The Essential Magento eCommerce Toolkit

Magento is a PHP based eCommerce platform by open source experts, Varien, and it’s fast becoming the program of choice for savvy developers wanting a flexible solution for their projects. Magento isn’t just limited to seasoned developers though; its ease of use has also made it a popular choice for those embarking on their very first eCommerce build. Magento bills itself as The World’s Fastest Growing eCommerce Platform and with over 1.5 million downloads and a 200,000 strong membership in the Magento user forum I think they might be onto something!

If you are considering Magento for your next eCommerce project, you’ve come to the right place. The Essential Magento eCommerce Toolkit brings together the best resources available, mostly from the web, but also thrown in are a few printed texts that will ensure you have all the information you need to make your next eCommerce project a success.

1. Getting started

There are two options for working with Magento, the first is the free ‘Community Edition’. The second option is a is a fully featured version geared towards corporations, it’s called the ‘Enterprise Edition’ and comes complete with end-to-end product support and, among other things, a better CMS; it’s priced from $11,125 USD per year. Check out the feature comparison chart on the Magento site to find out which one is best for you.

Whichever option you choose, your first port of call should be magentocommerce.com where you can download the Community version for free and once you have done that, take a peek at these sweet Magento resources.

2. Guides for Using Magento

Magento Wiki
As you would expect, Magento do a splendid job of putting together their own resources. Of note however, is their own comprehensive Magento Wiki where the Magento community contributes content. The great bit is you don’t have to be a community member to view the wiki, so you can start seeking the answers you need right away. While you are on the Magento site, also take a look at their Design Guide, Knowledge Base and slick Screencasts.

The Ultimate Guide To Creating E-Commerce Websites With Magento
Webresource Depot has a  great guide that covers the whole process of getting Magento up and running, and includes some very helpful screen shots and source code snippets.

User Guide and Quick Tour from Spoox.be
Belgian web agency Spoox has two great Magento guides that you can download for free from their website. The first is a simple quick tour that’ll get you up and running in no time, the second is 209 pages of Magento goodness, a truly thorough user guide that covers just about everything you will likely need.

Blasted Thing
Web geek Sam Davis runs the wonderful Magento weblog, Blastedthing.com that, in his own words, is aimed at promoting and helping users’ in their quest to tame the beast of an E-Commerce platform. With articles added pretty much every day, this one should go straight to your bookmarks.

Packt Publishing’s Magento: Beginner’s Guide
Packt Publishing offers a few different guides to using Maganto and this book, aimed at those new to developing websites with Magento, provides a complete overview; from installation and hosting your project through to order fulfillment. It’s available for purchase as a printed book for £22.49, or digital download eBook for around £14.

Magento Book Roundup from Y Open Source
For more great printed books on Magento, Y Open Source provides a helpful list of some of the best.

Magento One Click Install Guide and Using Magento Connect by NuBlu Blog.
Nublu offers two handy Magento related posts on their blog. The first is a detailed look at the One Click Installation process; the second post deals with the Magento Downloader which is used for updating to the latest Magento version.

How to Setup Multiple Magento Stores by Crucial Hosting
For developers wanting to install Magento on multiple codebases and backends, Crucial Hosting offers up a detailed step-by-step guide that is broken down into 9 comprehensive sections. This awesome guide covers multiple installations using parked domains, add-on domains, subdomains and sub-directories. It also covers URL Structure and how to setup a secure checkout for each domain.

MagJournal
MagJournal is a blog dedicated to all things Magento. Its’ got some great content too, covering SEO, hosting and themes. They also have a helpful Tips and Tricks section.

Installing Magento on Dreamhost
No doubt some of you will need to install Magento on Dreamhost, and this helpful guide by Webinade walks you through the entire process.

3. Tutorials for Theming Magento

Magento for Designers, Parts 1, 2 & 3 by Tuts+
Nettuts author, Siddharth, puts together a three-part guide to working with Magento. The first covers installation and setup, part two covers products, taxes, categories and payment gateways while the final installment gets into the fun stuff, theming.

Designers Guide to Magento by Spoox.be
Yet another brilliant guide by Belgian Web Agency, Spoox – this one covers aspects of designing with Magento and features a list of Magento terminology and an introduction to Layouts.

Creating a new Magento Theme by Inchoo.
Just a short, to the point, look at creating themes with Magento.

Designing for Magento, by Magento.
The Magento websites takes a detailed look at designing in Magento. Worth a look is the ‘Creating a New Theme’ section that covers creating a design theme, how to setup a new theme in the admin area and adding custom stylesheets.

Changing the Magento Theme by Siteground
Siteground has a vast collection of Magento content on their website, from widgets and themes to installation guides and SEO tips. This step- by-step guide takes you through the process of changing a theme in Magento.

4. Free Magento Themes

There aren’t a ton of high quality, free Magento themes around, but we’ve managed to dig up a couple of gems in the rough. No doubt as Magento continues its rise to dominance we’ll see more of these around!

1. EversonStore
This is a simple, clean and elegant Magento theme, suitable for many kinds of web stores / industries. Everson is definitely one of the best looking free themes around.

2. Shop Online
A very slim and modern looking theme from Web-Experiment.

3. Local Store
Also from Web-Experiment, this theme suits a glam, fashion sort of shop, but could no doubt be repurposed for a variety of other uses.

4. Magento Core – Modern Theme
Magento’s core theme is a great building block for customizing your own themes.

5. mCommerce – iPhone Optimized Theme
An iPhone optimized theme to the Magento default interface.

5. Premium Magento Themes

Web.AppStorm’s sister site ThemeForest has recently launched a Magento category and it’s packed with some very high end Magento eCommerce Templates:

1. Woodrow — Customizable Magento Theme
This cohesive theme includes design for everything you need to launch your online store.

2. Acumen
Acumen is a flexible, grid-based Magento theme. The sparse coloration and ornaments draw maximum attention to products, while keeping a clean and modern aesthetic throughout.

3. Tribeca Magento Theme
This cohesive theme includes design for everything you need to launch your online store.

4. Media Store
This Magento template is sleek and modern, great for selling media or electronics. The homepage features a display of new products as sorted by category!

5. Organic Magento Theme
Another theme from worryfreelabs, this theme includes design for everything you need to launch your online store. No really, it does.

6. Magento Hosting & Resources

Magento has 8 official hosting partners from all over the world. For some non-offical hosting  solutions, you should check out Simplehelix, Hostgator, TMD Hosting, Siteground or Evo Hosting.

9 Methods for Making Magento Faster
Sam Davis’s blog was mentioned above as a great general resource for Magento, but worthy of pointing out is his post on making Magento run as fast as it can. Time is money!

SEO and Magento
Making sure your website is SEO friendly is critical these days, and that goes for web shops too. Make sure your Magento build ticks all the right boxes so that you get all the love you deserve from Google.

Video tutorials
If video tutorials are more your thing, Magento has it’s own Youtube Channel with a swag of great videos, mostly aimed at the Enterprise crowd, but well worth a look.

Magento Common Installation Problem in Windows
Also helpful is this troubleshooting guide from Magento that covers common problems when installing onto a Windows machine.

Did we miss anything?

Have your own resources to add? Leave a comment!