Development

Startup businesses – what’s the best way to start?

Over the years we have developed websites for many startup businesses and one thing that stands out as a common problem, “business try to predict what the customers want without putting the product to market”.

In our opinion and our experience tells us that it is best to get the product to market as soon as possible and then refine the offering to suit the customer.

This can save thousands of dollars in development costs as you finish up developing a product that customers want, rather than developing a product not suitable for the marketplace.

If the site is built on a new domain, these take time for the major search engines to index, so getting the product to market sooner will enable the site to be indexed and to start appearing on the SERP. Having all of your marketing content ready to go and then enabling customers to make enquires will help to define the correct product development direction.

Numerous times over the years in development, months of development time was wasted as the product offering was not suitable for the customer. Get the product to market sooner and reap the benefits.

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Enable Paypal API Credentials

Many of our clients often ask us how they can obtain their Paypal API Credentials from their account. This is a quick step by step tutorial to enable and obtain the API Credentials.

  1. Firstly, log into your Paypal account.
  2. Only Paypal business account have access to the API access. So upgrade your account to a business account if you have no already done so.
  3. Next click Profile, then Profile and settings in the top right corner.
  4. On the setting page, click “Selling Tools”.
    Paypal Selling Tools
  5. Click on the “Update” link for “API Access”.
    Paypal API Access
  6. In the Pre-built payment solution option, click “Add or edit API permissions”.
    Paypal Add or Edit API Permissions
  7. Select Option 2 “Request API credentials”.
    Paypal Request Api Credentials
  8. On this page, the fields “API Username”, “API Password”, and “Signature” will have a link “Show” next to them, click on them to view them.
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Using social media to market your business

Social media are internet services that let you interact with others and share and create content through online communities.

Social media present great marketing opportunities for businesses of all sizes. You can use social media to:

  • promote the name of your brand and business
  • tell customers about your goods and services
  • find out what customers think of your business
  • attract new customers
  • build stronger relationships with existing customers.

Advantages of using social media

Social media marketing has many advantages:

  • broad reach – social media can reach millions of people all around the world
  • ability to target particular groups – many forms of social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) allow businesses to target specific groups, often in particular locations
  • free or low-cost – many forms of social media are free for business, and paid options are usually low-cost
  • personal – social media allow you to communicate on a personal basis with individual customers and groups
  • fast – you can quickly distribute information to many people
  • easy – you don’t need high-level skills or computer equipment to participate in social media. The average person with a standard computer should have no difficulty.

One of the harder task for Social Media Marketing is to actually post to each Social Media Provider and managing them. Today we will talk about using a WordPress Plugin call Digital Media Combined (DMC) to help you post to the many Social Media Providers such as Facebook, Google+, Instagram, etc, without the need to log into each separately. Below are the instructions to follow so that you can make use of this wonderful plugin as well:

  1. First thing you need to do is to log into your WordPress, go to Plugins -> Add New. In there search for the plugin “Digital Media Combined.” Once you have found it install and activate it.Wordpress Plugin Search
  2. Once you have installed the plugin, you will need to add your social media profiles to it. In this example, I will go through the process of adding a Facebook Page so that you can post to it using this plugin. The process is the similar for other social media providers. On the left hand side, you should see a new menu “DMC”. Click on it and then go to “Social Media Profiles” as shown in the image below. Adding a social media profile
    You can see there are different social media profiles that you can add. Before you can authorise DMC to manage your Facebook Page, make sure you are logged into the Facebook accoutn which has admin permission to manage the Facebook Page. Now let’s click on the “Add a Facebook Profile” button. This will redirect you to Facbook to get authorisation for DMC to manage your Facebook Page.
    Facebook Permssion RequestFacebook Permssion Request
    Click “OK” for both of these permission. Once you have approved DMC to manage your Facebook Pages for you, you will be redirected back to your plugin page to select which profile you want it to manage. These are all profiles your Facebook account have permission to manage. In most cases you will only have your standard Facebook profile, and a Page profile.Select a Facebook Profile to manageSelect the ones you want the plugin to manage/post and click “Save Profiles”.
  3. After adding the profiles go to DMC -> Dashboard. In the dashboard, you can start posting to the social media profiles. You can select to make the posts immediately, or schedule to have them posted at a later time.

We will continue with some advance features of this plugin on another blog post. Please install this plugin and test it yourself as it will definitely help with your social media marketing strategy.

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Magento invalidated cache can slow down the website

Magento invalidated cache can slow down the website

Last week, one of our client’s website which is running on Magento became noticeably slow. Using Chrome developer’s tool it shows the page load took 14+ seconds and even longer. So we started to investigate the issue and we were a little surprised to find out the cause of the slowness.

Luckily we run all our own servers so it didn’t take long to track the problem down.

  • First thing we checked was the server it was hosted on, to see if it was a resource issue. The server load was average and MySQL didn’t seem to have any problems. Also no resources were limited on that domain so we concluded that it wasn’t a resource problem on the account or globally on the server.
  • Next we had a discussion between our developers and confirmed there were programming done on the website. This means this must be caused by the Magento core or some plugins this website is using.
  • At this stage, we suspected maybe the caching was turned off, so we went into cache management to check.
    Magento Cache Management
    Caching was on but we discovered that there was an invalided cache.
    Magento Invalided Cache
  • So we selected the invalided cache and refreshed it.
    Magento Refresh Invalided Cache
  • After this we tested the website again. To our surprise, this resolved the websites’s slow loading issue. Now we need to find a way to detect this and fix it automatically.
  • To do this, we created a file called cache-check.php in the root of the Mangeto directory. In our case, it is the public_html. This file consist of the following codes:<?php
    require ‘app/Mage.php’;
    $invalidCache = Mage::app()->getCacheInstance()->getInvalidatedTypes();
    foreach($invalidCache as $i)
    {
    Mage::app()->getCacheInstance()->cleanType($i[“id”]);
    }
  • Next we added a cron in cpanel to run this every hour. Now the system will check for invalided cache and refresh it every hour. We can set this to a smaller interval if we want, but hourly check should be sufficient.

Hope this may help someone out with a similar problem.

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WooCommerce product search not showing results
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What is the best website platform?

Before we get into analysing the platforms, ask yourself a couple of questions:

  1. Do I have good experience with websites and an understanding of website coding with html, css etc?
  2. Do you have time to dedicate to your online business to make it successful without detracting from other business activities?
  3. Do I understand the ways that the search engines work and the basic principles to good SEO and promotions within the major search engines?

If you can answer yes to all three of these questions it is not going to matter what your website is built on, you will be able to make it work. But, some in our opinion are better than others.

eSolutions have viewed many of the leading platform in the industry along with building our own customised ecommerce solution for many customers. Each platform has features to entice with unique strengths and weaknesses, but for us if you are looking for a platform that can do it all with little training, it is SEO friendly, there is global developer support, you are not tied to any one host or company and can always expand your online presence to larger more powerful platforms, WordPress with WooCommerce is the answer.

From our experience, Magento is a high end solution that requires powerful web servers and web server management to enable a site load speed that passes the Google speed test. Development costs with Magento are 3-5x what you would expect to pay for a WordPress solution. The platform is more robust but for us the management of this platform and costs associated are hard to justify unless you are selling more than 1000 – 2000 products / day.

Where are customised solutions, although you have the flexibility of getting the product that you are after from the outset, you will always be dipping in to your pocket for additional modifications. If the sales are there no problems but it is really hard to tell what customers are after when launching a new website, which leads to a side point… when should I launch my website? Short answer, as soon as possible! Get it to market and customers will tell you what they like and don’t as long as the checkout process is secure and functional and good old customer service is in place.

Customised solutions do have there place, but long term you should consider having something that is open source that can be upgraded without needing to totally redevelop your website when it gets a little tired.

Hosted platforms have there benefits but same thing here, if you are looking to take your website to the next level, you are building the site from scratch again.

This is only brief and our view but for the cost of building a WordPress website with all of the bells and whistles it will pay you back in droves when compared to other solutions on the market today, 26% and increasing of all websites built today on the Internet are built with WordPress, it must be doing something right.

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