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Scaling the WooCommerce Navigation: Call for testers

We have now paused this test. Thanks to everyone who participated! ๐Ÿ™‚

We often talk about scaling WooCommerce from a technical perspective, but it’s a topic we’re passionate about on the user experience side as well. In that respect, one feature that has been on our radar for some time now is backend navigation.

Conceptually, WooCommerce is much more than a plugin these days, and it has been that way for some time. It is a fully-fledged commerce platform, with a vast catalog of extensions and other third-party products that plug in to it. Merchants often tell us they spend more time managing orders and products, rather than posts and pages. So with that in mind we’ve begun to question more seriously whether using WooCommerce should feel like a plugin, or more like the platform it has grown to become.

Last year we reached out to a handful of WooExperts and extension authors for initial feedback around some initial design sketches that explored this idea. The response was largely positive, so we’ve refined those concepts, and would now like to gather broader feedback via public usability testing. We’d love your help with this!

Your say in the future

It is vitally important to us that members of our community feel involved in our design process, and have the opportunity to share their thoughts and feedback, especially around critical components like navigation. Quantitative usability testing is an excellent way for us to kick-start this interaction as it enables us to gather meaningful data that will help shape subsequent developments and community involvement.

To participate in testing this design concept, all you have to do is complete a short set of tasks while working through a prototype. Your input is enormously valuable, and we appreciate your time – that said, it should only take a few minutes ๐Ÿ™‚

Clicking the button above will launch the test. Just work through the on-screen instructions to complete it.

After this phase of testing, weโ€™ll talk more about some of the thinking and design decisions in this concept in a future post. For now Iโ€™d like to avoid the risk of introducing any bias to participants during testing.

The key principles weโ€™ve worked toward with this design are making WooCommerce more intuitive for merchants so they have more time to focus on their businesses and ventures, and creating something that will scale elegantly in the future, all while still feeling like a native part of WordPress.

On the technical side we’re acutely aware of the potential for anxiety around how extensions might migrate from the current navigation system to any modernized version we implement. This is something we’re spending a great deal of time thinking about as well, and will explore more in-depth in future posts.

Thanks!

By James Koster

Digital Product Designer @ WooCommerce

23 replies on “Scaling the WooCommerce Navigation: Call for testers”

Do you mean not using the new navigation designs at all? Or to place the ‘WooCommerce screen’ – new navigation included – inside the wp-admin chrome (admin bar and nav bar)?

For the first question, to make the transition from old to new as smooth as possible, we’re exploring ways in which folks might be able to use both menu systems concurrently for a while, giving them time to ‘learn the ropes’ of the new design without disrupting workflows.

For the second question, that’s something we explored but found all the extra chrome troublesome to work with, particularly on mobile. We concluded that the Gutenberg-inspired “full screen” approach was the way to go. Indeed we intend to align with the WordPress core teams, and work together on a solution for exposing core navigation from within that “full screen” environment.

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We’re using components from the core WordPress packages in all our new designs, so the UX should feel consistent – at least with the block editor. See the new Home screen as an example ๐Ÿ™‚

For now, no javascript components exist for navigation so it’s inevitable that things will feel a little off. We’re working closely with core teams however, to align our strategies around such components.

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After going through the concept, I failed to understand why it’s planned to look so out of tune with core WP element design.

Is it inline with some WP admin modernization project concept that I’m not aware of, maybe?

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We’re aligning our work with the block editor, rather than wp-admin. On the surface that seems like the same thing, but Gutenberg is moving faster, and innovating way more than wp-admin. Take a look at this github issue for a broad idea of the direction they’re moving in with regards to visual design.

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Cart abandonment tracking is not something that you want to be bloating the site’s database out with that data, that is best handled using an external service.

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It honestly looks like WooCommerce is trying to be its own platform instead of WordPress. It looks like it was designed to be a Shopify Competitor first and the WordPress integration was simply forgotten. Using strictly the WooCommerce interface was significantly easier than the current interface. But using other facets of WordPress now becomes cumbersome because you’re effectively using 2 different systems.

I do think though that the design as a whole is incredibly stylish and in the ideal world WordPress Core would adopt a similar design style so the two felt more…. together? As opposed to being disjointed as the demo showed.

I would be all for though this type of design being integrated into the WordPress Admin Panel its modern, fresh, and easy to navigate.

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in the ideal world WordPress Core would adopt a similar design style so the two felt moreโ€ฆ. together?

Totally agreed. The situation is that WooCommerce needs to make a move on this issue regardless, and it is our preference that we can establish directional alignment with core. We’ve had some positive, preliminary discussions with members of the core design teams, so for now I am cautiously optimistic ๐Ÿ™‚

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Will there be any way to export old orders? Our database is now over 100MB and the majority of it is WooCommerce orders and PayPal confirmations. Could you move the WooCommerce data to separate tables and not n the post meta tables?
Thank you.

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Hi John,

There is a longer-term plan to add support for alternative data stores. Before that happens in the official package, you can try LiquidWeb’s plugin for orders: https://github.com/liquidweb/woocommerce-custom-orders-table . As far as I know, it’s used on some larger live stores already. However, it’s true it is not really widely tested, therefore I’d recommend to test things out first on your staging environment before you start using it.

Also, 100MB database does not seem that large, so maybe you can also speak with your hosting provider if they can help scale things up for you?

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WooCommerce custom order tables plugin is being used on a number of production larger order-level stores already for example one store has 1.5+ million orders on it an another has over 200k orders on it. A 100MB database is not very large at all. How many orders are on the site?

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I love Woocommerce, currently I have PS installed for 3 own stores, I have many months (I think more than 1 year) following the steps to Woo and testing each new version locally, I want to pass my 3 PS stores to Woo but it is something I have to think very well.

The day they manage to separate Woo from WP it will be a giant step, I mean from the developer’s point of view (hobbies) and as a REAL end user of e-commerce platforms, I already tried all the platforms, none are perfect, they all have positive and negative points.

Woo is on the right track, but for many users / vendors, it is “uncomfortable” to know that you are installing a blog to run a business, it gives me an unprofessional feeling, I think the day that they separate both platforms will hit the spot. Woo should be an independent e-commerce platform on which we can activate Blog features (if necessary).

Another important issue (which they are correcting little by little) is the database … in my case, I don’t use the PS import system in the stores I manage, even in the tests I do with Woo I don’t use the system import, I update the prices and stocks directly in the database using commands, but in Woo I have the price of the products in DOS tables:

wp_wc_product_meta_lookup (min_price and max_price).

wp_postmeta (_sale_price and _price).

It could just be wp_wc_product_meta -> columns: _price and _sale_price.

Another “drawback” is the StoreFront theme, since it is the “base” and official theme that they use during a Woo installation, it is really bad (even more on mobile devices, the lower menu on mobile), after installing a blog, after a store plugin, activate a theme, I go to my new page and the design is unfortunate, not to mention that most people the first thing they do when installing or testing a theme is to run Google PageSpeed โ€‹โ€‹and see all the errors it makes (even security by jQuery is a little scary entrusting the customer database to Woo). I know this is already a bit extreme and “silly” because you offer a platform and we have to buy a theme or hire a front end developer for a better user experience (my clients), it would simply help a lot to have a perfect base theme . The day that PS integrates “classic-rocket” as its official theme they will be one step higher. This is something that they also have to consider in Woo … in the end not all users are developers, even not everyone knows that there are issues, many entrepreneurs simply look for videos on youtube on how to set up an online store and after seeing the highs Shopify prices will surely be between PS and Woo, but visually PS has a better “image” front end (this I comment from the point of view of a “normal” user who created their store using the integrated hosting options of PS and WP without hiring your own server using ftp and without having to install a free theme because you will be afraid to break your store).

They are certainly on a great path, but don’t just think of power users or companies that have the capital to hire developers (who won’t use Woo, PS or OC, companies with enough capital go to other platforms).

I think the focus should be on that handful of new entrepreneurs who lost their jobs, who are looking for a way to start an e-commerce (because it is the future).

All this I comment on the basis of my own experience that I have had with family and friends who ask me for help to start in this world, I feel them in front of my PC locally and without explaining NOTHING I show them the Woo and PS desktop, 8 of 10 people have said that they keep PS because it is easier the administrative part and the front end design.

Everyone tells me when they see Woo … I don’t understand, will I have a blog or virtual store?

And let’s not talk about having to configure parameters of the “web page” in two places, in the WP part and in the Woo settings because I’m not done.

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