Vendor Spotlight – Nethercott Constructions

by Curt Donohue on June 14, 2011

Nethercott Constructions Logo

Adrian NethercottIn this edition of Vendor Spotlight, I had an opportunity to interview Adrian Nethercott of Nethercott Constructions.  Nethercott Constructions is a company based in Townsville, Queensland (Australia) that provides a number of products, services, and guides for PrestaShop.

Some of those products and services include pre-made modules and custom themes and modules.  Nethercott Constructions also provides paid-for support for PrestaShop, which is something many of us could use from time to time.

In addition to modules, themes, support, Nethercott Constructions is well known for their quality (and free) Prestashop guides.  There are three guides, which provide information on installation, performance settings, and development.  See the list below for links to these awesome guides.

Lastly, Nethercott Constructions can do custom website design.  You can see several great examples of their portfolio here.

Here is a list of many of the offerings from Nethercott Constructions:

Paid-for Modules:

Free-Modules:

Services:

Guides:

Interview with Nethercott Constructions

PrestaTraining:

Tell us a little bit about your store.  For instance, where are you from?

Nethercott Constructions:

I’m from Australia.  I was born in Melbourne, Victoria, but I now live in Townsville, Queensland.  I graduated from James Cook University with a Bachelor of Information Technology with Honours Class I.  I spent two years working on a PhD before deciding that I wanted to be a programmer rather than a researcher.  I then worked for a web development company for 18 months before leaving to start up my own PrestaShop web development website Nethercott Constructions.

PrestaTraining:

What are some of the products you offer?

Nethercott Constructions:

I currently have two category modules that improve the performance of websites that have many categories, two modules that make it easy to display image links in fancy ways, and a module that adds an entire image gallery section to your website.  I also provide links to migration and shipping modules that I’ve worked on in collaboration with Presto-changeo, and a few free modules.

PrestaTraining:

What types of customers would be interested in your products?

Nethercott Constructions:

Anyone looking for easy to install and highly configurable modules that can improve their online shop.  I strive to create the best modules with the most features at a reasonable price, so they appeal to a wide audience with various needs.

PrestaTraining:

Where can customers go to find your products?

Nethercott Constructions:

All my modules are available for purchase and download from my website here.  Free modules can be downloaded without creating an account.  Paid modules must be purchased using PayPal.  After payment has been completed, a download link will be sent to your email address immediately.

PrestaTraining:

What is the best way for customers to contact you with questions?

Nethercott Constructions:

Customers can use the contact form here to ask any questions about PrestaShop.  I am always available to provide support for my modules.  I try to fix bugs as quickly as possible and I’m always open to suggestions to improve my modules.

PrestaTraining:

You recently went through a major website upgrade and the results are fantastic.  What was your experience in upgrading from your old website to this new version?  What version of PrestaShop are you now using for your website?

Nethercott Constructions:

Thanks, I like to think so too.  I wasn’t satisfied with any of the free and paid themes available on the Forums, so I decided to create my own design from scratch.  I’m proud of the unique design I now use on my website.

Upgrading from v1.3 to v1.4 wasn’t easy, but that’s because I created a new modern and attractive design that fully utilises new features in version 1.4.  I now use the one-page checkout and guest checkout features to make it easier to purchase from my website.  I also use the new CMS categories feature for my PrestaShop guides.  Now that I’ve discovered Beyond Compare, I’ve found upgrading to be much easier.  I use it to compare the changes between versions, then I copy over the modified files and the changes to the PrestaShop theme to my own customised theme.

I’m currently using version 1.4.2.5 for my website.  I try to upgrade my website as soon as possible after a new stable version of PrestaShop is released, since it’s easier to find time to update and test a few files than to wait for a major upgrade and update most my files.

PrestaTraining:

I see on your website that you provide several services:  1) Advice on services, 2) Custom themes and modules, 3) pre-made modules.  What can you tell us about each of your services?

Nethercott Constructions:

Merchants who are unable to find an answer to their question in my PrestaShop guides or on the Forum can contact me here to ask for advice.  If I’m available and it’s something I can help with, I will try to provide advice on what to do.  If it’s something difficult that isn’t quick to fix, then I will charge an hourly rate for my services.

I can also write custom themes and modules, though now that I’m working in collaboration with Presto-changeo, I’m usually too busy to do so.  I prefer to update my pre-made modules in between doing big websites and modules with Presto-changeo.

PrestaTraining:

Which of these three services is your most popular?

Nethercott Constructions:

My pre-made modules are the most popular.  I have new orders nearly every day, and frequently receive bug reports and feature requests through my contact form.  I also receive many requests for custom modules and advice.

PrestaTraining:

Which of these three services do you enjoy working on the most?

Nethercott Constructions:

I enjoy working on my modules the most.  I like seeing how different customers use my modules on their websites, and the positive feedback I get about my modules.  It’s also nice to continue to earn money from a module even when I’m not currently working on it.  I also enjoy working on a big website once in a while, since it’s a quick way to earn a lot of money and hone my skills.

PrestaTraining:

You are a major contributor to the PrestaShop community.  You post regularly on the Forum, you create great tutorials for things like performance settings, and now you’ve completed a PrestaShop Development Guide.  What can you tell us about the development guide that would help the audience understand what it can do for them?

Nethercott Constructions:

I started writing PrestaShop guides because I was frequently answering the same questions on the Forums.  I thought creating PrestaShop guides would make it easier for merchants to find answers to frequently asked questions and to learn more about software.

To begin with, I created a PrestaShop Performance Guide, since many merchants on the forums were complaining that their websites were running too slow and were looking for ways to speed it up.

I then created a PrestaShop Installation Guide, since many merchants on the forums were having problems installing and upgrading PrestaShop, although there is now an official PrestaShop Upgrade Guide.

Recently, I wrote a PrestaShop Development Guide, since many developers were having trouble understanding how to create modules and override files.  If you are a developer who is interested in learning about the structure of PrestaShop and how to create a basic module, then it’s definitely worth reading.  It’s also useful to refer to if you want to know what cookie variables and module hooks are available.

PrestaTraining:

Modules are a tricky thing with PrestaShop because sometimes PrestaShop comes out with core functionalities that make paid-for modules from vendors obsolete and unnecessary.  What can you tell us about your modules to give customers the peace of mind that they are not wasting their money?

Nethercott Constructions:

When I write modules, I try to choose features that are requested on the forums, but are unlikely to be implemented by PrestaShop.  For example, my Image Gallery module lets you add a gallery page to your website that contains galleries of images.  It’s something that is useful for merchants who want to display promotional materials or customer-submitted photos on their website, though it’s something that is unlikely to be added to PrestaShop’s core.

One of my modules has had one of its features made unnecessary.  My AJAX Sliding Categories module was originally designed to fix the problem of slow page load times on sites with thousands of categories, which has since been mitigated in version 1.4 by using Smarty caching.  This hasn’t made my entire module obsolete though, since I have many features in the module including the accordion and tree management features.  I think by constantly adding requested features to my modules, customers don’t have to worry about paying for obsolete modules.

PrestaTraining:

What is your most popular module and why do you think that is?

Nethercott Constructions:

My AJAX Sliding Categories module is my most popular module by far.  That may be because it’s the very first module I wrote and it has accumulated many features over time, so it’s very versatile.  It may also be because it greatly improves the performance of websites that have hundreds or thousands of categories.

PrestaTraining:

Do you have written instructions for your modules?  Can you please explain the support options if someone runs into trouble installing, configuring, or using your modules?  Please explain what is free and what would cost money.

Nethercott Constructions:

All my paid modules come with an instructions.txt file that describes how to install the module and how to use its features.  If a customer has trouble installing, configuring or using any of my paid modules, I provide free support to get it working, including fixing bugs.  After fixing a bug, I send an email to all customers who bought the module with the updated module.  These updates are free unless the price of the module has increased since the date it was purchased, in which case the customer must pay the price difference to receive the update.  My free modules do not come with such support, though I will try to help if I have time.  Requests for new features do not fall under free support.

PrestaTraining:

What happens if someone buys a module and doesn’t like it, or it doesn’t work?  Do you have a refund policy?  If so, how does it work?

Nethercott Constructions:

If a customer buys one of my modules and isn’t happy with the way it functions, I will try to rectify the issue first.  I will only provide a refund if I can’t rectify an issue, but refunds are rarely requested on my website.  The few refunds were because a customer decided to use another module instead of mine, not because they were unhappy with my module.

PrestaTraining:

What do you find are the biggest challenges developing your modules in the PrestaShop environment?  In other words do you find PrestaShop an easy or difficult platform to develop and implement your modules in?

Nethercott Constructions:

I think PrestaShop has a great module development platform.  I like how it uses object-oriented PHP with the MVC pattern and lets you override almost everything.  Its use of Smarty provides great flexibility in changing the view without modifying core files.  All this makes creating basic modules very easy, though it does become more difficult when you need to add a new hook or override a Back Office tab or other core files.  The problem is that all modules must use the same override file, which makes it difficult to automatically add an override.  To work around this issue, I add instructions in my modules that ask my customers to manually copy the override and merge it if necessary.  It would be better if overrides could be read from each module’s directory instead of manually copied and merged into a single file.

There is also the issue of upgrading modules whenever a new version of PrestaShop is released.  Although basic modules usually continue to work through minor upgrades, more advanced modules like my own that use overrides need to be upgraded every time a new version is available, so that all the latest code changes are included in the override files.  Also, most modules stop working after a major upgrade, so they need to be updated.  This isn’t a problem for my paid modules, since I fully support them when PrestaShop is upgraded, but free modules on the forums often go unsupported, so they become useless when used in newer versions.  That’s why I think it’s good to charge a reasonable amount for modules.  It gives developers an incentive to stick around and support their modules instead of just creating modules for free and then abandoning them.

PrestaTraining:

What is your next big project?

Nethercott Constructions:

Updating my existing modules and doing work in collaboration with Presto-changeo keeps me busy and makes it hard to find time to create new modules.  I plan to update my Product Attributes module when I have time.  I’ve also had requests for an AJAX menu module.  I have a partially complete module that lets you receive PrestaShop notifications in your taskbar.  The next big project I would like to work on is a theme editor that adds a new tab in the Back Office to customise the theme design without modifying code.

PrestaTraining:

Is there anything you would like to tell the readers that I did not ask?

Nethercott Constructions:

I would like to thank PrestaTraining for providing the videos in my PrestaShop Performance guide and wish them good luck in their endeavour to provide great video training for PrestaShop.

Curt Donohue

Curt Donohue is a PrestaShop enthusiast and the creator of PrestaTraining.com as well as PrestaShop 1.4 Tutorials.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn 

Previous post:

Next post: