- Google Analytics and eCommerce Tracking– http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-441-google-analytics-and-ecommerce-tracking.aspx (Version ML8) and http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-1035-google-analytics-and-ecommerce-tracking.aspx (MultiStore)
- Submitting your Site to Google Sitemaps (Versions ML8 and MultiStore)– http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-436-submitting-your-site-to-google-sitemaps.aspx
- Submitting your Sitemap to Yahoo! (Versions ML8 and MultiStore)– http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-437-submitting-your-sitemap-to-yahoo.aspx
- Search Engine Optimization– http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-505-seo.aspx (Version ML8) and http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-1029-seo.aspx (MultiStore)
- A/B Testing with Google Checkout– http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-747-ab-testing-with-google-checkout.aspx
- SEO in ASPDNSF– http://forums.aspdotnetstorefront.com/showthread.php?t=17028
- Google Analytics Ecommerce tracking– http://forums.aspdotnetstorefront.com/showthread.php?t=16236
- The Token Analytics Article– http://blog.vortx.com/analytics/the-token-analytics-article/
Analytics: What’s the Deal With All These Numbers? – http://blog.vortx.com/analytics/analytics-what%E2%80%99s-the-deal-with-all-these-numbers/
- Google Analytics and AspDotNetStorefront– http://blog.vortx.com/analytics/google-analytics-aspdotnetstorefront/
- Log into ASPDNSF Admin and search for the product to modify
- Click on the product and then on the Main tab
- Change “Color Option Prompt” to the appropriate label to indicate why this product has multiple prices (for example “Product Options”).
- Change the XML package to product.simpleproduct.xml.config
- Hit the “Update” button.
- Go to the Product Variant link, click on the default product variant displayed and then click on the Attributes tab
- Enter text like this in “Colors” field– “Product Option 1[-100.00],Product Option 2[-50.00],Product Option 3″. In this example, product option 1 will be $100 cheaper and Product Option 2 will be $50 cheaper than product option 3. Add as many product types and prices as needed; separate all product options by commas.
- Hit “Update” and then view the product on the live site. Selecting “Product Option 1″ from the drop down should discount the item by $100 when added to the cart
- See http://manual.aspdotnetstorefront.com/p-967-varying-price-by-sizecolor.aspx for more info on this setup
- Log into ASPDNSF Admin and search for the product to modify
- On the Main tab
- Change the XML package to product.variantsindropdown.xml.config
- Save the product with the “Update” button
- Go to the Product Variant link and clone the default/existing variant using the “Clone” link. Create as many clones as there will be product options for this product.
- Click on the first variant in the list.
- Change the variant name to “Product Option 1” (or other applicable label) and change the price field to the correct price for this product option and then save the variant.
- Click on each subsequent variant in the list and change the variant product name and price for that product option.
- Save the product and then view the product on the live site. Each product variant will appear as a separate choice in the drop down box along with the applicable price for that product variant.
- Just the Facts– I know that every family is different, but we’ve focused upon the following when trying to narrow the list of thousands of schools to just a handful to really research (in order of priority to us)– majors offered, location, tuition/board, extracurriculars offered, size/enrollment. Please make it very easy to find these facts somewhere on your site! I know that many schools offer an admissions “portal” that we can register for to get access to this type of information, but at the early stages of this process and with hundreds of schools to consider, it is a lot of effort to fill out a HUGE form, wait for an email to arrive and then log in to the portal, just to get this info. It would be really nice to have a “Just the Facts” page that summarized these items and then if the school makes our “list”, we’ll be sure to register to learn more.
- Requesting Information– Please make it really easy for us to get mailed a packet of information about the school. As we are in the very infancy of our search, we mostly just want to get a pretty book of pictures to look at and some basic school facts. Most university sites ask for at least 25 fields of required information (if we could even find the form) to get this. I’m happy to give you address, email and areas of interest (academic and extracurricular), but that’s pretty much it until we know each other a little better. And, by the way, please call it “Request Information” not some clever like “Learn More”, “Join the Mailing List”, etc. Finally, please let me request this information as many times as I want. At least two schools wouldn’t let us submit the form because they already had our info (probably from a college fair months/years ago). I do understand the issues of data integrity, but if I go to the effort to fill out this form, I clearly don’t have this information anymore but still want it, so wouldn’t it really be to your benefit to send it to me again?
- Programs/Majors– On every single school website that we go to, we first search for the majors/academic programs offered to make sure that the school has the program we are looking for. My child is looking for a very specific program and I don’t want to spend a bunch of time trying to figure out what the university calls their colleges and/or programs. Please have a simple list of all majors offered and links to where I can find more information about requirements, classes, faculty, etc. but don’t pack all that information onto one page.
- The Home Page– I know from personal experience that it will kill you to hear this, but so far I’ve spent about two seconds per school looking at the home page (max!). I know you spend a lot of time and effort refining that home page, but at this point, I’ve only been using it to navigate to the Academics and Admissions areas of the site (sorry!).
- Photography– I’m pretty sure most schools are paying a pretty penny for professional photographers (or have them on staff!) and, let me tell you, it is WORTH every penny! My child is not interested in remaining in-state for college (sniff!), and I don’t have the time or means to visit the 38 schools on her list, so we pour over these photographs, videos, etc. If you want to be on the short list of the schools that we make it to visit, please give us lots of pretty imagery.
- Mobile functionality- So far during the college search, we’ve primarily used my iPad to fill out request information forms, so PLEASE make those forms mobile-friendly– many, many were completely unusable – particularly the “high school look-up” functionality. We’ve also used a mobile device (iPhone) to look at slideshows, videos and campus photography. I leave any page that has lots of text on it for my computer monitor, because most of the long text-heavy pages are virtually unreadable on the iPad/iPhone.
- Third Party Sites– My child’s high school uses “Naviance” for their internal college search tool, though I’m sure there are others. If you feed your data to a service like this, please make sure it is up-to-date and accurate. Of primary importance to my family is the majors offered. If you don’t offer the program that we are looking for, I’m not going to even visit your website. In addition, we’ve found errors with enrollment, tuition and one school even misspelled the campus city, so we couldn’t find it on a map! Check your data people!
- Brand-based graphics in site header that link to topic pages maintainable by client in Admin
- Background color is an appconfig that can be changed by client via Admin simply by adding a new HEX color code!
- Home page
- Flash home page slide show from original site replaced by a custom Beacon module that is administered in the Admin site
- Customer favorites section on home page populated by mapping products to the “Favorites” category
- Promotional graphics (under rotating banner) editable via topic page
- Thumbnail images displayed on search results page (nonstandard functionality for AspDotNetStorefront)
- Enabled product option to display ring sizes: http://artsyabode.com/p-3623-kr01.aspx
- Enhanced store locations page with links to Google maps and maintainable by client in Admin: http://www.artsyabode.com/t-locations.aspx
- Direct integration with Constant Contact for newsletter registration
- We also updated the design a bit and made it more modern and fresh:
- PC Pro – How to get email without a computer
- CBS News – Want E-Mail? No Computer? No Problem
- Living Senior: How To Receive Email Without a Computer
- Top 5 Email Devices
- Presto - Requires printer ($99.99) and mail service ($149.99/year or $14.99/month), uses standard phone line, cannot be used to scan or send replies, list of people that can send mail as well as formatting and text can be remotely administered
- MailBug - $9.95/month, uses standard phone line and local calls, does not accept email attachments, can send and receive email
- Celery - can use any fax machine (or purchase for $89.00), $19.95/month or $198/year for color service OR $13.98/month or $138/year for black and white service subscription
- Valid and tested HTML 5 using media queries to query the browser for information and display content accordingly (supported by all modern desktop browsers, including IE9, and nearly all mobile browsers)
- Clean, sensible CSS3
- HTML coded to use a flexible/fluid grid– Fluid layouts are flexible and resize with the browser window because width, margin and padding elements (even fonts and images) and are defined in percentages and ems. As the resolution changes, the layout adjusts to fit. For example: http://www.alistapart.com/articles/fluidgrids/.
- Displays flexible images and media, like the site http://unstoppablerobotninja.com/entry/fluid-images/, for example
- No left/right scroll bars when content area is reduced in width and gracefully displays each break point without jumping or reloading
- Develop a new website for the school using design templates provided by a third party design firm
- “Extended” top nav menu system that displays sub-level pages in a formatted and user-friendly manner and controlled by an include file “behind the scenes”:
- Customized home page banner rotation with extensive summary text area that can be maintained within Cascade
- Right column area (on lower level pages) that inherits the section page’s default content (or can be overridden at the page level) to minimize site maintenance
- Widgets to display specialized content (like news, testimonials, events, blog entries, etc.) as well as customizable call to action buttons
- Option to display standardized video player on any content page
- Customized testimonials template
- Cascade Workflow process for page-level approval
- Specialized navigation “pods” (like on this page: http://whitman.syr.edu/whitman-experience/index.aspx) that allow the admin to select which sub-pages to link to and display content about those sub-pages within the body of a page:
- Justin—For extensive assistance in requirements gathering and software engineering, content import from the old site, Cascade training as well as “as needed” development assistance
- Tiffany—Responsible for the majority of the site development, including several pre-launch issues that were resolved in record time!
- Zed—For content updates and “as needed” site development
- John W—For assistance with a RSS feed issue
- Reports– Though there are a few reports that come out-of-the-box with AspDotNetStorefront, I wish they were more extensive and customizable. In addition, most of these reports are “on screen” display only and a “download to CSV” option would be ideal for every report. I’ve tinkered with the “Custom Reports” option myself, to create a few simple reports needed by my clients, but unless you have extensive knowledge of SQL and AspDotNetStorefront’s product and order tables (which Beacon’s developers do, I assure you!) you’ll want to stick to simple reports. Finally, I’ll give a shout out to our friends over at Compunix, that offer a nice variety of add-on reports that we use regularly to enhance our client’s sites.
- “Getting Started” Documentation– I use the online manual and developer forums for AspDotNetStorefront daily and they are excellent, but I find that all the information is a bit daunting for a new AspDotNetStorefront administrator. Years ago, the developers provided a PDF with basic installation and administration information, but after it reached 500+ pages, they discontinued its maintenance in favor of online documentation. Since this basic “how to” resource is no longer available from AspDotNetStorefront, Beacon has written a “primer” on site administration, with just the basic info like creating entities and products, editing topic pages, etc. It would be nice if a small PDF with just the basics like this was provided out-of-the-box.
- Hyperlink the product name in Admin “Browse by Category”– This is the smallest, nit-pickiest thing, but if you’ve had to do it 1,001 times like I have, you’ll appreciate the issue. In Admin, when you choose to look for a product by browsing the category (Organization, Manage Categories, click on Category name, click on Products tab). First, you have to click on “Show Selected Only” (see next bullet) and then, even though a list of the products in the category is there for you, you can’t actually click on any of the products to see their product pages. You have to copy/paste the product name or SKU into the search box and search for the product and then you can click on the product page.
- Show Selected Only– Directly related to the item above and similarly nit-picky, when you browse to a list of products via the Category, you have to manually click on the “Show Selected Only” checkbox to filter out the products that are NOT in that category. Huh? This is actually a simple customization that we’ve done several times to automatically have this box checked by default, but it should really come this way by default.
- Hide Seldom Used Topic pages– This is an example where AspDotNetStorefront is giving us TOO much functionality. By default, there are dozens of topic pages listed in the “Manage Topics” list in Admin, only a small fraction of which will ever be used by a “normal” small business. While I love to be able to enable these when needed, it makes for an unwieldy list for a new administrator. Could these be separated into “frequently used” (like hometopintro) and “other pages” so that the initial list is not so daunting?
- Test Publishing Environment — I’m really reaching here, but it would be so nice to be able to update a product or topic page and publish it to a Test environment first, before releasing it to the public site. I’ve been known to make ugly HTML errors from time to time, and I just hate to have them shown on the public site, even for a second. We accomplish this at Beacon by having a totally separate Test installation of AspDotNetStorefront for every site, so that theoretically, a client could go to the Test site first, enter their update in the product/topic page, check how it looks at the Test URL and then copy/paste the HTML version to the Production site. But this is laborious for a small change. Being able to view a “test” version of the page before publishing would be ideal.
- Include “product description” as basic sort field– By default, the basic AspDotNetStorefront search includes the following fields: Product Name, SKU, Manufacturer’s Part number. I’ve never had a client that didn’t want the basic search to also include Product Description. Again, this is a simple customization and we do it frequently, but it doesn’t make sense to me why it isn’t included as search criteria in the first place. Perhaps there’s a concern that it might cause a performance issue due to additional data, but if your server or database can’t handle an additional value like this, you have other issues going on.
Posts by Annette:
in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Google Analytics, Web Development
Aspdotnetstorefront offers lots of great search engine optimization opportunities (including the ability to pretty quickly add Google Analytics tracking to the entire site) which is one of the primary reasons that Beacon selected it as our go-to eCommerce platform many years ago.
However, the resources to set up these items are scattered about a bit, so I thought I’d note specific links I find useful when discussing these topics with clients and/or developers. Hope they are helpful and please be sure to include your own suggestions in the comments section below!
Online User Manual
Tags: analytics, aspdotnetstorefront, ecommerce, eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Google, google analytics, Web Development
Posted in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Google Analytics, Web Development | No Comments »
in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development
Recently one of our AspDotNetStorefront clients asked me to come up with a way to modify the display of his products that vary by price. One of the things I really like about AspDotNetStorefront is that there are often “hidden gems” or functionality that you might not use one day, but come up with a way to incorporate it later. For this client, I recommended that he investigate either the product attribute features of a simple product or set up the products with separate variants.
This is the easiest product setup and, in general, requires the least XML package modification/development, but may not be the ideal user experience, depending upon the type of product being sold.
Depending on the type of product, I think this is the best looking option for the customer, but sometimes requires modification of the XML package by a developer to display correctly.
I hope that you find this information helpful!
Tags: aspdnsf, ASPDotNet Storefront, aspdotnetstorefront, ecommerce, eCommerce / ASPDNSF
Posted in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development | 1 Comment »
in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development
In older versions of AspDotNetStorefront (ML/8 and older), the built-in search functionality does not search the product or category description fields by default. Though this seems strange, the explanation that I’ve been given in the past by AspDotNetStorefront Support is that this could cause a strain on the server’s performance due to the large amount of text that can occur in these fields.
However, most clients that I’ve worked with really need this data to be searched as well, in order to quickly get the customer to the right product. Therefore, I always make it a habit to ask a customer when we start an AspDotNetStorefront project whether or not these fields should be included as search fields. If they say ”yes” (and they always do), I keep this handy forum post bookmarked and make sure that the developers include this “fix” during the development phase of the project: http://forums.aspdotnetstorefront.com/showthread.php?17219.
Please note that this may be handled differently in newer versions of AspDotNetStorefront, but it works quite effectively in ML. Just in case this link ever is disabled, here’s the gist of the post (BE SURE TO BACK UP YOUR DATA AND FILES FIRST!):
If you own the source code and host the database:
Modify the Aspdnsf_GetProducts stored proc, find @extSearch param and change the initial value from 0 to 1.
create proc [dbo].[aspdnsf_GetProducts] @categoryID int = 0, @sectionID int = 0, ………. ………. @extSearch tinyint = 1, ……….. ………..
Re-run the script, just the Aspdnsf_GetProducts so the change will take effect.
If you do not own the source code or have access to the database/stored procedures:
Modify your XML package to set:
,@extSearch = 1
in the <sql> section
Hope this helps!
Tags: aspdnsf, aspdotnetstorefront, eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Search
Posted in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development | No Comments »
in Other, Web Development
I am, for better and for worse, the parent of a high school junior this year. This means that I spend about 75% of my free time worrying about what my child is going to be doing a year an a half from now as she heads to college (and how I’m going to be paying for it– but that’s another story).
At this point, we are deeply buried in piles of admissions bulletins and postcards and busily searching college websites to narrow our list. This is an interesting shift for me, because as a project manager with Beacon’s software development group, I’ve been deeply involved in many large higher education website launches and have analyzed these sites as a stakeholder, student, visitor, etc., but never as a parent.
With this new and unique perspective, I thought I’d create a list of my recent higher ed website-related discoveries. I plan to update this periodically through the next year, as I’m sure my perspective will change as we progress from “prospective” to “applied” to “current” students.
I would welcome your comments and feedback and thanks for listening!
Tags: college, higher ed, higher education, university
Posted in Other, Web Development | No Comments »
in Beacon News, eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development
We are pleased to announce the launch of a new AspDotNetStorefront site today – Artsy Abode. More accurately, this is actually a new “MoreStore” for the base site we launched last year for Flirties Earrings. Both sites are now administered in the same AspDotNetStorefront Admin, with one additional store being added later this year.
Points of interest on this site:
Tags: aspdnsf, aspdotnetstorefront, morestore, multistore
Posted in Beacon News, eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development | No Comments »
in Not Really Computer Related, Tech Gadgets
Though not my typical type of blog post (as a project manager for the software development group at Beacon), I needed to do some research on this topic for my grandmother and I thought it might be useful info to followers of our blog as well, especially those with elderly family members that are proficient in the use of technology, like mine.
My 93-year-old grandmother is quite technically savvy for her age (93 years young – wow!), and has become dependent over the years upon email for updates from family members since she lives several states away from most of us. However, her relocation to an assisted living home earlier this year (without broadband access) has made the set-up and maintenance of a PC too laborious and her failing eyesight makes a cell phone or tablet impractical. Therefore, we are in the market for some type of “computer-less” email system, I and found the following while researching today.
In addition, several visitor comments in the articles mentioned that a standard fax machine might do the trick as well. Not sure which way we’ll go yet, but I’ll update this blog post with how it goes! Please add a comment if you have experience in this area and can provide your recommendations! Thanks!
Tags: email, fax, printer
Posted in Not Really Computer Related, Tech Gadgets | No Comments »
in Beacon News, Cascade Server, Mobile / Responsive Design, Web Development
This afternoon, we launched a fully responsive Cascade server site at http://www.gcccd.edu – Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District! This site was already in Cascade and the original graphical design was by another firm, but Beacon was entirely responsible for the new responsive design and the implementation into Cascade.
Big thanks to all those involved:
Jennifer did a lovely job of coming up with a responsive design that wasn’t too big a departure from their existing site, but still functional in a mobile capacity.
Tiffany did virtually all of the development and Cascade implementation herself, including her first solo site launch today! The client was able to work and publish in Cascade for the entire duration of the project while Tiffany developed and was only frozen out of Cascade for two days while the final implementation was completed, and that the implementation was completed a full day ahead of schedule!
Justin provided analysis assistance and a bit of as needed development.
In case you aren’t familiar with the term “responsive design”, it is defined as:
A responsive design meets the following criteria:
More information about responsive design from other Beacon blog posts:
Tags: cascade, cascade server, responsive design
Posted in Beacon News, Cascade Server, Mobile / Responsive Design, Web Development | 1 Comment »
in Beacon News
This striking new Cascade site was launched on January 4, 2013: http://whitman.syr.edu/. Beacon completed a lot of excellent custom development on this site including the following:
The client is really pleased with the new site and kudos to everyone involved!
Another impressive Cascade site!
Tags: cascade, cascade server, content management, Managing Web Content, Web Development
Posted in Beacon News | No Comments »
in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development
Let me start off by saying, I’m a big fan of AspDotNetstorefront, have written several blogs about its benefits and features, and have been personally involved in over a dozen site launches or enhancements involving the ecommerce shopping cart. However, as with any out-of-the-box software, there are areas where I think it could be improved and therefore have put together this “wish list”. Also please note that these items pertain to versions 9.2 and older– they could be addressed in future versions (and as a Custom Development partner, we’ve heard that a number of these items are currently “in the works” and we eagerly anticipate sharing the enhancements with our clients when available!):
Anybody else have a “wish list” item to include? Please share… Maybe someone at Vortx is listening/reading!
Tags: aspdnsf, aspdotnetstorefront, ecomm, ecommerce, ecommerce development
Posted in eCommerce / ASPDNSF, Web Development | 2 Comments »
in Creative Design, Web Development
I really was looking for some nice serious techie news to blog about today, but this article was just too irresistible to ignore: GIF wins Oxford’s ‘Word of the Year’. Despite the hilarious sub-title “JPG and PNG decline to comment“, I really did learn a lot in the guts of the article. For example, I didn’t realize that our friend the “GIF” (graphic interchange format) has been around for 25 years (almost as long as me!) and that nearly every Internet browser ever made supports it (and believe me, that’s A LOT of programs, cause we test our sites in most of them). The acronym has also evolved from a noun to a verb (“Most recently many media outlets were live-GIFing the 2012 presidential debates.”). According to the article “it’s the easiest way to share a quick animation.”
And as a completely un-techie side note, who even knew that Oxford Dictionary selected a “USA Word of the Year“???
Tags: design, gif, Graphical Design, web design
Posted in Creative Design, Web Development | No Comments »