We started the process of rebuilding the cart with four primary objectives:
- The new cart would be “mobile first” (target mobile users first but still work on all devices)
- The new cart would address the top 10 most common issues and complaints from our customers that could not be fixed on previous releases.
- The new cart would be easily integrated by designers and developers using any editor (not just Dreamweaver).
- The new cart would still work with any website design and be compatible with previous installs.
It was a very long, arduous and sometimes frustrating journey but we succeeded in meeting and surpassing our original primary objectives.
The wait is over … the next generation of Site Store Pro is here!
The new cart is now available for download in your account manager for current customers. Download The New Version Now
If you have tried Site Store Pro in the past and it did not work for your situation, we urge you to download and install the trial again and see the evolutionary change in this new version.
Let’s run through how we achieved our four primary objectives in the new Site Store Pro:
- The new cart would be “mobile first” (target mobile users first but still work on all devices)The new version is a responsive design based on Twitter’s Bootstrap 3 framework. Unlike all previous versions, all front-end features, from the sample store home page to the checkout area now use a css/div based structure that scales seamlessly from the smallest mobile screens up to the largest desktop displays.
- The new cart would address the top 10 most common issues and complaints from our customers.
- Issue #1: The sample store website, online store area, checkout and my account areas, in previous versions were table based. Designers hated this because it messed up their formatting from global CSS files. Solution: As per above, the new version is now css/div based. The cart’s design framework is based on Bootstrap 3 but we included CSS rules that can override the default Bootstrap 3 definitions so designers are free to use any framework or CSS driven structuring they choose.
- Issue #2: The dynamic top navigation bar was difficult to customize and format for non-default uses. Solution: The new version includes a fully customizable top navigation system that can include unlimited tabs, nested menu items and custom HTML. You can add, edit and delete any tab via the admin and even link to external URLs from the menu items. The new nav bar is styled directly from the main CSS file (css/main_stylesheet_responsive.css) and all formatting options are clearly defined with comments to simplify font, color, and design element modification of the menu.
- Issue #3: The main content of the website (i.e. about us, contact us, etc) had to be edited offline (manually) even though all the store content was edited via the admin. Solution: The new version includes a full content management system (CMS) that allows the admin to manage all the site content now. The admin can create new fully SEO friendly pages directly via the admin and they integrate directly into the site’s current design. Pages that are created via the admin can be instantly associated with the top-navigation bar as either a main tab or a nested menu item.
- Issue #4: The site footer had to be edited offline. This really annoyed a lot of users. Solution: In the new cart, the site footer is managed and editable directly via the admin area!
- Issue #5: The left navigation bar was not a dependent drill-down type menu and that functionality had to be added as a custom project. Solution: The new cart includes a fully-managed left-menu system that drill-down selected filters. The user can add remove filters to limit their product searches to exactly what they are looking for. Example: Clothing > Women’s > Small.
- Issue #6: It was very difficult to associate items to specific demographics (Men’s, Women’s, etc) on the previous version without either creating sub-categories off the main categories for these demographics or using the shop-by-occasion and shop-by-style features. This was time consuming and hard to manage. Solution: The new store has a built-in demographics manager which allows the admin to just check off which target audience(s) a product is intended for and the item can then be instantly filtered on the site by those demographic selection(s). The new demographics feature includes Men’s, Women’s, Boy’s, Girl’s, Babies, Baby Boys, Baby Girls and Seniors. The demographic feature is built-in to the search filtering and left-navigation drill-down system and can be turned on or hidden via the admin.
- Issue #7: The global size, color and material options were difficult to manage on stores with a lot of similar optioned-items. For example, you might have had 100 items that all have a “X-Large” option but each item has different attributes for the X-Large option such as label, additional fee, weight, etc. Therefore, you would have to create 100 different “X-Large” global size entries…. This was very frustrating and time consuming and difficult to manage. Solution: The new cart still allows you to create general global options such as “Blue” or “X-Large” and assign those to the items … but unlike the old versions, you can now assign custom attributes to each item that override the default values of the global option. This way, you can have one “XL” global option for site menus and searching but all the items can have their own attributes that use that global option. This was a huge improvement over the past setup and it works on all previous installs too!
- Issue #8: The item view display was the same for all items and could not be changed per item without a major custom project: Solution: The new version includes 5 different layout choices that can be applied to the item in real-time. For example, if an item is a webinar, one of the layout options includes a full-width responsive video player on the top of the page to emphasize the video element of the item. Designers/Developers can also add up to 5 more additional layout options for a total of 10 different item view layout selections.
- Issue #9: Items could not have their own SEO page title. Solution: The new version is much more SEO-centric than previous releases and items can now have dedicated meta title tags (in addition to description and keyword tags). Other SEO features include user defined page names for the CMS system and enchanced SEO on all page elements on the search results and item view pages.
- Issue#10: No Coupon Code entry on checkout review only on shopping cart page: Solution: This was a major issue for many merchants and requested hundreds of times as custom projects so we added an additional coupon code entry form to the order review page. The customer now has the opportunity to enter their discount code either before checkout or on the order review page.
- The new cart would be easily integrated by designers and developers using any editor (not just Dreamweaver).The new cart is based on design include files so design integration is equally as simple with any HTML editor. The Dreamweaver DWT features are still integrated into the design structure so users who love the DWT template features can continue to use those in the new version. However, the design include files layout provides complete flexibility for site structure updating.
- The new cart would still work with any website design and be compatible with previous installs.Our mantra has always been “Works with any website design” and we made sure it still holds true in the new version. It was a time consuming process with a lot of trial and error, but we worked out the issues to allow the cart to be rewritten from the ground up but still be compatible with previous installs and any website design. Some features such as the CMS manager, top-navigation and left drill down menu will not automatically activate on previous versions since those features are embedded in the design of the site and upgrading the cart does not affect the site design. However, all the new features that are not instantly activated on past installs can be manually added to the any existing design!