One of our upcoming projects is for a company selling designer dolls, books and bags online. These are really cool, unique products, and therefore deserve a stunning site to showcase them.
The site is a mixture of a shop and static pages promoting the brand. The brief is for cutting edge design, powerful content management system, and a sophisticated e-commerce solution.
This mix of shop and CMS was a bit of a conundrum – most of our sites are Drupal based, and for a CMS it can’t be beaten (we think!). With the addition of the Ubercart module, we could implement a shop on top of Drupal. Ubercart is pretty good, but lacks the sophistication of dedicated e-commerce solutions – in particular, Magento.
Magento Test/Development Environment
At only a year and a half old, Magento must be one of the newest and most impressive shops available for free. Built upon the Zend Framework, Magento takes the power of PHP 5 and OOP to the next level. Unfortunately XAMPP can’t handle the demands of Magento and crashed every 5 minutes. Adding Zend Optimizer fixed the crashing issue, but Magento is still painfully, agonizingly slow. Enabling caching and moving to a proper server should speed things up, but potential Magento users take note – you’ll need your own supercomputer cluster to run this!
Drupal vs Magento
A speed-demon Magento isn’t, but its advanced features easily makes up for the sluggish performance. The full feature list on the Magento site is longer than the Bible but for us there were a few features that stood out. The newsletter tool integrates perfectly with the shop and has advanced templating. Instant shipping quotes from FedEx, DHL and UPS. Integration with every major payment gateway. And crucially, a cool dashboard with colourful graphs!
Ubercart has some of the features above, but lacks a newsletter and WorldPay integration (which was really important for our client). We’d also need to spend a lot of time customizing Drupal to function how we wanted – with Magento we just needed to change the skin, and tweak the layout.
After a thorough comparison between Drupal/Ubercart and Magento, we decided on Magento. I’ve just begun work on the site, and I’ll add another post later to give you a project update – so check back soon (or add the RSS feed)!