Often times, as a developer, I’m asked the question we all dread…

Do you have a minute? I have an idea I want to run past you.

<insert generic idea with slight twist here>

How long would that take you?

Be honest, it’s happened once or twice this month, right? Yep, me too. Often times, the first thing I go to, is how long it would actually take me to dev the work. We’re all experts in something that we feel we can do better than everyone else..but I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me tell you a quick example that proves my point.

Hey dear, I have a question…

I’m sure, that’s a question many of use have heard from our partners at some point in their relationship, so I wasn’t really dreading it, until this was the question:

Yg9vPghgox-3000x3000

So there it was, the dreaded, “How long/much does it take to build X.” To lay a little background my wife runs a Co-Op, in which she collects people that want to buy a lot from the same company, gathers their orders, then places one large order to reduce costs. Technically, she’s a wholesaler. Sometimes, when there aren’t quite enough orders to fill the minimums, she’ll front the cost and resell the remainders later. Her previous method was very time consuming and not easy to manage.

As a developer on Easy Digital Downloads, I thought, “This should be EASY. I’ll just get access to the USPS API, build a quick shipping plugin, get a theme setup, and she’ll be off to the races selling her extras online without a care.” So I thought…as I started planning the work, between my job, family time, chores around the house, holidays…yep, this wasn’t going to be quick and would likely take a few iterations to get right.

Enter…WooCommerce

I traded in my EDD hat for a bit, installed WooCommerce and even bought the WooThemes USPS Shipping plugin. I went to the ‘Dark Side’…and it worked out perfectly. Within hours, my wife was publishing her extras, and within 24 hours, made her first sale. She’s made several since, and minus a small $0.30 issue in shipping, everything has been estimated nearly perfectly. In the end, something I had done, or could do, wasn’t the answer to the question. It existed elsewhere.

You aren’t always the answer

When we’re passionate about building a product, it becomes our hammer, and every question looks like a nail. In this case I’m a developer on an eCommerce platform, that could do what my wife needed with a little help. The truth of the matter is, someone else has one that worked perfectly for her, and I didn’t have to be that hero. In fact, days after we pushed the site live, WooThemes shipped their free ‘Storefront’ theme that’s now powering her store. And with great features that she was amazed by, that again, would have taken me time to build into a theme to integrate with EDD.

Did it hurt to not use something I’m proud to have worked on…you bet it did. In all reality though, this was less about my ego, and more about getting my ‘client’ what they needed, and that’s the real win.

Using the other Hammer

There are a few added benefits to using this platform that ‘competes’ with the one I work on. It’s always a good idea to look at your competition, in fact, it’s encouraged. Most likely though, your research is just setting it up in a test area, using it for a day, and then leaving it behind. You never really give it the ‘daily driver’ attempt. Therefore, you miss a TON of good knowledge. Using WooCommerce for my wife’s site has lead to me seeing a different way to do things, which is NEVER a bad idea. Some things, I feel, Easy Digital Downloads does better. There are other areas though where WooCommerce has us beat, and that means we can improve. If I can get you to take away one thing it’s this:

Never let your pride in your work stop you from admiring and praising the work of others. Click To Tweet

In the end, both Easy Digital Downloads and WooCommerce are extremely popular and well built pieces of software that the developers can be proud of. I’m just glad I took the opportunity to give the ‘competition’ a shot and see the great work some of my friends have been apart of.

Posted by Chris Klosowski

Chris Klosowski is the Director of Technology at Sandhills Development, LLC, creators of fine WordPress plugins, and ecommerce solutions.

65 Comments

    1. Thanks Bryce.

      I really hadn’t had the opportunity to use WooCommerce much as a ‘daily driver’ until this point. It made me come to the realizations above pretty quickly. Most importantly though, my ‘client’ is happy. In the end they don’t care who makes it, just that it works for their needs.

      🙂

      Reply

      1. Definitely. It’s really cool sometimes to just take a step back and be the user for once!

        Reply

  1. I see the two (EDD & Woo) as different tools for similar tasks. For instance, my uncle has a million different hammers. One for each type of work. If my client is selling a digital product, I immediately go to EDD. If it’s a physical product, I go straight to Woo. Similar but different.

    I could talk for days about this.

    Reply

    1. I 100% agree with you, the problem is where we get so caught up in something we’re familiar with, that we avoid using something different, instead of using the one suited for the job.

      Hammers and nails aren’t the perfect example I guess, as you’d never use a rubber mallet hammer to forge steel, but with software that’s flexible, it’s easy to get caught up using the same tool every time.

      Reply

  2. Man, oh man, have I been there. I came from a background of building EVERYTHING 100% from the ground up. Even stepping back and using jQuery UI was hard at first 😛 But now I see the strong merit in using the tools of others, even when you really feel the *need* to build everything out yourself.

    Great read.

    Reply

    1. Thanks Joel,

      Sounds like we work the same way. Sometimes it’s just the urge to want to learn to build something that drives me, but it’s not always cost/time prohibitive.

      Reply

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