Web Site Design Blog

Tag: e-commerce
December 19, 2012

Sue Rosengard Jewelry Design, Ltd. - Chicago, IL

Sue Rosengard is a jewelry designer who wanted an eCommerce site that she could sell to both retail and wholesale customers. This site was built on the osCommerce platform and contains numerous customizations and improvements including custom content management tools. I will try to post more in the web design blog about the modifications done to osCommerce for this implementation.

A fellow artist recommended Ross to me. After hearing horror stories from other people about disappearing webs designers, months of going back and forth, unfinished projects, I wanted to make sure I was making a wise choice. And I did. Ross has been amazing.

He started working on the project and within about 6 weeks we had this awesome site. I was a little nervous at first because the sites of his that I saw were not quite my look. But he understood my design aesthetic and created a site that not only complements but enhances my jewelry designs. One of the many things he suggested (and we did) was a Look Book (pictures of people wearing my jewelry). It was both fun to create and adds a personal dimension to the site.

From a functionality perspective, the site is super easy to navigate and I have already gotten positive responses from my customers (and a large order). I have a very limited amount of experience (almost nil) with creating or maintaining websites but after Ross showed me how to log in and where to go I was able to easily update some basic info and content. I am looking forward to having control over my site and feeling both comfortable and confident with its upkeep.

I highly recommend Ross. He was very easy and pleasant to work with. In addition he was 100% on time with deadlines. Most importantly though, he listened to what I said I wanted and didn’t want.

— Sue Rosengard

June 7, 2012

Liane Fried was referred to me from an existing client. She had been struggling for months with her web company to complete an e-commerce web site. She was generally happy with the initial design, but there were functionality requirements that had been lingering for weeks. Liane contacted me for advice after several weeks of unresponsiveness from her web designer. After reviewing the website source code I agreed to help her.

The website was developed using the osCommerce platform. osCommerce is an e-commerce package written in PHP. Since she was happy with the design and I had experience with osCommerce, I knew we would be able to complete the website requirements to her satisfaction.

The website specification required both wholesale and retail pricing structures. An analysis of the website revealed the developer had set up 2 separate stores and databases, one for wholesalers and one for retail. This was a less than ideal scenario. I pointed this out to Liane and explained how we could set it up to use the same store for wholesalers and retailers by creating separate pricing groups for logged in users. This way she would only have to maintain a single catalogue of products with retail and wholesale prices. Visitors could apply to become a wholesaler and Liane could approve them after reviewing their information.

There were numerous other customizations including custom email notifications, custom content management and display for the retail galleries section, automated image resizing, custom what’s new? module and much more. In the end Liane is happy I was able to complete her site and communicate clearly with her throughout the process.

Liane Fried Studio
* original design by other

I began working with Ross after my previous web designer had “disappeared”. He worked very closely with me, taking over the mess of a site my previous designer had left. Ross accomplished more for me in two weeks than my previous designer had in six months. He guided me through the website building process with good direction, a lot of patience, and quick responses to questions. I am pleased with the great job he did; he is a true professional. I would recommend him to anyone seeking a webpage designer.

Liane Fried
Liane Fried Studio

May 27, 2012

Disclaimer: It’s probably not the oldest living website, but it’s pretty old.

I have been making some updates lately to a site I originally designed for a client in 2001. Naturesong.net is a site that sells CDs (and now MP3 files) of recordings from various natural environments.

2001 Flash Website

Have a look at the original 2001 Flash website. It features a little intro sequence, a poorly drawn animated cursor and I love how the frog hops around the menu. It’s fun to go back and see how things have changed from then to today. It is ok to make fun of my own work.

Rounded Corners in 2001Back then it was cool to build sites using Macromedia Flash (now owned by Adobe). This site was probably designed using Flash 5. We don’t use Flash to design websites any more. Search engines ignore information inside Flash, basic browser functionality is difficult to retain (next, back, bookmarks, etc…) and it doesn’t work on iPhones or iPads. This last item was the probably the final nail in the coffin for Flash websites. As website design has matured as a discipline over the years, the focus has moved away from entertainment value and novelty to standards emphasizing accessibility and usability. Flash is generally not part of those standards although it does have it’s place in multimedia applications such as streaming video, audio and games such as Farmville, The Sims, Journey of Jesus: The Calling, Pot Farm, etc…

The Shopping Cart

The store was originally linked to a turnkey solution that called goemerchant. We basically linked the buy buttons to the 3rd party shopping cart. Somewhere along the way the client decided to drop the third party shopping cart and use his own. I programmed a custom shopping cart for the site that we continue to use today.

Custom CMS

I also provided a custom content management system for the client to manage various aspects of the site including page content, meta tags, products, sounds, customers, resellers and orders.

Edit Products

The client can manage many aspects of the website from the CMS

No More Flash (well sort of)

The audio is now fully iPad friendly thanks to the brilliant work of @schill and his soundmanager2 code. Although it does use Flash (it’s ok for multimedia… remember?) it also utilizes HTML5 fallback for non-Flash devices. There is a ton of functionality packed into this code. I am pretty sure it could cut a Coke can right in half if the situation required.

HUGE Uploads!

You can also now purchase the recordings in a downloadable MP3 format.

Mp3 Player

In order to allow the site administrator to upload huge (150+ mb) audio files I utilized another brilliant piece of software developed by blueimp called JQuery File Upload. HTML5 is used to transport large files to the server via AJAX and display detailed progress information.

Huge file uploads using HTML5, AJAX and jQuery

Huge file uploads using HTML5, AJAX and jQuery

The Design

I decided to stay true to the overall feel of the 2001 design even though the color scheme looks a little dated now. It has kind of a nostalgic kitsch quality to it. I feel the site is still attractive, usable and it still works.

But Wait There’s More!

I could go on about the details that have gone into the different iterations of this website since 2001 but I am sure you have other things to do. I thought this was an interesting point in time to give a snapshot of what a site developed in 2001 looked like and how it’s evolved over time as web technologies and my skill-sets have evolved.

If you want more information, liked or hated this post please let me know. I would be happy to chat with you more on twitter @websitedesignby, facebook, google + or use the comment form below.

February 10, 2010

Accepting Payment OnlineThere are multiple options when accepting payment online. This post will focus on 3 of the most popular payment methods: PayPal, Authorize.net, Google Checkout and the possibilities that exist for using all 3.

PayPal offers 3 methods to use their service to accept payment online: Express Checkout, Website Payments Standard and Website Payments Pro.

PayPal Express Checkout

PayPal Express Checkout allows visitors to pay using their PayPal account. The visitor must have a PayPal account to use Express checkout. This option will be chosen by a visitor who is comfortable using PayPal versus entering their credit card information. If you have Website Payments Pro or Website Payments Standard integrated it is required to offer Express Checkout as a payment option. PayPal Express Checkout may also be offered in addition to Authorize.net, Google Checkout or any other merchant service you may use.

PayPal Website Payments Standard

When a customer pays using website Payments Standard they temporarily leave your web site and go to PayPal to enter their credit card information. This process is relatively painless but may not be ideal depending on your situation. The benefits of using PayPal Website Payments Standard include: easy set up, no monthly fee and a SSL (Secure Socket Layer) is not required on your site since the actual shopping cart and checkout page is hosted on PayPal and not your web site.

PayPal Website Payments Pro

PayPal Website Payments Pro is PayPal’s merchant service that allows you to accept credit cards directly on your site. The funds from the transaction will go to your PayPal account. As with most merchant accounts there is a monthly fee associated with Website Payments Pro (currently $30.). PayPal Express Checkout must be included as a payment option with PayPal Website Payments Pro.

Authorize.net provides a payment gateway for you to accept credit cards directly on your web site. The benefits of Authorize.net include low cost and direct integration using a trusted merchant service provider. Authorize.net can be used to process credit cards in addition to offering PayPal Express Checkout and Google Checkout.

There are a variety of ways to integrate with Authorize.net. Typically Web Site Design By, LLC will integrate Authorize.net directly with a shopping cart or custom checkout application on your web site. We are an an Authorized.net affiliate reseller. Please use the button below to start your application process. Start now by creating a login.

Google Checkout
Google provides another payment option for shoppers who prefer to checkout using Google Checkout. Visitors must have a Google Checkout Account or register for one to pay using Google Checkout. With Google Checkout, Google simply stores the visitors credit card information and transfers the funds to your bank. There is a fee associated with each transaction. Google Checkout can be implemented in addition to PayPal and Authorize.net.

Tell us about your specific plans for accepting payments online and we will help you implement the best possible solution.

February 6, 2010

I have been using authorize.net as a merchant service provider for many years. They provide a payment gateway that enables you to authorize, settle, and manage credit card and electronic check payments. Their payment gateway can be integrated into your web site to accept payment online, or you can use their virtual terminal to process credit cards manually.

Are you ready to get started with your authorize.net application process?
sign up now

If you would like more information about authorize.net or accepting credit cards on your web site please contact us.

September 26, 2009

Nature Song 2009

naturesong.net was redesigned in 2009 to address some issues with the shopping cart, integrate a reseller login so resellers can log in and purchase CDs at a discount and NET 30 payment terms and generally update the look and feel of the site.

The shopping cart and content management system is completely custom. I decided to create a custom system for this site because I had a clear vision of how it should work. The owner, Bill Leverick, wanted to be able to easily update the CDs available for sale. I knew there were off-the-shelf shopping carts and content management systems I could probably have used or customized. Because these products had an ‘audio sample’ component to them that we needed to attach and be able to associate audio files with multiple products, I decided to build it myself. The site integrates PayPal Website Payments Pro for it’s merchant service provider and the UPS API to get shipping information from UPS in real-time for orders with quantities above 2 CDs. The AJAX overlay for each product uses the jQuery framework to handle the JavaScript effects.

In retrospect I am happy with my decision to go completely custom with this site. It allowed me to develop exactly what the client was looking for without excess functionality that he didn’t want or need and might have confused the process. It also allowed me to address his fine-tuning requests quickly and not have to compromise because of an off-the-shelf software limitation.

Here is a quote from the owner:

I just logged on to check out the new NatureSong site that you activated today. I am very pleased not only with the graphics, but with the built in ability for me to make necessary changes to the products. You have done a great job and I would heartily recommend you to anyone. Please feel free to use this site and my other web site, Cape Cod & New England Gift Show as examples of your work.


Bill Leverick

View Project

September 10, 2009

This example uses the php class developed by Mark Sandborn (now hosted at code.google.com here). I made a couple slight modifications to the class. Using Marks’ class I created this form to serve as a starting point for you to present your user with various UPS shipping options and their associated costs to integrate into your own shopping cart.

download my sourcecode for the form
Rates and Service Selection XML Tool Developers Guide from UPS

Happy coding!