An Introduction to Magento

My name is Kirstie, I started at Distilled in April 2010 and I am a PHP Developer with a particular interest in all things open source. My specialities lie in PHP5, Object Oriented design and build, application architecture, 3rd party integration, Magento, Zend Framework and Systems Analysis. In other words, I'm a nerd! I'm currently working on a Magento project, the first Magento project for Distilled.

So what is Magento?

Well in technobabble Magento is an open source application that is build upon Zend Framework. What it means to you however is a fully integrated and free application to make your online store.

Magento was originally designed to give businesses a platform on which they could provide an online solution for their commercial aspirations while also providing a highly extensive “Back Office” to administer the site from site design to product and order management. Along with this, Magento comes with a fully functional user area which is account management for your customers.

So why Magento?


The community edition of Magento is free. That's the best kind of price! You can pay for support if you want to, however the developers working on your Magento site will normally be able to find the answer for you. The community behind Magento is vast.


You can run all of your sites off this one platform. The benefits of this is that all your orders and products are all in one place for your convenience. This is a nice little feature for large companies that have their stores in several countries and/or have different sites catering to different needs but want a central catalog. As an example, for a rather well known music company, Magento was implemented for 78 stores and 9 sites. It was still super fast, easy for the client to configure the catalog and pretty much ace.


Manage all your subscriptions to Newsletters in your back office. You can send emails through Magento, but as it is an Ecommerce platform and not a mass mailer, I would suggest keeping Magento to its original purpose.

Customer Management

Customer management can be done by your users through the Account Area on your site, but you can also carry out customer management for all your users through the Back Office available in Magento. You can edit, add, delete customers as well as using it as a base to hold all your information you need. You can extensively search your customers within the Back Office.

Happy Developers!

This platform will please your developers. It has clean, manageable, expandable and efficient code that they can manipulate completely for you. Developers hate badly built systems and as a developer, I am always happy to take on a Magento project!


Magento is an SEO friendly application with tagging, clean HTML, clean URLs and site navigation. While Distilled is super amazing at SEO anyway, Magento makes the task of creating an SEO friendly site just that little bit easier.

Virtual Products

You can have virtual products as well as actual products. Magento handles downloadable products very nicely and has functionality built in to handle the delivery of these products to your users.


Major merchants are built in ready for you to configure and use in Magento. This saves time for your project considerably considerably as 3rd party integration can be a very time costly activity.

Bespoke Features

Any bespoke features you want such as featured products, complex delivery options, dynamic product carousels and pretty much anything you can think of can have a decent amount of time spent on them. This is due to the fact that your development team are not rewriting the wheel with yet another complete Ecommerce solution without the necessary time available to make it amazing.


Magento can be completely optimised with regards to design so it can look exactly how you want it and more importantly, the best way your store can be viewed by your users. Since Magento has this ability, it is completely possible to use magento only as a store front should you wish to and keep your existing site on its current platform. Magento does however have a CMS built in so that you can have your whole site within the application.

Awesome Magento sites include: | |

Developer Magento tips to follow...

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