Got STS, Got the Tutorial – Now you need a Template

As readers will know, I spent some time the other day updating the STS eBook for 2008 – my own knowledge has come on leaps and bounds since I first wrote that STS Tutorial, and STS itself has had at least 2 or 3 major updates as well.

Now that the eBook is up to date, I wanted to try to find a resource for purchasing templates. A reader of this blog pointed me at this site, on which there appears to be loads of designs ready and available for download.

Please note that I receive nothing at all, no commission, no kickback, no fee, no nothing if you purchase from the site – I have absolutely NO connection to it at all. I am simply pointing you at a site where you might like to buy a template.

I also have seen this site, which appears to offer much the same. Again, I receive nothing, no fee, no commission, no kickback should you buy from this site…

And, as I receive nothing – I don’t want anyone moaning at me if the template they buy turns out not to work, or be rubbish, or whatever! OK?

I cannot and do not vouch for the quality of templates that you purchase! The only template I can vouch for at the moment is my freebie that I posted about a while back.

Top 100 osCommerce List Update

Another couple of sites added in the past few days;

Which brings the total list of shops up to 71.  Only 29 more to go and then the lowest voted ones start to fal off the bottom of the list!

As of right now (March 30, 11am), the Top 5 shops look like this:

  • TexereSilk 6.6/10
  • Click A Deal 5.8/10
  • Templates Shop 5.3/10
  • Punk Baby Clothes 4.7/10
  • Assault Shirts 4.7/10

Have a look and see what you think of the shops in the Top 100 list.  There really are some exceptional ones – not only in look, but also in the codebase!

Is osCommerce right for me?

Nicole asks;

1. Should I steer clear of the RC version until it is released? If so which version should I go for?

The RC2a version of osCommerce is no more than osCommerce MS2 with a few bugs fixed and some security updates. I would go with RC2a as I believe it’s stable enough for a live shop…

2. Are there template clubs like rockettheme with professional looking templates?

I don’t know of any template “clubs”, but there are a handful of people selling templates and a handful of developers who are making bespoke oscommerce sites. I myself run an osCommerce Templates site, and I also have a free RC2 template right here

3.How long does it usually take to get OSC up and running?

If you are talking of just getting it up and running “straight out of the box” it should take no more than 5 or 10 minutes! Then of course, you’ll need to add on any extras that you need (such as contributions like SEO Urls, Discount Vouchers etc)…and then you’ll need to implement a design.

And then of course, you need to load the products…

I suppose the average site woner would probably spend a month doing all that?

4. DO you think Joomla/Vitruemart is a viable option considering I already know joomla?

That I cannot answer as I have no experience with Joomla or the Virtuemart addon.

5. If you think OSC would be the best option, how would you go about learning OSC if you were a newbie to it?

I’d install osCommerce and have a play with the codebase. I’d buy myself an ebook to get a good head start on 99% of all other osCommerce users ( ebooks sites: www.oscbooks.com & www.oscommercemanuals.com ) and I’d try my best to learn the in’s and out’s to see if osC is suitable…

Nicole, I think that osCommerce is very suitable for most store owners. It has it’s problems, just like any other cart, but the great thing is that the codebase is open so that you can change it up to suit your needs, and there are lots of people ready to help you out…

Does that help at all?

Cheers, Gary

ps, you can see some great examples of osCommerce sites at the Hot 100 list – so you can see that osCommerce is supremely flexible with the ability to do almost anything. In fact, I’d say that osC is only limited by one’s own imagination and skillset!

Updated for 2008 – STS Templates – the original and best eBook on STS

I have just updated the original and best STS Template tutorial eBook over at oscbooks – have a read about it, and if you like what you see, please buy it from this page, not oscbooks. If you do buy it, I still have a special “BOGOF” promotion – Buy One Get One Free…

DO NOT PURCHASE FROM OSCBOOKS DIRECTLY.

Here’s a special buy link – the first 5 buyers will get this eBook and the associated files for just £10…sorry, offer now finished, the price is £14.99.

buy-now_1_blue_refl.gif

Here’s some comments I’ve received about this eBook;

I have just purchased your new book “osCOMM STS”. WOW !! .. you have done it again another great easy to follow manual. Whilst waiting for my printer to finish printing a hard copy .. I started to read the book on screen and already I am confident that I will be able to create a fantastic oscommerce cart.

and

I run a site on oscommerce and have no experience with .php. I bought and have used the new ebook from AIS (Gary) at oscbooks.com. Very well written, easy to follow and in the space of a few days I have learned a great deal. A really good product and a great guy to deal with.

osc-sts-new-thumb.gifSo, there you go – the all new, updated for 2008, STS Tutorial eBook – for a price that is kind to your pocket.

And don’t forget the “Buy One Get One Free” offer.

Just choose the other eBook you would like once you’ve purchased the STS Tutorial and I’ll send your chosen eBook free of charge!

Create this Store;

oscommerce_sts.gif

and take the techniques you’ve learned and apply them to ANY html template!

The Walk of SHAME ;)

I thought it might be interesting to post up URLs of sites that are using the Green Template I made without linking back to this blog (as is required)…

What I will do, when I find such sites, is send them an email asking for the link to be reinstated – if they ignore it, or just plain refuse, I’ll out the URL in this blog post, so that we can all see just who takes advantage of other peoples hard work, without a thank you…
Should be fun as I already found 2 sites this morning!

Developing osCommerce on your own computer

Caroline asks “the other day I bought an ebook showing how to design a shop, but I don’t have any spare space in which to set up a test shop. Can you help?”

Caroline – yes I can help! Most “professional” coders don’t use a normal website/host to develop websites – instead they use their own laptop or computer.  You might well be thinking “how the heck…” – I’m going to show you how.  It’s really, REALLY simple.

Step 1: Install PHP, MySQL and PHPMyAdmin onto your home computer.  This is simple as all you need to do is go to Fire Pages and download their program called “phpdev”.   Unzip the package and follow the instructions!  Within 10 minutes you’ll have it all installed, all being well.

Step 2:  Download the latest version of osCommerce and unzip  it.

Step 3:  Start up “phpdev” and go to http://localhost/phpmyadmin/ – in here create a database ready for use.

Step 4:  Open up the “www” folder within phpdev and copy al the oscommerce files into it.

Step 5:  Run the usual osCommerce install procedure.  When you get to the database screen simply use the name of the database you just created.

Step 6:  osCommerce is now installed on your home computer!

Step 7:  Right click on /includes/configure.php and set the attributes to “read only”.  Delete the whole /install/ directory.

Step 8:  You MIGHT need to delete a couple of the .htaccess files (the one in /includes/ probably).

Later on, I will make a video of the above so that you can see just how it is done, and how quick you can get an osCommerce site up and running…

Horrible or Awesome #7 – Terms, Privacy, Conditions

Adding Terms of Use, Privacy, Conditions of Sale statements etc is a MUST

Some might say that customers like to know who they are dealing with, but those people are full of it. Customers don’t care about your return policies, what to do if they receive a broken product, or what to do if the size they ordered is wrong.

Likewise, they don’t care what you are going to do with the personally identifiable information you collect. I know for a fact there are people who love SPAM mail- I got an email selling me Viagra today that told me all about it.

Never mind that providing privacy and terms of sale information is a legal requirement almost everywhere – that just goes back to your customers getting a lawyer. Everybody knows that people don’t like to sue lazy, complacent companies for easy money, right?

If you are running any site, you will need to let your customers know exactly who they are dealing and under what terms you operate.

At the very least, each site needs a privacy policy (you might have read about the recent changes required by Google on all sites that have Adsense on them…) and also contact details.

Each country will also have it’s own laws requiring site owners to do certain things…

Its easy to forget to add these items – you spend 3 months tweaking your sites visuals, two months adding products, and you just want to launch that puppy and let it fly. However, these are the documents that people are going to read when deciding if they want to give you their email address or their credit card number.

Statistics show that while more and more people are buying online, an increasing number of them are even more wary about privacy policies, if they can return an item, and what making a purchase consents them to.

Do your customers a favor and put these policies in place, even if it’s only to cover your own butt. That way if there ever is a problem at least you have a published, established policy you can point the customer to and not come off like you are trying to pull the wool over their eyes and take advantage of them.

Most of this post is courtesy of my good friend Jason over at JC Commerce.

Top 100 osCommerce Sites Update

2 more sites added by readers today;

These two are different to normal osCommerce, so of course, they get added – take a look then vote them at the Top 100 list!

I don’t know why but someone also added a few osCommerce sites that are pretty much out of the box – standard osCommerce – I didn’t set them live, sorry – the point of the list is to showcase shops that are exceptional, different, unique. Someone also added a Paypal Shop – d’oh.

The Top 5 as at 10am Easter Sunday;

Can any shop knock TexereSilk off it’s perch?  Assault Shirts has been in the Top 5 since Day 1 of this list…

Does YOUR osCommerce site have what it takes to get on this list?  These are the TOP 1% of all osCommerce sites out there, so your site needs something VERY special!  Submit it at the Top 100 List.

The Checkout Success Page

The very last page in the checkout procedure is “checkout_success.php” – this is a completely useless page which needs attention.

My idea would be to remove the page entirely, and simply redirect the buyer to “account_history_info.php” to show him/her the summary of the order that they just made.  Obviously, you, the shop owner would need to add some verbiage to this page in order to make buyers aware “thank you for your order, here is a summary” type of thing.

Another option would be to use the “checkout_success.php” page as an upsell page – perhaps you could add “gift wrapping” to their order or “batteries” or whatever.  With some coding skills, this could be added to the already existing order without the buyer having to make their way all the way through the chekout again – however, I see no reason why the buyer shouldn’t go through the checkout, after all they are already logged in so it’s only 3 or so clicks (in an optimised checkout tunnel)…

Or, you could have some functionality to create a discount coupon for the buyer for the next time that they shop at your store.  Or you could run a poll on the page, or do any other number of interesting stuff…

So, my challenge to everyone reading this is to have a real good think about the “checkout_success.php” page and see if you cannot come up with something that is a little better than the standard osCommerce version.

How about personalizing the page, by adding the buyers name and postage selection?  How about making the page into a gateway page for other products?  How about having your “special offer” products listed on the page?  There’s lots of things you can do if you THINK ABOUT IT!

Top 100 osCommerce Sites Update

Another 3 great looking osCommerce Shops found and added today:

And the Top 5 as at this moment in time are;

Go vote for your favourite shops at the osCommerce Hot 100. If you know of any great looking stores, submit them please!

I can’t believe that there are so few exceptional looking osCommerce Stores – surely there must be more!