Pretty Fly FPV: Shopping Cart Customization on a Hugo SiteJuly 06, 2017
In this case study, we interview Kristopher Ray Bolleter, web designer and front-end developer from Austin, Texas. Web development has been his full-time job since 2011, working in different agencies, touching multiple tasks such as design, development and brand identity.
He's also been working as a freelancer and has put up some impressive projects on his own, as you can see on his website.
As if it wasn't enough, Kristopher also mixes his skills with his hobbies to build passion projects such as Pretty Fly FPV. It gave him the opportunity to work with the tools of his choice for his online store. In this case, Hugo as the site generator, and Snipcart as the e-commerce solution.
This new online store offers the opportunity to camera drone pilots to customize their FPV (First-Person View) equipment. With colorful goggle straps and lanyards for all tastes, it is an original idea for an up-and-coming industry. Quality is at the front-and-center of Pretty Fly FPV's products, so it is a must for any camera drone enthusiast out there!
We were pretty pumped to hear from Kristopher that he loved to work with Snipcart for his e-commerce needs on the website.
"This is my hobby project, so the reasoning was second to none for choosing Snipcart."
Primarily, because the site is amazing and it's a great example of the customizability and creativity power that our product offers to developers.
Also because it was built using static site generator Hugo. Knowing our love for the JAMstack and the fact that we covered a Hugo integration, with a tutorial on our blog, not so long ago, it all sounded pretty interesting.
Add to it that Kristopher was in fact inspired by our blog in his decision to use Snipcart, and we had to know more about his experience!
Snipcart Integration: Technical interview with Kristopher
Do you have experience with e-commerce in general? If so, which tools have you been using the most in your workflows? Why?
As a professional front-end designer and developer by day, I have extensive experience with a plethora of e-commerce solutions. From full systems like Opencart and Magento to Wordpress WooCommerce solutions, and even working with large teams to develop custom solutions. Each tool is really utilized in scenarios that cater to the specific client's needs and budget.
From my personal experience, many of these full content management systems were bloated and often went unused (outside of the contracted developer/team) after the site was pushed live due to the learning curve for each.
How would you qualify the e-commerce needs for this project?
Pretty Fly FPV really started as a passion project of mine, being a big fan of the industry. With my particular skill set available, the needs for this particular project really boiled down to simplicity on all fronts. From integration to management, and overall ease-of-use. In my mind (as a developer) I simply wanted a system without the bloated server requirements, say a VPS for even the simplest solution.
I knew I would need some mild dynamic elements and that the site could expand rapidly, so a standard static solution wouldn't suffice. That led me to choose Hugo for the static site generator.
How did the site building go with Hugo?
Extremely straightforward. I've used it before for other projects, and it's always been my go-to static site generator choice. The documentation is exceptional, and it gives me just dynamic flexibility for a simple e-commerce solution.
Do you often work with static site generators? If so, why choose them over dynamic CMS?
I generally recommend static site generators to my clients if it meets their requirements; performance-minded with little need to manage the site themselves (outside of a developers influence).
The amount of work needed to make a content-management system even remotely as optimized as a static generated site puts a lot of emphasis on the server and backend, areas, I think, are frankly overkill for 90% of the small businesses out there.
There's a plethora of solutions and tools to handle e-commerce projects. Why use Snipcart?
Snipcart fits into the Hugo workflow for my needs perfectly. Allowing me to basically build the entire site as I saw fit, layer in the e-commerce aspect, and tweak it, after the fact.
How long did it take to get Snipcart up and running?
I think I designed and developed the site over a 4 day weekend for the first launch, then I layered in some additional pages later. So, you can assume that Snipcart's integration part went pretty fast.
Did you rely on our API or webhooks for this integration? If so, how did it go?
None, I just used what was available, I didn't need to go any further. Although at some point I'm sure I'll have to utilize it to integrate ShipStation.
Were our documentation & our support helpful?
Yes, the documentation and support team was very helpful when I had a few points of clarification - don't actually recall what they were anymore. One was for analytics affiliate link tracking, which I ended up just writing another script to detect it in the URL and add it to the product as an option when present.
Did you get the chance to use some of Snipcart's features on this project (inventory management, abandoned carts, email templates customization, etc.)? If so, how did it go?
Yes! Particularly the email templates customization, I've done all mine to match the brand accordingly as well, and our packaging is pretty specific, so our shipped email is pretty cool too. I also used the abandoned carts to send off a few emails and closed those sales as well, so I'd say it worked great. I haven't had the current need for inventory management, but I will very soon.
What could we improve to make Snipcart an even better e-commerce solution for developers & merchants?
Honestly, I think you guys have a great system, my only small complaint was that the "test" site status information that was stored and setup (including the shipping configurations* and payment gateway) were stripped when I flipped the site live, and I had to go back and redo them. Otherwise, I think you guys have a great product and I think it really just deserves some more exposure, it fits the needs of an ongoing developer perfectly.
*We listened to Kristopher and immediately fixed this problem with the shipping configurations. For the payment gateway, you still have to do it in live mode.
We'd like to thank Kristopher for taking some precious time to answer our questions! You can follow him on Twitter, or, as I remind you, on his website. It's always such a pleasure for our team to see developers using our product with the most awesome results! They inspire us to continue the work we do and to improve Snipcart every day.
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 (Kristopher & Snipcart) would really appreciate it. We'd also love to hear your thoughts and questions on the integration itself below!