful tool created by Qualys that will provide an abundance of information about your SSL connection. Getting an A+ is much harder than you would imagine but we’re happy to say all of Double Fox’s sites currently have an A+.
You would think we’d be done with security after you have a nice shiny A+ for your SSL. Well you’d be wrong. Even with SSL your website has the potential to expose a lot of information about your website and be open to nefarious practices that will undermine the safety of your site and your visitors. So over the years security features have been added to browsers to further lock down your website. Unfortunately, millions of sites don’t use any of these features. A really great online tool to help you is run by Scott Helme at securityheaders.io and although we are just shy of A+ we’re much better than when we started with an F thanks to Scott’s useful site.
So many things to check and this is all before you actually start selling anything! We haven’t even begun to talk about which plugins to use, marketing campaigns, customer acquisition, retention, shipping and so much more. We’ll save them for future posts.
In the meantime, please go ahead and check your website using these tools:
And of course if you need help taking your website to the next level the foxes are here and keen to help!
(The two websites used for comparison in this post: StevensMagic.com and Tricksupply.com are respected magic dealers appealing to similar audiences. Double Fox created and manages StevensMagic.com but we are not directly associated with Tricksupply.com.)