Friday, November 26, 2010

WordPress E-commerce Website Design With Google Maps & Google Places

Building a successful e-commerce website is more than effective functionality. It's the complete environment the website lives in. Our WordPress e-commerce website masterclass series covers the use of Google Maps & Google Places in this edition.

How can I make Google Maps work in my e-commerce website marketing?

Researching & writing content leveraging Google Insights is key, but it is important to spread content web-wide in order to maximise backlinks and create traffic opportunity. Google Maps are a good way to create useful & appropriate traffic building content for a website. Here, for example, is a Google Map we created that covers food related topics within Northern France, available in Google and seamlessly embedded into the e-commerce website itself. The type of content includes key information that people interested in food & visiting France might look for.

Interactive Google Map embedded into this post on Google Maps in E-commerce Websites

What you are seeing above is is an iFrame that links into Google maps which is fully interactive. The useful elements here are the Google Places tags which I have added to the Google Map, with useful information on food, shops and restaurants. This means that when someone is searching for content in Google Maps (or in fact many other types of searches that include geographic data).

WordPress has free Google Maps plugins that enable you to easily embed Google Maps into your e-commerce website, even if you are not particularly technical, simply by using the tool bar at the top of the page (as you can see to the left).

To give you and idea of the power of Google Maps (and Google Places which area associated with Google Maps), our Google Maps receives around 100 unique visits per day, achieved through 2 hours of careful content writing. Some examples of useful Google Maps for e-commerce website marketing purposes include:
  • mountain bike trails for bike e-commerce websites
  • photographic spots for camera e-commerce websites (with associated photos, of course)
  • secret surf locations for surfboard or windsurf e-commerce website 
With a bit of imagination, the opportunities are endless. Of course, not every businesses may have content suitable for a detailed Google Map Route, as per what we have created above, but as you can see, the relationship between geographic locations and commercial business can usually be found with a bit of creativity (feel free to give me a call for your business sector and I will happily provide you with an idea for free!)

For part 5 of our WordPress e-commerce website masterclass on Google Places in e-commerce websites, click here.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Booking Calendar Plugins for WordPress - E-commerce Website Design Part 3

Unlike most e-commerce websites based around physical products, due to limitations on kitchen size, there are a limited number of orders that SecyCooking can delivered each day. As a result, a booking system with limited daily spaces, similar to a hotel room booking system, was required for the checkout page.

There are many calendar components available for WordPress that can be customised to integrate with a shopping cart. Our initial research indicated four potential calendar / booking plugins for WordPress that were potentially suitable, ranging from simple calendars through to licensed, complex booking management calendars:
This seemed simple enough but it was unclear how to manage events. Essentially, it's a simple calendar for listing archive dates without the flexibility we needed for our e-commerce site.
This is a fully featured product with lots of flexibility and options but the free version is rather restrictive. This was an issue when developing lower cost e-commerce websites where license costs need to be kept to a minimum (like WordPress, which is free!)
In spite of the unfavourable reviews, we investigated this plugin further, as on paper, it appeared to have the functionality we required. Unfortunately, in practice it was difficult to work with - so gave up on this option - looks like the wisdom of the crowds was right again.

In the end, we chose to use Resource Booking and Availability Calendar, which although a availability calendar designed purely to show availability, had the facility to enable us add extra code to make bookings or do whatever we needed. We modified this plugin massively, rewriting the mootools stuff with jquery to get the specific functionality we required.

The newly revised calendar booking plugin is now suitable for use across a wide variety of booking / calendar requirements - and has been customised to reflect the website design more clearly.

Click here for part 4 for E-commerce Website Design using WordPress where we cover the creative use of Google Maps & Google Places for SEO purposes within E-commerce websites.