Aheadworks.com Review

Rating: 4.3 / 5
18 Aug 2014

aheadWorks is a worldwide leader in the creation of all things Magento. If you have a Magento site, they probably have a few tools to help improve it. Everything is available as a digital download on their site for an upfront, one-time cost.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

Reviews

What do you know… about Magento? It’s one of the fastest growing content management systems out there, yet I constantly run into webmasters who approach it with trepidation. I feel like those webmasters are missing out, especially if they’re running a site devoted to ecommerce. Magento is specifically designed to tie online sales into design, and works exceptionally well with small to medium sized sites.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

Developed by Varien, Inc., in 2007, Magento is open source. It was even created with volunteer help. Perhaps obviously, this means Magento has a long history of user created extensions and additions. While that’s great if you enjoy playing around with Magento, it’s less great if you simply want to run a website. You want extensions you can use without any problems, not ones created as a hobby.

aheadWorks is a big name in Magento extensions. Let’s take a look and see what they’re all about.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

About aheadWorks

aheadWorks is a worldwide leader in the creation of all things Magento. If you have a Magento site, they probably have a few tools to help improve it. Everything is available as a digital download on their site for an upfront, one-time cost. Some examples of what they offer include:

  • Magento themes
  • Magento extensions
  • Magento templates
  • Custom Magento development services
AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

Located in Latvia, aheadWorks has been around since 2001 and consists of a team of just over 30 software professionals. Although the team is small, they have quite a portfolio. They’ve created around 120 Magento extensions, each of which has been thoroughly tested for quality and ease of use.

Top Features of aheadWorks

The aheadWorks site has something for just about every aspect of managing an online store. They organize the tools into the following categories:

  • Sales Motivation
  • Social Networking Integration
  • User Experience
  • External Services
  • Admin Tools
  • Layout
  • Free Stuff
  • Rich Content
  • Customer Care and Support
  • Core Enhancements
  • Payment Gateways
  • Magento Themes
  • Services
AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

If, like me, you’re a bit unsure about exactly what it is you’re looking for, don’t worry. You can also “View All.” To be honest, I’m not sure what system they use to organize it all, because it does seem pretty random. That turned out to not be a problem, however. The inventory is small enough, and the names of the products clear enough, that “View All” is actually a pretty fun way to browse. You never know what Magento extension you might stumble on – it could be something you never even knew existed!

All the products are created in-house by Magento experts. But not they’re not just experts in Magento, they’re also experts in ecommerce. Every product is geared towards improving your online store and increasing your revenue.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

You can find extensions to:

  • Configure the layout of your online store
  • Manage user experiences
  • Manage customer support
  • Add promotional banners to draw attention to a new item
  • Add a cool countdown to a big upcoming sale

aheadWorks Prices

Overall, prices for the products range from about $50 to about $300.

On the high end, a full system to set up subscriptions and recurring payments is $299, although that’s a pretty heavy duty product involving both customer data and payments. A pretty standard email management system, including automated emails complete with custom coupons, will run you $199. (I know — there’s tax, but we’re just going with the actual price on the site.) On the low end, you can pick up an image rotator, known as a GoSlider, for $59.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

There are also sales. Sales are actually pretty common at aheadWorks. If you’re interested in a product, it doesn’t hurt to wait and see if it’ll go on sale. It seems that posting directly on the company’s Facebook page is also a pretty good way to make your wishes known. The aheadWorks team seems to be pretty active both there and on Twitter.

But you know what’s better than a sale? Free items! After so many years developing for Magento, the team has created extensions here and there which they have put on their site for free download. Currently, there are about 20 freebies. It’s a wide variety of analytic tools, extensions and other fun stuff.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

Also on their site is a list of upcoming extensions the team is currently working on. I thought that was a pretty cool feature – aheadWorks certainly seems busy.

All of these tools work with every version of Magento. There are actually three version of Magento:

  1. Magento Community Edition – This is the original edition, the open source content management system which was created in 2007.
  2. Magento Enterprise Edition – Similar to the Community edition, only with more features. It’s also not free, and is designed for large business. Includes major assistances with virtually all aspects of operations. There is an annual fee for this edition.
  3. Magento Go – The newest version, Magento Go is cloud-based and designed for ecommerce. It was launched in 2011 with the intention of supporting small businesses. While it’s the least customizable platform, it’s also the only one hosted by Magento.

Unfortunately, Magento has announced they will be shutting the Magento Go platform down on February 1, 2015. So this isn’t a platform a small business should really plan much around.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

Criticism of aheadWorks.com

The company is located Latvia, so if you’re in North America the time difference will limit support to email or, if you’re desperate, very late night phone calls. It shouldn’t come to that, however, as the internet-based support is pretty well done. Plus, you’re buying tested products which work seamlessly with Magento. They’ll likely work right out of the virtual box.

Customer Support

The vast majority of their support is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Their site offers forums, blogs and a vast knowledge base. If you need to, you can even submit a ticket for their technical support team. (This may or may not cost extra – it seems to depend on the specifics of your situation.)

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

Partner Program

If you’re looking for a different way to connect with aheadWorks, you might be interested in their Partner Program. They offer three tiers of Partnerships

  • Authorized Partners – You get free 15 day trial sessions, a dedicated account manager, partner surveys and other ways to interact with the aheadWorks.
  • Select Partners – This requires a $3,000 year revenue commitment, but you get access to new versions of software, a free 30 day trial session, and all the perks of being an Authorized Partner.
  • Premier Partners – This partnership is by invitation only, but can be extremely mutually beneficial. You’ll have direct communication with the aheadWorks team, as well as the ability to access the team’s latest releases directly from their storage. You’ll also get all of the benefits of a Select Partnership.

If you’re really into running Magento sites, a Partnership might be worth looking into. It’s probably not for the average user, but the idea of being a Premier Partner certainly seems cool. It seems like you’d really be a member of the team.

Final Thoughts

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes

If you run a small or medium sized ecommerce site, don’t run from Magento. Rather, embrace it. It’s an incredibly versatile content management system. But what really gives Magento that boost into “must have” territory is the wide selection of extensions from aheadWorks. They have virtually everything you need to take your online store to the next level. Plus, with their constant sales, checking in every so often could net you a pretty great deal.

AheadWorks.com - Magento Extensions and Themes
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