Magento E-Commerce Wholesale Store Integration

Finally, wholesale e-commerce made easy!

While developing and designing a recent Magento website, we were given the challenge to create both a retail customer site, and a wholesale site. However, instead of creating two separate websites, like most web design companies would done, we wanted to somehow consolidate the two ideas to work with one website, and one e-commerce software. We want to be able to provide our clients a turn-key wholesale and retail solution, so that the client can expand their online services easy and efficiently. We chose to use Magento to accomplish our goal. Though Magento does not come standard with wholesale features, it is the most advanced, feature rich, reliable, secure, and flexible e-commerce software available today.

To accomplish our goal, we needed to do a customize a few features, based on the nature of the client’s business.

1) Create an approval system for wholesale customers
2) Only wholesale customers can view special wholesale prices
3) Retail customers can only see retail prices
4) Manage both types of customers in 1 Magento back end

Most of the solutions we found ended up in ‘Creating two Magento websites/stores’, which is not what we wanted to do. We were looking for a single website solution. So we tried playing with the Magento customer grouping features, within the Magento customer manager area in the admin panel:

1. We created a new tax class for Wholesale by Sales ? Tax ? Customer Tax Classes

2. We created customer groups (Retail and Wholesale).
Customers ? Customer groups ? AddNew Customer.
3. And selected the wholesale tax class for wholesale customer group.

An extension is required; Netzarbeiter_GroupsCatalog, to hide or show categories and products from specified types of customer groups (wholesale or retail in our case).

When adding a product an additional option ‘Hide from customer groups’ will be there. This enables us to select the customer groups to whom the product can be made hidden. For instance, a product meant only for wholesale customers will only display to customers who are in the wholesale customer group. The wholesale customer will logon to their account (approval for a wholesale account is required). Once they have logged on, they will only see the wholesale products available. Retail customers will only see the retail products. When adding a product, you will be able to select which customer group you want to show the product to. You can also choose to show the product to both types of customers.

Here’s the link to access this custom plugin Magento Plugin

Though Magento does not differentiate wholesale from retail out of the box, Xpirt Design has done the research and the programming to provide our clients these features within the Magento E-Commerce software. This enables our clients to automate wholesale and retail as much as possible. You can also use these features to manage drop shipping, and other services you might want to offer. Let us know if there is a special need for your e-commerce website. Xpirt Design can help.

If you need Magento Design, please call us or use the “Request a Quote” form.

Xpirt Design is a professional and affordable Web Design Company based in Orange County California.

Los Angeles Web Design is now here!

After two years of servicing Orange County with web design and SEO, Xpirt Design has now expanded into the greater Los Angeles area. We now provide in-house consultations for both Orange County and Los Angeles!

Remember, it’s important to choose a web design and SEO company who is local to you. I can’t tell you how many horror stories I’ve heard from clients because they chose a web design company out of state, or even out of the country. The fact of the matter is, legitimate web design companies who are local to you stand a better chance in providing you with the best customer service, and the best communication. It’s very hard to communicate ideas, graphics, and procedures to someone who lives in a different time zone. Plus, you want the accountability of a web design company who is located near you. This decreases the chances of you getting ripped off.

So anyways, now that we’re servicing Los Angeles with our web design and SEO services, please feel free to ask about our free consultations. We’ll drive as far as south Orange County and as far as Northridge.

Web Design Offers

Great Deals on E-Commerce Websites from Xpirt Design!

E-Commerce w/ SEO Package

Purchase a custom designed E-Commerce website from us and we’ll throw in free search engine optimization!

Once your website is complete, getting customers to find you online should be your next goal. Web Design, paired up with search engine optimization ensures that your website will be found by customers using the various search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and MSN/Bing. Our search engine optimization services are second-to-none. This special only applies to customers located in Orange County, CA and only applies to brand new e-commerce web design. Call us today to take advantage of this great deal!

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Top 11 Web Design and Web Development Forums

by: James Weir, Orange County Web Design

Top 11 Web Design / Development Forums

To kick of the new year of 2010, we decided to put together a list of the top web design forums that we feel could be a useful resource to those of you looking to join a community of designers and developers. As the web design industry continues to grow, the need for such communities grow. These forums were hand picked based on the quality of information available, level of community support by it’s members, and finally, the popularity of the forum. If you have any recommendations for other forums, please feel free to let us know in the comments.

Please Wait problem in Magentos Category Management

by: James Weir, Xpirt Design

Fixing the “Please Wait” problem in Magento’s Category Management

On behalf of Xpirt Web Design and SEO, I would like to provide the Magento open source developer community with a simple and straightforward solution in fixing the notorious problems with Magento’s category administration panel. If you get the dreaded “Please Wait” image that gets stuck or frozen when trying to add or modify categories on a fresh install, then this article is for you.

On a side note, this solution applies to Magento fresh installs on the latest stable version of 1.3.2.4, and also applies only to the problem of adding or modifying categories, as well as attempting to create, upload, or save a new product. This solution also applies to some users who are having trouble with the “Security” problem when trying to upload an image to a product. And lastly, this is a solution to the problem of saving configurations within the admin panel, such as editing and saving your company information, ect. This is “A” solution to these problems, not “THE” solution to these problems and I sincerely hope this solution works for you.

Problem:

magento-please-wait

Just recently, we were trying to install a fresh version of the latest stable version of Magento (as of today, 12/17/09) for a new web design client that required the robust and feature-packed e-commerce solution, Magento. After a flawless install at the hosting company “Blue Host”, we logged into the admin panel of Magento and proceeded to start adding categories and products. Of course, like so many of you, we ran into the “Please Wait” problem when trying to add new product categories. We also ran into the common problem of getting the “Please Wait” notification when trying to save or add a new product, as well as the common problem of the “Security Risk” when trying to upload a picture for a new product. We followed all the directions that both the Magento Community and Blue Host documentations provided. As you can imagine, we were stumped.

After several hours of searching through the Magento Community Forums, we were left with no other options than to plead with our hosting company to help out. The hosting company (Blue Host) refused to assist in this matter and basically told us to go back to Magento with the problem. I expected a response like that and wasn’t surprised.

Solution:

htaccess-canonical-redirect

blue-host-www-redirect

Just before we were going to give up, I thought to myself “why aren’t the updating information functions working either?” After thinking for a while, I decided to check out the .htaccess file in the public_html root to see if there are any 301 domain canonical redirects (in English, that’s the non-www. to www.). There was a 301 canonical redirect in the .htaccess file in the root, and another thing I noticed; If you use the “www redirect” in the C-Panel of your web host at the same time, it confuses the server and applications, such as Magento, will throw errors and won’t work correctly. So what I did was turn off the “www redirect” in the hosting C-Panel, then deleted the 301 canonical redirects (again, for those of you who still do not know what this is, this 301 redirect either adds or removes the “www” from your domain name, since search engines see the www. And non-www. As two separate websites and will penalize your SERPS or Rankings for duplicate content). Sure enough, the next time I logged into the Magento admin panel, the categories worked perfectly, the adding products functions worked perfectly, and uploading product images worked perfectly. No more “Please Wait” or “Security Risk” issues at all, whatsoever.

Lesson Learned:

Magento is extremely finicky. On a fresh install, check your .htaccess files for errors and temporarily turn off the www redirects in the C-Panel of your hosting account. Then take one step at a time in setting up your canonical 301 redirects, preferably, use the .htaccess file instead of the C-Panel www redirect function.

Conclusion:

I really hope this article will help some of you fix this problem. I can’t tell you how much of a headache this was, and how many hours of being frustrated, pissed off, and just plain irritated I was because of this problem. I mean, Magento is the Rolls Royce of e-commerce and it’s exciting to finally get to use the product, and then the nightmare begins when the darn thing wont just work. In any case, the problem is solved, and I would like to know if this solution helped some of you out there with the same problems. Please feel free to post comments about your experiences. These are DOFOLLOW comments for you SEO guys out there, but I do keep a close moderation on them so careful with the spam.

Also, for those of you who need any web design services, or need to design a template or theme for Magento, or any other E-commerce software, please visit our orange county web design section and find out how Xpirt Design can help you.

Search Engine and User Friendly Web Design Guidelines

General Web Design Guidelines

Written by: James Weir, Xpirt Design, web design orange county

The goal of a professional web design company is to create a website that is attractive, easily navigable, and accomplishes the motive of the site. Whether you are selling products, services, or just displaying information, the motive of the website must be accomplished. There are many ways to increase the success of websites; however this article will explain ways to improve your website’s usability, attractiveness, and browser compatibility, by using proven web design techniques.

Website Content

The objective here is to create useful, unique content. You want the user to view your company, or website as a reputable resource for whatever industry or niche you are a part of. Grammar and correct spelling is very important if you want users to view you as a reputable resource. Providing useful content that is unique and informative is a great way to increase your reputation as well as keeping the users interested in what you are offering. Creating useful and unique content is also important for search engine visibility, in other words, search engine optimization. You want to create new content regularly because the search engines will view your website as a valuable information resource and will tend to rank your website appropriately.

Cross Browser Compatibility

A web design’s cross browser compatibility is also important. If your website looks good in Internet Explorer, but looks misaligned or improper in Fire Fox, the people viewing your website with Fire Fox or Opera (which is about 30-40% these days) will click off of your website and move on to the next. This is why it is important to ensure your web design encoding for cross browser compatibility. This is a major problem with some of the older, outdated websites today. It is important to keep your web design’s coding up to date and bug-free.

Graphics, Pictures, and Photos

When using graphics and pictures in your web design, you want to compress the image, avoid using too many images per page, or resize the images appropriately. The reason is to keep the page loading time down. If your images are too large, your website’s load time will increase, and most users these days will immediately leave the website. Also, it is important to label your images by using the image’s “ALT” tag. Labeling the ALT tags will tell the users who have images turned off in their browsers what that image is supposed to be. For search engine optimization, since the search engines do not view images, these ALT tags notify the search engines what that image is about, and in turn, you will increase your credibility on the subject matter with the search engines.

Background Colors and Text

Avoid using background colors that blend with your text color. You want your text to stand out and be clearly readable to the users. It is true that sometimes, certain blending colors will look attractive in the web design, however, you are sacrificing the user’s ability to read the text for the design look and feel.

Website Navigation / Menus / Links

It is extremely important for users to be able to easily navigate through the website. A properly designed website will have an easy to use menu. You should always try to follow the three-click rule, which means the user should be able to reach any part of the website within three clicks or less. If you follow the three-click rule, you will have an easy to use navigation or menu system that is search engine friendly, as well as user friendly.
Use text links whenever possible. Search engines prefer the use of text links over image links or flash menus, ect. The text link should always describe the subject of the link and should be short and concise. If you find that you must use image links, remember to use the ALT tags and label the images according to its subject.

Make sure all links are working, point to the correct destination, and are labeled properly. It is bad for a user to click on a link and find that the link either leads to the wrong destination, or doesn’t work (broken link). The user will get turned off and move on to another web site. Search engines also use links to navigate through the website. If a link is broken, the search engine will have a hard time indexing the page where the link is pointing to. You can use Google Webmaster Tools to diagnose broken links. It is always good to create a sitemap, whether it be an HTML sitemap or an XML sitemap. Site maps are a good back up for search engines to easily navigate (as well as users) through the site. A sitemap is simply a list of pages on the website in the form of links. You may also use descriptions beside the links to inform the users further.

Frames

Frames are bad. Avoid using any kind of frames at all costs. A good web design will not use frames for the design structure. The only time frames should be needed is when displaying 3rd party content on the website.

Conclusion

Follow these general web design guidelines and you will find that your website will generate more results, look more attractive, and be easier to use. I can’t tell you how important a good, smart, and search engine friendly web design is to both the users and search engines. I’ve seen so many websites, that have great products or information, but end up failing because of a poorly designed website. Don’t let that happen to you!

If you are interested in using Xpirt Design for your next website design project, please visit us at web design orange county for more information.

The benefits of CSS for design and SEO

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) are used to define the styled elements of a web page such as elements of the layout, colour and fonts, and then separate them from the content of the page (paragraphs/images).

There are advantages to be gained from using CSS while optimizing seo for Google.

CSS allows you to use greater or smaller font size.

It allows you more control of your page structure.

It allows you to keep the file sizes smaller, which decreases the load time of the page. Search engines prefer faster load times.

By using CSS, you can also increase the organization effectiveness of your coding. There much less code on the page, which makes things easier to find, edit, ect. This saves tons of time, and of course, the less code on the page means faster load time.

CSS allows greater, more advanced flexibility in creating the styles for your website design than using only HTML. You can get the look and feel you want without comprimising the structure of the website. Using tables for layout purposes is an example of outdated, and improper methods for layout design. Using Div Tags and CSS is the proper way to design a layout.

Google rewards the pages that have proper structure and it is wrong to assume that using the standard makes websites look bland and boring. If used properly, you can definately use CSS and Validated HTML to create stunning and functional websites, while benefiting from the rewards from search engines.

CSS and Cross-Browser Compatibility

Be aware that some browsers interpret CSS differently than others, and therefore will display differently. For instance, Fire Fox and Internet Explorer. Most web designers can agree that internet explorer is not the choice browser for web designing. It has too many bugs, and makes too much use of improper coding. Firefox on the otherhand adheres to the strict CSS standards. Because of this, these 2 browsers can cause many problems when trying to display the CSS, so you need to be careful and write a seperate code for each browser.

This concludes my short article on CSS and its benefits. Please go to web design and seo in orange county for more information on our services.

Web Design and SEO Tips: Starting an online business

Web Design and SEO Tips:

A few important points to consider when starting an online business:

  1. Reasearch, research, research. You absolutely must research your target niche market. Find out how competitive the market is. Find out how much of a demand there is.
  2. Research your direct competitors. Knowing the direction your competitors are taking will help you plan out your own strategies.
  3. Web design style: Again, look at your competitors, or related websites and try to get ideas.
    • how you want your site to look.
    • how you want it to function.
    • how you want the navigation and layout structure.
  4. Find out what types of services you require. Whether its ecommerce shopping carts, blog services, or whatever, it is always good to read up on the services before you jump into anything.
  5. If you have no website design experience, call a professional web design and seo company (like Xpirt Design). They can help you properly build your online business and give you valuable suggestions and consultation.
  6. Greatly consider search engine optimization services. It’s always a good idea to choose a web design company that also offers affordable, but effective SEO services. The reason is that the web designer himself knows how the website is built and it would be much easier, less time consuming, and more effective for the seo to take effect.
  7. Consider paid advertising or pay per click/adwords type marketing. A new website will take time to develop natural search engine traffic (SEO). While you are waiting, it is always a good idea to give your website that jumpstart with traffic from paid advertising.
  8. The first impression of your web design is everything! When a visitor comes to your website and sees that your website is not professionally designed, more than likely the visitor will leave and continue on his search engine journey.
  9. The way your navigation is structured is also a major factor of a properly designed website. If the visitor has difficulties in finding what hes looking for, gets confused or lost within the website, or cannot go back to his previous page, chances are, the visitor will simply leave.

Though web design will take a little time to think about, its the internet marketing and search engine optimization that will no doubt end up taking more than 75% of your time or your hired professional’s time. You constantly have to keep yourself up to date on the market trends, new marketing opportunities, and new directions you can take your business into. Your website will definately determine your success, at least online. If your online marketing, combined with a professional web design, is all done properly, efficiently, and effectively, you can have an unlimited potential in online business growth.

If you are indeed looking for a professional with tons of web design and seo/pay per click experience, visit Xpirt Design or orange county web design for a free consultation.

Tips to make a good web design structure

Tips to make a good web design structure:

Here at Xpirt Design, we decided to give designers a few tips on making a web design structure in order to have a good flow and feel of the website. We follow these guidelines as much as possible and we are confident that if you follow these guidelines as well, you will see faster website load times, a better overall look and feel of the website, and a search engine friendly web design. Feel free to comment on this post with your ideas and suggestions. orange county web design

Web Design Text and Content

  • Make sure the backgrounds don’t interrupt any of the text you want people to read.
  • Be sure to allow the font size to be large enough for people to read, but not enormously large.
  • Make sure to convey which information is most important in a heirarchy.
  • Separate large paragraphs into smaller, easier to read paragraphs. Large paragraphs sway people away from reading the content.

 

Navigation

  • The navigation buttons must be easy to find and use. Try to make all navigation buttons consistent in the web design and structure throughout the website.
  • If possible, allow the visitor to know where they are at all times either by using titles, or depressed navigation buttons.
  • If possible, avoid frames at all costs. Search engines have trouble crawling content within frames and therefore is bad for search engine optimization.
  • Always include a sitemap in either .html or .xml format. Search engines use these to easily navigate and crawl through a site.

 

Links

  • Try to make all link colors coordinate with the website colors.
  • Either make links in the content underlined, a different color, or bold so they stand out to the visitor.

 

Web Design Graphics

  • Try not to make buttons too large.
  • Try to make buttons match with the look and feel of the web design.
  • Always include ALT tags for search engine optimization.
  • All graphic links should also be matched with a regular text link.
  • Graphics and backgrounds should always use browser safe colors as much as possible.
  • Try not to use too many animated graphics.
  • Try not to use too large of graphics for layout structure or buttons. This slows down the website load time.

 

General Design

  • If everything is done according to this article, page download time will be fast.
  • Try to shoot for a 800 x 600 pixel resolution for the website.
  • Balance the content of pictures, text, paragraphs, and links.
  • Make every page identical to the rest of the web design.

14 Awesome CSS Based Websites! – check it out


Ok so I ran across some great looking CSS based sites. Some of them aren’t 100% pure CSS but they are still great sites to check out. I chose these because of their creativity, simplicity, and the ability to catch my eye. I hope you guys like them as well. If you want to be notifed when my next article comes along, just subscribe to my blog and feel free to leave comments. ENJOY!

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