Obligatory Geek Post

An update on the state of our website, hopefully helpful to our colleagues.

First, I’ve been using WordPress for ten years now, ever since the business side of Movable Type flipped out. I remain convinced that for a personal, or mom and pop company, website there is nothing better out there. When you go over ten thousand hits a day, yeah, look around.

Second, if you’re not running a shopping cart/web store, the Thesis theme, especially with the OpenHook plugin rocks. I used it here for years, and I’m now using it on granolageek.com, my personal curmudgeon site. There is a license fee for Thesis, but it’s worth it. Stuff that I used to write PHP or at least CSS for is point and click. And with OpenHook, you can execute PHP at any hook in Thesis or in the WordPress loop. There’s a fair amount of Thesis trashing to be found among website developers. Largely, IMO, because it lets a power user cut them out.

All that said, there is a problem if you want to have a store. All of the WordPress store plugins implicitly assume that your site is a store that has a blog, not a blog that has a store. Also, none that I have looked at actually follows the published rules for being a good neighbor in the WordPress world. Since we really want to sell things, this is an issue.

There is however an out. WordPress comes with a number of stock themes, either included in the download, or published by AutoMattic. Much as the shopping cart companies would like to sell you their own theme, doing things their way, they dare not break Matt Mullenweig’s code. If they do, they are, by definition, wrong.

So Mackhillfarm.com is now using the Thematic theme from AutoMattic. It is much clunkier than Thesis, and I had to actually write code, but I seem to have it under control.

Unfortunately, at the same time, I switched from WP-Ecommerce to WooCommerce. Bad Idea. WooCommerce is, if you have unlimited budget, great. If you sell a few hundred bucks a month, it will eat all your profits.

The basic plugin is free. And it’s a great basic cart. It comes with Paypal payments and local pickup/delivery. So…if you want some other payment gateway…Cha-Ching. You want to ship product…Cha-Ching, Cha-Ching. (Once to access your shippers website, another one to let you filter the options offered. Live chicks cannot be sent ground.)

And to add injury to insult, this fall they switched all their add-on licenses from perpetual to one year, at the same time they doubled their prices. Run, do not walk.

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