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Which website shopping cart?

We have recently undertaken a study to determine which of the many shopping cart systems we should use on a customers website. After a long process trawling through the myriad of options we finally reached a shortlist of 8 candidates.

These candidates were:

  • Avactis
  • CS Cart
  • Cube Cart
  • Magento
  • OS Commerce
  • Prestashop
  • Virtuemart
  • Zen Cart

Now, with that part done the hard work begins.

The fact of the matter is that all of the choices in the list above are great ones. Any of these shopping carts will, with the right implementation, produce an excellent level of functionality on any website. The trick is to understand your own requirements first and identify which of the options most closely fits your own requirements, not only today but also your anticipation of what they will be in 6 months, 1 year and possibly even more.

So lets look at the pros and cons of each.

You can find the comparison HERE.


How to rank higher in Google Places/Local in the UK

Google Places is the single biggest change to the natural search results this year and considering the resources Google are investing in making the system work its something that every single website needs to start using.

At present Google Places results are shown for geographical queries such as “plumber in Leeds” as well as the more general “plumbers” query. In the future I can imagine Google will start showing these results for pretty much everything.

My feeling is that the recent changes are very positive. The old Google Local system wasn’t very good and the move towards a single algorithm will mean more investment and better services for website owners. Already the results are impressive, we’ve run some tests and you can now edit your listings and the changes will appear in the main Google Places search results in real time. Being able to change a Google search result in real time was unheard of until this new system rolled out.

Another big improvement is the way Pending Listings are actually being reviewed now rather than sitting in a queue for months. We’re seeing review times of sub 24 hours now which is excellent.

One of the strange bugs/features in the system is that the Places results are not using the URLs submitted via Google Local Business Center which means tracking tags are being lost.

The first step is to get your business verified via post or phone and then to fill in your entire listing. Don’t miss anything out. Then make sure you tag your URLs with Google Analytics tags, you can either just copy the format below or use the Google URL builder.

The next step is to build some citations around the web, citations are the equivalent of links in Google Places. First of all you need to find existing mentions of your business and make sure they all use the same details, address, URL, phone number. Try tools such as Get Listed to see what information people know about your business already.

Next you need to generate some new citations from sites that Google trusts. The list below is a very good starting point.

Local Data Company
Market Location
City Visitor (part of Infoserve)
Trusted Places
Brown Book
We Love Local
Thomson Local
Touch Local
View London (& every other city they offer)
London Online
Visit London
All in London
Square Meal
UK Cities
Smile Local
Hot Frog
Free index

Finally you need to generate some reviews. It’s illegal to write these yourself or to get your friends/staff/family/SEO agency to do it. The best way is to email your customers and ask them to add reviews for you on sites such as Yelp. If you would like further assistance in taking your site through this process please contact Rustyice Solutions today.

How does a website work and function?

When surfing the web you look at and use many different websites but have you ever wondered how they work. Websites use many different technologies and web development techniques that all work in unison to create the designed layout, the text content and the mechanics.

Many website owners or web editors have never thought about the code and development techniques that make it work. When you see and navigate around a website you see the designed interface and web layout a designer has created but behind the scenes there is different web programming code that makes it run. There are many different programming languages that can make a website work and most of them talk with each other to create a website that performs well and looks great.

Different web design companies favor different programing languages. There are different coding and programming languages used for the front-end of the website ( the bit that you see ), than the back-end ( the bit that makes it work ) . Generally web design companies specialise in one or two programming languages but very rarely them all.

The languages used for the front-end are pretty generic across the web design industry and you have probably heard of a few of them. The major ones are HTML, CSS and Javascript. Just about every website has been designed using these front-end programming languages. The front-end code determines the structure, design, layout and navigation of the website. This code would normally refer to images placed in a folder and position them to make the website look like is all fits together. A basic website can be built using only these tools. To add more functionality and complicated features you will need some back-end programming to make it work.

The back-end programming languages are very different to their front-end counterparts, but generally they need to work together to make the design and function come together as one. The main back-end languages used are PHP, ASP, JSP, Coldfusion and .Net. These languages are used for what is called a dynamic website. Dynamic websites are normally connected to a database which stores information for the website and can be updated using a content management system (CMS). It can store all the text, the images, statistics, members and anything else. The database can display and cross reference any data stored – which makes it a powerful tool in building larger websites.

There are quite a few pre-built content management systems that can be downloaded for free or some more elaborate systems that can be bought for a once off fee or on a subscription basis. Some web designers choose to utilise these content management systems and specilise in re-designing and customising the software. Other web designers choose to build their own content management systems using their preferred web programming language. These custom built systems can be specifically tailored to the websites features where as their pre-built counterparts generally have certain guidelines to stick to.

There are many factors that contribute to a website working and functioning well. The code behind the web design needs to seamlessly fit with the back-end programming and CMS. Many websites work differently but perform that same functions. Think of all the different websites being like different car brands – All cars have a shell, paint work and get you to where you’re going but under the hood there are different technologies and parts that make them run. Some are fast, powerful and luxurious others are economical, comfortable and practical.

At Rustyice Solutions, our engineers have the technical expertise to select the best elements of this bewildering mix of components to ensure that you get a site that is fit for purpose and lives up to every expectation.