After completing the frontend design of a Magento store, there are certain things that web developers often miss before they can call it 'complete' and launch the site. These are subtle, yet very important things that the Magento / eCommerce website owners often aren't aware of during the completion process and have to be done pre-launch.
- Remove Sample Banners
- Editing CMS Pages
- Store Information and Contacts
- Shipping Method and Setup
- Payment Method
- Magento Security
- Email Templates
- Meta Data
- Default Missing Product Image
- Enable Cache and Compilation
Magento Install & Setup: Design & Data Entry
We assume that all front-end Magento development steps have been taken, for the client to consider the eCommerce website done. This includes:
- Installation of Magento
- Theme installation or Custom Creation, Color and Logo Branding
- Product Data Entry
- Features, such as index slider, newsletter box, social media icons, and other visual requests by a client.
The above are the typical things that a client will look for, before considering the site is complete. It is then up to Magento developer or project manager to assure that some changes are made on the admin and backend files so that the client can safely launch the site.
Required Magento E-Commerce Settings Before Launch
1. Remove Sample Banners & Images
There are sample banners and images on every fresh Magento Install that are often missed:
- Upon install, Magento places sample images on the sidebars, which are on the templates with 2 columns or more. So if you are on a 1 column template (hence, no sidebars), this may go unnoticed. Editing or removing these images from the sidebar may be complicated for the client if he/she decides to have a sidebar later on – therefore these images should at least be removed or replaced with something relevant.
- Shopping Cart / Cross Sell Section (Based on Modern Theme):
- A client often spots these, but what the client may not be aware of is that the images are replaced with Cross-Sell Products if these are set for the corresponding products in the admin. Hence, replacing these with related images or removing them in a way to keep the feature serves an advantage.
2. Editing CMS Pages, Legal Info & Other
- Return Policy / Refund Policy
- Contact Page
Many merchant-services will require you to have these before they accept you as a valid merchant. You can find the sample content under Admin > CMS > Pages
3. Store Information, Contacts & Default E-mail Notifications
This is easy for store-owners to do without much coding knowledge and is necessary to do.
- Store Information
- System > Configuration > Section: General > General > Store Information
Although the other tabs under General are quite important, the store information tab displays your stores legal/ business location on certain sections, such as payment confirmation e-mails, contact page, invoices, etc.
- Setting Up Store E-mail Adresses
- System > Configuration > Section: General > Store Email Addresses
This will assure that all of Magentos email notfications are sent out with the correct e-mail addresses and can be replied to. Therefore, only existing emails with your websites domain extension should be used.
- Contact Form
- System > Configuration > Section: General > Contacts
In this step, you need to setup the email address where you wish to receive successful contact form fillouts. This applies only to the contact form that comes with Magento installs.
- System > Configuration > Section: General > Design > Footer
You will find that a sample 'copyright' message is displayed in the footer (or at least should be), which you can edit via this section.
Several more settings can be and should be done in the the General Section, but aren't necessary for your Magento site to run, therefore can be left for another post. The only thing you will need to edit is the default Magento logo which is in email templates, which we will get to in Step 7.
4. Choosing your Shipping Method & Location Origin Setup
This step is only important if you intend to ship products to customers after purchase and would like it to automatically process shipping prices, hence this can be skipped if your sites products are downloadable/virtual products. The shipping methods that auto-calculate shipping rates are: UPS, USPS, FedEx and DHL (deprecated).
- Setting Up Your Origin
- System > Configuration > Section: Sales > Shipping Settings > Origin
Here you want to provide the information from where the product will be shipped from, in order for the shipping to calculate an accurate price for the customer during checkout. If you intend to use Magento Flat Rates, which is the default shipping method upon install, or Table Rates then you won't have to worry about your location settings.
- Choosing your Shipping Method
- System > Configuration > Section: Sales > Shipping Methods
You can enable multiple methods for the customer to choose during the checkout process, enable free shipping if certain conditions are met and more. Make sure to provide valid account data for the 3rd party carriers for the corresponding methods to work correctly.
5. Setting up a Payment MethodSystem > Configuration > Section: Sales > Payment Methods
By default, Magento will have the default Credit Card (saved) and 'Money Order' payment method enabled. The default Credit Card method will NOT process credit cards, so unless the client specifically wants to process payment information manually, this feature should be replaced with a 3rd Party Merchant service. The merchant solution for credit card processing is something the clients will need to setup. The ones that are available to integrate upon install are Authorize.net and PayPal.
6. Magento Security & SSL Certificates
SSL is an important factor in eCommerce and in fact, some merchant service companies can choose deny your application if you don't have one. Although you can find merchant services that will let this pass, it is still recommended you do have an SSL certificate installed for your customers security and to not be vulnerable to web attacks.
7. Email Templates
Another crucial factor that is missed are the e-mail templates that get sent out when visitors make a purchase, register to the site, get shipment notification and so on. There are over 15 e-mail templates that are quite general and therefore don't have to be edited other than the logo.
- Contact Information in E-mail:
- The contact information and store information are updated on emails when these settings are changed in the configuration (see Step 3).
- Default E-mail Logo (Magento Version 1.6.2 or below):
- If you are running Magento version 1.6.2 or below, you would have to change this file either in the server via FTP, by overwriting it or changing the URL of the logo in the email templates themselves.
- Default E-mail Logo (Magento Version 1.7+):
- In version 1.7, Magento added the option to do it straight from the Magento admin. Simply choose and upload your logo in System > Configuration > Section: General > Designs > Transactional Emails
8. Default Favicon and Meta Data
Like on every website, whether Magento, WordPress, another CMS or a custom website, you need custom favicon, custom meta title, description and meta keywords. In Magento this is even more important, because by default you will have a Magento favicon and Magento related meta data.
<meta name="description" content="Default Description" /> <meta name="keywords" content="Magento, Varien, E-commerce" />
The above default meta can easily be edited via System > Configuration > Section: General > Design > HTML Head
9. Default Missing Product Image
Having missing product images does happen here and there. It can happen if you forget to upload a product image, the image gets lost in the server or the product just doesn't have one or doesn't require one. In that case, you will want to replace the default 'missing product image' by uploading it at System > Configuration > Section: Catalog > Catalog > Product Image Placeholders.
10. Enabling Cache & Magento Compilation
Finally, when completing a Magento site, the last thing you will want to do is enable the cache and compilation, which should normally be disabled during development.
- Enabling Cache
- System > Cache Management
Here you will want to select all check-boxes and choose enable under actions.
- Compiling Magento Files
- System > Tools > Compilation
This will take all the active core files, which are normally scattered across several folders and merge them together to increase the processing speed of these files and the Magento site. Remember to disable this when upgrading Magento, installing extensions and plugins.
Beyond Magento Site Setup
There are certainly many more things you can do to optimize and improve your Magento store right from the start, but it does require the understanding and the appreciation of the client for a Magento developer to take these steps on the clients behalf. Some important steps to take early are SEO related steps that are well explained on this Magento SEO Article by Yoast.
In addition to SEO, there are Analytic tools, site speed and visitor experience enhancing steps one can take to improve the eCommerce websites performance - so feel free to subscribe or comment for more related topics.