Web Design Newsletter Archives
03/27/2009 - Site Launch - Guiding The Bride
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Vol. 2 No. 2 - March 2009
In This Issue
National Paella Day
Guiding The Bride
Welcome to the Paella Day edition of Scribbles!. Paella, for the uninitiated, is a fragrant mélange of lobster, shrimp, clam, sausage and chicken cooked in spices, vegetables and rice. This sumptuous and hearty melding of textures and flavors from the Valencia region of Spain will seduce your taste buds (and smash your diet.)
While we're on the subject of subtle blends let's take at a look at the design and development of Guiding The Bride, a database driven web site that allows the business's owner to easily enroll, administer and communicate with site members and advertisers. With a touch of old HTML, new PHP, hearty MySQL database and Yahoo! Store this site can help brides-to-be plan and execute the perfect wedding.
“Guiding The Bride combines several web technologies including PHP, SQL database and Yahoo! shopping cart software to better meet the needs of its intended audience. Convenient web site applications allow the business owner to operate her online venture efficiently.”
It's All In The Details
A friend of ours approached us with an idea: She wanted to use her 18+ years of wedding planning experience to launch her own business, and to make her expertise available to a broader audience. She also wanted to offer a searchable database of local vendors to the web site's visitors, and to market her wedding planning skills. Lastly, our intrepid entrepreneur wanted to sell items that a bride-to-be would be interested in purchasing for herself and her wedding party.
As with many ambitious and complex projects, there were a few false starts. The previous designer had already come up with a logo and had purchased stock images that the site owner liked, so we designed the look & feel of the site around the existing images.
The prototype of the site was already being hosted on a franchised hosting company's server. Although they provided free shopping cart software (Open Source but no support) which we began to develop, we later found out that the web master was unable to provide us with a SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. We decided to move to another hosting company.
The second hosting company, a larger organization with a national reputation, was not really e-commerce centric either, at least not for businesses unwilling to pay for a dedicated server. The shopping cart software was different from the first company's and they could only provide a shared SSL certificate. Unfortunately, the shared SSL certificate was not accepted by some of the browser software that visitors would be using to browse the site. The amount of guidance they were willing to provide about payment gateways was also limited. Meanwhile, we continued developing the applications, the SQL database, the shopping cart and the design on a testing server.
After some deliberation and several phone conversations and e-mails, our partner Jack Levy of SecureBill Inc. came up with an elegant and workable solution: Why not host the site and database with Yahoo!, and use Yahoo!'s Small Business Store web application to create the shopping cart? The Yahoo! Store integrates web hosting, e-mail, shopping cart, SSL and payment gateway into one slick package. The payment gateway is designed to connect to a wide variety of banks and merchant accounts. As an added benefit, Yahoo! provides integration with UPS's online shipping services.
We then developed the GTB Club, a database driven application that allows site visitors to sign up for newsletters, local vendor searches and GTB Store specials.
Another application on the site allows a user to submit a detailed information form about his or her upcoming wedding. This information is sent directly to the site owner in Excel Spreadsheet format for inclusion in CRM (Customer Retention Management) software such as ACT!.
Prospective advertisers can submit their information either online or by filling out a downloadable form right on the site. The site's administrator has a complete back-end setup where the GTB Club Members and the Local Vendors can be maintained. We also integrated our Simple PHP News, an application that allows the site's owner to easily create, update and maintain articles of interest.
Next issue we'll revisit the subject of Search Engine Optimization. This time though, the emphasis will be on what you as a site owner and operator can do in 30 minutes a day to get your web site on the front page of Google. Until then, enjoy Paella Day!