How to Build an Online Store on OpenCart from Scratch
Broadband Internet has long ceased to be a rarity. Almost everyone today has access to a variety of web resources. Most users spend their free time watching entertainment, informational videos or chatting on special resources. But one cannot think that this is all.
With the increase in the availability and efficiency of information technology, new opportunities have opened up, for example, online trading.
Why Internet Marketing is the Future of Commerce?
Over the past 10 years, online stores have gained particular popularity. This is due to such factors as:
Ease of operation;
Prices are lower than in the retail chains on the market.
And with the beginning of the pandemic, the relevance online ordering has risen to unprecedented heights. Now it is much easier, more profitable and safer to buy goods you are interested in on the Internet than to go to retail outlets and doom yourself to the risk of catching dangerous diseases.
Today it is unlikely that you will be able to find a person who has never used online -shops. Often they have a much wider selection of goods, there is the possibility of delivery to the address, and much more affordable prices than in their stationary counterparts. But they are beneficial not only for buyers. Online store owners do not feel the need to rent premises, hire a significant number of employees and similar administrative needs. Sites operate on the so-called "engines" - this is the base, the program code on which the pages are created.
The site engine - OpenCart has achieved particular popularity and worldwide recognition. If you have been thinking about organizing an online store for a long time, then this is a great option! Thanks to the modular system, the engine can be upgraded and templates can be used that meet specific requirements or wishes. Let's consider the development of a site on OpenCart in detail!
How to make an online store on OpenCart?
Novice owners of online stores often ask themselves the question — “How to make a site on OpenCart? What is needed for this? " We will try to answer! But you should be warned in advance, do not "reinvent the wheel". There are many free and paid platforms on the Internet, designed specifically to create convenient and functional web resources. Let's take a quick look at the perspectives of the sites.
Paid platforms often offer exclusive features, a convenient structure and pre-created blocks for placing certain interface elements. There is also the possibility of implementing unique features for the site (their variability can range from a unique interface element to scripts that make it easier for the user to work with the web resource).
Free platforms, in turn, offer the creation of working sites, the tools of which allow the user to perform basic actions in the online store. Their advantage is accessibility and open source. There is no need to spend money on a paid engine if there is no real need for it. At the same time, their functionality is often not as flexible as that of paid ones. Working with them usually comes down to using modules and templates, which greatly simplifies the process of creating and editing content on the page. At first glance, it may seem that creating a website on OpenCart is a trifling task. But don't jump to conclusions. Although the modular system makes development more accessible, this does not mean that it levels out all the technical nuances.
Before referring to the features of the OpenCart platform, you should warn - if you do not have experience with this engine and do not know the technical fundamentals , then it is better to leave the development of a web resource to professionals. Many digital agencies provide services in the field of creating a turnkey online store. But if the difficulties did not scare you off, then consider the process of creating an online store on OpenCart in more detail.
Creating an online store on OpenCart
The process of creating a website on OpenCart begins with domain registration and hosting rent. This can be done on specialized resources in two clicks. After payment, your domain name will be linked to the hosting and given access to the control room, providing the address, login, password.
Choose the version that suits you, we recommend that you draw your attention to the date - the newer, the more functional and reliable the engine base will be.
The next step will be to create the mysql databases, without this it will not be possible to install OpenCart. Do not forget to set administrator rights, otherwise there may be difficulties with filling and editing the site. After the described procedures your web resource is created, you can start the following steps! In particular, download the installation files via the ftp client.
But if you want to create a resource using non-standard templates, and following the layout developed by the designer, order the layout on OpenCart. Although it will cost a certain amount, the result will not be long in coming — users always note the high-quality visual of the site. People enjoy visiting unique websites rather than boilerplate resources. This is based on the subconscious: if the owner of an online store has invested in attractiveness, and even took care of the functionality, then customers are dear to him, and it inspires confidence.
In addition to the graphical execution of the interface, the layout also includes work with the program code. Bringing the web page to working order and integrating unique chips. But layout is a process that requires the skills of both a programmer and a designer. If you do not plan at the moment to order the development of an Internet resource, then we will return to the initial steps.
After creating the site, you should start connecting the necessary modules. Let's consider them in the next paragraph.
How to connect modules to CMS OpenCart
First you need to define “what is it?”. Modules are web applications that, when loaded, are embedded in the site code and, as a result, extend the functionality. Do not forget that all extensions used must correspond to the site version, otherwise they simply will not work.
Modules are divided into:
Basic — come with the engine. They guarantee the very fact that the site works. You can activate or deactivate them in the "Expansion modules" menu. There is also a list and description.
Additional — modules that extend the functionality of the resource. They are designed to introduce new functionality. These include extensions that allow you to accept online payments or optimize the program code.
Installation of modules takes place in two clicks. First you need to download the desired extension, and then load it in the "Modules — Install Extensions" tab.
An example of adding
Setting up OpenCart: main stages
Then download the distribution, unzip it, see the theme installation guide on the web page. After that, using an FTP client and following the instructions, upload the files to the server.
Go to settings
Changing the template
Special attention should be paid to the places where you can get themes for the site. They can be divided into several types:
Special sites — on the network you can find many pages offering templates for a specific topic or style;
Third-party resources (sometimes unique topics are posted by users on forums or in groups).
Alas, choose and installing a template is not enough. You need to "get" inside the web page, namely, into the engine itself. Read about setting up an OpenCart site below.
Engine settings, and why exactly with them the development of the site on OpenCart begins
Let's start with the tags. Fill in the Title, Description, Keywords fields. But remember, the writing process should be taken as seriously and carefully as possible. Otherwise, Google may consider the meta description to be of insufficient quality, the tags are inaccurate, and the keywords in general will turn out to be monstrous spam if there are a lot of them and it is unreasonable to use them in the content. You can avoid all of the above if you turn to SEO specialists. It is advisable to do this in advance, otherwise you will have to fix optimization errors after development, but the funds spent on maintaining a web page with irrelevant content and technical flaws will not return in any way.
After filling with text, fill in the store information fields. To do this, go to the tab of the same name and enter:
Name of the owner or legal entity;
Contact phone number;
The next step is geographic data. In the "Localization" tab, select the transaction currency and units of measurement, specify the country, if necessary, due to local specifics — select a separate region. If the store offers the ability to pay in several currencies, then you should activate the update of the exchange rate.
In case you have chosen the Russian version of the site in advance, then all the settings, except for the above, are already activated. If you have a desire to familiarize yourself with additional features, we recommend that you consider the following:
A system for warning the buyer about a limited product (or offer). You can activate it by going to the "Options" tab, and indicating "In Review" in the product status.
To upload a logo, go to "Images" and upload the corresponding image and favicon to the site.
To generate an attractive and human-readable link (without incomprehensible symbols), it is enough to connect SEF / CNC. To do this, in the "Settings-Server" menu, check the box next to the corresponding item. Then the URL will automatically change to the desired one.
Keeping your finger on the pulse will allow you to use the "Feedback" function. Thanks to it, you will receive notifications about work, technical condition and other changes on the site. The feedback function will allow you to receive letters related to the activities of the web resource to your Email. To do this, use the "Mail" tab and change the protocol from standard to SMTP. If you have not experienced any problems with notifications, then you should not touch the function.
Do not forget to add an administrator and employees. They will be able to edit content and carry out technical work from their accounts. To do this, click on the "Add" button to give the user administrator rights.
Finally, we recommend setting up the security system. Go to the "Server" tab and mark the connection of the SSL cryptographic protocols and GZIP compression. Thanks to their activation, the chances of losing information or control over the site drop significantly.
SEO site promotion on Opencart
Special attention should be paid to site optimization on OpenCart. What is it and why is it needed? As elsewhere, it can be divided into two stages — external and internal. The first includes obtaining links from authoritative platforms, increasing the number of transitions to the site from third-party resources and other factors that can influence the ranking of a site using third-party resources. Internal optimization includes working with content, eliminating technical problems, and improving usability. It should be considered in more detail.
Since most search engines focus on finding relevant content, sites should be filled with exceptionally high-quality, SEO-optimized text. What is this for? The answer is obvious - search engines form query results by ranking sites based on their benefits to people. To occupy the "TOP-10" in the search engine results by request is the main task of SEO specialists. This need can be explained by the question “How often do you view search engine results after the 1st page? Do you come to the 20th or 30th place? " We suppose not often.
To be in the TOP-10, you need to place the right tags, write an attractive and effective meta description, constantly improve the site and be patient. The path to success is thorny and long. As for meta tags, you need to form them not just by describing the features of your resource, how great it is, interesting and generally the best among all.It is advisable to provide a meta description to experienced SEO specialists, because it should contain both keywords (we will talk about them later) and special characters used for “decoration”, visualization of meta description, and attracting the user's attention. Without knowing the specifics of writing, you can spoil the ranking indicators out of the blue, and simply present the site to the user in the wrong light.
Don't forget, the meta description is the "cover" of the site, the first thing a person sees in the search results. If he is not interested in the text, it will seem to him that this is not the very "sought after" — the user will ignore the site.
If you want to try to write a meta description yourself, then remember "The text must be relevant to the page." And contain relevant keywords found and clustered in the process of collecting the semantic core. Its task is to convey the purpose and capabilities of the resource as accurately as possible. If you managed to write the meta description as high quality as possible, you can proceed to filling the resource with content.
It should be noted in advance that SEO-promotion of an online store requires a detailed description of each product. This is a lengthy process that can take more than one month (or even a year). But first, you need to create catalogs suitable for placing all groups of products sold.
To do this, create parent and child categories through the admin panel, and then enable them in the settings (display on the site).
To edit them, go to the "Catalog — Categories", select the one you need and click on "Change".There you can both rename blocks and make changes to content, meta description or tags. You can also add a picture or video.
If you need to add a category to the list on the site, open "Data" and activate "Show in the main menu", after that it remains to set the order. To change the look in individual tabs, go to "Design", choose the appropriate layout - enjoy the result.
In case you need to adjust the URL — just open "SEO" and enter a new option in the field. Save the introduced innovations and then refresh the page.
Example of the interface of the admin panel of the online store
Filling the website with content
Often on the pages of online stores, large companies (regardless of the field of activity) you could come across the "Blog" tab. Sometimes the question "Why is this?" Arose. For companies interested in developing their web resources, it is important, first of all, to reach a large audience and naturally interest it. This is where blogs help. They perform two functions at once — informative and become an aid in ranking. Let's consider in order.
First of all, a blog is information. Articles in it should inform visitors about certain things, be it the benefits of plastic recycling or a brief excursion into the history of trading. The task of the blog is to attract the attention of a potential client, to give an answer to his questions and, preferably, to sell him a product.
Articles are keyword-rich content. What does it mean? The user enters the query "Change the car into winter tires" into the search bar, after a couple of moments he starts analyzing the search results with interest. There, pages are waiting for him, the text on which corresponds to the request entered by him. It only remains to choose. Usually the user stops at the first 3-5 sites. Their location in the "TOP" directly depends on the quality of the text, the number and occurrence of key words. So what is it all the same? A keyword is an element that matches popular searches on a specific topic. A striking example — "How to make an online store on OpenCart from scratch?" You will probably pay attention to this article only because of its location on the first page in the search results.
SEO-promotion of sites made on opencart is no different from the optimization of web resources developed on other engines. If you are interested in the methods and rules for filling Internet pages with content, we recommend that you pay attention to the articles on this topic in our blog!
In addition to the text, internal optimization also includes bringing the technical condition of the site to a working ideal. The page should fulfill its main functions and at the same time withstand the influx of users. This is being watched by programmers. The challenge lies not only in maintaining the page, but also in the regular introduction of "chips", new design elements or interface.
If you are unsure of your knowledge or skills, then it is better to entrust the resource efficiency to an experienced digital agency. The specificity of an online store is not only an extensive catalog and constant competition, but also its popularity can create many problems. A huge number of users may be interested in a certain product, if they visit the resource at the same time - then the site may simply break down and "fall", which, of course, will scare away potential buyers.
But what if your site was created a long time ago? More than one search engine update has passed, new algorithms have appeared, the functionality of the pages has expanded, but your Internet resource simply does not support them. Or is the site simply not adapted for mobile devices or new screen extensions? Or maybe during the development it did not work out to implement the desired functionality? Errors can be corrected in two ways. The first involves developing a new site from the very beginning.Naturally, this will require both financial costs and time. The second option is to finalize the site's OpenCart. We will talk about it further.
Improvement of the site on OpenCart
The technical state of the web page does not always keep up with the times. For example, you do not need to go far, it is enough to open sites 5 years ago. If they have not been updated, then you can notice with the naked eye an unusual extension, an inconvenient interface and similar flaws. Probably, the resource was quite technologically advanced at the time of its development, but today it is an anachronism.
The "race with updates" is especially critical for online stores. Each large-scale algorithm update in Google forces SEO specialists to work on improving the Internet resource. It is not always possible to do this correctly and on time. In such cases, it is necessary to carry out significant work, for example, finalizing the site. Opencart, like engines similar to it, are not able to update automatically, therefore, technical work is required regularly after the release of innovations for the search engine.
As in all the points above, you should not try to modify the site on OpenCart on your own, without programming experience. Bringing the page to a satisfactory state is usually the concern of digital agencies. They accompany the site at all stages of development and promotion. But technical work should be discussed in more detail.
Let's start with the visuals. Often in online stores you can find product photos that are not of good quality. In such cases, the user viewing the page may doubt the quality of the item and simply lose interest in it. There are hardly any people who can assess the quality of a product in a blurred image.Finalization of the site for opencart is necessary precisely for bringing all the photos, scripts, interface, etc. to an adequate state. For this, it is best to contact a specialist. You will need to give them access to the resource database, there is simply no other option.
Don't forget about the interface. Panels, buttons, personal account and similar elements are the first thing that meets the user. A person should not experience difficulties in working with the site. A catalog, a menu, a checkout button, a shopping cart - all this requires both high-quality external performance and an efficient state. If the "Buy" button works every other time, and items in the search for goods regularly end up in an unknown place — the online store requires a thorough interface revision. The user will tolerate such flaws only if the product is unique (it is simply impossible to find it elsewhere). But even if you have an excellent USP, it is better to avoid technical flaws.
The OpenCart engine, due to the modular system, greatly simplifies the revision process and allows you to fix errors without affecting the working elements. But this does not mean that the work can be taken carelessly — the completion of any site is a laborious and lengthy process that requires a careful approach, deep knowledge and understanding of the principles of operation of search engine algorithms and CMS modules. But besides the operability of the web page as a whole, its elements in particular, there is one more specific task. Namely, the high-quality display of the site not only on computers, but also on other devices.
Today more than 60% of users visit pages on the Internet from mobile devices. To display the resource correctly on low-resolution screens, you need to develop an adaptive version of the site. It should have similar capabilities, but at the same time display graphic elements correctly on various mobile devices. The development of an adaptive version of the site is the creation of an analogue for comfortable viewing on mobile devices. Tackling such a task is not the best solution without a wide staff of programmers and designers. It is better to entrust the development of an adaptive version of the site to professionals.
If you are interested in creating a website on OpenCart — we advise you to contact us!