Joomla! & Beyond 2015

I’m very pleased to announce that I’ll be reprising my talk on Pricing for Freelancers (“You’re Too Cheap – & not nearly nasty enough”) at the Joomla! & Beyond 2015 (#JaB15) conference in May in Prague.

#JaB15 is the leading European conference for Joomla! developers and integrators, bringing together people from over 30 countries, and this year’s programme is stuffed with great speakers covering a broad range of subjects.

If you’re interested in Joomla! or how it can help you (whether you’re a individual programmer or company) please take a look at the programme and see what’s on offer.  It promises to be a really great and inclusive event this year.

Joomla Day UK

I’ll be speaking at this year’s Joomla Day UK conference on 4th October on the tricky subject of pricing. The title of my talk is “You’re too cheap & not nearly nasty enough”, which gives you some idea of what I think about the subject.

Tickets for the event are still available and there’s a great line up of talented speakers. Hopefully we’ll see some of you there.

Magento Search Not Working

Today I came across a really annoying issue with respect to Magento’s search functionality. In essence, regardless of the term the user was entering, Magento returned the same 10 products, & occasionally a correct match!

Looking in the search logs of a search extension I installed, I could see that loads of results were being returned but not being displayed in the actual front end results. Could it be a stale index, or a problem with the cache?

Well, after countless command line reindexing, clearing the cache, checking the search settings in Config (Like & FullText), checking that products were visible, etc, I checked on the display values in the categories. There I discovered that the store’s root category’s “Is Anchor” was set to yes, and there were 14 products assigned to the root category. Amongst these 14 products were the usual suspects appearing in the rogue search results!

In the spirit of trying anything, I set “Is Anchor” to No and removed the products. Bang – the search results started working as expected. I’m not sure why but by this time I was past caring tbh! However, it looks like these settings were restricting the products that could be displayed on the front end. Does anyone know the reason?

Update

I had this occur on another site I’m working on – empty search results. This time the culprit was that none of the products that had been imported via a third party system had been assigned to a website/store.

Magento product images not showing

Today I noticed that some product images on a client’s site were not displaying. This was puzzling because I had recently migrated the site to a new server and had spent quite sometime testing the site.

To cut a long story short, the cause of the problem was two fold. Firstly, the missing images were huge.  Resizing one of them solved the problem for that particular product. This led me to the cause of the second problem – the php memory limit on the new sever was 64M. Increasing the memory limit to 258M resulted in all the large images displaying properly.

Ideally I would resize all the large images but that will have to wait for another day. 

So, make sure to check your php memory size if you encounter a similar situation of your Magento product images not being displayed.

Magento – Sales Emails

One of the (many) things that often gets overlooked when a company puts a Magento website live are the Sales emails. These are the emails that get sent to customers after they have ordered – the New Order email, etc. You can tell if these have been overlooked by studying the opening hours – if it says, “Monday – Friday, 8am – 5pm PST” , then it’s probably using the stock template that comes with Magento (presumably PST refers to Pacific Standard Time, which is pretty meaningless to a European customer).

Sales Email templates
8 Magento Sales Email templates

Within Magento there are 8 email templates that you should modify before going live. This is because these all contain the standard PST opening hours. These templates are New Order, New Invoice, New Shipment, New Credit Memo. I usually rename them with the store name (“Quirk” in this example) so that its easier to manage in a multi store setup. This means you can add different templates for different stores or websites.

Magento Sales Emails template selection
Sales Emails template selection

Changing the default email templates is pretty simple. Within Magento backend, navigate to  System/Transactional Emails.  Click “Add New Template” and then from the Template dropdown, select one of the 8 templates you should modify (see above). For example, the first template I modify is the New Order template. By default I just change the opening hours and then wait until the client has done some test orders before broaching the subject of deciding what content and style would best suit their shop.

Assigning the Magento Sales Email templates
Assigning the Magento Sales Email templates

When you’ve modified the templates, you then have to assign them. Go to Configuration/Sales Emails and then select the appropriate email for each section. For example, here I’ve set the New Order emails to be the “Quirk New Order” for a registered customer and the “Quirk New Order for Guest” for guest checkout customers.

Setting the transactional email templates is not difficult or particularly time consuming. However, it’s an important part of presenting a professional and consistent image to your customers. Paying particular attention to the details here will pay dividends later on.

Google AdWords Certified Professional

Today  I passed the second compulsory Google AdWords certification exam. The first exam is the Advertising Fundamentals, which covers AdWords account and campaign management, amongst other things. The other exam I passed was the Advanced Search which covers advanced best practices for campaign management and promotion.

As its name implies, the Advanced Search exam is a much more difficult proposition. It covers bidding strategies, maximising campaign profitability, AdWord tools, conversion rate optimisation, ROI calculation, amongst other aspects of AdWords campaign management.

It will probably take a couple of days before my Google Partner status is updated with my certification details. in the meantime, I’ll be implementing some of the strategies  I learned about to the benefit of my PPC customers.

Google AdWords Exam

Today I passed the Google AdWords “Advertising Fundamentals” exam (88% since you asked). It’s part of the certification process that’s a prerequisite for becoming a Google partner.

The Google Partner Programme appears to be geared towards helping SMEs to find accredited agencies that will manage their pay-per-click (PPC) advertising campaigns. As part of the programme, agencies will have access to training materials and learn about “best practice” whilst Google will will be able to measure the effectiveness of each agency.

The end goal seems to be to reinforce SME confidence in the value of Google’s AdWords programme. I hope that when I’m fully accredited I’ll be better placed to help my SME clients with their PPC campaigns.