Support » Plugin: WooCommerce » A Suggestion for Future Big Releases

  • Hi WooFolks,

    You’ve done a great job architecturally on the 2.1 series of releases and fixes.

    Unfortunately, you’re getting somewhat spanked on the customer reaction side of things, due primarily to theme designers not keeping up.

    While it’s definitely the responsibility of the theme designers to prepare for architectural changes and track the notifications Woo puts up on their website, it’s all kind of lost on the end users who seem to be getting caught in the middle.

    Clearly the themes need to be updated in tandem with your new release, to avoid this kind of s***storm in the future.

    I’ve got a couple of communication and procedural suggestions to help out next time.

    (I) In the run up to the big architectural releases, prior releases should have notification banners that the big update is coming, and the end user should get on to their theme provider to be sure that theme update will be ready in time.

    (II) On the Big Architectural Change Release itself, set up a different auto update mechanism.

    1. Rather than the update changing the world on install, have the update go to a confirmation screen.
    2. On the confirmation screen, inform the user of the big change.
    3. Give them a button to click on, to confirm that the theme is ready for this change, making sure they did an update before, etc. The release changes nothing (neither plugin code nor database) until this confirm button is clicked.
    4. If the user does not hit the confirm button at this time, the screen is available at any time until the update is applied. And no further updates will be able to be applied, until this one is done first.

    I think this will help bring the end-user into the loop, and they can act as a direct catalyst to ensure that the theme is ready for the new update, before the changes take place.

    It’s extra work on your end, but this would help reduce the offal hitting the rotating blades.

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
  • Those are great suggestions, but some customers and theme authors will never test or read update posts.

    Woo’s doing a great job of notifying people of the updates:
    1. Developers and Theme Authors can read this
    There is also

    2. There’s a huge notification that shows when the update is available. That’s the best that can be done via the repo. Building in a two-tiered update process is silly.

    At the end of the day the site owner needs to take ownership of their site and learn about the system they are using and stop being naive and blaming theme and plugin developers.

    Hi @daniel,

    You’re right on all counts.

    However, this is about managing perception, not reality.

    The end-users don’t care if it’s their fault or someone else’s, they only know that their site is messed up. Woo then gets a squidzillion posts, both in the support forum (which hurts Woo) and bad reviews in the review forum (which really hurts Woo).

    So with that in mind, I was suggesting a communication process which directly places additional update information in the hands of the end user at the time when they update, rather than depending on them to be cleverer users.

    This gives the end-user a chance to pause and reflect at a critical juncture, and more clearly passes the risk/reward update choice responsibility to them, with the information clearly spelled out for all to see.

    Varkteck I would respectfully disagree with you on the design, data I used to have is now missing and it takes more effort and clicks to find the data you need. Upgrades are supposed to make your work easier not more difficult.

    I think your idea about the prompt screen is an excellent one. Perhaps have it go to a page that actually shows the layout or have the ability to try it. I would also would say that with such an update it should not be pushed out as a critical update.


    Time will tell on the design and usability questions.

    I’m kind of focusing on the customer interaction.

    So much has changed with each of the recent major architectural releases (2.0 and 2.1), and each one of these created their own tornado of user problems.

    The end-users that are tech savvy will indeed do things in the appropriate manner – ensure that the theme is up to date, have a staging installation, test there first, etc.

    The end-users that tend to be more vocal at these major changes, are those who just hit the update button, and then are left picking up the pieces.

    Those are the folks that need more assistance, I think.

    Plugin Author Mike Jolley


    @Varkteck We introduced a huge notice in 2.0 which shows when a new update is present. It gives warnings about changes, tells people to backup, and pulls data from the changelog.

    The biggest problem with themes has been authors including ALL template files from WC core inside their theme. We tell them not to do this, but seem to be ignored for the most part. When authors do this, ANY change we make to a template file will not be present when the user updates.

    Theme authors should either only override what they need to (making updates easier), or use filters. A few (really is a few) like Kreisi go the filter approach, and from what I have seen, their users have had fewer issues.

    As Dan pointed out we have the development blog, twitter accounts, WooThemes blog. The source is open for christs sake 🙂 Theme authors should take notice, not build and forget. We have been much more vocal this time round about changes compared to the 2.0 update.

    Anyhow, in 2.1.1 we added a new notice informing users what template files are out of date. Fingers crossed this gets theme authors to take action.

    Yup, you guys are communicating like mad with the theme authors, big ups for that.

    I feel what’s missing is the direct communication with the end-user who is less sophisticated and doesn’t understand the big-a** problems they will be making for themselves by just hitting the plugin update button (which lamentably, many seem to do).

    So while the biggest tech problem is the theme authors, possibly another really big problem is the communication with the lambs-to-the-slaughter segment of the user community, who then post up a storm causing major loss of reputation for you folks.

    But I again I respectfully disagree, The end user community is who actually has to live with these changes. Even Microsoft has learned that Windows 8 has a small portion of the market place. Their own telemetry shows that 85% or more of the end users are still using Mouse and Keyboard. To force an e commerce end user into a new interface that is geared toward a touch screen is inconsiderate at least and down right foolish at worst. I don’t understand why the developers couldn’t simply give US the ability of choosing which design we wanted to use. Not having a choice is simply asking for blow back. The fact is the way these updates are presented it’s almost like it’s a mandatory update. So many end users simply hit the update button thinking it’s a security patch. There should be a warning page before you take that next step.

    I don’t see why when your developing a new version there couldn’t be an option to have the old the style interface or the new one. Come on how hard could it be. Your building it from the ground up. Make it have the ability to use a Admin template option.

    I for one have noticed (for example) the old best sellers graph presented your top 10 selling items in one graph in order of sales. It was perfect for a quick glance at site and product performance, it showed the amount sold for each item at a glance and how much you made. Now I have to go to a vertical stack menu that I cannot compare all items at once, instead I have to open each individual item and click on it separately to see it’s sales. That’s not progress that is a huge step backwards. Why? So the interface can look cool? I used to have a total site sales since launch. Where did that go, did you bother to ask the end users what they wanted for info?

    Here is another example, the new graph colors are terrible. Light colors against a light background? Really? The circle graph is another useless tool if your site does not save user data. It simply shows up as a one color circle that uses far to much space for the info it gives.

    This is the problem when style trumps function. It’s an admin panel not for front end, it needs to be clean and easy to get around on. I really like the old Woo interface it gave me so much more info than this one does. I also don’t understand why you would delete end user information functions, that makes absolutely no sense.


    @mosin Mark
    If I understood correctly, you are also calling into question unilateral interface changes done via Woo update.

    Well that’s a whole different, but related, question.

    We’re both zeroing in on the end-user plugin update experience.

    I’m thinking about the end-user getting thrown into the technical undertow, while you’re talking about the end-user getting thrown into an interface change undertow.

    Both important customer experience issues. The technical update issues are (theoretically) transient, while the interface changes have a lasting effect.

    Both worthy of discussion…

    Plugin Author Mike Jolley


    If you want to get into discussion about UI changes you should get involved in the betas. If you wait until after the update you are too late.

    And let’s not forget, the UI changes were mostly due to changes in WordPress 3.8 – their new UI obviously affects all plugins including WooCommerce.

    Well actually, I think @mosin Mark is concerned about the UI changes predominantly.

    I on the other hand am trying to zero in on the end-user experience of the big technical update as a process, where the less technically inclined could use a direct helping hand.

    And should woo decide to help out with that more directly (perhaps as I outlined above), your problem posting and review storm would likely decrease, on an ongoing basis.

    And let’s not forget, the UI changes were mostly due to changes in WordPress 3.8 – their new UI obviously affects all plugins including WooCommerce.

    Again I respectfully disagree with some of the above. I had the old version of Woo running fine under 3.8.1 with a plugin called Classic Admin. The changes graphically were Woo’s NOT WP’s.

    If you want to get into discussion about UI changes you should get involved in the betas. If you wait until after the update you are too late.

    Woo was behind the curve on this, I sent an email with the questions to Woo the same night I saw that there were going to be issues with WP and the last version of Woo about this this update. No one ever mentioned at that time to me that there was another version in the works and I could download a beta of it. In fact the response from Woo was “we are looking into these issues” I would have gladly been a part of a UI beta team.

    I on the other hand am trying to zero in on the end-user experience of the big technical update as a process, where the less technically inclined could use a direct helping hand.

    I don’t think you can totally separate the 2, the glitches are an effect of the update and the UI is an effect as well, both effect the end user negatively. There is nothing worse than having something you know how to use and get around on easily suddenly and for no apparent reason other than beauty change into something that no longer functions as you need it too.

    I think that in all honesty this version was rushed to market to try and address the WP issues that were rapidly showing up. In fact I have to give props to Ignite Woo They warned us not to update for at least a week because of serious issues that could arise. I wish they would have stated more clearly why in that email. I’m also afraid that even if I was a beta tester my voice and concerns would be for not.


    It seems clear that the 2.1 series of releases have not been happily received by the folks that are posting in the support and review areas.

    It’s mostly the end-users who don’t have staging sites, test before implementing into production, etc who are having fits. They certainly need to be educated to the absolute necessity of doing these things. However, wagging one’s metaphorical finger and saying that they should have done these things before applying the 2.1 releases to their production environments, doesn’t really assist.

    The reality is that there will always be the ‘mom and pop’ user who just installs things because the update nag tells them to do so. They will continue to be highly vocal. And should things go awry for their installs, their posted reactions will continue to damage what should be a truly stellar reputation.

    I believe that thinking about how this market segment updates, and their general user experience, needs to be a more central focus of the release calculus. Having a monofocus on the (excellent) technical aspects of the plugin will, I fear, continue to engender the whirlwind.

Viewing 12 replies - 1 through 12 (of 12 total)
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