ecommerce website development.
the power of online.
Retail online is booming; year-on-year online sales continue to grow both as total value but also as a percentage of total retail sales. Shops that have stood for centuries are struggling whereas other retailers who have embraced an online first mentality have had astonishing results, just ask the world’s richest man Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. Online shopping is big business, so it is no surprise that many businesses have taken to building their brand both entirely online and as part of their in-store business offering..
The challenge with so many brands competing online, how do you stand out? That is where we come in.
When it comes to building an ecommerce website, you first need to consider what platform you want it built on. A platform is essentially a content management system (CMS) that has been developed to allow flexibility and editing capabilities without the need of a developer. If it wasn’t for the use of a CMS, we would need developers to change all aspects of our website which just isn’t practical or scalable. There are many platforms to choose from, some you may have heard of many such as Shopify, Magento and Wix. We choose to build our websites using WordPress and its famous WooCommerce plugin. When you see developers mentioning experience with both WordPress AND WooCommerce what they are really saying is that they build WordPress websites that can be either brochure websites (learn more about brochure websites here) or ecommerce websites.
Whilst WordPress had its origins as a blogging CMS, powering 35% of all websites it has been expanded to cater for an almost limitless type and style of website. This is partly due to the nature of WordPress being an open source platform, which means that anyone with the skillset can build functionality for it. Having such a high market share and being established for a long period of time, the likelihood of their not already being a plugin or theme for your requirements is minimal.
themes and plugins.
This leads nicely onto themes and plugins, which we should probably begin with explaining. Themes and plugins are the building blocks to any website built on WordPress. Themes are how the website looks, you can choose a variety of free and paid themes which will dictate how the website looks, these can also be developed bespoke for your website if you have specific requirements. Plugins are essentially add-ons that give your website additional functionality such as the ability to take payments, have contact forms and implement a booking system; if you have a requirement the chances are there is a plugin already developed to serve your needs.
So where do we Norfolk Agency come in? Well, as with all software there are elements to be mindful of:
- WordPress gets updated often and to ensure your plugins and theme work with the latest version of WordPress you are reliant on the developer to update them. If they do not then the plugin and/or theme may no longer work and also become a security risk to your website for hackers to penetrate
- With so many options, it is also unlikely that your particular choice of plugins and theme have all been tested together so you can find one conflict with the other which stops the website from working so you need to test them all with each update they have. An update from one plugin can stop another plugin from working and break your website without realising, we have seen this happen
- Plugins and themes are fantastic and how they work is to load certain code on your website, the more code you have and the type of build can slow your website down which can impact your website ranking and the experience you give your customers
WordPress is a platform where its positives are also its negatives… let us explain. There is a huge community built around this amazing open source platform which means finding support for issues or plugins and themes for certain tasks can be fairly straight forward. However, with such a large number of developers there is a huge amount of competition. With prices online for a WordPress website build varying from £250 to £10,000+, we wanted to cut through the jargon and be as honest as possible so that you know exactly how we deliver our websites.
Getting it out there right from the start, we do not build websites from scratch as a matter of course, we have a selection of website developers that we call upon when the need arises for those more bespoke requirements but we find that the vast majority of customers do not need a completely bespoke theme with unique plugins.
How we work is we have a selection of themes and plugins that we use to build our websites. Through our research and testing, we have identified key themes that allow us to design an unlimited number of styles and plugins not only all work together but also ensure the code is as minimal as possible. This means that our websites are fast and that’s how we like them.
By building our websites in this way means that not only can we be confident in the build and have support from the huge number of developers who have used these options but we can also create them quicker which allows us to pass this saving onto you. Instead of focusing on <div style=”time-consuming-bespoke-code”>, we can spend the time on perfecting the website from a performance perspective. We should probably take a step back and say that instead of being developers through and through or designers who turned into developers, we are marketers who expanded into website builds. This means that we are as focused on making sure the website helps you deliver your business goals as we are making sure it functionally works.
Once a website has been developed and is ready to be deployed on the world wide web, you need to host it with a server that is connected to the internet so that users can view it. This is where some companies can make a large amount of money for minimal work, we don’t believe in this method. We are open with our hosting and maintenance packages in that you pay per hour for the amount of maintenance you require on the website, which we can help you define, and then a small amount to cover our hosting costs. Our primary package offering is hosting and 2 hours maintenance at £115/month + VAT as this allows us to update the website, carry out on-going tests but also any saved hours we are able to store over a 6 month period and conduct optimisation projects. We of course allow clients to tailor the number of hours they require but we like to add value with our marketing experience and we have found we are best able to do this with a minimum of 2 hours per month.