Our WooCommerce plugin now has well over a million downloads, there are a lot of people working with it every day. This means there are people who have a lot of experience already. There’s also a large group of people just starting out. While our experienced people know their way around, we feel that we can give the new users a head start via our WooCommerce documentation.
In our documentation site, we’ve created a Getting started portal, where you can start exploring everything WooCommerce has to offer. In this new series of articles, we’ll cover setting up, maintaining and continue developing of your WooCommerce websites.
Setting up WooCommerce
Before you even try to install WooCommerce, you need to make sure that your hosting package is capable of running it. The requirements for WooCommerce are very similar to what WordPress needs. We’ve also listed a couple optional requirements. Also note that starting with WooCommerce 2.0, we’ve changed the minimum required version of WordPress to be version 3.5.
We have partnered with Bluehost to offer you a custom hosting solution that pre-installs WordPress, WooCommerce, our Storefront theme and a dedicated IP and SSL certificate to keep your store protected and secure. Read more here.
There are three ways to install WooCommerce, using either the automatic plugin installer, a preferred host that pre-installs WooCommerce or if prefer you can manually upload the plugin via FTP.
During installation, WooCommerce will create three new database tables in the database your WordPress website is using. These new tables are required for the WooCommerce plugin to work. Please remember to add these new tables to your backup scripts, or check your backup tool to make sure they are added to the backups of your data.
Upgrade an existing install
In case you’re already running a WooCommerce powered store, we have also set up some documentation on how to upgrade. The upgrade to WooCommerce 2.0 and higher from previous versions is a big one, so we’ve also made a special post on how to prepare your website for WooCommerce 2.0.
We can’t stress it enough, but it’s really important to make backups before you do any maintenance to your website. This is especially important when it comes to large upgrades and other procedures that (possibly) change the data of your installation in the database.
We will be writing a series of blog posts / documents on maintaining a WooCommerce store in the future, so stay tuned for that.
As an administrator of a WooCommerce powered website, you will spend a lot of time in the administration panel. So it’s good to get to know your way around.
The first thing you’ll notice when you log in to a WordPress administrator panel, is the Dashboard. The WooCommerce plugin adds a couple dashboard widgets to this screen where you can quickly see how your store is doing.
Diving in the settings
Just as any other big WordPress plugin does, WooCommerce comes with a lot of settings. You will find all the settings via the WooCommerce > Settings menu in your administrator panel. We have written extensive documentation on most settings available, but most settings are pretty self explanatory. You will often find some descriptive labels next to the settings as well, that will quickly tell you what the settings are for.
Example of the labels describing what specific settings do.
One section of the settings is split out from the main Settings page, because they belong to some WordPress settings. The permalinks settings can be found right below the permalinks settings of your WordPress install. The other menus in the administration panel are pretty self explanatory and you’ll shortly will find your way around of the administration panel.
Make your store look good
The frontend of your website is what your customers will see, so you obviously want to make sure it looks good. This doesn’t just apply to pretty pictures, but also at how easy it is to navigate around and find the products your customers are looking for. Here are a couple things highlighting how to easily make WooCommerce very user friendly for your customers:
- The WooCommerce widgets enable you to place content like the cart or product categories in the sidebar, where it’s easy to find for your customers.
- Using the built-in shortcodes, you can place archives of products belonging to a category, or highlight specific products on any page you like.
Of course you also want a great looking, professional theme, tailored for selling your products. Naturally we offer a wide range of WooCommerce themes ourselves including a couple of freebies. If none of those row your boat you can try WooCommerce with one of the default WordPress themes.
Failing that you will need to look at other third party themes, such as the free themes on wordpress.org. Be aware that the majority of them probably won’t be compatible with WooCommerce out of the box, though. Fortunately we have made WooCommerce easy to integrate with any theme in just a couple of steps: Third party / custom / non-WC theme compatibility.
In our support channels, we often see the same questions. We try to answer these questions in our documentation as good as we can and our statistics prove that these issues are very common:
- Using appropriate image dimensions to avoid distortion / pixellation
- Translating WooCommerce (Localization)
- Third party / custom / non-WC theme compatibility
- Email FAQ
Also be sure to check out our WooCommerce Self-Help guide.
Onwards and upwards!
If you have any specific questions around setting up WooCommerce or when it comes to maintaining your WooCommerce store, let us know in the comments.
In the next couple weeks, we will continue to publish articles like this one, where we might just cover your questions.