Brian Casel is the founder of CasJam Media, a web design shop that works with clients worldwide designing custom WordPress CMS sites. Connect with Brian on Twitter @CasJam.

Remember when WordPress was used only for blogging?

Even all of the talk about WordPress being a true CMS seems to be old news these days. Therefore, make way for latest phase of WordPress’ evolution: ecommerce.

If you’re selling products online, you need to take a serious look at WordPress as your platform for ecommerce. Third party shopping cart plugins for WordPress are not so new anymore. They’ve been slowly developing and evolving within the WordPress community for years. Today, ecommerce on WordPress is ready for prime time.

Before we get into which WordPress shopping carts you should consider using, let’s talk about why it’s a good idea to integrate your CMS and shopping cart together under one roof (WordPress).


Clean Integration of Your CMS and Your Shopping Cart


Gone are the days of running two separate systems on your website: one for your marketing site/blog and another for your online store. By fully integrating your shopping cart with your WordPress CMS, you have complete control to cross-promote your products with other site content.

For example, your homepage might be used to promote “hot” products as well as your latest blog headlines. You might want to announce a flash sale in your homepage slider and carry that callout through the rest of your site using global WordPress widgets.

From an administration standpoint, you (or your client) only need to use one login for one system to manage everything in the operation. Plus, it’s easier to view and measure your sales funnel when your analytics tool tracks a single website.


Seamless User Experience for Your Customers (and Your Developer)


How many times have you experienced this? You land on the beautiful homepage of some business. They have an appealing design, strategic and friendly marketing copy and an overall positive user experience. So far, you like what you see, so you click the link labeled “Store.”

Suddenly, you’re taken to what seems to be a completely different website, with an outdated design and clunky customer experience. Your impression of the website, and in turn, your opinion of this brand, has taken a turn for the worse. Now you’re not so sure about buying its product.

A fully integrated shopping cart system built into your WordPress site ensures that customers experience the same design and quality from homepage to checkout.

For developers, it means not having to fiddle around with two different systems, “faking” integration by closely matching two stylesheets, or making updates in two places each time. Integration means one codebase, centralized functionality and easy maintenance.


Top 4 Ecommerce Tools for WordPress


The following are just a few of the more popular systems out there, and new ones are popping up all the time, particularly as the WordPress community continues to expand.

As you can see, the ability to sell products on a WordPress site has come a very long way. With all of the amazing plugins and frameworks that have been developed in this space, ecommerce on WordPress certainly deserves real consideration for any new online store project.

1. WooCommerce

Mac, iPhone and iPad


Despite what much of the Internet will have you believe, some things are just worth paying for. And while the theme garden over at Tumblr is chock-full of delicious freebies that will lend some personality to your blog, portfolio, or small biz website, the premium themes are worth a look for one important reason:

They’re better.

We’ve plucked out 10 that we find exceptional.

Cart Blanche

Paper themes are a dime a dozen, though why we insist on making our digital musings look like their analog ancestors is the topic of another post entirely.

If you’re in the mood for a rich vintage look, check out this theme that heaves epic negative space between your entries and crinkles the edges of all your media in ways that never get old.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $49

Carbon

If you’re all about the social medias, this theme has you covered with a really solid navigation bar that sticks around as you scroll through content.

Pair that with a rich blue and some cool metallic and stone textures, and you’ve got yourself one classy Tumblog.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $49

Go Fetch

This one may be a little unnerving for those who like their content along the straight and narrow, but “Go Fetch” is worth it for the animated trinkets alone.

Check out the demo to see the delightful mouseovers. And while the layout may seem cluttered at first, it’s a well organized mess that your readers will likely come to enjoy.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $19

Nautical

Ahoy, ye bloggers and other scallywags! We really can’t *heart* this one enough.

Everything about this theme is charming without being cheesy. The layout is exceedingly clean, but surrounds us with nautical trinkets – from sails to sea monsters. If you’ve ever wanted to play out your parchment writing fantasies online, this is how you do it.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $49

Nova

Nova uses great fonts for high-impact design. The demo may sell it short though – we’d advise less clutter (simpler images, less text) if you plan to implement this theme.

One of the coolest features is the way the dates on posts follow you as you scroll, then collide with the next date to continue that cycle. You’ve got to check out the demo to see it up close.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $49

Scribble

We love a good hand-drawn aesthetic, and this one is so minimalist it hurts (in a good way).

Small color accents punch out this otherwise neutral design, and the little wrap-around tabs on the navigation and posts are pure cake.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $9

Shutterbug

Challenge: Think about this theme outside of the photography box. It almost works better if those are Polaroids of your woodworking projects, your collector’s plates, or even your delicious pets/children.

Whatever type of portfolio you’re aiming to build, this theme hits a modernist home run.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $49

Snippet

Our old pals over at WooThemes have been sweet on Tumblr for a little while now. This premium offering is really stellar.

Snippet offers nice clea
n buffers around media posts, and offsets the line just enough to keep your content looking fresh and buzzing. Click through to the demo to get a real sense of the subdued metallic textures that make this theme shine.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $19

Sunrise

If your mom could embroider a Tumblr theme, this would be it. It’s so simple and warm, we dare you not to fall in love at first sight.

If you’re planning a text-heavy blog, Sunrise won’t do you wrong.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $49

Zurich

Color!

Zurich takes the “page peel” look and cleans it up with sharp edges and great contrast. Hover over each post to reveal an elegant little time stamp.

See it in action here.

Buy it here.

Price: $49

Which Tumblr theme are you enjoying right now? Whether it’s paid or free, share your picks in the comments below.


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More About: blog, blogging, BLOGS, design, List, Lists, themes, tumblr, tumblr themes, web design

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Posterous co-founder Garry Tan has bid adieu to his startup and is heading to Y Combinator, where he will serve as designer-in-residence.

The move is something of a shocker for several communities, especially considering Posterous’s aggressive marketing throughout 2010 and product roadmap.

In a blog post, Tan wrote, “Effective today, I’m ending my day-to-day development with Posterous and moving into an advisory role.

“Though my day-to-day may change, my faith in the team and the product is unchanged and unwavering. Posterous is in good hands and on the right track to fulfilling its potential. I am proud of what we’ve built together and look forward to the future.”

In his new role at Y Combinator, Tan will be acting as a sort of UI guru to the batches of early-stage startups and projects that come to the incubator. As DIR, he’ll be instrumental in “the early stage of building world-changing consumer products.”

It’s a similar position to those being created at a few VC firms in Silicon Valley; similar to EIRs (entrepreneurs- or executives-in-residence), the DIR works closely with portfolio startups, giving them world-class product direction and advice. There’s some risk of burnout, as Tan and others in his position will be asked to work with a revolving door of startups year after year.

Still, we’re sure that any startups Tan coaches will benefit greatly from his experience and advice. And who knows where that kind of exposure and reach will put Tan next in his career.

However, what we’re now unsure about is Posterous’ future. In spite of its “convert or die” importing campaign, Posterous remains something of a tech scene darling that has yet to grab the mainstream adoption that some of its competitors, such as Tumblr and WordPress, have seen. And a founder leaving a startup before profitability or an exit has been achieved is rarely a good sign of the business’s overall health.

We’ll see what the future holds for Tan and for Posterous. In the meantime, let us know your opinions in the comments.

More About: blogging, BLOGS, designer in residence, dir, garry tan, posterous, y combinator

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