Dev Assets' Shopping Cart Integration on a Jekyll Site

In this case study, we interview Asbjørn Thirslund, a game developer from Denmark. In the last five years, he's been working on his YouTube channel, Brackeys, allowing him to mix his game development skills with another expertise of him, video making. His videos are centered around tutorials on video game development using the Unity engine.

"I love making games just as much as I love making videos so I’ve pretty much found the perfect job for me."

On top of that, Asbjørn wanted to offer one more tool to help developers create their own games. To fulfill this purpose, he launched Dev Assets. With this new online store, he wanted to try out the Pay What You Want model, so he needed e-commerce tools flexible enough do to just that. He ended up choosing Jekyll as the static site generator and Snipcart as the shopping cart.

The website

Dev Assets website

Using 3rd party assets in video games has been increasingly popular these last few years. With the rise of indie games popularity, a lot of smaller teams now rely on 3rd party assets to finish their games.

There are several big marketplaces for 3D models and editor plugins, but their size also works against them. Their curation process feels largely automated and the quality of their assets often varies a lot.

The goal of Dev Assets is to be a small resource for handpicked, high-quality assets. However, Asbjørn still wanted to allow newer developers to use them which is why he decided to try out the Pay What You Want pricing model.

We thought it would be interesting to learn how he crafted his Snipcart integration with these special e-commerce needs (digital goods & PWYW) . Add to this the fact that he built his site with Jekyll, and it made for an interesting case study!

We've often talked about the advantages of static site generators on this blog (and even showed how easy it is to integrate Snipcart with Jekyll), but it's nice to shine the spotlight on our dear users once in a while and let them share their take on that subject.


Snipcart Integration: Technical interview with Asbjørn

Do you have experience with e-commerce in general? If so, which tools have you been using the most in your workflows? Why?

This is the first project I have worked on where I have had to integrate e-commerce.

How would you qualify the e-commerce needs you had for Dev Assets?

I needed something simple and fast. I also needed something that could be tweaked to handle user-selected prices (Pay What You Want).

There’s a plethora of solutions and tools to handle e-commerce projects. Why use Snipcart?

I use a static site generator to power the site, so Snipcart's front-end only approach fits perfectly. I’ve also been overwhelmed with the extensiveness of the documentation and customer support.

So you’ve integrated Snipcart on a Jekyll site. How did that go? Any interesting parts of your integration to highlight?

Integrating Snipcart was a breeze. It kind of felt like cheating because I didn’t have to do any kind of backend work. I simply created a page for each product using Jekyll collections and inserted a Snipcart pay button on each page which I fed the relevant product information from the particular item in the Jekyll collection.

Jekyll

Of course, I needed to allow the user to select a price. Initially, I wanted to allow custom amounts, but since Snipcart doesn’t yet support PWYW as a built-in feature I instead ended up creating a $0, $2, $5, $10 and $20 price tier. I achieved this by using a custom field that modified the base price of the item. Then it was simply a matter of updating the custom field through JavaScript.

Pay what you want

How long did it take to get Snipcart up and running?

I got everything up and running in an afternoon. I simply did a bit of CSS work to make everything fit a bit better. Creating the price tiers took a bit longer but that is primarily because of my lack of experience developing for the web.

Did you rely much on our API & webhooks for this integration? If so, how did it go?

Not at all.

Were our documentation & our support helpful?

Very much so. Loved the guide on setting up Snipcart for Jekyll in particular. It made the initial setup a breeze. Oh, and the Snipcart team is extremely friendly.

Cart integration

Did you get the chance to use some of our latest features on this project (inventory management, abandoned carts, email templates customization)? If so, how did it go?

I used the email templates, to much satisfaction. I needed to send download links to the purchased products over email. I did this by looping over the purchased products and displaying a custom field containing the download link for each one. Of course, it meant that I had to put the download link in the HTML for the pay button, but because everything on my site is PWYW security really isn’t that important.

What could we improve to make Snipcart an even better e-commerce solution for developers & merchants?

Support for digital downloads, Pay What You Want and for customizing what information is needed during the payment process.

Digital goods are now part of the built-in set of features of Snipcart.


We'd like to thank Asbjørn for taking some precious time to answer our questions. You can follow him on Twitter or, for game developers out there, on his YouTube channel. We're always proud to see our product being used in creative ways and we really hope that Asbjørn's testimony can inspire other developers to do the same!

If you'd like to learn more about how Snipcart works, head over to our documentation. We also have other interviews with developers & agencies who adopted our product into their e-commerce workflow. Many of them are now on our partnership program. Curious about static site generators? Here's a variety of tutorials to learn about them.


Liked this post? Take a second to share it on Twitter. All of us (Asbjørn & Snipcart) would really appreciate it. We'd also love to hear your thoughts and questions on the integration itself below!

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