Mastering Magento Paperback – May 23 2012
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About the Author
After 15 years in advertising and political consulting, Bret Williams dove into a new marketing venue in 1995 called the Internet. Over the intervening years, Bret and his team at Novusweb created the first site with live coverage of a major sporting event, the first car dealer website to provide online customization and pricing, and an innovative rapid-development process. In 2005, Bret and his wife, Cyndi, launched their first owned e-commerce site, which almost immediately became a leader in its niche. Since then, Bret has worked to research and identify open source platforms that can provide the features and functions necessary for online retail success. Today, Bret and the Novusweb team continue to develop online marketing solutions for their own company as well as select clients all across America.
Top Customer Reviews
Chapter 5's discussion about configuring the package to actually process buy orders from website visitors is the crucial interaction. You should regard it as so because the ultimate intent of your website is to sell something. This chapter is where Magento interacts with the outside world for payment processing. This is split into off-site and on-site methods. The off-site has the ability to hook to eBay's PayPal Express or PayPal Standard or with Google Checkout. While end users (customers) might have their own opinions about the relative merits of these off-site providers, the book advises that you as a merchant could have different concerns. We are warned that PayPal has higher merchant fees than those imposed by the normal credit card agencies.
The sheer complexity of having to explicitly integrate your website management software into several payment systems is mitigated by using Magento. To some web administrators this could well be the single most important advantage of going with Magento.
Leaving aside payment processing, the rest of the text describes the building of the web pages. How you can implement an entire product catalog. Where this could have a top down structure of categories leading into sub-categories and so on. Other CMS offerings have similar abilities.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Now if you are still with me, let's continue.
I checked the index of the book and it was not really interesting for someone who was already familiar with Magento as the concepts are pretty much the basic stuff. The most interesting chapters seems 9th and 10th for me as I'm mostly a technical person and like the integrations and optimizations.
As defined in the preface this book is an Owners Manual. It does not intend to be a tutorial to setup a new Magento web site, but a reference for the hundreds of features loaded into Mangento.
This book is really for anyone who has a Magento site and needs to check some quick things as it contains good tips on different aspects of the book. It seems that author actually documented his pains and experiences in this book, which will really help for anyone who uses Magento.
In the first chapter, author does not really start from installation but from the planning phase. It was different for me because, as the author has said, I like to look at new things and first thing I do is install it and start messing with it. However while this is good for curiosity, it's not really good for your business as it will take a lot of time. Author tries to tell you exactly this. However if you bought this book, you are probably already lost in the installation. I don't think lots of people will first buy the book then install Magento, so they have already lost time in this exploration phase. Yet the planning phase is pretty cool and contains good tips about technical help, hostings and Global-Website-Store definitions which you should really read if you are new to Magento. It also gives you hint on how you should set your store and sell your stuff.
Second chapter was about installation and gives you an idea on how a website works, hostings (cloud and shared) and security. Tips about the PCI was important because I had not seen these tips (even the mention of PCI) in any other book. Parts about the sample data installation and cache disabling made me smile because I had lived the same problems with the author. It was even interesting to read store configuration, installation files, multi-language, currency conversions etc. Don't forget to read the part about the backups and security.
Third chapter is about products, categories, relations and managing these. The core of the Magento is the attribute and attribute sets for the products. If you have used Magento once, you should be familiar with these concepts and why they are important. This chapter tells a good deal of things about these attributes too. I liked the part with the product imports because that's something I had problems with too. While I don't recommend using Magmi instead of the API, it's still worth a shot (Magento does not recommend direct DB operation, so Magmi might become a problematic tool for different versions).
Fourth chapter talks about themes and designs. It's a good overview of the theming and gives you an idea on what are the basic concepts and variants and blocks etc. I was not really interested in this chapter however, it really does a good job on telling what themeing is and how you can and you should use it. You will probably don't get understand a lot in this chapter however when in doubt check this "reference" and it will probably help you.
Fifth chapter is all about the sales and payments stuff. I'm also one of the guys who really had lots of pain during the payment gateway development, this chapter was pretty interesting. However I was not really interested in the administration part as it was just simple steps which you can learn without this book. But as a reference, it's understandable to include these. Explanations about the Payment sites was a bit more interesting but there was nothing about writing your own. It also talked about emails that were sent, but I was not really satisfied with this chapter.
Sixth chapter is about managing pages. I really suggest using an external CMS like Drupal or WordPress and an integration module (told in the 10th chapter as well and told in detail), but if you need something simple you an use Magento's CMS. The chapter tells you about the layout xml files and how you can manage them. You will probably use them but well, I suggest to use something external.
I have skipped to the chapter eight after this to have a look on how Magento Connect and extension/module writing was written in the book. Magento Connect part was about how you should decide to install an extension or not. If you are not new to the Open Source community, probably you already know the hard learned lessons there. Extension writing part was much more about how to "package" it rather then developing it. It was something I did know so it gave me an idea on what should I do.
Optimization is definitely important. It was always a problem for Magento but with caching and all it saved a lot of lives. Ninth chapter tells how you can improve the site's performance with simple clicks and all. It's important to at least read once this chapter if you want to scale Magento, there are no real advanced tricks but before making anything you can learn more about the out-of-the-box caching system and some more basic techniques and that boost might be enough for you. 10th chapter will talk about some extensions and backing up etc.
Last chapter, as the chapter tells, is a pre-launch checklist. It containes some good tips even though very common yet mostly forgotten if you consider the deadline. You should at least pass it over before going live.
I know this is a bit long review but the thing is, the book is really full of things and I was not really able to summarize it well enough. Think of this review as a summary of what this book contains and what it doesn't so maybe it will help you better.
If you want the VERY ground level basic concepts of starting your own Magento E-commerce site this might be a fair introduction. But it is FAR from a book that helps you "Master" magento. It would be better titled "Intro to Magento".
For what it is, it is a good book and might help a business self-starter get off the ground. But if you plan to do ANY Magento programing or customization there is a brief chapter on theming and there is only one broad chapter on Magento programming. If you want to create Magento modules this book will do little to help.
If you want to prevent reinstalling your software several times, it is probably a good idea to consider some key areas when planning your Magento installation. Ask yourself questions like who is going to take care of the hosting, installation and developing. Which parts of the store are accessible to which persons?
If you don't have your own server, you need a hosted-server for your Magento-installation. But how to choose if there are so many companies that are offering a service that looks comparable? Some guidelines are offered.
We are also installing our first websites, stores and store views. Maybe you want to offer multiple languages and currencies and make sure you have a backup as well.
What exactly is a category and what is a catalog? How can the attributes of your different products be defined? What is the difference between an attribute and an attribute set? No idea what up-sells and cross-sells are? These issues are covered in chapter 3.
What kind of impression is your webstore making? Do your visitors have a reason to come back a second time? The theme or template of your website is the way it is shown to your public. By adjusting your theme you can give your site a personal touch. Although you get some insights in adjusting themes and layouts, this chapter covers only a small part of it. You could write a single book just about this topic.
"Configure to sell" is exactly what this chapter does. It starts with taking new orders from new customers and ends with the fulfilment of these orders.
As important as products and product information are to e-commerce, successful online stores need more in order to attract customers and fortify the store's brand. Your customers want to know more about your return policies, payment options and who you are.
Magento offers a CMS to include al this information and gives you many options to adjust the way the information is shown to your customers.
Of course you want customers in your new store. But how do people that have never heard of you or your site find it? And how can you make sure that people are buying in your store and even come back to make another purchase? Sitemaps, search engine optimization, newsletters and promotions can help you.
Magento itself already provides many options to create a great e-commerce site. Besides the standard options offered it is possible to extent your site with many modules like themes, payment integrations, stock management and more.
Because of the way Magento is build, it puts a good deal on overhead on a webserver. This chapter covers inside information about the database structure of Magento, indexing, caching and how to tune your server.
WordPress is a well-known blogging site. Did you know it is very easy to fully integrate it into your Magento store?
Like always, don't make changes on your development website if you don't know the result. And in case something goes wrong you know how to restore your backup after reading this chapter.
Chapter 11 is called pre-launch checklist. It covers multiple topics that have to be checked before launching your site. After reading this final chapter your site is ready to go online.
Magento can be quite impressive if you use it the very first time. You probably have no idea where to start if this is your first e-commerce site. A lot of topics that are important before launching your website are covered in depth, others are more or less just referred to. This makes the book suitable as a starter guide and as a reference guide as well.
The information that's in the book is very, very good. Bret does a great job presenting the information in a detailed but understandable manner, and his coverage is very broad (just not deep). It is definitely one of the best Magento books currently published, which perfectly illustrates the current (sad) state of affairs when it comes to non-internet sources of Magento information.
That being said, it is billed as a book to "master" Magento. That is an out-and-out untruth. You will not know how to master Magento after reading this book. A better title would be "Scratching the Surface of Magento", or "Getting Started with Magento".
I can't fault the author...it's a HUGE and complex system. But if you're going to say "mastering", then you should mean it. What he includes is great and well-written, but please be prepared to supplement heavily with other information sources if you want to progress beyond the basics.
All in all, this is solid advice and you can follow all the way through!
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