Author Topic: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward  (Read 7974 times)

claesbas

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Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« on: April 21, 2016, 14:35:29 pm »
Hello and good day to you all! I have been working with Joomla since 2008 and with VirtueMart for about four years *(me and my web agency). Since 2.6.x we really felt that VM had become a really powerful and stable system and we started to build all our webshops on that system.

However I feel that there seems to be a bit of lack of work on the marketing side of the VirtueMart brand. That meaning the website virtuemart.net and also the surrounding websites like this forum, the dev.virtueamrt.net and other things.

Im writing this post as I would really like to help out to help enhance this part of VirtueMart. I'm not established in the VirtueMart team so I don't know to whom I should address this so I thought this forum would be a good place as VM is a community project.

Some points that I feel is not quite good at the moment with the VirtueMart website is in general that they feel outdated and here is a a little bullet point of just a few things that pops to my mind:

  • Websites (I'm talking about dev.virtuemart.net, forum.virtuemart.net and virtuemart.net mostly) feels abit out of date in design
  • There are old links to changelogs that are very old and in the "Live Store" area there is even hard to find a live site that is working. Usually its better to not show any live stores if they are not working anyway. OR focus on a few that is good looking and active.
  • This forum has a lot of forum places and its a bit hard to know exaclty where to post. Some forums (the extra onces in the dev part) seems almost dead. And is Virtuemart 1 really needed still? Could not htat be archived?
  • Frontpage of Virtuemart.net could give a more powerful marketing message to compete with the likes of Magento, Prestashop, Shopify etc - its not really pushing the awesome value that VirtueMart gives
  • Create like a "graphical profile" -package (there is good parts of the VM design but it woudl be good to have a downmload able package or something so that everyone pushing VirtueMart in their contry or city had the same things (its good for overall branding)
  • Then also update old info. How to help out and volunteer. What people are active in the community and what role do they play? Is there a structure and if not would it be a thing to try to create? Marketing leader, Development leader (of course Max) etc
  • There are more points here but I think you get the "meat" of what Im talking about here.

In general its better to remove old things that dont work and just keep the things that is up-to-date and correct.

I made a little PDF with some of the more crucial points that I would love to help out with and fix: https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/6241608/marketing_proposal.pdf

I am not sure Im out of line here but is there room for this kind of help in the VirtueMart community and who would like to help? I am willing to help myself and have some of my developers help out for this. I really think it would benefit all of us if virtuemart and its surronding sites where more up-to-date, modern and functional.

Perhaps a little fundraiser also could be something to consider to at least get some money into it (I again am willing to work for free - but if we could get some more to join for some extra payment then that could be great too! - some of the more boring task sometiems does need a little candy (money) to be done good.

Anyway thats my thoughts and you can all have a look on a quick layout/design proposal I did for an eventual new virtuemart.net here: http://server.wnmedia.se/virtuemart/

Kind regards,

Claes Norin
www.joomlaprofessionals.com
www.virtuemart.se
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Ghost

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2016, 09:09:56 am »
To be fair, Joomla.org sites need the same things. Community.joomla.org is still running on 1.5. Forum.joomla.org is ugly and outdated. JED has been updated but still looks and functions poorly.

While updating VM sites could be beneficial to its image, there's no point if VM continues to be lackluster. Don't get me wrong, I've been using VM for years too, but let's be honest. While it can be great with a lot of custom work, it's borderline unusable out of the box. It has poor UX/UI and lacks some extremely important features. And it won't get any of them because of VM politics. For instance, VM is never going to have a sensible checkout process because that would "hurt 3rd party extension developers". Nevermind that default checkout is a total conversion killer and 3rd party checkout extension are more like hacks than extensions. Maybe if it was on GitHub, things would be a bit better. Maybe more features would be accepted through PRs.

I also have some comments about your proposed VM site design, if you don't mind. It has really poor accessibility. Some texts are barely readable due to very low contrast. Lazy loading content is never a good idea, can't even search properly. Amount of animations/moving elements is too high and unnecessary at all. Just distracts from content that matters.

claesbas

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2016, 13:07:09 pm »
That's exactly the point of this thread. No censorship and speak your mind of what you think about the design. The design was made quite quickly. Its a lot of "fancy crap" that I too think is unneeded... but I just added things to show what is possible. Removing feature is the easiest.

I've already got some other inputs and will do some changes that I think most will find better.

About the politics of Virtuemart, I let that be an open questions for more to add their points to I think. My point of view is that the default VM cart needs improvements for sure. But maybe the website could list the different checkout products available to show the visitors whats available. Because of all this we did create a free cart too www.vmonepage.com ... Because we really thought there should be a good free alternative to the default one.

Please readers... add your comments.
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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2016, 13:58:58 pm »
For instance, VM is never going to have a sensible checkout process because that would "hurt 3rd party extension developers". Nevermind that default checkout is a total conversion killer and 3rd party checkout extension are more like hacks than extensions.

That is not true, compare the checkout of vm2.0, vm2.6 and vm3.0
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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2016, 15:06:55 pm »
    Hello Claes

    Great proposal that you have done, and really cool that you want to help to "modernize" virtuemart.net website.

Quote
the "Live Store" area there is even hard to find a live site that is working
true
when we migrated the website from Joomla 1.5 to Joomla 2.5, we added all the old websites of VM1, and some of them are not live anylonger, or they have migrated to another platform.
We used Sobipro for the listing, but we are not very happy with it.

Quote
OR focus on a few that is good looking and active.
I agree: focus on VM3 shops with some example for each category , and with different number of products (from 1 to ∞ ;) )

Quote
Move SimpleMachine forum over to Kunena
I don't know about that. May be changing the template of the forum could be enough.

Quote
Change template of the Redmine website (Project Management site).
Quote
Also gives a whole nice experience of the project.
http://www.redminethemes.org/redmine-themes/abacus-office
agree, it should not be too much work to change the template, and give a better look.

Quote
layout/design proposal I did for an eventual new virtuemart.net here: http://server.wnmedia.se/virtuemart/
I agree it looks more modern.
 
I recently redesigned the virtuemart.fr website, and i have been through this brainstorming of the home page and i am going to do a compare of both homepage

- virtuemart.fr does not have slideshows: this is a matter of taste: i do not like slideshows. Imho, it hides informations.
- virtuemart.fr has "download now" buttons , and "try it" to test the demo
- both websites have this "SOME OF VIRTUEMARTS FEATURES" sections: i like that. One feature that is probably missing is "create  from simple to complex products" May be add a button at the end to "see all features"
- both websites have "showcase" : i like that too :) . May be add a button at the end to "see more examples". virtuemart.fr has more showcases, but i think you are rigth, less is better.
- I like your latest news at the end, it is more visible in your proposal than in virtuemart.fr
 

For the colors: also this is a matter of taste. Imho, your proposal is too "grey", a little bit "too classic", and i agree with Ghost comment:
Quote
Amount of animations/moving elements is too high and unnecessary at all. Just distracts from content that matters.

may be once this is done, the next step will be to have a nice default  template for the demo website ? ;)

If this new template looks good (more colors ;) and if the picture of the man could look good with the new template)  , i will be happy to change virtuemart.fr to a more "corporate" template

Kind regards,
Valérie[/list]

claesbas

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2016, 15:34:00 pm »
Thanks for the comments! ... I have noted down them all and I agree with most of them. There is always a middle point to some things though. SobiPro would probably be a good idea to get rid of. I really think "less is more" when it comes to showcases. 3-8 would be enough. See the frontpageo f my temp site. There are 3 ... if we do 2 rows that would be 6 showcases/spotlights ... thats enough I think.

http://custom.simplemachines.org/themes/index.php?lemma=2836

This template with some of my CSS magic with VM colors and the VM logo would fit quite nice! Simple, responsive template. 
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claesbas

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2016, 16:20:26 pm »
There are also redmine templates (new modern and responsive) for dev.virtuemart.net ... That whole site needs some love as in updates too. Newer list of volunteers and updated texts...
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balai

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2016, 17:02:56 pm »
Great suggestions claesbas
I also loved your proposed template. Seems clear and user friendly.

Also the Virtuemart 1.1 section of the forum has to be removed or put in another sub-domain.
This way the forum would become much smaller.

I know that some of these changes require man power but i am sure that some people are willing to offer some of their time if asked.

claesbas

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2016, 19:22:28 pm »
Im thinking we might start a little crowd funding thing. We dont need much just a few taht give some extrae and I/Max can hand it out to those that helps out. Im guessing most more active users here actaully have an income from Virtuemart and giving just a small amount like 20euros or something like that would not be such problems which would help to pay for some tasks. I will see if I can get some more correspondence with Max and make a proper plan. I will of course update this very early template/demo a couple of times so that we can all agree and find a "middle point" where we are all happy with something.

I wish I was able to do polls? Max, is that something I can do here in these forums? A few polls to get the community input on some suggestions would be a great way forward. Then I hope also everyone understands that sometimes everyone will not be 100% happy with proposed decission etc. But lets try "democracy" as far as we can and then of course Max/iStaxx has the final decission as we do not want things to be unhelpful for VirtueMart.

I think that a page about how to volunteer (like joomla does some) would also be good. As I think many people are interested in giving some back to this project.
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claesbas

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2016, 19:26:16 pm »
Also the Virtuemart 1.1 section of the forum has to be removed or put in another sub-domain.
This way the forum would become much smaller.

Max: Is there any reson to keep VM 1 stuff? .... We can take a backup and save it. Maybe put something up like a a copy of this forum on archive.virtuemart.net and just delete everything but the 1 stuff. Keep it there but lock it so nothing new can be posted. Is there a reason Max to not remove these? Are you thinking SEO? Or is it that some active memebers do lose their amount of post which puts them back as these "high forum karma" things (which I find a little childish to be honest). Does any grown up person really feel bad for losing some amount of post on these forums? Is there no more important things to focus on than that here?
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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2016, 23:43:17 pm »
I think your seriously under estimating the number of active VM1.1 sites around.. 

I work on at least one "new to me" one every week or so..

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to built a VM1.0 shipping extension.. (ahhhhhhh.... the simplicity..... :)  )
so it is still a relevant resource for many.. could be separated of course but I don't see why it is such a "bad thing" to have it in the forum.. where's the harm?
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claesbas

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2016, 12:12:18 pm »
I think your seriously under estimating the number of active VM1.1 sites around.. 

I work on at least one "new to me" one every week or so..

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to built a VM1.0 shipping extension.. (ahhhhhhh.... the simplicity..... :)  )
so it is still a relevant resource for many.. could be separated of course but I don't see why it is such a "bad thing" to have it in the forum.. where's the harm?
That is interesting to know. We do not have that experience that we get people that have VM 1 in our agency. But it does seem to differ from diffretn places then. OK, so maybe a good idea is to keep it! Point added.
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claesbas

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2016, 12:19:48 pm »
The main idea was to "clean" and keep as un cluttered and simple forum as possible.
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lindapowers

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2016, 12:10:30 pm »
I agree with some of your points however I don't want the few active developers this software has wasting their time in doing a nice website or cleaning the forum, yes is nasty but it works. That would make sense if this software was commercial.

It has poor UX/UI and lacks some extremely important features. And it won't get any of them because of VM politics. For instance, VM is never going to have a sensible checkout process because that would "hurt 3rd party extension developers". Nevermind that default checkout is a total conversion killer and 3rd party checkout extension are more like hacks than extensions. Maybe if it was on GitHub, things would be a bit better. Maybe more features would be accepted through PRs.

This is what many of us think here and have discussed in other posts which lead us nowhere.

The VM policy is the worst that VM has. If there is an extension that does something VM won't develope one or include it cause if not the 3rd party developer will loose money and will stop contributing to VM, that is the official answer.

I do consider VM a great software that has evolved and improved a lot in the past year specially but yes it lacks many features and can't be compared to other e-commerce systems.

From VM1 to VM3 I see no big difference in the checkout, I don't know of anyone using the core one, ain't that something to think about?

The 3rd party checkouts are a case worth of study, there are like 5 one page checkouts and even claesbas developed an additional one.

Meanwhile we have a rating sytem that will ashame users of Zencart.

Coupon system or reward system? Never, cause Seiyi has an extension for that so when are we gonna get a coupon or reward system? never.

And e-mails? Never cause we don't want Interamind to get upset. Then we have the shop of virtuemart extensions with more and more extensions that would have made the core better and Alatak has some very interesting extensions.

But Max now will tell you that he spend 100000000 billion dollars in developing multivariants so yes, additions come from time to time but the main policy will always throwback this software against its competitors.

And Github never. This is the private project of Milbers with its good and bad things.

We are happy with the core, but the policy will eventually kill the project, come on, not even a donation button in the forum, let people pay for features in the core.
Right now you say we can join the membership, we can pay 3rd party developers to add code but even paying them most codes get rejected and we users end up with 20 extensions, plugins and modules that cost us thousands of euros.

Maybe no one noticed that there is not even a "feature request" section in the forum, I can't even pay them to add or enhance things. I have to pay 3rd party developers to end up adding another plugin to solve my issues.

All this said, marketing doesn't seem a priority right now.


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StefanSTS

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Re: Enhance and move the Virtuemart brand and websites forward
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2016, 15:30:38 pm »
lindapowers,

you can get all that, just buy some gold memberships and stop complaining.

Wouldn't be a problem to mention these things once, but you keep repeating yourself. Like in a broken loop, get out of it.
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