Category Archives: eCommerce

Urgent information for those seeking Financial Assistance for Website Development in Waterford

If you are interested in getting financial grant assistance to help you do business online then then you need to book a place at the information morning being held in Dungarvan on Thursday the 26th of June. As part of the National Digital Strategy the Local Enterprise Office are hosting a Digital Voucher Information morning in Dungarvan Enterprise Centre, from 8am to 1pm (free of charge).

The Digital voucher process is competitive and there are €62,500 worth of vouchers available in Waterford for this Pilot phase. In order to be eligible to apply for a voucher, you need to book a place on the Digital Voucher Information Morning in Dungarvan, Waterford.  Places are limited to 50 so book now.

Why the Initiative?

According to the LEO, there is an “ever increasing towards online spending it is estimated that only 23% of small Irish businesses are engaged in any meaningful way in eCommerce sales… It is now believed that of online purchases made in Ireland that 70% of these are done in overseas markets.”

With this in mind, The National Digital Strategy aims to get a further 2,000 businesses trading online by the end of 2015. The Department of Communications, Energy & Natural Resources (DCENR) has launched an Online Trading Voucher Programme and has teamed up with the Local Enterprise Offices to deliver this to Irish business. Following a successful first pilot phase in Dublin City, a wider pilot will now take place and businesses from Waterford can now apply.

Who can Apply?

Businesses in Waterford that wish to trade online or uprgrade their existing online presence are encouraged to attend the information morning to learn more about the scheme and to become eligible to apply for the voucher.

According to the LEO: “There is now an urgency to ensure that businesses recognise that this is happening and that they are encouraged and supported to correctly respond to this digital reality.”

What can the vouchers be used for?

  • IT consultation;
  • Development or upgrade of an e-commerce website;
  • Implementing Online payments or booking systems;
  • Purchase of Internet related software;
  • Purchase of online advertising (this purchase cannot make up any more than 30% of approved Voucher costs and can only be drawn down in one payment phase);
  • Developing an app (or multiplatform webpages);
  • Implementing a digital marketing strategy i.e. Social media marketing;
  • Consultation with ICT experts for early stage adopters of online strategy;
  • Training/skills development specifically to establish and manage an on-line trading activity.

What Assistance is Available

  • Vouchers will be available to a maximum value of €2,500 or 50% of eligible expenditure (Net of VAT), whichever is the lesser;
  • Voucher approval must be gained prior to incurring any expense;
  • Own labour is not an eligible expense;
  • Third party costs only will be considered;
  • All third party/supplier invoices must contain proper business details (e.g. Tax and Business Registration details).

Conclusion

If you are a local business and have an eCommerce/Booking/Sales element to your web site, you need to attend this information morning.  Book your place at the Digital Voucher Information Morning in Dungarvan, Waterford, today.

Please share/pass on this post to anybody you know that is thinking of building a site urgently as places are limited.  If you’re not in you can’t win.

No Products Displaying under Manufacturers in Prestashop 1.5

This issue might help someone out there that had the same problem as I did when upgrading a shop from an older version of Prestashop.

I upgraded from 1.3.x to 1.5.x using the manual upgrade whereby I copied all images across and migrated the database etc. When I performed the upgrade to 1.5 all looked well until I clicked on manufacturers and no products where showing.  The message I kept getting was:

“No products for this manufacturer.”

From the back office all products were associated with the correct manufacturer so it seemed to be a front end issue.

After tearing my hair out and comparing the database tables with a sample prestashop install I started trying all sorts of settings at the back office. In the end it turned out to be a simple filter issue.

I went into preferences->products and scrolled down to the pagination section and changed the filter from manufacturers to product name and it worked a charm.

filter

Essentially what seemed to be happening is when manufacturer was clicked the default pagination was set to manufacturer and this was causing a filter issue.  Changing it to product name solved that issue and now the products display when manufacturer items are clicked.

How Much Does a Website Cost in Ireland?

“So, how much does a website cost in Ireland?” I’ve been asked this question a lot by potential clients and the honest answer is, ‘how long is a piece of string!’ and depending on who you go to the costs can vary wildly.  I’m posting this really to give people an idea of what to expect and to understand what questions to ask when getting their site designed and the costs involved.

The question to be answered really is ‘How long will it take to build what I want?’ and this is what will dictate the cost as an agency generally charges based on an hourly rate / daily rate.

Hourly / Daily Rate

Most web agencies have this worked out based on staff. E.g. if a project is broken down into 2 days design, 3 days coding, 5 days content, the bill might be broken down separately as the hourly rates might be different according to skill levels required by the staff. In my experience you will get a daily rate of anywhere between €100 and €1000, depending on the agency you go to.  More often than not these will not be like-for-like as no agency with professional staff and bricks and mortar establishment could afford to hire their staff out at €100 a day.  Realistically, it will come in somewhere in the middle, just be careful of this.

My own feeling on it is €100 a day will get you a graduate level web designer, €350 a day will get you an experienced sole trader, €500+ will get you access to a professional within a larger agency.  Remember VAT will generally be charged also, so if you are a sole trader starting up and not registered for VAT, remember to factor that in as you won’t be able to claim it on a VAT 3 unless you are registered yourself.

Factors that affect price:

1. Design Quality: Some clients want a cheap and cheerful design, others want a slick professional look, others want a completely custom illustrated quirky site with all the bells and whistles.  You need to think about these requirements carefully as the perception of the site to your customers is critically important.  First impressions count.

Your options here are:

  • A template based website. This will be non-unique and can be purchased cheaply but  still requires customisation.  Guide time for template + customisation: up to 1 day
  • A custom designed but still relatively simple site design: 1-2 days
  • Top grade site design: 3+ days

Once the site is designed it needs to be converted to HTML + CSS and this can be tricky depending on the design quality.  In our experience you need to double the time taken to design the site to implement the CSS and HTML for the site correctly.

You might also require a logo, corporate branding etc.  If getting it all done together prices could be negotiated to your advantage.

2. Mobile Friendly:  Do you want a mobile friendly website?  If so then there are 2 options. a) Allow your website resize itself responsively using modern CSS techniques, b) create a separate mobile website using a technology such as jquery mobile.  Depending on the quality you desire, this can take as much time as desktop design.

3. Content Management System: Do you want to be able to update the content yourself.  It is my opinion that pretty much all sites should be content managed (unless you just want a holding page or the content will never be changed).  Why should you need to go back to your web developer whenever you want a simple update to the site.  There are a few options here:

  • Use an open source project such as WordPress or Joomla
  • Get a bespoke CMS developed
  • Use a content management system provided by your web host company
  • An eCommerce system

Bespoke CMS systems should be avoided in my opinion.  They do potentially allow for more flexible design but if you chose a system such as wordpress, it is future proof, has more features, has literally thousands of plugins and should in theory keep your costs down. It also has a built in blog/news system.

To install and customise wordpress should take in the region of 1-3 days to set up correctly.  The vast majority of time taken with any CMS is integrating it with the site design through the development of a site theme.

For other systems such as eCommerce systems, there is a bit more configuration involved so it could take slightly longer to set up correctly.

4. Bespoke Software Development

If you require something specific then there are times when bespoke development must be undertaken.  The cost of such development can be very expensive as there should be planning, development iterations and testing as part of the service. The time involved in this can only be estimated upon receipt of a software specification document.  If you can find an open source solution or something that fits your requirements off the shelf you should market validate your business in this way before making a very large investment in something that may not work.

5. Site Structure/Content Upload

The no of pages on your site and their complexity dictate the costs here.  Do you require custom graphics on each page, do you require photos/images.  Are stock images good enough or do you have your own professional images.

You are talking an hour or two per page in general and so the cost would be no. of pages X by hours involved + image / graphic design costs.  Stock images can cost in the region of €3 and €10 euro per image if purchased on a credits basis from well known stock imagery sites.

5. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

When developing a site, SEO should be considered from the beginning.  The site’s structure and pages should be created with keywords your customers are using in mind.  If the web agency does this for you, they will add another hour or two on per page uploaded to the site, and other work such as sitemaps, back links etc. may cost extra also.  If you don’t ask for this service you generally won’t get it by default. It is worth noting that wordpress has some excellent plugins for SEO, which is another good reason to chose this platform.

6. Hosting + Domain

This should cost < 100 euro for a decent package and a .com domain.  If you’re paying more than this you might be getting overcharged.

7. Other Features

Other things you should consider are getting analytics installed, integration with social media through like and share buttons, online ad campaigns on the likes of google adwords and facebook ads for example.  There’s also social media management if you want someone to run your facebook or twitter pages, however in general it’s better to manage this in house and perhaps get the right training.

7. Ongoing Support

A site should never be truly finished. If you want it to do better on search engines, convert more customers you should always be tweaking things.  Support can be given at hourly rates, and discounts in the form of bonus hours are generally applied if purchased on a retainer basis.  Ideally, you should, over time, be able to manage this in house.

Grand Totals

As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider so below I’ll give you 2 potential examples of cost:

Example 1: Straightforward site with 8 pages of content and no SEO

Design: 1 day
CSS+HTML: 2 days
Wordpress CMS Config: 1 day
Content Upload: 1 day
Stock Images: €50
Hosting+Domain: €100

Cheapest quote to expect: 350-500
Most expensive: 2-3K+VAT

An average charge might be approx. €1450+VAT for this type of site

Example 2: Top level design, mobile friendly, 50 pages of SEO optimised content

Design: 3 days
CSS+HTML: 3 days
Mobile Friendly: 3 days
CMS Config with SEO plugins, security etc: 2 days
Content Upload: 70 hrs
SEO: 50 hrs
Stock Images: €250
Cloud Hosting+Domain: €160
Support Contract: 1 day per month

Cheapest quote to expect: 3K
Most expensive: 15K+VAT

An average cost might be in the region of €7,500 for this type of website based on our hourly rate.

Please contact us if you wish to discuss your project.

ftp unzip

Here’s a little trick for web masters out there who upload and extract wordpress, prestashop, joomla or any other open source products with loads of fiddly little files that normally take an age to upload via ftp.

The usual case is you extract the zip locally and upload the few thousand files via FTP and even with a nice wide broadband pipe it can take time to upload each file individually. A better solution would be to upload the zip file via ftp and then log in to your server using ssh or whatever to extract the file, but sometimes it can be a pain on shared hosting to set up ssh and then go through setting up logins etc. or maybe you don’t have that option at all.

Here’s an alternative that might save a few minutes. Look, I’m lazy OK!

What I do is run a little script on the server that calls a method on the ZipArchive class.

The example below extracts the prestashop zip file to the same directory that the archive is in.

<?php
//new zip archive object
$zipArchive = new ZipArchive;

//file to unzip in same directory as this script
$fileToUnzip = "prestashop_1.5.3.1.zip";

//retrieve current path from the zip
$unzipPath = pathinfo(realpath($fileToUnzip), PATHINFO_DIRNAME);

//open and extract the zip file
if ($zipArchive->open($fileToUnzip) === TRUE) 
{
    echo "Unzipping $file to $unzipPath...<br/>";
    $zipArchive->extractTo($unzipPath);
    $zipArchive->close();
    echo "Hey presta!!!";
} 
else 
{
    echo "Cannot open $fileToUnzip... Doh!";
}
?>

If the zip file extracts to a subfolder it will only take seconds to copy the files back to the root directory, if that’s what is required.

Might be handy for someone.

Prestashop – No Search Results

So you’ve built your amazing prestashop and you’ve imported hundreds of products into the system but alas, when you peform a search, nothing is returned even though you know you’ve entered text present in one of your products.

This one had me stumped for a bit as I assumed that the data would be stored within the system or that prestashop would do some dynamic search on the database records. It turns out prestashop is a little more sophisticated than that and actually indexes all the products in the site to make search results quicker.

To ensure all of your products are indexed go to your backend, click on preferences and then search.

Once in there you will see how many products have been indexed. If you had the same problem as me you will see that 0 products have been indexed. This is because I imported products from a CSV. Manually inserted products are automatically indexed.

Once you are in backoffice->preferences->search you will see something like

Indexed products: 44 / 44.
-> Add missing products to index.
-> Re-build entire index.

You can click either option to re-index your products. Once you don’t have thousands of entries it should take < 1 min to do. You can also set up a cron job to perform this indexing regularly for you. Other options on this screen inclued

  • Ajax search: To automatically fill in your search box, like google
  • Minimum word length
  • Blacklisted words

There are also options here to weight your search results using various factors such as weight, tags etc.