The Similarities and Differences Between Shopify and Workarea

Shopify and Workarea comparison

Shopify and Workarea are two commerce platforms designed for mid-sized companies. This selection is based on the price of these two platforms and the amount of traffic that a mid-sized company’s website receives. There may be a lot of similarities between these two ecommerce management systems, but each excels at different tasks. I will go over the general platform differences and then into more specific frontend development differences between Workarea and Shopify.

Workarea allows ecommerce groups to customize everything from client-facing features to how the backend admin looks. Although this customization will require more development time, Workarea’s fully endorsed core additions (known as “plugins”) can be downloaded for free off their site. Workarea is completely flexible, but since it’s newer, it doesn’t offer as much support as Shopify does when it comes to plugins and themes.

Shopify has a much more closed, but safe, approach to ecommerce site management. This option only allows code changes to be made through the theme files, and only for frontend features. It’s easy to get a Shopify site running and looking good with tons of pre-made themes and apps, but many of them require a subscription fee. The admin and plugins are pretty user-friendly, but development requires everything to be uploaded to the site before seeing any changes, and that can be painful.

The Details About Development in Workarea & Shopify

Shopify and Workarea both use templating languages based off of Ruby. Shopify uses Liquid, an open-source language created by them, which is now gaining popularity with a few other platforms. Workarea uses Haml, a well-known templating language in the Rails community. You don’t need to know Ruby or Rails to use Liquid or Haml, but if you’re doing Workarea development, you’ll probably want someone who does know Rails on hand. Even if you think a project may not need to touch the backend functionality in Workarea, things will be much easier in the long run if you have the knowledge and ability to edit it, if needed.

Both platforms support Sass out of the box without a packager. Shopify is pretty opinionated with how you organize your SCSS files and doesn’t allow @import statements to be used, so if you want a lot of control over file organization, you’ll need to add a package manager to compile your CSS locally while developing. Workarea, on the other hand, already has all site elements split into BEM methodology, which means individual SCSS files can be pulled out of the core gems to overwrite. Workarea docs are also opinionated about set-up, but the platform is flexible enough to let you do whatever you want. If you aren’t a fan of BEM, that’s something you can workaround.

The Key Takeaways of Shopify & Workarea

Overall, both platforms excel in specific areas. Shopify is a great choice for a shop that just wants to get up and running quickly, or doesn’t have a dedicated developer on hand for work. It can be limiting, but it’s hard to break and allows enough customization to differentiate yourself. Workarea may take a bit of time to spin up and customize, but once it’s up, it allows a great amount of flexibility. While there isn’t as much community support, the Workarea developers are always coming up with improvements and new features. If you have a dev team on hand or want a ton of custom features, this is the way to go.

Reach Out to CQL’s Workarea & Shopify Developers

We at CQL have been thrilled to partner with both Worarea and Shopify. If you are looking to step up your commerce game, we invite you to contact our team today for more information about how we can help your company improve your site’s overall performance.

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