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Easy eCommerce & Membership Sites using WordPress

Great Power. Great Responsibility.

You’ve heard the phrase before, “With great power comes great responsibility,” right? You’ve likely thought of it in the context of SpiderMan. But have you also thought of it in the context of the solutions, software solutions, and even more specifically, website solutions, that you build for clients?

Maybe you’re scratching your head. You’re wondering how it applies. Well consider this – the person coding up that website (you) has tons more experience than the person who may end up maintaining it (your client).

So just because something is easy (or easier) for you doesn’t mean that in the long run it’s easy for them.

I’m a huge fan of thinking about the client first, as I build or design any piece of software. But I’ll be honest. My default is to think about them when designing the front end of things – the stuff they use and interact with. But I don’t always have the same habit when designing the back end of software – where the admins will play.

But here’s the thing – more and more admins are stepping into that role with less and less experience.

Oh we can complain or bemoan the fact that it’s happening, but it’s still happening. That’s why I love WordPress plugin developers who keep “easy” at the forefront of their minds.

They’re not just doing me a favor. They’re doing one for my clients.

Have you seen checked out Exchange recently?

I ask this because the guys at iThemes are moving at an incredible pace as they continue to develop their eCommerce offering. So even if you looked at it a month or two ago, guess what?

It’s different software already. And it’s really easy!

eCommerce, Memberships, Downloads & More

One of the things I really like the most about Exchange is it’s humble beginnings and simple take on the world. But normally, that simplicity leads to significant restrictions on the feature side. That’s not the case with Exchange.

What they’ve done is to match the way Pippin Williamson crafted Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro, or how WooThemes worked on WooCommerce – by introducing extensions. They support both third party extensions and core extensions. And both sets are pretty cool (and add great features).

Here’s what we know – not ever site needs every feature. The guys at WooThemes recently talked about (at WordCamp Cape Town) their progress is taking more and more out of their themes to turn them into plugins so that there isn’t all that bloat.

But if you’ve used WooCommerce, you know it can still feel pretty “heavy.” Now sometimes that’s good. But with great power comes great responsibility, and sometimes that responsibility means using something that others won’t have as much difficulty with.

Have you been watching Easy Digital Downloads & Restrict Content Pro?

I mentioned Pippin already. But while no one was looking he up and grew his team, added about a trillion extensions, and created even better coupling between Easy Digital Downloads and Restrict Content Pro.

If you don’t know already, one of those does eCommerce. The other does membership. And when you put them together, you get a very powerful option for building eCommerce sites which sometimes need protected sections for customers.

The future is eCommerce & Memberships – and it needs to be easy

I’ve written about how challenging eCommerce and Membership sites are – because they can’t always be cached in the same way that regular sites can be. So you have performance challenges you’ll face.

On top of that, you have security issues to take care of – to really focus on and pay attention to – because honestly, you don’t want to be liable when your customer’s site has a breach.

But more and more folks want simple eCommerce and membership sites – and they don’t see them as $50–70,000 investments. They’re not building a huge inventory-based, predictive-analytics-powered solution online. They’re building a site for selling eBooks. Or something they might do on Shopify (only they realized it’s not really cheaper over there).

I get at least one to two emails a day asking how to do this easily. Today, the simplest answer – though there are other solutions that exist (powerful ones) – is to look at one of two options.

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