Deciding on the right platform for your website doesn’t have to be difficult. Let’s look at Magento to see where it shines and where it loses its luster.
I’ll keep this brief, but let’s say you’re a small to mid sized business and want a new website, but you don’t want to spend $30,000 to build it. There are many companies (like ours) that specialize in servicing this market. We are a U.S. based company with NO FOREIGN DEVELOPERS so we think we fill a niche.
Part of the process is evaluating our client’s needs. Before a client decides on what platform is right for them, they need to ask themselves a few tough questions:
- Do you want something really custom, flashy and over the top (ex. www.monsterenergy.com)? If the answer is “yes,” hire a big ad agency and go for it. Budget around $30,000 to $75,000+.
- Do you prefer something that looks professional but allows YOU the capability to make your own edits, changes or modifications using a simple administrative tool? If the answer is “yes,” you’re a good candidate for any number of off-the-shelf, open-source Content Management Systems (or “CMS’).
One of the more popular CMS’ is “Magento.” It’s an open-source platform that is popular for those who want to actively sell products on their website. This is a platform best suited for BIG companies with deep pockets. At $15,000+ just for the platform, you’ll need to figure another $20,000-$75,000 to actually build a custom site. Obviously, this really only works for giant companies selling lots of products.
There are three versions of Magento:
- Magento Community Edition (free)
- Magento Enterprise Edition (paid)
- Magento Go (paid & hosted on Magento’s servers)
You’ll need the Enterprise Edition of you want to get into editing and customizing the site. Otherwise, you’ll have to live with their templates and limited functionality.
Below is MY candid review of Magento:
- If you’ve got complex, configurable products such as 5+ more product options with many more sub-options under each of those, Magento is good at that
- They have a CMS, although much clunkier than WordPress
- Using categories and subcategories works well and it’s good for having layers of products with content on the category pages
- If you’ve got an awesome Magento developer that’s in-house, or you can afford a good agency, you can do a lot and it’s powerful
- If you’re not earmarking at least $4k a month for a developer’s time and expertise, you probably don’t want Magento
- Yes you can find overseas developers, but you’ll often keep finding issues that aren’t proactively detected. You need a partner developer not a team that just fixes the issues you find
- If you’ve got less than 100 products and not a huge inventory and ecommerce setup, you’re essentially trying to drive an aircraft carrier across the pond
- We were/on Rackspace hosting for a few hundred dollars a month and still facing caching and resource problems monthly
- You’ll spend a lot of time directing or doing caching and resource optimization and cleanup
- Magento developers are more expensive for the good expertise
- There’s not a ton of helpful support online. It takes a lot of Googling.
- I’ve pulled my hair out many times working with the dev team on redirect issues – tried to write about it here: – but that doesn’t even scratch the surface
If you’re a pretty big ecommerce company with deep pockets – go with Magento but get a really good development team that knows what they’re doing.
If you’re selling simple, consumer friendly products online, Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce, and Volusion are worth looking at.
If you’re a content-first company with just a handful of products, then WordPress with WooCommerce is what you want.