Melbourne Magento User Group catch up

The Melbourne Magento user group (organised by our friends at Fontis) is meeting again, on September 14th, 2010.

This time it is an information event, designed for developers/agencies, clients and those people interested in the platform to catch up and chat.

As Magento Developers and consultants it is always nice to meet people interested in the product that we work with every day, so I look forward to seeing a few people there!

Click here for details!

eCommerce Cowboys, the ‘Yes’ Men.

We don’t profess to be the world’s best eCommerce company. Probably far from it.

But we have a lot of experience in online  retail and development (10 years+) and we use that experience to help our clients in the best way possible.

Recently we have been getting a few Magento & other eCommerce clients coming to us for assistance, for reasons that fall into one of the categories below:

  • Previous developer is unreliable
  • Spent too long trying to get something up and running, need it finished
  • Have tried number of devs, need someone to help
  • Don’t have many sales or much traffic, help!

Our most recent client came to us with a Magento site that had been built by a 3rd party. They wanted someone reliable to help them with development and some consulting. They wanted to know why after spending all this money and 3+ months of development and effort they hadn’t received a single sale.

What frustrates me isn’t the clients that want to get something done economically. It is the ‘I.T. Consultants’ out there that say ‘Yes’. These cowboys might be ok at I.T, and might have a little experience but please be honest when dealing with customers. If someone comes to you and says “can you build me a solid site that functions well and will get some traffic and generate sales’, don’t say Yes when you know it will be a learning curve.

Don’t waste their time.

Don’t waste their money.

Don’t ruin your reputation.

Reputation in the online world (and development in particular) is key. You simply can’t afford a bad reputation or you can lose business.

So why did this nice looking site not have any sales yet?

The answer turns out to be the contents of Robots.txt on the server

User-agent: *
Disallow: /


Simple fix that makes us look good. But it’s a pretty basic thing to overlook!

Can’t access admin area after upgrading to Magento 1.4?

Me neither. Well, I can now after a manual fix.

The upgrade via MagentoConnect seemed to run successfully, but I immediately got a server 500 error when trying to access front and backend. *Sigh*. I reset all file permissions, and cleared cache folders (/var/cache and /var/session). The front end worked then, but no back end.

I was a little surprised by a problem like this, given that Varien had bowed to much open source public pressure to tighten up its release process to ensure that ‘stable’ releases were in fact stable. It was evident that nearly every man and his dog would immediately run an upgrade on their production website every time a .1.1 release was put out without testing first. ┬áI felt for them!

I had expected therefore that the dev site that I had installed on a shared host we use for ourselves and clients would upgrade to Magento 1.4 CE via MagentoConnect smoothly…


Magento Performance – Magento 1.3 Benchmarks

Magento Performance is a hot topic at the moment. We recently installed Magento Commerce version 1.3.0 on a test server with a current production database to do some performance testing and I thought I would publish a few results. They aren’t exhaustive tests, but indicative I think.

Although we haven’t done a huge amount of testing yet there are some interesting results (and some performance improvements over a ‘standard’ non cached install).

First, any figures should be interpreted with respect to our own current configuration for this test. These results were NOT for a standard demo data set.


What will Magento become in 2009?

magento_chicklets_02Magento Commerce is quickly growing, and according to the Magento website is the fastest growing eCommerce platform at the moment.

Magento is still young, but I peronally know more and more online retailers looking at it as a solution. The underlying structure, robust and powerful API, and complete separation of design/themse and core code make it pretty appealing.

That, and the fact is it open source, so you won’t pay them a cent to download and install it. Awesome.

Roy Rubin’s keynote speech at “Meet Magento Germany” is worth a watch if you are interested in Magento Commerce, but I have summarised the key points for you here :


Magento Commerce online store performance

We have been using Magento Commerce for about 3 or 4 months now as a new online store platform for a few of our websites.

Magento is a new product, but already growing very quickly in users and features.

We are currently ChannelAdvisor customers and had been using the standard ChannelAdvisor store for some time. We took part in the beta test group for ChannelAdvisor premium stores (which look pretty good) but we have decided to use Magento Commerce instead.

Why did we do this? Well, there are a number of good reasons…