Many people start their eCommerce journeys by selling handmade crafts and products. As a start, people can showcase their handmade products on social media sites like Pinterest, or start selling them on marketplaces like Etsy.
As people transition from selling single products to building a brand with multiple products, a dedicated WordPress eCommerce store can give them more control and flexibility. In this post, we review the HandyStore WooCommerce Theme by Themes Zone which is specifically built with handmade products in mind.
HandyStore is a WooCommerce theme that is marketed as being suitable for handmade shops. The theme has a clean look and style, with a lot of whitespace, similar to craft marketplaces like Etsy. The theme includes a dedicated settings page and a page builder to make the set up and design easy for beginners.
The theme is available for download on Themeforest for $59, which includes 6-months worth of support. The theme package includes the theme zip files, a number of recommended plugin files, documentation, and sample data to populate the site.
When you install HandyStore on your site, you’ll be greeted with an installation notice asking you to install required or recommended plugins.
HandyStore uses the standard TGM library for handing these plugins, letting you view, download, and activate recommended or required plugins from this list.
After you install the theme and activate the recommended plugins, you may only see a blank page on your storefront with none of your existing menu items. The first thing you need to do is to go to the Menus section, check the “Primary Menu” option, and Save Menu. This will restore your menu items on the primary navigation.
Most pages will show the theme styling without having to select a template for each page. However, the next thing you should do is go through the “Handy Store Theme Settings” under Appearance to get an idea of all the options available to you.
Within settings, you will be able to select default layouts for different page types, add favicon and logos, and fine-tune options for different parts of the site. The layouts have the option of including a sidebar on each page.
Sidebar components can be changed within the Widgets area. Here you can select the components you want to add for the blog, header, front page, single page, shop page, single product page, and top footer sidebars. You can also add widgets to different columns of the footer.
To get the best experience in setting up the theme, you should follow specific steps which are not necessarily clear without reading the theme documentation. After the basic set up is complete, you can then focus on building individual pages using the theme page builder.
You have the option to use the standard WordPress editor to build your pages. In addition, the theme includes a page builder that allows you to add different elements to the main content area (excluding the sidebar) of your pages.
Although the page builder is fairly robust with a lot of options, it is not very intuitive to use from the beginning. As a beginner, you will have to invest considerable time to learn what different elements look like, how they are structured, the options for each, and how you can use different layouts within each content area.
The theme documentation has a number of videos on how to use the page builder for different pages. As an example, the demo store About Us page tutorial video is about 10 minutes long, but will give you an idea of steps to add a fair amount of content on a page.
Once you know how to use the page builder, you’ll be able to add some fairly complex styles and elements to your pages without having to use any code or shortcodes.
You can configure the theme to show WooCommerce products in a grid layout. By default, the price is prominently displayed along with the product image. The theme adds a cart button to each product in the Shop list to make it easy to add to cart.
The styles for the cart and checkout pages blend in with your store’s default styles giving them a distinctive look compared to the standard WooCommerce styles.
The theme comes with the Supp mega menu plugin that allows you to stylize your menu and sub-menu items.
This is fairly easy to do from within the Menus page in your dashboard.
However, for our store set up, Shop page and menu items seemed squished where the styles selected in settings weren’t being reflected on the store. The theme author does encourage to reach out to the support if such errors occur.
The WC Vendors plugin allows other vendors to have a store on your WooCommerce site. You can create marketplaces like Etsy on your store using the plugin. You can assign a vendor to each product on your WooCommerce store.
The HandyStore theme integrates with this plugin. Vendors can set up and customize their store page on your site that displays all their products.
If vendors are used, the vendor name is also shown on the product page where product meta (like category or SKU) is shown. A product tab with vendor details is also added to the product. The theme also includes styles and templates for vendor-specific content like the vendor dashboard.
In the Handy Store Theme Settings, you can change and adjust the style and layout for non-store pages like the blog and individual pages.
You can display the blog in lists, or grids with different columns. This allows you to mix things up compared to the standard WordPress post list.
There are support resources available to help you set up and use the HandyStore theme. As we’ve mentioned previously, the theme documentation was a good place to start, as we needed some assistance in using the page builder to get going. The theme documentation also walks you through recommended set up, as it can be a bit difficult to get the appearance you want (or to look similar to the demo store) without this.
If you do run into issues, there’s a theme support area available for any questions, as you can get support from Themes Zone for up to 6 months after purchase (or longer if you extend your support license).
HandyStore provides a pretty workable codebase if you’d like to extend the theme or make changes. While there are some oddities, such as using the
global $woocommerce variable (which was deprecated in WooCommerce 2.1) instead of the
WC() global function, and some places where core WordPress functions would be preferred over custom queries, overall the structure is easy to follow.
HandyStore does override several WooCommerce core templates. While this isn’t the most egregious example of template overrides I’ve seen, there are some overrides that only have minor changes, seemingly making some of them unnecessary — the changes could perhaps be made in an upgrade-safe way. On the flip side, these overrides are current with WooCommerce core, and you’d just want to be sure that they’re kept up-to-date.
One practice I am not a fan of is bundling plugins within a theme. HandyStore bundles plugins like Revolution Slider within the theme itself, rather than recommending these plugins for purchase and noting that they have built-in styles. The reason that I’m not a fan of this practice is that you can’t get support from the plugin author or access to updates when it’s bundled in a theme.
In some cases, this can be prove to be very problematic, such as security releases. For example, RevSlider had a huge vulnerability that required updates, and without access to updates, users have to wait for the theme to bundle the patch, wasting precious time once an exploit is announced.
Aside from security, this also makes it difficult to get support while troubleshooting site issues.
HandyStore is a robust WooCommerce theme that is geared towards stores selling handmade and craft products. The theme comes with a number of options for styles and layouts for different page types. In addition, each page can be customized using a page builder for the main content area.
However, as the theme contains lots of options and leverages a page builder, you will probably need to invest considerable time to learn how to make things work exactly as you want them. The theme comes bundled with a number of plugins that enhance the store experience, like the Supp mega menu plugin. However, there are pitfalls to having bundled plugins — while you don’t need an additional purchase, they the lack of support from authors and direct access to updates.
- WooCommerce styling blends in with the theme, doesn’t look standard
- Marketplace support with styled vendor templates
- Supports several other WooCommerce plugins with custom styles
- Doesn’t just focus on store design, but includes good blog design as well
- Page builder included, which lets you create custom content areas
- Can create mega menus to showcase store components or categories
- Workable codebase without overriding every WooCommerce template
- Overrides core WooCommerce templates, which need to be kept up-to-date with major releases to avoid issues
- Requires bundled page builder plugin to use
- Bundles plugins, which means no automatic plugin updates / support
- Set up is a bit time-intensive
- Has a learning curve to get site looking like demo
All in all, with enough time, you will be able to use the theme to create a unique and complex store for your WooCommerce products.
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