Lee Willis



Scope is an interesting thing.

Scope discussions are unavoidable.

If you’re building something for yourself, that leads to some interesting situations – you’re torn, and because it’s an argument with yourself there’s never going to be a clear winner.

So – I thought I’d write up some thoughts on my recent store rebuild as much to reflect on as document the decisions I’d made along the way. When I set out I had some clear objectives of what I wanted to achieve:

  1. Move to a sales solution that was focussed on digital products
  2. Re-design the store to take into account some lessons learned
  3. Less custom functionality – more off-the-shelf
  4. Re-work product copy – make it easier for customers to understand plugin functionality and how it can help them
  5. Liven up product images – make it more obvious what is for sale

The honest answer is that I’ve hit 3 and 2 halves of my objectives.

So – my new plugin store is now live – what did I achieve?

Well, [1] was a no brainer, and were pretty much achieved before I started. I decided to move to Easy Digital Downloads as the base software for my store. [3] also got closed off pretty quickly with with the addition of EDD’s Software Licensing extension, reviews add-on and Stripe gateway.

Item [2] was also reasonably straightforward. I went for an off-the-shelf theme (Humbleshop), and after a couple of aborted colour schemes – I settled on the Rocket colour scheme to provide the feel for the theme.

The last two items are where I compromised.

People often talk about not compromising, but I’ve always been more of a pragmatist, than an idealist. I also think that experience has made me a reasonable judge of what a reasonable trade-off point is [your opinion may vary!].

Before we go any further though, I’d like to note that this isn’t about being lazy or impatient – this is about scope, and managing it. It’s about delivering, and iterating. So here’s what happened…

For [4] I’d intending reviewing all of my product and support copy – with the help of Hemingway App. For [5] I was undecided on whether I was going to commission artwork or some other solution.

Aware that if I was going to commission artwork it would have a leadtime this was the item I looked at first. I had a few chats with some friends who’ve worked with designers on icon / logo design before and it quickly became clear that for the volume of artwork I needed, the costs were going to put me significantly out of budget.

My previous site didn’t have any product icons at all, only screenshots. So my compromise was to produce icon / logo based product images that represented the plugins on offer. You can see the results here. I’m classing this as a half-achieved objective since it’s definitely an improvement on the previous version – but I appreciate it could be a lot better if I had the money, or the design skills to spend on it.

Pragmatism – see?

So – we’re left with [4]. I started this, and re-worked several pages of product copy, but I’ll confess I shifted focus, and just left some of the rest as-is. The reason was that I identified other items that needed doing that I viewed as more important. Rather than extend the project, I decided to just swap those activities. The current product copy isn’t “broken”. It sells. I’m sure it could sell more, but I’m not losing anything by leaving it as is.

The activities I swapped it with either prevented the experience being broken , or added value. So here’s what I did instead:

  • I decided to migrate purchase history, rather than just licences. Pippin Williamson flagged that not migrating purchases for existing licences might cause issues for renewals / not-yet registered licences. My customers don’t deserve that.
  • I decided to work on creating some widgets I could use around my site to make access to information clearer and more discoverable.
  • I decided to work on a way of better structuring my support materials. This improves the product pages on day 1 – but also gives me a better foundation for when I do do the content reviews.

Overall – I’m happy with the result. Those “compromise” items haven’t been forgotten about or dropped – they’ve just been moved into a post go-live list.

Of course, I’ll update this series as it happens – feel free to remind me if you don’t see anything more 🙂

Leave a Reply

Required fields are marked *.