Designing osCommerce, out of the box

Whenever I design an osCommerce site, I try to add in something that makes it look different to other osCommerce sites. 99% of osC sites have the standard

column, content, column

layout. The next site you build, try doing something completely different. Here’s an idea;

1. remove both the left and right columns. These mostly hold useless infoboxes anyway – who the heck wants a “tell friend” box or a “write review” box? What this will do is make the content column 100% wide. So, the next step is to;

2. Increase the number of products shown in columns from 3 to (say) 6. You do this by amending each of the -modules- around about here; if ($col > 2) { – just change that to 5 or 6 or whatever suits you.

3. Then let’s move some of the infoboxes to the header area – languages, currencies would be good to move.

4. Create some new infoboxes to show some info, eg, a very tiny shopping cart that just says “You have 2 items in your cart, totalling $9.54” (for example).

5. Move the breadcrumb to above the header rather than below it. You could even remove it totally, to be honest the breadcrumb is barely used on any osCommerce site.

6. In the footer, place the following infoboxes side by side; information, whats new, shopping cart, specials and perhaps 1 or 2 more to suit yourself.

7. The only thing left is to place the categories box somewhere. If you have loads of top level categories, it really needs to stay as a box somewhere (perhaps the header area?). if you have only a few (let’s say 6), then it can go where the breadcrumb originally was, and it’ll look great.

8. Now all you need to do is make a logo and place it in the header area. And of course make some new colours in the stylesheet.

That’s about a days work, I’d say. Reckon you can do it? Why not try, and post back with a link to your new look site.

osCommerce help urgent blah blah blah

I suppose I am one of the most well known “helpers” in the osCommerce forum, so I get lots of PMs and emails asking for help. Sometimes I get interesting questions, but most of the time it’s questions that would have taken the asker 5 minutes to Google. Sometimes I answer, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I give a quote, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I do the work on the basis that the asker will actually make payment after agreeing the work!

And then, what happens? The asker disappears just as soon as the work is completed. No big deal really, as I only accept payment after the work is done for very tiny jobs, eg less than $100 or so, but it’s still incredibly annoying – a simple email saying “thanks, but I decided your price is too high” or “thanks, but I found something else that I got working”, is much better than simply disappearing!

A typical example (URLs removed);

I stumbled upon your site via google. I have been stuck on a problem regarding dropdown menu’s for product attributes. My friends dad wants to have them on the new products box:

I have a script that puts the drop down on the shopping_carts.php file. I tried that but it does not work and I tried the dropdown that appears on the product_info.php page.

The customer can change attributes for products in the cart overview. After an update, the new attributes are set. The customer doesn’t have to remove a product to update some attributes.

So, basically, the shopping_cart.php page has the ability to change attributes (I suppose it’s handy if the buyer selects the wrong attributes). What this person now wants is the ability to select attributes from within the New Products Module (New Products for month box).

Well, that’s too much work to just do for free, so I quoted about £60 ($100 or so). They agreed the price but thought it a bit steep…fair enough, but they agreed the price anyway.

I did the work. Then sent them a video of it in action, so they can see it’s done and ready to be uploaded to their site. They viewed the video and then sent some other emails about other things (eg, how much would I charge for a site makeover).

And then…nothing. Thanks for disappearing, “Ansa”.

So, the moral of the story is, make sure to get payment, however small, before doing any work. I won’t change my working practice about payments as it works well to collect payments after work is completed, there’s only a few people like this who are complete waste of time. OR…don’t give the code until you get payment – make a video of it “in action” instead, that way, if the waster doesn’t pay, they also haven’t got the code.

Version 6 of Discount Coupons

I’m just in the final testing stages of version 6 of my Discount Coupon System. There are no massive changes from v5, however, the codebase is now much leaner and more integrated – which means even less impact on your osCommerce store.

The main change in v6 is that it is now possible to set up vouchers for free postage.

Once I have completed testing v6, I will make another blog post showing a table with what extras are available compared to the free version 1.2 which is available at the osCommerce Downloads area.