Table of content
The front office is what customers constantly see when browsing your shop. It is the interface, the products, the pictures, the descriptions, the whole purchase process, etc.
As a customer, this is all you will see of a shop during your browsing and buying experience, from start to finish.
As a shop owner, you should know your front office like the back of your hand, not only because you owe it to yourself to know your shop inside and out, but also because you need to understand what your customers face, the number of pages and clicks they go through during a typical buying sessions, where they might get stuck and how to help them out, etc.
Even though you think you know your front office by heart, it is important you should get back it from time to time,as if you were a first time visitor. Browse your website, buy a product, contact the customer service: you might make some discoveries and see a few things that you can improve!
PrestaShop comes with a default theme, which uses white on light gray background. This simple design is intentional, in order to be adaptable to just about any line of business: cars, photographs, antiques, or anything at all! It was designed to be easy to browse, ergonomic, standard-compliant, and adapted to all screen sizes and devices.
If you installed PrestaShop with its sample data, you will see clothing products.
While the shop owner can change the front office theme at any time, thanks to the wealth of themes that are available on the PrestaShop Addons website (http://addons.prestashop.com/), we will base this chapter on the default theme only.
Note that we here are describing the default theme with its default settings and modules. Activating other modules, or obviously using another theme, can dramatically change the shopping experience.
Whether your customer arrives on the front page by typing the shop web addresses or lands on a sub-page through a search engine, he or she will always have many options to navigate through the catalog.
The header is a thin bar of content, accessible from any of the front office pages.
It contains several essential tools and links, which apply to the whole shop and is seperated into two parts.
A thin container with:
Once connected, the customers is taken to the "Your account" page, and a "Sign out" link appears.
A larger container with:
The header hardly ever changes throughout the whole buying experience.
The header's essential part is the cart. By default, it is folded in order to only show the number of products it currently contains (if any). The customer can click on the text to access the shopping cart summary, from which the checkout process can be started.
The footer begins with a short container which presents two things:
The footer gives access to pages that could be useful to your users.
Note that all this content can be changed by the shop owner from within the back office, either through preference settings or through module configuration.
The default theme's left column only appears on a category page, when activated from the back office. It mainly serves as a handy placeholder for navigation and tools.
A category is a hierarchical way of sorting items: it can contain any number of sub-categories, making it possible to easily browse from the more general category listings to the more specific products by following a logical path.
A PrestaShop shop can have as many categories and sub-categories as needed, with an infinite number of products in a given category level. All categories are actually sub-categories of the root category, "Home."
The faceted navigation displays a block with different criteria available to filter the products, mostly attributes, features, and price ranges. It is very handy to help the customers easily find a product.
This is where the magic happens. The central section changes constantly in response to the customer's choices.
The default front page gives the customer a broad overview of the shop and its possibilities. An image slider serves as an introduction to the shop, with three alterning images.
The slider is followed by a list of "Popular products" that highlights products depending on their popularity.
Most seasoned web surfers will visit a shop via a search engine, landing directly on a product or category. Few stumble upon the home page, and this is why it should be tailored to new users.
Categories, tags, brands, suppliers, search, specials page, best sellers page or new products page: PrestaShop has many paths to a product, but in the end, the customers are given a familiar listing of products, within the chosen context.
Despite the differing content, these listing designs are very similar, in order to keep it familiar even for the newcomers. They all display a list of concerned products organized in a grid, with:
This list view enables the customer to see at a glance the products' main information when they already know everything they need about a product, allowing for a quicker decision process.
Hovering over the product triggers a quick animation, displaying the different combinations and a "Quick view" link. By clicking the "Quick view" link, a pop-up window opens with the main product information and an "Add to cart" button.
Categories can feature a header image with an introductory message, as set by the shop owner.
Product listing by category or brand can be further sorted by price (low to high or high to low), name (A to Z or Z to A) or relevancy.
This is where all the information entered by the shop owner is available to the user. Depending on the theme design, a product page can be very thorough, with extensive information, or simply present the most essential facts. The default theme is typical in that its most prominent feature is the product images, with a tool below it enabling customers to view the various available images.
Next to the images are two blocks:
Below the cart block you will find a reassurance block, to let your customers know about the various benefits of buying on your shop, or to be more transparent on your payment and delivery policies.
At the bottom of the product page is a tab section. The most usual ones are:
Clicking on the "Cart: XX products" link in the header brings the customer to the shopping cart summary page, which is the first step in the order process, before entering the checkout page. It sums up the cart and shows again the reassurance block. This is where the customer makes sure that the order only contains the wanted products, no more, no less.
When clicking the "Checkout" button, the user is redirected to the one-page checkout, divided into 4 sections:
The customer can come back to any previous step by clicking on its title.
The checkout page has been voluntarily stripped of any distraction such as the left column, the footer and other links that can lead the customer away from the purchase. It is still possible to exit the checkout process by clicking on the shop logo in the header.
Because it is one of the main sources of lost customers for online shops, PrestaShop makes it simple and straightforward to create a customer account.
When clicking the "Sign in" link in the header, the visitor is taken to the authentication page, where he or she can sign in. If he or she needs to create a new account, the link "No account? Create one here" will redirect to the account creation form.
There are two parts to the account creation form:
Once registered, the customer is redirected to the "Your account" page, where many options can be accessed: order history, credit slips, vouchers, and access to the previously entered information.
Among the available links is "Add first address". This will be the default address for this customer - there can be many more.
If the customer only has one registered address, it will be used both as the shipping and the billing address. During the order process, the customer can choose to use a different address for the billing address, and create that new address on the fly.
The whole process of buying a product on a PrestaShop site can follow different paths, but they all reach the same conclusion, which in e-commerce lingo is called the "conversion funnel": from the moment the cart is filled and the customer starts to check out, he or she has to progress through various validation screens until the order is validated and can be processed.
The purchase path is called a conversion funnel because this is where a lot of online shops lose clients due to overly long, complicated or numerous screens. Read more on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_funnel.
This process starts when the customer clicks the cart summary's "Checkout" button, and always follows the same sequence of screens:
The delivery address page. If the user account has no registered address, the customer is directly taken to the address creation form.
Two addresses are necessary for an order:
If the customer needs to have the order billed to an address other than the delivery one, he or she can click the "Billing address differs from shipping address" link and either select an address from the currently registered ones,or create a new one.
If an address turns out to be wrong, the customer can use the "Edit" link to correct it.
The payment page.
The customer can choose many payment options, depending on what the shop owner has set up. The customer clicks on the chosen method and depending on the method, is either sent over to the chosen third-party handler or continues to one of PrestaShop's pages where he or she can enter the needed details, such as a validation before displaying check or bank wire information.
Check and bank wire are installed by default, but PrestaShop makes it easy to offer payment through PayPal, Hipay or any other 3rd party providers. See the modules available in PrestaShop's back office, or check the Addons marketplace for even more modules: http://addons.prestashop.com/.
The customer needs to agree with the shop's terms of service before completing the purchase and validation the order. Which is done by clicking on the "Order with an obligation to pay" button.