But first, what is Zen Cart?
It is an open-source (free) shopping cart for your website. It’s one of the ones you will find in your hosting control panel for an easy install.
And there lies the problem.
One click – yippee! I have a shopping cart. Uh, oops, that’s ugly. So you start trying to change the look of it. Uh, duh, how?
Well, changing the look of the default Zen Cart cart requires knowledge of CSS (changing colors & layout), ftp ( for uploading new images), admin configuration settings…. Oops, no? Okay, so now the free shopping cart is not quite as valuable as it was before you installed it.
But this guy says he’ll make the changes for just a couple of bucks or look, I found a free template! That’s better. But wait, I want this change here and he says he can’t or he does it wrong. That free template has a couple of small things I want changed. The cost rises.
When you finally get around the point of spending the dollars to get your changes made or a mod installed, then is when the quest really begins.
Why getting the right Zen Cart expert is so important?
- Your cart must remain as easily upgradeable as possible. The wrong changes will drive up the cost of your next upgrade. This is of major concern. Any open source script needs to be kept current to keep it secure.
- Straightening out the quickie fixes can cost you big bucks later. Just because it seems to work doesn’t mean there aren’t problems.
- Continued support is necessary since you will always need more changes, upgrades and answers after the job
So here are 10 questions to ask your potential Zen Cart go-to person:
- How many Zen Cart sites have you worked on?
(1-10, forget it;10-20, still not so much; how about 50+? Now there’s an expert )
- Can you get Zen Cart to match an existing site?
(No? go on to the next person if design is your chief concern. Even if it’s not, this can be a key to how adept this person is.)
- Name me 5 admin configuration settings that can change the look of my site. (There are many settings and these are extremely important. Being able to rattle off 5 off the top of one’s head is a good start.)
- What is the latest version? When did it come out and how many versions did it take to get it right?
(Hopefully, this will get a laugh and a quick explanation of the trials and tribulations of the present version.)
- Have you written any Zen Cart modules that are uploaded to the Zen Cart and can you send me to some forum posts you’ve made?
(No posts means you might should avoid this person because he /she is not very involved the Zen Cart community where support is so valuable – even to the experts.)
- What is the first skill in your tool chest? (best answer is zen cart knowledge; css and php are the other 2 most important ones)
- Can you provide training? Do you have any tutorials or written materials? Can we do an online training session?
- After this project is over, can I get continued support from you? How would you provide it?
- Who would you recommend for web host and why?
(If the only recommendation is his own hosting, run…… If not, do you get money from your recommendation?)
- Do you have customers who can provide a referral? (No? Well shoot, why are you still talking to this person?)
Now, I must tell you that once you’ve gotten the best answers to these questions, in general, this will weed out the large firms who work on many different types of sites who sit very high in the search engine results. Also, dropping out will be many non-English speaking coders who charge very small prices as well as talented PHP coders who think they can work on anything PHP without any Zen Cart knowledge.
In other words, the field will be narrowed considerably. Take the right care in hiring your Zen Cart expert and your cart will be a source of satisfaction, not frustration, and maybe even a money-maker!
Author: Delia Wilson Lunsford, Founder & CEO, WizTech, Inc.