Looking to customize your WooCommerce extension?
You’re at the right place!
Powering over 5M+ websites, WooCommerce is one of the most powerful e-commerce platforms that allows you to sell products online. It is designed for small to large-sized online merchants using WordPress.
It comes with a wide range of features and customization options, but sometimes you may need to add more features than the core plugin has to offer. You can do that by using WooCommerce extensions or getting a custom plugin developed with the help of WooExperts.
And when that’s not enough, you can also customize a WooCommerce plugin to add a specific feature as per your needs.
I know that sounds easier said than done. But don’t worry, I have you covered.
Keep reading to learn how to customize a WooCommerce plugin in 8 steps.
Note: Customizing a WooCommerce plugin requires a great amount of technical expertise and precision, so if you find yourself stuck anywhere or you’re not sure how to move ahead, you can reach out to our WooExperts to take care of the rest.
Things to know before customizing a WooCommerce plugin
As I said earlier, customizing a WooCommerce extension is no easy job. So you need to be extra prepared and ensure to have the following prerequisites.
- A basic understanding of WordPress and WooCommerce: You should have a basic understanding of how WordPress and WooCommerce work. This includes understanding how to install and manage plugins, how to edit theme files, and how to use PHP.
- The source code of the extension: You will need the source code of the plugin that you want to customize. This can usually be downloaded from the extension’s website.
- A code editor: To customize a WordPress plugin you need a reliable code editor to write and test your code. You must also look for debugging tools, code completion, and syntax highlighting. A good choice is a code editor like Sublime Text or Visual Studio Code.
- A basic understanding of PHP: You will need to have a basic understanding of PHP in order to make changes to the extension’s source code.
- A testing environment: It is a good idea to have a testing environment where you can test your changes to the extension before deploying them to your live site. This can be a local copy of your site or a staging server.
Customizing a WooCommerce plugin in 8 easy Steps:-
Step 1: Choose a WooCommerce plugin to customize
Choosing a WooCommerce plugin to customize depends entirely on the kind of functionality you want to customize. But before customizing a plugin, ensure that:
- The base plugin is up-to-date.
- The plugin has active users in the WordPress community.
- The WooCommerce extension is well-documented.
- It’s developed by a reputed company in the WooCommerce space and has a dependable support team.
Step 2: Prepare your development environment
- Install WPLocal for local WordPress development. WP Local helps with easy setup of web servers and databases for local development.
- Install the plugins that you want to customize. Once you have installed WordPress and WooCommerce, you can install the plugins that you want to customize. To do this, go to the Plugins page in your WordPress dashboard and click the Add New button. Then, search for the plugins that you want to install and click the Install button.
- Use a Code Editor that supports WordPress and PHP to write your code. There are numerous choices, such as PHPStorm, Sublime Text, and Visual Studio Code. Install the one you decide meets your needs on your computer
- Enable debugging: You must enable debugging in your development environment because it is crucial to the creation of plugins. Add the following lines of code to your wp-config.php file to accomplish this:
Note: There are several advantages to creating a development environment.
It allows you to work on your plugins without affecting your live site. If you make a mistake while customizing a plugin, it could break your live site. By working on your plugins in a local development environment, you can avoid this risk.
It saves you from any unexpected plugin conflicts: Upgrading WooCommerce versions on the live site may result in unexpected plugin conflicts. This can make it difficult to customize plugins, as the plugin developer may not have tested their plugin on the latest version of WordPress or WooCommerce
Pro Tip: If you’re planning on any WordPress customization, I highly recommend setting up a local development environment. It will make the customization process much easier and less risky.
Step 3: Understand the plugin code structure
Understanding the file structure of a plugin is important because it will help you to find the specific files that you need to make changes to. For example, if you want to change the way that a plugin displays a product, you would need to find the file that contains the code for the product display. Once you have found the file, you can open it in a text editor and make the changes that you want.
Pro Tip: Here are some additional tips for understanding the file structure of a plugin:
Read the plugin documentation. The plugin documentation will usually provide information about the file structure of the plugin.
Look for comments in the code. The plugin code may contain comments that explain what the code does.
Use a text editor with syntax highlighting. A text editor with syntax highlighting will make it easier to read and understand the plugin code.
Step 4: Customize the plugin code
- Locate the plugin files. Once you have set up your development environment, you will need to locate the plugin files. The plugin files will be located in the wp-content/plugins directory.
- Open the plugin files in a text editor. After locating the plugin files, you will need to open them in a text editor. Any text editor will do, but a code editor like Sublime Text or Visual Studio Code is a good choice.
This is what the plugin code will look like in visual studio:–
Does this feel overwhelming? Let our WooCommerce Experts take it from here!
Step 5: Finding Hooks and Filters
Firstly, you’ll need to locate the hooks and filters. Here are 3 ways you could do that:-
- Plugin Documentation: The best place to find what you need is the official documentation. It’s concise and easy to locate.
- WP Query Monitor: In case you don’t find what you’re looking for, this plugin will not only help you see all hooks/filters but will also enable you to understand a lot about what’s going on under the hood. You can also check memory and slow scripts using it.
- Reading Code: If the above two methods don’t work, then you have to resort to reading the code and finding the functions which are performing the action you need to modify.
Note: This list is in increasing order of difficulty. How easy/difficult this is going to be depends on the number of active users of the plugin, the reputation of the plugin author, and how well-known their plugin is. Also, this is a highly risky maneuver but something that would avoid you from making core changes inside the plugin.
Step 6: Adding Hooks and Filters
Let’s take the example of the Product Enquiry Pro plugin for WooCommerce.
The plugin helps you capture genuine leads and convert them into sales. It also helps you with a lot more things. Like making the inquiry form more specific to your requirement, keeping track of the inquiries, and easy search options for customer quotations.
Currently, you can search the quotations by Enquiry ID, Customer Name, Customer Email Product Name.
But what if you want to filter it by Date?
Here’s how you can customize the plugin to add a date filter.
Pro Tip: Here are some tips on how to make safe modifications to plugin code:
– Give hooks and filters distinctive names. When you’re adding a new hook or filter, make sure to give it a descriptive name that will make it easy for other developers to understand what it does. This will help to prevent conflicts and make it easier to debug problems.
– Adequately describe them. Along with giving hooks and filters distinctive names, it’s also important to adequately describe them. This can be done by adding a comment to the plugin code that explains what the hook or filter does and how it can be used.
– Extensively test them. Once you’ve added a new hook or filter, it’s important to extensively test it to make sure it functions as intended. This can be done by manually triggering the hook or filter and verifying that the expected results are produced.
– Use a version control system. This will allow you to track changes to your code and revert to a previous version if something goes wrong.
– Be careful about modifying core WordPress files. If you need to modify core WordPress files, make sure to create a child theme or plugin so that your changes can be overwritten when WordPress is updated.
– Get help from other developers. If you’re not sure how to do something, don’t be afraid to ask for help from other developers. There are many online forums and communities where you can get help with WooCommerce development.
Step 7: Test the customizations on a staging site
Before you test the customizations on your live site, it’s a good idea to test them on a staging site. This will allow you to make sure that the customizations work as expected and that they don’t cause any problems with your live site.
- Run your code through QA testing. Quality Assurance or QA testing refers to the techniques used in preventing issues with your software product or service with the ultimate goal of ensuring an error-free user experience. There can be different test cases depending on the functionality you’ve added. In our case, one example test case could be to verify if the customer names, email Ids, and inquiry IDs are showing up after searching for customer quotes by Date.
- Use a debugger. If you’re having trouble troubleshooting a problem with your customizations, you can use a debugger to step through your code and see where the problem is occurring. You can use a tool like this.
- Ask for help. If you’re still having trouble troubleshooting a problem, you can ask for help from developers. There are a number of online forums and communities where you can get help with WordPress customizations and development.
Not sure what to do next? Let our Woo Experts help you.
Step 8: Document your plugin customizations
There are some reasons why it’s important to document plugin customizations:
- To make it easier to maintain and update your site: If you need to make changes to your site in the future, it will be much easier if you have documentation of the plugin customizations you’ve made. This will help you to avoid making mistakes and will make it easier to troubleshoot problems.
- To make it easier to share your customizations with others: If you’ve made some great customizations to a plugin, you may want to share them with others. By documenting your customizations, you can make it easier for others to understand how to implement them on their own sites.
Our Experience while customizing a WooCommerce Plugin for our client – Cautionary Tales
- We had an issue recently where YITH Subscriptions triggered payments from a local setup. This is something we rarely see with plugins such as WooCommerce Subscriptions, as payments are only authorized from a specific domain, and staging mode is automatically activated once a site is moved to a different domain.
- We also had a case wherein the implementation required close integration with a third-party API. Our tasks were not dependent on the API but the working of the entire solution was.
- The base plugin was up-to-date but did not have too many installs. It was a paid plugin with support but it was later apparent that their team was not large enough to support the frequent changes that were about to take place from the third-party API end.
- In the end, this resulted in the client not being able to utilize the solution and being disappointed without us not being able to do much about it. Hence, be careful in selecting base plugins as they can make or break your end solution.
Customizing a WooCommerce plugin is not easy. But, if done with precision, it can help you extend the functionality of your online store as per your UNIQUE needs. So I hope you find this step-by-step guide useful in customizing your WooCommerce plugin.
However, it is highly recommended to get help from WooCommerce Experts in case there are any hiccups at any stage.
Our team lives and breathes WooCommerce. So we know the plugin in and out. Plus, we make sure that the code is clean and your site is optimized for quick loading times.
So, explore our WooCommerce Plugin Development services and get in touch with experts to tailor your current WooCommerce plugin to your needs.
1. What are the things to keep in mind while upgrading a customized plugin?
Make sure to test everything on a staging site before implementing it on the live site.
The same goes for the upgrades to the website.
In any case, customizations should not be made to the base plugin so upgrades should not impact any customizations that have been made, except any changes in hooks/filters used. Which is why testing on staging is so important.
2. Does customizing one plugin hinder the functioning of other plugins on the site?
Customizations like new plugin additions can cause conflicts and hence a full regression test of the website needs to be done after development and testing is completed.
But ideally, it should not hinder the functionality of another plugin unless both plugins overlap in the functionality offered.
E.g.: If both are membership plugins. Or both plugins rework the look of the user profile page.
3. What to do in case I cannot find any hooks and filters?
In case you are not able to find the functionality you wish to modify but cannot find the hooks and filters, you can try the following:
You can contact the original developer of the plugin and request them to add the required hook/filter.
- Overriding the Function
If there’s no other way of finding the hooks and filters, then you can try overriding the main function. But be cautious as this can break the site later if the function you are overriding changes the input or output drastically.
You could unhook the original function and hook a new function in its place. This new function would reside inside your plugin, and would generally be a clone of the original function but with a few changes that you needed to make.
Leading one of the Development teams at WisdmLabs, Varun is driven to help his customers achieve success.
Arun is a software developer at WisdmLabs who loves to code and help users navigate through the WooCommerce space