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Up until this past week, I only owned one five letter domain name and I wanted to do something special with it. I came up with an idea for a product that fit with the name and at some point I plan on setting up an ecommerce site on this domain to sell this item. I installed Magento and am truly blown away by all the features available, not to mention how simplistic it is to find everything in the administration area.

Magento is a full content management system in the form of ecommerce software. You can built new pages on to your site, configure the sidebar blocks, and create interactive polls for your visitors. The look and feel of the site is clean and organized which is a big plus for me. I like a lot of white space on my websites. It ensures that the content you do see is not missed in a wave of clutter. Sometimes content management software shoots for the moon by including every single bell and whistle they can think of and this can be counter productive. If you don’t need something, get rid of it. With Magento, it appears they have found the perfect balance of necessity and functionality.

You have your standard sections to manage like orders, invoices, shipments, and tax. Then there’s an area to manage the catalog, the products in it, and their individual attributes if needed. You even have the ability to put customers in groups if you wanted to offer different price points to select buyers such as wholesalers or retailers. You can also set promotional rules so the price is updated in the shopping cart to the promotional price.

Magento has newsletter functionality built in so you can create and save templates, have a queue of newsletters in various stages lined up, manage subscribers, and address problem reports. Speaking of reports, there are quite a few options for creating reports with your data. The top level choices are Sales, Shopping Cart, Products, Customers, Reviews, Tags, and Search Terms. With those options alone there is a wealth of information that can be displayed, but the majority of them have additional sub-options to drill down even further. I haven’t even mentioned the system settings which is quite in depth. Then there’s the alert center where you get notifications about critical patches or major revisions and updates so you always are aware of the latest versions or security fixes of the software.

As a hack, there is one thing that I don’t like about it. For those of you adept at creating and editing images in PhotoShop or Gimp, you’ll probably laugh. The logo is layered or something, so I can’t just copy the image, alter it, and upload. I gave it a shot in Gimp and it just came out horrible looking. I suppose I can change that with some reading on my part, but I guess I’m just not that crazy about becoming a logo designer. Still, I should know the basics about how to cut up and image.

After a few days of playing around with Magento, I was thoroughly impressed. I almost feel like it would be too much for my simple little idea. I have one product with a bunch of attributes (color, gender, size, etc.) so to have this incredible ecommerce platform for one product seems like overkill. However, if you’re going to sell anything and take it seriously, why not arm yourself with the best tools in a rock solid piece of ecommerce software. Without having used this on a live site yet, I would have to say I would recommend Magento for its features alone. If and when I do go live with my idea, I will be sure to follow up and let you all know how I feel after getting some real time Magento action under my belt.

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