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Joomla Development Insights

Joomla Development Insights

John is the owner and senior developer of Blue Bridge.

Choosing Good Joomla Extensions

Choosing Good Joomla Extensions

Recently, I helped an associate with a Wordpress shopping cart. They were running into problems because of how the developers had coded the plugin. On the front end it looked fine, but it was so oddly designed on the backend that they couldn't manage it.

Unfortunately, many site owners run into similar problems.

They choose an extension because they are impressed by the way that it looks, but once it is installed, the interface is so complicated that they find themselves unable to make it work for them. That’s not a big deal if you plan to have an outside development company manage your site. But for many businesses, that isn’t a reasonable option.

When developing or choosing a Joomla extension, its appearance is only half of the picture. The other half – and arguably the more important – is the end user.

Your Extension Must Work for the End User

Obviously, an extension is only beneficial to your business if it’s useful to the end user. If they can’t use your shopping cart, they’re not buying your products! If you can't manage it, someone else has to.  It’s important that your Joomla developer understands this before they choose an existing extension or begin developing a custom extension.

Here are four questions to ask your developer:

  1. Who is the end user? Make sure they completely understand your target audience and who will be using the extension. They can’t design or choose an extension for ease of use if they don’t know who will be using it.
  2. Will the end user understand the interface? The main point of your extension isn’t to be visually appealing or flashy – although those are nice bonuses. The most important feature of your extension is that it works for your end user. 
  3. How much training is required?  Will it be easy for you to manage the extension in house? You don’t want to have to call up your developer every time you experience a slight problem. Get specific with your developer on how complicated the backend of the extension is and how long it will take to train your employees on how to use it.
  4. How flexible is the extension?  Lastly, will the extension continue to meet your needs in the future? You company's needs will evolve over time and having to start over with new extensions can be expensive and time consuming. 

The Behind-the-Scenes Work Makes Your Extension Effective

While it’s tempting to get caught up in how the final product looks, the usefulness of an extension is determined by all the work that goes in behind the scenes. It needs to be well thought out from the beginning, which means workflow and functionality are just as well prepared as the design.

When implementing a Joomla extension, make sure that your developer makes the backend as clean as the frontend.  When choosing an existing solution to implement, make sure that it's something that works well and just doesn't look good.  Carefully considered design will dedicate just as much attention to the way an extension works as to how it looks.

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