An online store is a bit like a car. The machinery that’s driving it isn’t visible to the user. So let’s look under the bonnet of a WooCommerce online store and look at the moving parts.
WordPress (the website)
WordPress is a free tool that let’s you build your basic website. It’s called a website content management system (CMS). WordPress powers over a quarter of the world’s websites.
Read more about WordPress.
WordPress Themes (the look)
WordPress is so popular many software developers have made it their business to add value to WordPress. You can choose from a huge range of themes to layer over top of WordPress. Your theme gives your website that designer look that you like.
Read more about WordPress themes.
WordPress Plugins (the action)
Many independent developers have also built plugins that expand on what a WordPress website can do. Plugins are a bit like the apps on your smartphone. There are thousands of them that let you do a lot of cool things that the basic website doesn’t offer.
Read more about WordPress plugins.
The WooCommerce Plugin (your online store)
WooCommerce is a free plugin for WordPress. It lets you turn a basic website into a website with a shop. WordPress can’t do that by itself. If you install and activate the WooCommerce plugin you can add products, a shopping cart and a checkout. You will also be joining a lot of other WooCommerce store owners. It’s the most popular e-Commerce plugin for WordPress. It powers over 30% of all the world’s e-Commerce stores.
Read more about WooCommerce.
WooCommerce Extensions (even more online store action)
Once you have WooCommerce working with your website, an extra range of WooCommerce extensions are available to you. WooCommerce extensions are specialised WordPress plugins, designed to work alongside when the WooCommerce plugin in installed. They let your online store do more things. They can also let your store work with other programs, like your accounting program and your email marketing program.
There are many WooCommerce plugins available for use. The main sources are from:
- The official WooCommerce Extension library (both free and paid extensions)
- The plugins repository at WordPress.org (free extensions)
- WooCommerce Plugins on Code Canyon (paid extensions)
WooCommerce Themes (the look of your online store)
Most WordPress themes (website designs) will work with WooCommerce in a general way. But some WordPress themes have done extra work to make sure they function well with WooCommerce. These Themes can be free or cost a yearly fee to use. Paid Themes are often of a higher quality and have a higher standard of maintenance and support.
The official WooCommerce theme is Storefront, which is a free theme written by WooCommerce.
While Storefront is the official theme, you can also check out the hugely popular WooCommerce themes with Page Builders from Beaver Builder, Divi and Elementor. These are the very popular commercial themes for WooCommerce, and have easy to use Page Builders within their core that make it easy to manage your site content.
Open Source – Free and Premium
WordPress and WooCommerce are both free and open source software. This means that both are available for anyone to download and use the software for free. The open source model also allows anyone to modify and change the software.
Both WordPress and WooCommerce are developed by volunteer teams of developers from all over the world.
Ongoing Maintenance and Security
We’ve looked at the main moving parts under the bonnet of your WooCommerce Store. Many of these parts require regular maintenance. You’ll find there will be new versions, with may contain security updates. As a store owner it is important to have arrangements in place that cover this maintenance. It’s worth making it a priority as the ongoing efficiency and security of your WooCommerce Store can depend on it.