While WooCommerce is a great e-commerce plugin by itself, it’s not a magic wand that will automatically make your store perform well. Like any other tool, it requires you to put it to good use in order to get the best results. There is a lot you can do to improve the average WooCommerce site, and if you’ve never used the platform before, you should take some time to familiarize yourself with the various configuration options available for it.
Let’s take a look at some of the first areas you need to explore.
Learn to Use Templates
Templates are a very powerful tool in WooCommerce, and learning to use the platform’s templating engine can be one of the most beneficial investments in the beginning. The basic idea is that everything in WooCommerce is defined through a template, meaning that you can easily tweak individual controls and even combine them in new and original ways. If you don’t like the way something looks or behaves, you just need to find the corresponding template and make a few tweaks to it.
It can take some time to wrap your head around the way WooCommerce works in this regard if you’re coming from other platforms, but once you get the basic idea, you’ll be able to make deep changes with very little work. There is also a lot of information available on templates for free online, so you will rarely feel stuck in your learning.
You Don’t Have to Use Traditional Layouts and Styles
You’ll notice that most of the default pages of a WooCommerce site have a standardized look to them, and this extends to many of the plugins you’ll find on the market. It’s true that the platform has its own characteristic style, but you should always remember that you don’t necessarily need to stick to those guidelines if you have a different idea in mind for your own store.
In fact, you’re encouraged to experiment with different layouts and styles until you find some tweaks that work better for your own specific store. Some of those changes can be achieved very easily with just a few minor tweaks to the standard templates, while others may require you to set up entire new pages from scratch. If you don’t have any experience with web design, it’s best to leave this in the hands of someone who knows the field.
Set Up Payment Details Early
One of the areas you should focus on with a higher priority in the beginning is payment. This involves anything related to the payment process – from price displays to the checkout (more on that below). Look around for plugins that provide additional pricing options if that’s relevant to your product selection. Don’t be afraid to get a little overboard with information here – this is something most people would actively be looking for, and they would be glad that it’s available in an easily accessible spot.
Any localization related to pricing should be handled immediately as well. You’re likely going to face more tasks in this area after launching your store, so it’s a good idea to lay down some proper foundations while you’re still setting things up. Again, look for plugins that can simplify the process if you’re going to be dealing with certain classic situations, like products sold in several different currencies.
Pay Special Attention to Your Checkout
As we mentioned above, your checkout should get specific attention in the initial customization. Don’t be afraid to stray off the beaten path and explore some less traditional styles. Depending on the kind of store you’re running, you may benefit from a more unusual layout of your checkout page.
Your main goal here should be to keep the checkout flow as smooth and streamlined as possible. Present as much relevant information as you can, but try to keep things clean and focused otherwise. This is not the place for any fancy effects or similar experiments. You should be especially wary of anything that could lower the loading performance of the page. Customers are going to quickly get annoyed by an unresponsive checkout page, and this alone can cost you a good number of sales.
Theme: Customizing a Premade One vs Building Your Own
A common point that comes up around the customization of WooCommerce stores is whether you should take a premade theme and customize it, or have one built from scratch. Both options have their advantages, and it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with both sides if you’re new to this.
As you can expect, tweaking a premade theme is going to keep your options more constrained and you’ll have to adapt your layout to what’s available in the original theme. This can often work just fine, especially if your store doesn’t have any unique requirements. But you also risk being stuck with a number of irrelevant elements that you can’t easily remove. Those can sometimes be a problem beyond the basic aesthetic implications – they might affect the performance of your site negatively.
Having a custom theme built can take some time and money, but it’s the only way to ensure that your store matches your preferences completely. You can either do this yourself or contract someone to do it for you, and if you don’t have any experience with web development, the second option is definitely the one you should be leaning towards. Try to have some specific ideas prepared for how you want the store to look and feel, and make sure that any points you’re displeased with are addressed as early as possible.
The flexibility of WooCommerce is a great factor for those who know how to get the most out of the platform, but it can take some time and experience before you can realize its full potential. That’s why it’s important to always experiment with what the platform has to offer. Have a testing installation where you’re not afraid to break anything, and really try to push its limits every now and then.