It was either that, or handcuff yourself to the computer for hours on end as you poured your way through a seemingly neverending scroll of complex coding.
The good news, is that those days are mostly over. Today, it’s possible for even the most novice of web users to get their online store up and running without any major difficulty.
This is all thanks of course, to the emergence of any number of eCommerce-focussed Content Management Systems. Whilst some may prefer the simplicity and convenience of a service like Shopify, plenty of others opt for the power and flexibility of Magento.
According to an October 2014 study by Ahead Works, Magento dominated the eCommerce platform industry, account for a total of 30% of the market share, 5% more than its nearest rival. With its reputation then as the web’s leading eCommerce solution, it’s no wonder you’re thinking of using it to drive your own online store.
Yet if there’s one thing holding you back, it’s that Magento -on the surface at least- looks more than a little complicated to set up. True, the platform as a whole may require a much steeper learning curve than some of its competitors, but the rewards are more than worth it.
Besides, getting set up with Magento isn’t half as difficult as it may seem at first. Today, we’re going to guide you step-by-step through the process of installing and setting up Magento, all the way from registering your hosting account to creating your first page.
Ready? Here goes:
1 – Choose a hosting provider
Before we can begin properly, we’re going to need some space on a server to host our new online store. If you already have a hosting account, you can skip straight to step 4.
For the rest of you, the first thing you’ll need to do is choose a service. The majority of the best website hosts all offer full support for Magento, though today we’re going to sign up with HostGator, not only because they offer good value for money, but because they make installing Magento as simpleas just clicking a few buttons.
You might want to shop around for yourself and compare the latest deals. You can always bookmark this page and come back to it when you’re ready to rock.
2 – Choose the right plan
It’s worth noting here that if your new web shop is going to be safe, secure and successful, you’re going to need things like a dedicated IP and Private SSL. In many cases, such as with HostGator, you’ll find that you need to sign up for a business or premium plan to get these things.
Before you go ahead and sign up for your plan, look at the feature comparisons to make sure it provides everything you need.
3 – Sign up for an account
This is about the easiest thing you’ll do all day when it comes to setting up Magento.
Having chosen a hosting provider, you’ll need to purchase an account. As you’ll see above, this generally means selecting your domain name (free for one year with most hosting providers), selecting your plan and entering your payment details.
From there, you’re almost ready to take the first proper steps to creating your own online store.
4 – Log in to your cPanel
In many cases, your new hosting provider should send you a confirmation email with a link directly to your cPanel. If not, you’ll find it simply by logging into your account and following the menu options.
Once you’re logged in, the fun really begins.
5 – Find your One-Click Installation Apps
On some hosts, you’ll find that this is called ‘Applications’ in others ‘Tools,’ or, in the case of HostGator, ‘Software and Services.’
Either way, it’s usually towards the bottom of your cPanel, so scroll down until you find a box that looks something like the one above. That should look familiar. If you don’t see the specific icons in the picture above, you should see things like WordPress, Joomla, and maybe even Magento itself.
If not, you’ll have an icon called something like ‘More applications’ or, in this instance, ‘QuickInstalll.’
Click that, and find Magento under ‘eCommerce services’ or something similar.
You’ll be taken to a page which tells you a little bit more about what Magento is, and what it does.
Of course, you already know that this is the platform for you, so you can go ahead and continue to the next page.
6 – Basic settings
Before Magento can do its thing, we’re going to need to create an admin account and deal with some basic settings.
If your online store is the only site you’re running on your hosting, you can leave the ‘Application URL’ as it is, so that Magento installs in the root folder. If you’re making it a sub-section of your site, create a folder name after the .com / so that your platform will have its own URL such as myawesomewebshop.com/magento.
Add an email and admin username for your account, then move on to step seven.
7) Hit Install
Hit the install button, and watch as the green bar at the bottom powers its way from 0% to 100% in no time at all.
Congratulations, you’re all good to go!
You can check out how your new shop looks so far just by typing in your URL. When it’s done, it should look something like this:
OK, so it doesn’t look too fancy so far, but don’t worry, there’s plenty of time to customize and create your dream website.
For now though, we’re just going to check out some of the basic things you’ll need to really get started. Before we do, however, there’s one important thing you should do first.
8) Save your account details
Once Magento is installed, you’ll receive an email with account details. It’s a good idea to write these details down somewhere safe, as you’ll need them to log into your account and start building your awesome new online store.
9) Head to your dashboard
You can get back to your Magento dashboard at any time simply by typing in yourdomain.com/admin.
So far, so basic, right? Yet once your new site is up and running, this dashboard will serve as the central hub of your entire operation. It’s here where you’ll be able to track sales, handle orders, and of course, build your entire website.
Right now though, let’s add a little content to our site, since this is one of the most fundamental things you’ll need to do before you can start convincing legions of customers to part with their hard-earned cash.
10) Bring up your pages
In your main menu, towards the right-hand side, you’ll see the CMS tab. Hover over that to bring up the dropdown menu and click ‘Pages.’
From here, you’ll be taken to your Manage Pages panel, with a full list of all the existing pages.
When you first install Magento, you’re given a number of basic pages commonly found on most eCommerce sites. These include:
- About Us
- Customer Service
You’ll also have a template for your 404 Error pages, as well as an ‘Enable Cookies’ feature, a key component of running a safe and secure website.
Today, let’s go ahead and add some content to our home page.
11) Edit your homepage.
From your Page Manager, select ‘homepage.’ If you’d rather start with a different page altogether, that’s completely fine too.
Just clicking on the name of your page will bring you into a whole new world of options, starting with the basic details for your site.
Give your page a proper title and change the URL key if you want to. Don’t forget to hit ‘Save’ or ‘Save and Continue before you move on to the next stage.
12) Add some content
Clicking the ‘Content’ tab on the left-hand side will bring up a user-interface not unlike that used by WordPress and other leading Content Management Systems.
It’s from here that you can add text, images and other media to your site, format it however you please and generally start to build the kind of content that’s going to attract visitors to your new shop.
13) Edit page layout
If you’re not happy with the layout of your existing site, you can always change that in the next tab, where you’ll be presented with several different options, along with some code for further tweaking.
We’re just going to select a one-column template for our site, hit save, and move on.
14) Edit your Metadata
And finally, we’re going to add some metadata to our page. Along with many other tools, your site’s metadata will play an important part in how search engines like Google crawl your site and present it to potential visitors, so chose your keywords and descriptions carefully, add them in, and click save.
What happens next?
All that is just the beginning of course. In time, you’ll want to start adding products to your online store, customizing the look and feel of your site by installing a unique Magento theme, and taking advantage of the seemingly never-ending list of tools and extensions you can use to create an awesome looking online store.
We’ll cover all those in future tutorials, but for now, give yourself a pat on the back, you’ve officially created the foundation of your new eCommerce website.