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Category Archives: Tips

One Step Checkout for Magento: Awesome Checkout vs. OneStepcheckout

We recently got the chance to work with a new checkout solution called “Awesome Checkout” which is built by a company called Anatta Design. The extension was used for a client of ours who is using Magento Enterprise. Awesome Checkout claims to be “full of shortcuts” and to eliminate checkout errors, making a swift checkout “foolproof”.

While Awesome Checkout has a customizable admin panel, we modified the checkout’s CSS file and found it to be well-organized and simple. It was easy to implement the brand with the CSS, but anyone who is less code-savvy could use the admin to achieve their desired look. For more customization, Awesomecheckout’s “Awesome Package” ($999) offers styling.

What Makes it different?

The first thing you’ll notice about Awesome Checkout is that it is full of prompts, suggestions, and shortcuts. Once you begin entering your email, Awesome Checkout Immediately detects whether or not you have an existing account. Then, you can choose to either log in, or continue as a guest.

Awesome Checkout also immediately notifies users if they may have inputted incorrect or incomplete information. This is great because you don’t need to get all the way through checkout before finding out you needed to give your last name along with your first name. The feedback isn’t always negative. Sometimes Awesome Checkout just wants to remind you that certain inputs need to be formatted in a certain way.

Awesome Checkout will complete your address for you once you enter your zip code, which makes this step quick, because you don’t have to find your state in a long drop down.

Awesome Checkout Pros:

- Easy to Customize the styles, colors, buttons, and page elements.
- Clean, Responsive design works well in desktop and mobile views.
- Helpful tips and prompts along the way
- Autofilled address based on Zip Code
- Compatible with most popular payment gateways and shipping providers
- Available in seven different languages
- Ability to easily back-track and correct errors along the way.

Awesome Checkout Cons:

- The checkout page needs a little extra customization work. While it comes with a header and footer area, your Magento partner will need to add the header and footer from your theme for a completely integrated look.
- The layout is not as simple to change as the styles and colors. While we originally wanted to try a two-column layout, we realized that with all the prompts and suggestion, this would become extremely complicated, so we saved time by keeping it simple.
- Awesome Checkout is a little more expensive that OneStepCheckout ($199)

Overall Recommendation:

Awesome Checkout is a good solution if your biggest concern is getting users through checkout as quickly as possible. It’s helpful along the way, and integrates very well with your Magento Website (as long as you have a knowledgeable Magento partner who can style it and add your header and footer).

We have personally found it easy to work with and during testing, have found the checkout process swift and easy, whether you choose to check out as a guest or as a registered customer.

What we did:

We have used OneStepCheckout on multiple occasions to eliminate the traditional Magento six checkout steps and create a simple and easy checkout process.

We installed and configured this checkout extension, and then used CSS to style it to match the branding of our client. I found this theme a little more challenging to style than Awesome Checkout, because it relies too heavily on images in its styles. For example, the “place order now” button uses a gradient image in its background, which is quite annoying from a developer’s perspective. The numbered steps also use images, which is unnecessary.

What Makes it different?

OneStepCheckout claims to “simplify the checkout process” and eliminating “unnecessary questions”. OneStepCheckout also eliminates the idea of checkout out with registration as part of the checkout process. Instead, customers can choose to login via a link outside the form, or they can create an account by simply adding a password after they’ve entered their billing address.

OneStepCheckout’s claim to fame is the use of a single page that never bounces users anywhere else, allowing them to see the the entire checkout process to understand where the end is. It also automatically updates the “Review Your Order” segment , so customers can be sure their order will be placed correctly.

OneStepCheckout Pros:

- Keeps the user on one page, where the end is in sight.
- Removes the confusion that sometimes comes when users need to choose whether to checkout as a guest or a registered customer
- Aims for simplicity and the elimination of anything that may be unnecessary.
- Cheaper than Awesome Checkout. Currently costing $149

OneStepCheckout Cons:

- This checkout is not responsive, which is a big problem for most modern websites. Hopefully OneStepCheckout will update to be responsive, but I have personally styled the OneStepCheckout to make it mobile-friendly, and it wasn’t that difficult.
- Styling the OneStepCheckout involves overwriting image backgrounds and image graphics, which is unnecessary.
- We have found that OneStepCheckout sometimes “hangs” when calculating information, which caused a problem.

Overall Recommendation:

OneStepCheckout is a really good solution if you’re looking for simplicity. Your customers will be able to visually understand that the checkout process will be quick and easy. Because of the “hanging” problem we’ve encountered, make sure you test thoroughly and ask your Magento partner if they can share any unit or performance test they have performed with this method, to make sure it will work well with your website.

In Conclusion:

These are two really great checkouts that we’ve had success with. Your choice depends on a couple of factors. While Awesome Checkout is extremely helpful and almost foolproof, OneStepCheckout makes the process visually simple and makes the process in its entirety easy to digest.

 

Posted in Magento Checkout | 1 Comment

Why Hover States Matter

You’re probably wondering why hover states on your website matter so much. It’s something that often gets overlooked, but in the web design world they’re very important for the user experience and functionality of your website.

 

Okay, What’s A Hover State?

First off, a “hover state” is a link located anywhere on your website that changes its’ color or design once the user hovers over it with their mouse. Most users are familiar with this, but this is when you would see the little arrow change into a hand with a pointing finger. This allows the user to know that this object is clickable.

Example from CatScarf

 

But Why Does It Matter So Much?

The user needs to know when and where to click. This is how people navigate through your site. If they can’t figure it out, there’s a good chance they’ll get frustrated and leave.

Here are a few ways to have an effective hover state:

  1. When the link isn’t active, make sure to let the user know that it’s an actual link and they are allowed to click. Like stated above, the arrow needs to change to the pointing hand.
  2. Some websites remove the underline that usual appears under a link. If you happen to do this, make sure the user knows it’s clickable.
  3. Having a hover state in your navigation is extremely important. Without it the user will not know where to click. They could be hovering between two links without knowing the actual location of the pointer.
Example from Munchery

 

Conclusion

To make it absolutely clear to your user that the link is indeed a link, you can either have the text bold or a different color that separates it from the rest of the text. The link won’t get lost within the text by doing this.

Images or buttons that are links can have a hover state as well. The color of the image or button could change or it can be a completely different image.  Just make sure the user knows it’s clickable.

Example from Matt & Nat

Posted in Design, Web Design | Leave a comment

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July from Shero Designs!

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How Much Does a Magento Website Cost: General Pricing Guidelines and What to Look For

— Last Update June 2nd, 2014

It has been a little over a year since we posted this article on Magento website cost. A lot has changed since then. Last year Magento released Magento Enterprise Premium and in the past week they announced that by February 1st, 2015 Magento Go will no longer be supported by Magento. So, anything that you’ll read about Magento Go on this post is a thing of the past. The platform will be shut down by next year. This update includes a detailed description of what Magento Enterprise entails and what we believe, from our experience,  the rates are for a Magento website.

The number one question we get asked from new clients who are looking to develop a Magento store is “How much does a Magento website Cost?”. While Magento is a very powerful, feature rich shopping cart, there are a number of expenses associated with setting up a Magento store. Most of these expenses occur when using Magento Community or Magento Enterprise edition. Magento Go is relatively cheaper when compared with the other two versions of Magento, but as you’ll see in this article has its limitations as well.

In short, as of June 2014 the Magento licensing costs as posted by Magento it self are:

Magento Go – $180 – $1500 per year (billed monthly) simple small business solution
Magento Community (CE) – Free to download and use, medium-large size businesses
Magento Enterprise (EE) – $15,000 per year (enterprise business solution), large size businesses
Some Facts and Reality Check

If you don’t feel like reading the whole article, click on the version of the Magento above and you’ll be taken to that section of the article. Yet I recommend reading it all as I will also go over some the differences between Magento versions and some advice on choosing somebody to work with.

The price of a Magento store can vary as much as the price of setting up a physical store, which often depends on what is the square footage, how many stories, what equipment/furniture is being used, who is the company building it, what is their experience, etc. Therefore, coming up with a price tag is not that easy. The final price of a Magento eCommerce website varies greatly and depends on what your goals are and how will you know when the expected results are achieved. Doing extensive research and preferably putting together an RFP prior to contacting a Magento provider is highly recommended.

Lets first start with the different versions of Magento that will significantly affect the final cost of a Magento store:

FREE CONSULTATION!

Need help setting up your Magento website? Contact us today to talk about how we can help you. We have a variety of solutions to fit MOST budgets! Fill out our contact form by clicking here and you will receive a response, typically within hours!

Magento Go
Magento Go makes it easy for you to start selling quickly. Magento Go is best suited for entrepreneurs and small businesses where you can set up a store and start selling online within hours. It is the most basic form of Magento which is a hosted by Magento it self. The fact that Magento Go is a hosted solution means that business owners don’t need to worry about hosting and core Magento installation. There is no need to worry about servers and software. Magento Go handles everything for you. The basic Magento Go cost starts at $15 per month. For every 100MB of additional storage you use above the amount specified in your plan Magento charges $10 per each Gigabyte of additional bandwidth. The most that we’ve seen Magento Go cost monthly is $150 a month. At that point, businesses are doing very well and they will usually upgrade to Magento Community.

Magento Community
Magento Community is the most popular version of Magento. It is open source and free to download. To set up a store merchants need to contract a Magento developing company or a single developer. Businesses using Magento CE to run their stores don’t have access to technical support for this software. Answers to many technical questions are available on the Magento user forum.

Provided that you have found a Magento developer or a Magento company, there are endless possibilities of customizing the store with additional features and functionality by installing extensions from the Magento Connect marketplace or other third party companies who specialize in Magento Extension development.

Magento Enterprise
Whereas Magento CE does not come with professional support, only a message board, the Magento EE version offers professional reports for businesses and their tech support team to ensure everything runs smoothly. This option is for businesses who make most of their revenue through eCommerce. The biggest reason, however, is the customization Magento Enterprise allows. This will help your eCommerce store be much different than any other store in your industry. If you have a large catalog that has special requirements or you wish to accept gift card payments or even offer private sales, it can all be done with Magento Enterprise. In addition to that, the Enterprise platform allows for multiple admin levels and an easy to manage CMS. This option creates a seamless process from order to accounting to shipping.

Due to Enterprise’s strong commitment to creating a platform where customers can purchase goods fluidly and seamlessly, regardless of which device he or she is using, as well as it’s plethora of options to give the business owner the greatest dynamic with their website, Enterprise is the height of Magento’s possibilities.

Enterprise allows the business owner to optimize complete control over everything that the customer could ask for. Automatic functions that are standard in the field, such as email notifications, are complemented by even more specific tasks. These functions include:
recommended products
automatic additions to wish lists/shopping carts
reminders

Customer segments are created to help the business owner distinguish between a demographic area, first time, and repeat visitors. Customer shopping carts and buying histories are also recorded to show where their interests lie. Segments also help match special content, promotions, and pricing. These segments can be used to suggest similar products, increasing order values as it does so.

Allows product reviews to be written, which increases attention and interest of customers. With easy searching and navigation, and with more filters to choose from, customers can find exactly what they’re looking for with little to no hassle.

A one page checkout option, along with multiple payment/shipping choices, enables greater ease and comfort for customers who want to buy products without a mess of computer nonsense to sort through first. Wish-lists and payment plans can also be implemented to make things even easier.

There are also several incentives that can be managed to help bring more customers back such as special VIP sections where only certain prices are revealed to specific customers with valid codes.

Gifts have never been made easier. Whether its a gift from you to your customer in the form of a gift registry, or a gift card purchase by your customer directly, any type of gifting is made accessible to all parties. Store credit can also be offered in lieu of any product returns. Coupons can also be created to target specific customer segments, products, categories, dates, and times. Unique codes can be added to emails, newsletters, or promotions in order to track coupon effectiveness.

Enterprise also generates SEO-friendly URLs, a Google site map, customized meta keywords, and descriptions. New content, videos, and rich media can all be easily entered into the system creating the place for dynamic widgets that can showcase specials and promotions.

It’s also designed specifically to allow seamless computer to mobile device transitions. With swipe and zoom technology throughout the mobile device, customers can drag and drop products into their shopping cart. The HTML5 interface supports multiple devices and browsers, but you can also create a branded native storefront for iPhone, iPad, and Android.

Enterprise is built to manage tens of thousands of transactions every hour. It features full-page caching and persistent bandwidth for fast loading times. All transactions are configurable for multiple currencies and tax rates. You can use it to maintain a list of accepted countries, site registrations, shipping destinations, billing addresses, and more. A strong data encryption for secure transactions is set in place to protect not only you, but your customers’ information.

The business owner can also manage multiple stores from one account if they have more than one business they want to keep track of. Hundreds of applications and extensions are available to make your site entirely unique and customizable. These can include: CRM, ERP, accounting, payment processing, shipping, call centers, and much more.

There is also a secure testing area where you can test your site before going live with it. You can test the site, modules, customizations, back up systems, databases, and media prior to ever revealing it to the public. With this feature, there is no concern for excess downtime or undue burdens placed upon customers who wish to purchase your featured products.

Since we went over a simple overview of what each option of Magento does, here is a simple functionality guide that you should be looking for when getting a quote for a Magento website. The proposal must address such issues and discuss if not all, most of the features with each associated package.

Basic Magento Website Cost: $20,000.00- $42,000.00

This option is for companies who are moving from a hosted platform or starting up from scratch. There are two ways that you can get a basic Magento website started. The first is by choosing a prebuilt theme, which is cheaper but some time limiting as to how much customization can be done on the theme. We will not get into details here because this can be its own article. The second option is converting a PSD design into a Magento store which doesn’t limit you on how your website should look and functionality wise. Nonetheless, both options require a good deal of time to set up, configure, customize and test. Hence the above cost.

- Under 6000 SKU’s
- Install the Latest Community Magento Edition
- Integrate/Install a chosen Theme into the latest stable version of Magento
- Simple Design Implementation
- Set up Transactional Emails with Logo
- Inventory System or POS Integration
- Integrate Payment Processor such as Authorize.net and alternative payment methods from PayPal, Amazon, Google etc.
- SSL Set Up
- Product and Category Setup and Configuration
- No Integration with Back Office Systems
- Testing
- Basic Shipping & Tax Configuration Set Up
- Internal quality assurance (QA) to ensure cross-browser compatibility and functioning of all features

Custom Magento Website Cost: $42,000.00 – $100,000.00 and Up

This option is for bigger, established retailers who do most of their business online and are either moving from a different eCommerce platform or are upgrading their existing Magento websites. It provides a complete solution to online selling and with a business continuity plan in place for growth.

- More than 6000 SKU’s
- SEO Advanced Package
- SEO Starter Package
- Inventory System or POS Integration
- Multilingual Store Front
- Advanced 301 Redirects
- Custom Home Page Design, Check Out Page, Product Landing Page Etc
- Custom Banner/Graphics
- Different Pricing for Wholesale, Partners, and Retail Customers
- One Page Checkout
- Address Validation at Checkout
- Advanced Reviews
- Auto-Complete Search
- Gift Registry
- WordPress Blog Integration
- Social Media Sharing Option
- Facebook Login
- Connection With Back office Accounting Systems, Sales Force, Rewards Program, and Other Affiliate Marketing Systems
- Testing/ QA
- Code Documentation
- Warranty and Support
- Data Migration
- Advanced Shipping Configuration

FREE CONSULTATION!

Need help setting up your Magento website? Contact us today to talk about how we can help you. We have a variety of solutions to fit MOST budgets! Fill out our contact form by clicking here and you will receive a response, typically within hours!

Magento Enterprise Cost $100,000-$250,000 and Up

Along all the features included above in the Custom Magento website cost, Magento EE comes with the following additional features:

- Mobile Commerce
- Multiple Stores
- Full Page Caching
- Free Professional Customer Support
- Built in Modules
- Large Amount of SKU’s
- Private Sales, Wholesale, Gift Registries
- Hosted By Magento
- Search Engine Optimization
- Customer Segmentation
- Targeted Promotions & Merchandising
- Custom Coupons
- Return Management Authorization

Here is a fact check on Magento pricing:

1) Designing, building and configuring a Magento website requires time and advanced PHP development knowledge. If somebody tells you they can do it in a week, it probably won’t happen.

2) These numbers refer to what the industry prices for a Magento website run on average. Take in to consideration that proper web design companies have overhead and full-time intelligent people with salaries who will work on your project.

3) If the price of a Magento website sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember the saying “You get what you pay for”.

4) A college student or just a PHP developer alone can not build a Magento website. Such a project requires multiple people with different technical skills such as SEO, Analytics Expert, Web Design, Graphic Artist, Front and Back End Development.

5) Offshore developers can certainly create your website for much cheaper. When will the website be completed and will it be completed as promised is a matter of hit or miss.

6) Come up with a budget and a project scope or RFP before requesting a quote. Submit it to multiple companies and then compare apples-to-apples.

7) Building a Magento website and thinking that it will magically layout golden eggs is not a norm. As in the real world, selling on the web is very competitive. You need to constantly update and put a tremendous amount of work on the website in order to get a return on your investment.

8) You need a serious company that will stand behind what they do and become your long-term partner.

9) Hourly rate for Magento development can range from $95 – $250.

10) Due to the size and changes that happen in Magento project scope, it is difficult to predict and estimate the exact cost of a Magento website. Most companies will give out an average price estimate and will bill actuals. That’s a bit of a gray area for both parties involved. The client wants to know what their Magento website will cost, while the provider can not commit to it, then not deliver and go bankrupt. The solution is to try and have them give you a high and not low end estimate.

Best,

Genti

 

 

 

Posted in Magento Website Cost | 12 Comments

The Process Behind The New Shero Designs Logo

After four years, the Shero Designs logo gets a fresh new look.

Besides designing and developing websites for mid to big size companies, our team is comprised of three talented graphic designers Jillian (Me), Caitlin, and Beth. Although the main part of what we do is web design and front-end development, all three of us come from a strong graphic design background. Hence, today I would like to share with you the conception of our new and revamped logo. Our approach during the whole process was to design a clean yet, timeless logo that represents Shero Designs and what we stand for as a company.

Shown below is a comparison between the old and new logo:

 


Phase One – Manual Sketching

Before we started working on the computer, we began to do some manual sketching with pencils, pens, and markers. It’s easier to brainstorm ideas in a sketchbook before directly working on the computer.

 


Phase Two – Picking the Right Font

Picking a font is probably the hardest part in the whole process because it has to be just right. We decided on using a san serif font, but we still weren’t sure which one and if we wanted the logo to be in all capital or lowercase letters. Once we narrowed down the fonts we thought could work, we decided to go with the lowercase letters.

 


Phase Three – Making a Decision

After picking the right font, we were trying to figure out how to incorporate the Shero Designs red in the logo. The challenging part was to still stick to the concept of having a real simple logo without the red becoming too overbearing. We decided to minimally bring in either some sort of red element or make some part of the type red. Shown below are a lot experimental designs and how we got to the end result.

You can see what worked and what didn’t.

 


Final Logo Design

Here is the logo we all agreed upon after all the changes and alterations:

When trying to choose the right logo, the Shero Designs team agreed on a black san serif font with a red and dark grey line beneath it. It follows our original concept and still comes off as a strong design. We believe our new logo portrays us as approachable yet; still serious about the work we do for our existing and future clients.

Posted in Branding, Logo Design | 1 Comment