Pros and Cons: BigCommerce, Shopify, & MagentoGo

At Zen Den, our web development and design team is well versed in a variety of ecommerce website platforms having built extensively on Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento, and Zencart, to name a few. Of course in our client’s best interest we choose the eCommerce platform that meets their needs and provides the right solutions for their business. Regardless of what platform is chosen we provide the same attention to detail by customizing layouts and creating a website that is unique to each business, as well as integrating SEO and marketing strategies into their site.

With our experience designing and developing websites using these various platforms we wanted to offer some pros and cons to working with three of the largest eCommerce platforms; Shopify, MagentoGo, and BigCommerce. Each offer great solutions and benefits, but also present different challenges. Please read our unbiased review which should help you understand why we might recommend one platform over the other.

MagentoGo is a bit different from the community version as it offers premium hosting, PCI compliance and world-class support. It is still an open source shopping cart platform that provides the same features to users and allows developers and programmers to build on the functionality and implement on their client’s sites. MagentoGo alleviates some of the traditional problems as Magento Community because of their support team and hosting services, but can still be difficult for clients to manage, update, and upgrade on their own. The Magento community is all adding new features and customizing or tweaking old ones, which is useful, but the themes available can pose longer development time as they aren’t as tightly coded as they could be. Development time does take a bit longer than say, WordPress, but it is a powerful eCommerce site that has extensive options for clients who are technically savvy or have a larger budget to hire a development team. MagentoGo is a good pick is you are looking for rapid growth within your business and don’t mind the learning curve associated with the platform. Features can be customized on a daily basis and modifications to functionalities can be made as frequently as you like. There are a variety of extensions and plugins that are readily available, but everything comes at a price. MagentoGo is around 25% more than BigCommerce and as mentioned previous development time can take a bit longer.

MagentoGo has different pricing tiers:

  • Offers 30-Day FREE Trial
  • GetGoing (100 products, 200MB storage, 4GB bandwidth) for $15 per month
  • Going Places (100 products, 500MB storage, 8GB bandwidth) for $25 per month
  • Go Beyond (Price drop to $50 after Stimulus deal. 1000 products, 800MB storage, 16GB bandwidth)for $65 per month
  • Go Anywhere ($110 after Stimulus deal, 10000 products, 5GB storage, 32GB bandwidth) for $125 per month

For more information check out their plans & pricing here.

Who’s using MagentoGo?

BigCommerce is a shopping cart platform that offers a supported and backed eCommerce solution. There biggest plus is their A+ customer service support that assists with anything from outside APIs and payment gateways to distribution partnerships and technical errors, but operates during standard business hours and unfortunately not 24/7. Their tech and development team manage the growth and updates to the features and options available to users to ensure quality control. BigCommerce is also one of the few shopping cart sites with significant tools for SEO. The straightforward optimization tools allows eCommerce businesses to establish their online presence and create a marketing strategy to assist in search engine visibility, traffic, and rankings. This eCommerce solution is great for the traditional brick and mortar retails who is beginning to create an online business as the platform can be operated with little technical knowledge and is affordable.
It is a user-friendly shopping cart which takes minimal development time and an easy to manage CMS, but isn’t as feature-rich as other eCommerce platforms. Many of their theme designs are outdated and not as polished as the competition. It is a matter of preference because BigCommerce offers over 100 free templates and is more affordable than, Shopify and Magento.

BigCommerce’s Pricing:

  • BigCommerce Bronze $24.95/month (100 products, 200MB storage, 2GB bandwidth)
  • BigCommerce Silver $39.95/month (500 products, 300MB storage, 3GB bandwidth)
  • BigCommerce Gold $79.95/month (1000 products, 500MB storage, 5GB bandwidth)
  • BigCommerce Platinum $149.95/month (unlimited products, 1GB storage,15GB bandwidth)

Who’s using BigCommerce?

And now, Shopify, an all-in-one and out-of-the-box solution for small and big retailers. It provides an easy to use and set up eCommerce store rich in features like built in marketing tools and one-click landing pages. It is a hosted solution which means setup can be accomplished in minutes. All of the technical details are taken care of by the Shopify team. The platform is very intuitive and the CMS is easy to use making customizations a cinch. Shopify also offers customer support 24 hours a day 7 days a week to handle all queries. The platform is feature-rich providing a large library of add-ons and plugins, but it is difficult to customize and create your own. Unfortunately Shopify is one of the more expensive platforms starting at $179 per month. They also charge a 2% transaction fee for Basic plans and 1% for professional plans which can eat up profits in a low-margin retailer. Lastly if your business decides to migrate away from Shopify your entire store and account will be deleted permanently making it difficult to move your store elsewhere.

Shopify Pricing:

  • Shopify Basic $29/month (100 products, 1GB storage, Unlimited bandwidth) But Shopify is the only one that charges 2% transaction fee($29) or 1% transaction fee($59 and $99)
  • Shopify Professional $59/month (2500 products, 5GB storage, Unlimited bandwidth)
  • Shopify Business $99/month (10000 products, 10GB storage, Unlimited bandwidth)
  • Shopify Unlimited $179/month (Unlimited products, Unlimited storage, Unlimited bandwidth)

Who’s using Shopify?

We will always recommend an eCommerce website that suits our clients business. If you want to learn more about eCommerce website design or request a quote, contact us today!


New WordPress Website Launch: Merritt Mental Health

By: Mae Demdam

Whew, another one down! We’ve just finished the launch of a new medical website for our client, Merritt Mental Health. This was an exciting and seamless project thanks to the integration of Basecamp and our client’s constant communication.

What is Merritt Mental Health?
Dr. Eli Merritt, a psychiatrist in the San Francisco Bay Area developed the concept for a mental health referral and consultation program. Medical providers within the network can assess their clients’ specific needs and provide guidance, while referring them to specialists if necessary.

Needs and Solution:
Dr. Merritt came to Zen Den with a need for a website to introduce his company, solidify his brand and create an informative online resource for his patients and their families. We created a clean, simplistic, yet professional WordPress website design. We chose WordPress because of its easy to use CMS and plugin integrations. With WordPress we added the Bookeo Integration to allow patients to schedule phone or videoconference appointments for immediate counseling. We also included marketing tools through MailChimp integration to keep in contact with potential and current patients.

Although Bookeo allows for easy installation and integration there was a challenged to get the plugin’s appearance to match our design seamlessly. We wanted the widget to have the same look and feel of site, but Bookeo’s out-of-the-box product wasn’t design friendly. It took quite a bit of CSS trickery to bring it in line with the rest of the site’s visuals, as well as ensuring it maintained the same responsiveness from desktop to mobile.

Unique Aspects of the Project:
Our team worked closely with Merritt Mental Health’s staff photographer to integrate tasteful and genre appropriate imagery into the site. This was an exciting creative process as opposed to using Stock Imagery and allowed their team to work closely with our developers and designers.

For more information on WordPress web design and development contact the team at Zen Den Web Design for a consultation and to request a quote.


We’ve Teamed Up with AltTox and the Humane Society of the U.S.

By: Mae Demdam
Our innovators, designers, creative thinkers, strategists AND most importantly animal lovers, are so proud to have been chosen to redesign AltTox.org’s (in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States) website.

The goal of this collaboration is to bring their current website up to date, make it responsive, and create an inviting atmosphere focused around education and information. As an international resource and platform focused on non animal toxicology testing, AltTox presented a need to maintain credible within their industry yet enhance their online presence and user experience with a clean, organized, and modern look. Partnerships with large organizations such as The Humane Society of the US and Procter & Gamble, create the need to re-identify the brand, increase traffic and user interactions and contributions to the website, and create a stronger position as the top information provider in their industry.

“It’s great to have the opportunity to work with an organization such as AltTox and to improve their current website. Unfortunately educational and informational websites haven’t always been known for their innovations in web design. We’re looking forward to updating the AltTox website, redesigning their logo and creating a more youthful online identity that is geared to reach a broader audience,”

says Chad Bell, President at Zen Den Web Design.

About Zen Den Web Design:
Zen Den is an a creative web design and development agency that aims to “Bring Zen to the Web”. Our goal is to create innovative and forward-thinking websites and eCommerce solutions that are powerful, clutter free, and easy to navigate. Our client focused solutions employ top open source platforms and technology in the industry. Request a Quote Now!

About AltTox:
AltTox is an informational online platform with an international audience focused on promoting the regulatory use of non-animal methods by providing the most up-to-date information about these methods and the policies affecting their use. They also provide an outlet for discussions of ideas and thoughts about the developments and use of non-animal methods. “AltTox.org is a website dedicated to advancing non-animal methods of toxicity testing through online discussion and information exchange.” To learn more, please visit AltTox.org.

Image Credit: Cesarsway.com


Let’s Break These Unhealthy Work Habits and Be More Productive

By: Mae Demdam
At Zen Den we’re not the hoodie wearing, Cheetos eating type, although we like both, nor are we Bosu ball sitting and the “shoes off” meeting kind of agency either. We’re a creative agency with individual personalities working together in our best version of a “zen-like” state, but that doesn’t mean we don’t succumb to some of the popular unhealthy work habits.

Since we’re always sharing ideas of how we can improve as a company we thought we’d divulge on the top Unhealthy Work Habits and how to break them:

Staying Put– This habit is visible in any job setting whether you’re in a corporate office environment, hospital, bank, anywhere really if you don’t get up from your desk and move around you are encouraging some unhealthy tendencies.

  • Lack of blood flow
  • Poor posture
  • Weight gain
  • Low Morale
  • Fatigue

We suggest getting up and moving around. Although it may seem silly to get up and walk around the office a bit sometimes it’s necessary to get you out of “production” mode. Immersing yourself in work can be a bad thing.

Here’s some ways to get moving:

  • Get a stand up desk
  • Engage with co-workers at the water cooler
  • Grab a cup of coffee
  • Step outside
  • Take a call standing up

Eating at your desk– Guilty as charged! Our team often eats at our desks because of space constraints, but with weather permitting we’ve begun to take lunch to the streets and enjoy our little neighborhood park, Patricia’s Green. When you eat at your desk it can lead to the following:

It may seem like poor work ethic to leave a project hanging while you step out for lunch, but despite what you may think, that break is necessary. Even if you bring a lunch, step away from your desk and find a new spot to eat. If your office doesn’t have a break room, find an outdoor dining area or a cafeteria setting nearby. Either way don’t eat hovered over your keyboard.

Messy Desks– Things can get chaotic during the workday, thus sticky notes, crumpled papers, stacks or books, etc is normal, but keeping it this way isn’t. Having an unorganized work space can lead to additional stress, anxiety, and also harbors germs. It’s important to learn to let things go, throw away unnecessary papers, clean off your desk with anti-bacterial wipes and organize your files once a week. Not only will you feel accomplished, but when you return to work the next week you’ll come back to a neutral and clean environment.

Laptops– Although these machines are becoming the necessary device to use in the work space they can lead to negative effects. Having a laptop means you have a mobile machine which seems great, but many of us may not be using them wisely, i.e. propping them on our laps or hunching over the keyboard or pulling the screens extremely close to our faces. If you use a laptop try to purchase a tray to elevate the machine as it may improve posture. Make sure your laptop sits in a position that isn’t causing neck pain. Practice chair yoga through the day so you’re joints and muscles don’t stiffen.

Snackingwork snack stash with healthy items like fresh fruit, granola, yogurt and vegetables. Start a healthy office eating campaign and get everyone on board.

Remember a company is only as good as it’s best employees and to be the best you have to take care of yourselves. The majority of our lives are spent at work, thus we need to break the bad work habits to improve our overall health and wellness.


Web Redesign for Buffalo Bill’s Brewery in Hayward CA

By: Mae Demdam
We’re proud to announce that we’ve partnered with Buffalo Bill’s Brewery to create a responsive website to strengthen their online presence and assist with their re-branding and marketing.

Buffalo Bill’s Brewery was founded in the 1980s by beer enthusiast and famed photojournalist Bill Owens. He envisioned opening an authentic brewpub that would serve homemade, hearty libations with character and integrity. Due to legal constrictions his dream didn’t officially become a reality until 1983 where he opened one of the first brewpubs in America in Hayward, California. With continuing success Owens sold Buffalo Bill’s to Geoff Harries, a brewer at the time, who has been running the brewery and restaurant and epitomizing the homespun culture of the craft brewing movement.
Buffalo Bills Brewery Zen Den Web Design
In an effort to merge modern elements with a traditional and rustic feel the new website will embody the true sense of Buffalo Bill’s Brewery; artfully made, handcrafted and inspired by the seasons.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with such a fun brand and concept like Buffalo Bill’s Brewery. It’s always humbling to tackle new challenges, like re-designing a brew pub’s website. When we work with different industries it keeps things interesting and encourages us to learn and ask questions”,

says Chad Bell, President at Zen Den Web Design.

About Zen Den Web Design:
Zen Den is an a creative web design and development agency that aims to “Bring Zen to the Web”. Our goal is to create innovative and forward-thinking websites and eCommerce solutions that are powerful, clutter free, and easy to navigate. Our client focused solutions employ top open source platforms and technology in the industry. To learn more, please visit our Responsive Web Design Service Page.

About Buffalo Bill’s Brewery:
Buffalo Bill’s Brewery is located in Hayward, CA and was founded by Bill Owens in 1983 as one of the first brew pubs in America. Now owned and operated by Geoff Harries the brewery sells seasonal craft beers to independent store and large retailers nationwide. The product line includes Orange Blossom Ale®, Strawberry Blonde Ale®, Blueberry Oatmeal Stout®, Tasmanian Devil Ale® and Alimony IPA®. For more information about their products, brewery or restaurant, please visit BuffaloBillsBrewery.com.