Is Magento E-Commerce a Good Solution for Beginners?

If you are building an e-commerce website, you basically have two options. The first one would be to simply build a static site and add payment buttons for a service such as PayPal. While this may be OK for some people, it is not the best solution, especially not when you are building any kind of serious e-commerce site. You therefore need to use a type of content management system that will allow you to do things such as add and remove products, put some products as “featured” on your home page, etc.

 

There are dozens of different e-commerce platforms available out there. Some are free, while some cost thousands of dollars. One free e-commerce platform that many people talk about is Magento. It is included in the automatic installers for many web hosts and is touted as the most advanced free e-commerce platform. But is it really the best choice for you? Especially if you are new to e-commerce?

 

Well, to be honest, it is not. The first thing that you need to know is that Magento is an enterprise class e-commerce solution. Powerful, yes. But it is also very complicated to use for new users. But what about support? Isn’t there a knowledge base or something? Well there are support forums that are provided for users of the software. The problem with them is that there is not much “support” going on there. Mostly users saying “Oh! Darn this doesn’t work” and others joining in with “Yeah! It doesn’t work for me too! Bummer”. Magento staff rarely answer any questions on the forum and there is a reason as to why: the software is free. The support isn’t. If you want support from them, well then you would need to pay for it.

 

There are also a few other issues with Magento. The first thing is that the admin panel is quite slow. Sometimes it takes up to one minute for a page to refresh after you have made a change. It is not my hosting or my server that is a problem, believe me. I have tried with a cloud server and a shared hosting account. Both have given the same results.

 

What about customizing it? Magento says that you can customize their software fully to fit your exact needs and make the site look and work just like you want. Well, this is not a lie. It IS possible. Just extremely hard. There are some templates provided with the software, but they will not work for everybody. You can download some free ones or pay for premium templates, but the issue is that many of them are buggy and have problems working. You can also modify the code, as it is open source software. But you better be an expert on the Zend Framework. Otherwise, expect to spend several months (that’s right, months) learning it before you can accomplish anything useful with it. Quite simply Magento is not the best solution for beginners… unless you just want to take the default template and add a few products for your e-commerce site.

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