A little Background
I have an Affiliate blog hosted here. I also have an ecommece site hosted elsewhere, I used Wordpress on both. The problems started with the site that is NOT hosted here. I changed from WP eCommerce plugin to WooCommerce plugin, as was recommended by several people. I decided to offer a review here, as there are certain things that are important both when choosing themes as well as plugins.
WordPress's own support site tells you when you are having issues to change to a default theme such as Twenty Thirteen to see if this fixes your issue. So when you get a plugin created by somebody else, they will tell you the same thing. The exception is when the plugin creator also has created their own themes.
It is KEY to understand the Scope of Support
I am not new to support, as I provided Tech Support for 9 years at a major Telecommunications company for smartphones and similar devices. I try to ascertain the Scope of Support lest I be very disappointed and frustrated.
I was having problems with WP eCommerce plugin. I finally gave up and changed it to the free shopping cart WooCommerce Plugin. This required that I purchase an extension for the gateway my merchant account required. Once this was setup, I spent over a month trying to get this all to work. Nobody told me I also needed SSL for this to work. That was another extra cost. Then SSL kept failing to provide a secure connection. So the questions was just WHO is to provide the support for the secure connection, the host or WooThemes.
I am like many of you here. I do not know code, and ALL of this internet stuff is new to me, so I depended on the creators and host to help. My host did nothing but send email links to help files.... over and over, even though I had already done what the help files said to do.
Find out what KIND of Support is offered.
- Do they offer 24/7 phone support? If they do , it does not make any difference where YOU are located. Does this mean they can fix anything for you? Maybe. But not always.
- Do they offer online Chat Support? If they do, what are those hours? Time does make a difference. Understand that chat support will not have anybody accessing your account, other then possibly pulling it up in a browser, or running the url through a checking site. When they are open for chat, it is a good way to get a pointer to the correct online resource. Sometimes just knowing the right questions to ask will get you the info you really need.
- Do they offer online web support? If so, what are their hours? WooThemes has limited hours, they do not work weekends or holidays. They are in the UK which includes both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, but their "clock" is based on London, England time. Now, this begs the question as to what kind of online web support they offer. They do at least have you do your homework before opening a ticket, but when they detail all the things they require to give them access as an admin to your site, you would naturally assume that they actual use this information, right? Well, that is actually not what they.
Many of the answers to your questions can be found with a good search. Asking here for help, make sure you are asking the correct question. For instance, when I asked here if anybody had experience with eCommerce shopping carts, it was tooooo broad a questions. Even when I found somebody that knew about WooCommerce, I never even thought to ask if they had to file a support ticket. I should have. So include this in your thinking!
The Good and Bad of Online Support
I also worked with WooThemes. Their Support is online ONLY. They are located in the UK, which covers lots of geographic territory folks! I personally do not like online support ONLY option, due to the long delay in getting a response. But unlike WA, who actually get back to you and usually in a quick manner, WooThemes fails this miserably. Of 5 tickets that I filed, I got a response from a tech on ONLY one of the tickets. That reply from them ONLY told me that the theme worked fine on THEIR website, not mine. And this is after going to all the work of setting up the admin users for them to access MY sites (2).
I even changed to a WooTheme ecommece theme to try to fix the issues. Each time you open a ticket with WooThemes support, you go through all the help files FIRST. Then you have to describe your issue, what failed to fix from their support, and you need to create a secure login for them to be able to access the account as an admin. Boy, I get really uncomfortable doing this, but I complied. I was using Better WP security, which also required that I white-list their IP addresses in order for them to get in..
WooThemes Support never ever tried to access my website. The first issue I got resolved when I started looking for another host and that new host sent me some info that DID work -- for two days!.
Then the WooCommerce updated to the new version and it decimated my ecommerce site. I had a Wootheme theme on it now, and it broke that too, plus plus broke my other site (hosted here) that had a wootheme. It suppressed the sidebars, which I needed, as my site is also a blog. The ADD to CART button is no longer available. This means nobody can buy anything! Great for an online store, right?
Look at what is included in a Service
Woothemes has stripped down their themes and created plugins to take the place of the features they removed. NOT a good sign! They do not update all of these components at once. What they removed from their themes was replaced by 4 different plugins, with only some of the free.
So, when looking via Wordpress.org for themes or plugins, or on the creators website, look for the 'changelog' to see when things were last updated.
The timeline on all the above was two months. I was supposed to take a week to setup. It would have been ready for the Christmas buying season well ahead of schedule. I was split testing keywords via 7Search to be ready for all this. I had setup Adsense setup, Adwords was in the waiting, and Bing was ready to go. Social Sites were all created and ready for the big push. After two months of work, I have NOTHING to show for it.
I never give up, though. My host suggested changing to a different platform, PrestaShop. I use Inventory Source to load inventory into my store, and they have a hosted option that costs the same as what I pay them for my existing service from them. It is not WordPress.
WA gets us really pretty comfortable with support. Online users here are supportive. Their response time is quick as well as helpful when you open a ticket. This can lead us to assume that other providers do the same. They don't.
A lesson in all this is to do lots of your own homework. When you find a training item or a post that has a good breakdown of Questions to ASK or Features to Look For, copy them. You can even copy them into Rapid Writer, or at least put the link to where you found it there.
- Whether choosing a host, a theme or a plugin, do your own homework in researching them.
- Determine the Scope of Support
- Determine the Kind of Support with their Scope
- Find out what is INCLUDED their Service versus what is NOT.