The perfect osCommerce

By | November 11, 2009

I’d like to throw this open for your comments as to what should be included in an osCommerce package. Here is my suggestions;

Avoiding abandoned carts
1. Reduced checkout
2. Shipping Estimator in shopping cart

Product Details
1. Multiple images
2. HTML in product descriptions

1. SEO Urls

1. Ability to give discount reductions
2. Ability to feature products
3. Ability to track stock per attribute

Let’s hear your ideas please!

13 thoughts on “The perfect osCommerce

  1. Carine

    let me throw you a hard curve ball …

    google weboptimizer integration (like already done in magento)

  2. Luke

    I think that something like Header Tags SEO is necessary, in order to push your SEO AND SEM. Not only for unique titles, but also for the possibility to add marketing messages to both description and titles automatically.

    keywords are not important and I can say… useless.

  3. enigma1

    @That Software Guy, IMO you are wasting your time (and server resources) scanning the server for specific file presence or PHP commands inside application files or folders. If an attacker gets in, all bets are off.

    And there are other ways an attacker may utilize instead of the common eval command. (fopen, fwrite, socket commands etc to name a few), or store data that can be used as code in the dbase (all can be encrypted), which have an equivalent effect and impossible to detect without manually processing individual files.

    One of the most common mistakes merchants do, is they do not password protect the admin folder from the host’s cpanel. Unfortunately with the RC versions they get the wrong impression that their admin is secure. The MS2.2 version was much better about it. because there was a red flag right after installation, the fact their admin was wide open and they would start asking questions.

  4. Matti Ressler

    SEO URLs are no longer relevant (useless and can be harmful). The primary things as far as your store software/content are concerned are twofold:

    1. Comprehensive and unique product descriptions. This is an art in itself, since the descriptions need to be designed to catch what people actually search for on search engines. Copying descriptions from elsewhere on the web is a definite no no.

    2. Proper meta and title tags. Luke mentioned that key words are useless, however this is far from the case and I have the results from client sites to prove it. I don’t have particular recommendations, since I design my own, however modifications are needed to generate relevant titles, meta keywords and meta descriptions from actual page content. I have seen add ons where you just add a bunch of keywords and description within the admin panel. This will be regarded as SPAM by Google and you will be appropriately penalised. If it ain’t actually on the page, don’t put it in the meta/title.

    It is true that for some time key words were essentially a waste of time, however Google (at least) has now come full circle and they are again relevant, so long as they reflect ACTUAL PAGE CONTENT.

    Soon there will be an osCommerce 2.2 Final release (yes, a REAL one!). Mark Evans is hard at work on this and also osCommerce 3.0. This will include a whole bunch of fixes and security updates (also PHP 5.3 compatibility) and it will be well worth to upgrade.

    The checkout definitely needs some work as its way too long. I created a two page checkout years ago but never released it publicly. I will throw some ideas to Mark and we will see what he can come up with. Lets begin by throwing out the create_account_success.php and redirect either to checkout or back to the index page (depending if they were trying to check out). Easy enough to give a success message on whatever page you redirect to.

    Shipping estimator in the cart is a good thing.

    Ditto for discounts (we do have “specials” but there are bunches of other ways, depends on your store). I particularly like “bundles”.

    I don’t recall a site I have created that did not include “featured products” in some form.

    Attributes stock – this should be a part of the core. I created a jQuery based attributes manager similar to the one available as an add on, but included stock AND permutations. Maybe one day it will be in the wild… finding the time for these things is difficult. Also included bundles and a tabbed admin page similar to osCommerce 3.0

    I use Wymeditor on all our sites for admin input HTML. HTML emails give your customers a good impression.

    Multiple images are useful for many sites. Thickbox is a nice touch rather than the ugly old fashioned pop up image. A tabbed product page is almost essential for many sites.

    I find sitemaps to be very useful. A Google Webmaster account is well worth the small effort and you can quickly pick up problems on your site that may otherwise go unnoticed. Google appears to rank sites much more quickly if a sitemap is added through the Webmaster account.

    All our sites now include a built in CMS system (NOT a separate application). This is extremely useful for adding content in addition to your catalog, which most sites could do with.

    Suomedia create a lot of music sites. For these we make extensive use of Ajax for faster page loads, uninterrupted music listening and an enhanced user experience. I think that all sites could do with at least an Ajax add to cart feature. Ajax page loads are slick, but must be designed so that Google can still crawl the site normally.

    Lots more thoughts, but time is slim.

  5. Gary Post author

    “SEO URLs are no longer relevant (useless and can be harmful).”

    Can you explain more please Matti?

  6. Luke

    I do not agree. In terms of marketing they’re a good thing:

    Ex google results:

    from the url the customer can understand immediately that this page has the product he is looking for.

    An ulr with the keyword inside will be clicked more than one without.

    for the rest: here are seomoz top rankiing factors for 2009:

  7. tim

    I have been using V2 final for months now and must agree that it is head and heels over the old V2.2rc version. A couple dozen web sites that now validate and are stripped of the old php code. This version rocks!

  8. Gary Post author

    Tim – is “v2 final” what the people at osquantum released?

  9. Joop

    – Strict seperation of php, layout and javascript coding.
    – On-the-fly compression css and javascript.
    – On-demand loading css and javascript
    – Automatic selection best type caching (apc, memache or files)
    Plug and play modules and box additions (like modx snippets en plug-ins).

  10. Matti Ressler

    Sorry for the slow reply, I have been on leave.

    @Gary – I base some of my views largely on what Google’s own search team have said on this topic:

    I know that lots of people will argue black and blue how good SEF URLs are for rankings (and that the Google guys are full of it), however most of those people make money from doing such things for other people. I will argue black and blue that the most important things are actual content and a structure that reflects that content, most importantly title tags. Meta tags that reflect actual page content will also quickly push up a site’s rankings. Good, descriptive, keyword rich and unique page content is very important.

    @Luke – I have never looked at the URL in search results and I doubt very much that many people do. The most important thing is the search result title (which links to the result). Here is where good, dynamic title tags come into play in a huge way. This is the first place I always look in search results and often the only place. I have many times seen search results where each title is just the same static page title for every single page on the website (a standard osCommerce for example).

    Looking at the link you posted, the most important thing I have said ranks at number 1 with “66% very high importance” for page specific factors. This is contrasted with SEF URls which is at number 10 with “33% low importance. These figures are of course based on people’s opinions, which are more abundant than….

  11. Gary Post author

    Thanks Matti. Interestingly I set up a new site the other day with absolutely no SEO except for the title tag. Even the domain name is not really anything to do with the product. First page in Google. I did notice that the snippet of text that Google gives was compleetly useless (something about paypal), so I added a meta description to see how it goes.

  12. Luke

    @Matti, it is because of this way of thinking that marketing people exist and work together with developers. 🙂

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