WooCommerce Weaknesses

There is no question that WC (WooCommerce) has a lot of great strengths. It’s risen to be the most heavily used ecommerce system in the world, not just in WordPress, but overall. And it’s number 1 in the same way WP is #1 in the CMS space… by a country mile. But at SaberWP we realized that as great as WC is, there are weaknesses that leave many users wishing for more. It was this realization and deeper analysis that led to the creation of Saber Commerce. Analyzing WooCommerce and looking for weaknesses is still a daily part of our process, we’re constantly asking ourselves how can we do better and avoid these pitfalls in SACOM.

WooCommerce Weakness #1

Rigid UX

There are modern apps, and then there are forms, and then there are admin UX’s that fall somewhere in between. Where is the line between a form and an app UX? It’s like the question what is the difference between a website and an app. There may be a scientific way to answer it, at least a list of relevant criteria to differentiate… but it’s also something you have to experience and feel. You know when you’re interacting with a modern application UX, you know when you’re using an older-style app, and you know when you’re filling out a form. These are all very different experiences. WooCommerce sits somewhere in the middle. It’s partly “form-driven”, but it has some application UX design baked in. Some parts of WC require form submission and page refreshes. Some parts are no-refresh. It’s not bad… but it’s not great either. It’s also not customizable to the degree that warrants the term “modern UX”. We can do better (and we did). While it’s still considered better than most WordPress plugins, the WC editor experience could definitely still be improved a lot. Here are just a few examples of the out-of-date or rigid UX aspects of WooCommerce:

  1. No support for moving, re-ordering or renaming or hiding WP Admin menu items. With WC you get what you get in terms of how it displays in the WP Menu unless you use code to hook into the WP Menu filters (which would be a dev/code solution and is not directly provided by WC itself).
  2. Show me 100 WC sites and I’ll show you an almost identical set of interfaces for everything from product creation to order editing. Like everything in WordPress there are programmatic ways to mix things up, but WC itself provides an old-school singular template loaded view. It doesn’t even begin to compete with modern UX approaches embodied by next-generation apps like ClickUp. Increasingly app UX designers know that users want flexibility, and apps are being built to impressively cater to users unique needs. Apps are no longer “one thing”, instead they are a platform for delivering a flexible interface around a common structure. WC has missed that boat already.

WooCommerce Weakness #2

WooCommerce doesn’t support the sale of time and invoicing

This area is the major blind-spot that Saber Commerce was largely built to fill. There has for many years been talk of ways to utilize WC as an invoicing system, ways of selling time through the system… and no doubt a few developers figured it out and implemented custom systems that do this. However efforts to make a robust invoicing solution with WooCommerce as the base repeatedly failed. That include WC Invoices, which was a project SaberWP’s founder Casey Milne embarked on in 2018. Despite all the hooks and structure that WC provides, it’s just not quite suitable for the sale of time. You can make something that is “close to good”, but not really good. As an example first in order to build a suitable invoicing interface, you have to craft a completely unique product type by extending the WC Product base class. This will then give you the core structure you need, but no UX. So you’re on your own developing an invoicing UX, which despite sharing similarities to “order creation”, is still also entirely different. Then you have issues later with order creation and payment handling… bottom line is WC was built to sell products (not time) and it was designed for cart checkout (not for invoicing). Trying to adapt it for time sales, invoicing… it’s a long hard road straight uphill. And it’s an effort that we don’t foresee WC really addressing any time soon, even via 3rd-party extensions.

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