CS-Cart Stability , Design changes and modifications

you don’t need to edit 100+ templates, I only have to edit maybe 12 templates to make a completely different look on a skin, the templates a fairly straight forward in editing and finding…

first 10,000/mo visitors isnt significant traffic - its about 300 or so per day … which is actually light for what most carts are designed to handle with sql database.

Cs-cart is alittle query heavy because of the amount of features and there are plenty of exceptions used. Just there is alot of power written into the cart - as to make sure it didnt forget anything. So, the consensus is to host with VP or a dedicated server if you plan on doing “significant traffic” but dont over look the potential of using the static pages too. I had previously used miva -and never used it dynamically because my pages would take approximately 2.5 minutes to 5 minutes to load a single page after i included about 1/2 the featuers of cs-cart and did a custom design. And i did several times your idea of significant traffic on these miva static pages … if i had to count on miva application - i would have been out of business long ago. So, i really cant see any downside here in comparison.

I did have a miva developer/designer that was supposed to do custom work for me in Miva but because it was so poorly written i couldnt get the features i needed into it at all… i was able to to configure cs-cart in about 15 minutes to do what i spent about 3 weeks of work plus 600$ in custom scripting to try to get miva to do … again just for comparison…

i did ask my miva designer to continue in CS cart after our failed attempt with miva- he quit after about 3 days because he said there were too many templates. - and he said it was too confusing to find what he needed… I really dont see it hard at all its very logical and componentnized - making not only design but feature configuration very simple … it really doesnt have lots of templates- but more a seriies of subtemplate includes. that make even easier to deal with what you need.

I can’t speak to performance yet as I’m still developing locally. I can speak to ease of customization.

The template system is logical for the most part, and getting better with each new release. It takes a while to get used to the system and the logic behind it, and if you are not an experienced coder it can be confusing (templates are mostly ‘smarty’ which is based in php). My skin looks nothing like the skins provided with CS-Cart, and has taken me a long time to develop, but that is mostly a reflection of my inexperience not with the system logic.

It is an ‘object oriented’ system, meaning pages are constructed from multiple small sub-templates, most of which can be used or excluded from different pages with simple include statements and ‘if’ conditions. This allows a lot of control over how your site functions. I’ve probably edited more that 20 of the template files, which took a while, but now that I understand where functions live and how they function, tweaks are relatively easy. The templates still mix content and presentation too much, but 1.3.5 made a big leap toward addressing that issue, and it’s not ‘that hard’ to take it to the next step yourself once you figure out what you are doing.

I think the template system can be and ultimately will be improved on a lot, but it is pretty functional as is … just has a bit of a learning curve. The unfortunate part is that documentation is still limited, but was improved and updated w/ release of 1.3.5. The big issue I see here is that the more you change, the harder it is to upgrade. CS has been really aggressive in development and providing new functionality &/or patches which means I’ve upgraded several times thru my learning curve. Those multiple upgrades have taken me a lot of time I’d have otherwise spent refining my skin.

You didn't mention static pages, but as it was suggested I wanted to point this out. It is definitely possible with CS-Cart, and my goal, but not necessarily easy. CS provides an 'html catalog' generation function, however it is not well integrated at all. The internal search functions return only dynamic results, and viewing the cart or a any non-product (CMS) page which are dynamic pages, CS changes site navigation to use the dynamic addresses from that point forward. 

This is a BIG issue with using static pages because you open yourself up to duplicate content issues with the search engines ... i.e. essentially you have two identical pages for every catalog page, one static and one dynamic, and those pages can split your pagerank / link-love in the SE's, which will impact your search placement. I think these issues are fixable, and that is my goal. CS (in my opinion) isn't really that interested in supporting this function, however hopefully they will continue to provide it and refine it with user input.

Is it the best out there? I don't know, I like the feature list and the price. I looked at a lot before choosing CS, and feel I'm getting the most bang for my buck, though I acknowledge it's still a work in progress. I have been pleased with the quality of help provided with the two support periods I've paid for, but disappointed at finding a number of issues I see as standard e-commerce require additional paid development. Hope this helps.