Today, we’re marking another step in the WooCommerce journey: the release of WooCommerce 2.4, the Helpful Hedgehog.
In our last release, we focused on the front-end of WooCommerce and so named the update “Handsome Hippo.” With this update, we’re focused on making store settings more intuitive for store owners by creating a brand-new onboarding wizard, simplifying setup for standard shipping options and improving how WooCommerce handles products with many variations.
Introducing the brand new onboarding wizard
Let’s face it. eCommerce can be challenging, especially when starting out.
When you start a business, you need to learn some complicated things like taxes and shipping before you can sell anything. While some of that complexity is unavoidable, it shouldn’t be difficult to define these settings on your online store.
But, alas, it was. Older versions of WooCommerce greeted new users with a giant jumble of settings and offered no help or guidance on what to do next:
We’ve changed all that with the introduction of the onboarding wizard. Now, store owners are guided go through a step-by-step process to start selling as easily as possible:
With this new wizard, we’re using all the tools at our disposal to make the process straight-forward and pain-free. Automagically, WooCommerce will:
- Recommend mostly commonly used settings to make it easier to get started
- Set data like store location & currency based on geolocation
- Configure PayPal standard with just an email address
The whole process uses sensible defaults and just a handful of fields to get your store ready to accept orders in minutes.
Flat rate and international shipping options are much simpler
Since WooCommerce launched, we’ve added many options for both flat rate shipping – meaning one fee for all shipping – and international shipping, largely to serve specific needs brought up by customers. Unfortunately, those features grews so much that the settings screens became hard to use.
We spent a lot of time thinking about how these methods are used and how to get you what you need without twenty hundred million settings to fill out.
I don’t want to show what flat rate shipping used to look like because we let it get far too bloated, but here’s the new and improved version:
If you want to multiply the rate by the number in the cart, you just need a bit of math:
Store owners can now prioritize shipping options
Along with simplifying the settings for our core shipping options, we’ve also tweaked the ways that shipping methods are prioritized.
Now, stores with lots of shipping methods can easily recommend a default option for customers to use. See our development release post for the full details.
Product variations now load 20 at a time — and without refreshing
When we created the ability for store owners to create variable products in version 1.0 of WooCommerce, we assumed people would sell a few t-shirts and have maybe 20 variations. We didn’t expect people to sell products with hundreds or even thousands of variations.
Needless to say, the system wasn’t designed for this and problems arose: the back end became long and hard to navigate, it could take forever to load and sometimes things wouldn’t save.
In WooCommerce 2.4, we’ve changed how product variations load in the back end to make it simpler for store owners:
- Variations will load 20 at a time to make it easier to navigate
For the more technical details, read on about how we improved the variations interface.
Geolocation now works with static caching
We introduced the geolocation feature in WooCommerce 2.3 – it identifies a customer’s location and then applies correct taxes and shipping. But we ran into some issues with static caching, which is used by plugins such as WP Super Cache and W3 Total Cache.
In 2.4, we’ve improved how WooCommerce handles geolocation to resolve this problem. For the developers out there, here are all the exciting technical details.
We also added some extra fun for developers
- Custom AJAX Endpoints have been introduced to improve loading times on the frontend during events such as adding to cart. Previously, admin-ajax.php (the standard WordPress ajax endpoint) was used but this had the disadvantage of loading the entire WP admin just to make a request. The custom endpoints work around this.
- A Visual API Authentication Endpoint has been added. Services which integrate with the REST API can now use the visual authentication endpoint so a user can login and grant API permission from a single page before being redirected back.
More details for developers are on the dev blog.
Upgrade to 2.4 now!
That’s it for what’s new in WooCommerce 2.4. Upgrade now from your WordPress Dashboard, or download a fresh copy of 2.4 here. You can also read our upgrade guide to ensure a smooth transition from previous versions.
Remember: you should always make a backup before you update and update your WooCommerce extensions prior to updating WooCommerce itself.
For specific things to look out for with 2.4, potential compatibility issues and ongoing updates are on the dev blog.
What do you think of the Helpful Hedgehog? Let us know in the comments!