The plot. Selling services for Data Capture for Facility Management clients. The initial idea was building an Intranet/Extranet site but then I realised that I had built a site called PiP (Property Information Package) that offered data capture information for domestic/commercial clients, planned for Wellington properties (where I could actually visit) and I pulled it down when my cheap web hosting expired. I forgot to migrate it to another Web Host. So this time I want to build an Online Store selling services that can be marketed more widely.
The process. Using local by Flywheel & WordPress/Woo Commerce.
Why? An idea for revenue generation and also learning process.
Part 1. Local by Flywheel
Local by Flywheel is a Free WordPress development environment that you run on your own computer. It runs a virtual server on your computer like Wamp & Xamp but for WordPress specific sites. Flywheel is a web host provider and the programme is designed to easily migrate your site to Flywheel. You can also send the site to another host provider.
Why use it? My Web Host provider and VPS are in Germany. So sometimes there is a noticeable lag in refreshing, saving and updating pages and other upload/download processes that you do (like add themes/plugins/images to the site),. So if you are setting up a site its quicker to do it on your local machine, then once you have it operational you upload the whole site to your server.
The other nice thing about doing a local setup is that you can update the site on your local instance and leave the other site running, in production. Only updating it at a time when there are minimal users.
So I’m hoping to speed up the production of the site and can even partially load part of the site and have it in production while still continuing with the rest of the build.
There is a nice feature in Local in that you can send a client a link so they can view your site on your local PC. I may try testing this with a friend for comments on the design and content.
I watched this video that was pretty good, based on setting up on a Mac rather than a PC but all the same really
Some challenges with Email and Domain name part 1
I thought I’d try and make a tidy site, and since it is to be a bit corporate I wanted not to use my common hotmail or gmail accounts. I thought I’d look for something with a person @ domainName.com.
That has caused a few trials and tribulations. I will enumerate.
1. I reviewed the top FREE email providers , and the usual suspects showed up, gmail, aol, yahoo, hotmail etc and then there was zoho. A few posts I read talked about the business@domainName was a free service, it has since been changed. Its now $1 per month. Not a major in itself. But I wanted it linked to the website and its domain name, so I didn’t want one service (email) from one provider and another service (web hosting/domain name) from another provider.
I do have a local VPS (Virtual Private Server) that I can run an Email server from. I have played with this before with the Windows server, but found it a hassle to maintain. If you shut down the server you have to remember to re-boot the Email server. It isn’t particularly onerous, just something you have to keep an eye on. Also I ended up generating a lot of email addresses then had to set them up in Thunderbird to monitor them. All a bit messy.
So I looked to AwardSpace.com for one of its special packages that gives you a domain name free for a year and a cheap tarter pack for its web hosting. I have done this a couple of times but this time they said NO. Apparently you can only have one special offer. I said thank you and decided to go elsewhere.
I read a couple of articles about some more free web hosting services, one claimed that you could use your own domains, but when I went to try to use a Feeenom one it was blocked. So I decided not to use that.
I then came across freehostingeu.com. This seems to be the same as Awardspace.com in another guise, so I applied for one of its special setups. ( note freehostingEU and Awardspace dont let you use Freenom domains). I am waiting to see when my domain name will come through. They have taken my money, so hopefully my preliminary (free site that I then updated) site will be updated to reflect the new package I’ve purchased. The web hosting service allows for emails with the domain name, so that is what I’m waiting to get setup. aparently that is a NoNo so I’ll have to think of another strategy.
I ended up going back to my own personal email server. That way I can use Freenom accounts. Just playing around with Domain Names at the moment eg @data4fm.tk or maybe bim4data.ml
That is the great thing about using Local, I can carry on building the Web Site without the domain name as I’m able to change that later. This is important as all the references in the Database will point to the Local instance and these will be re-mappred to the Domain Name instance. Basically an SQL query but I would need several shots at it until i got it right. (I have that to look forward to with an Awardspace site I am currently decommissioning, unfortunately it links to 3 of my other sites on my VPS so I have to do some search queries on those too).
WordPress & Woo Commerce
I have had an initial dabble with Guttenberg, the new WordPress editor and found it extremely frustrating. I think the reason was I was trying to do something quickly, an update, and it got in the way, I knew, that particular thing I could do more quickly with the Classic editor so I switched off Guttenberg and just completed the task (I think it was a post). On reflection over the past few months I thought I should give it another go I would have preferred WordPress 5 as its new but am using WP4.9 as 5 is not out yet (later this month apparently). IO have enabled Guttenburg, so we’ll see how we get on.
I am a sort of write then format person, whereas with blocks you sort of structure as you go. I’ll see if the cut/paste process works with Guttenberg.
Woo Commerce. I had a crack at this also, but when it got to payment method and registering I got a bit twitchy, especially as my site was live, and I didn’t actually have a product to sell. So I didn’t get very fr with it. This time around, using Local I am a bit more confident as the site is not live until I upload it.
This video on setting up Woo Commerce impressed me, simple yet clear.
I also decided, first time around to use the Shop Isle theme as per the video. We’ll see how that develops. There is a link page for the Shop Isle theme with video that I found handy to access parts of the theme.
Woo commerce is really aimed at products rather than services, so I had to do a little fossiking (research sounds a bit boring after a while) on using it for a service.
I am working through the content on the site but am getting a bit bogged down with concepts and stuff. Trying to be a bit more sophisticated with the structure. Part of that is driven by the Theme I am using.
Domain Name part 2.
I decided that I would pay for a domain name, and Freenom lets you purchase them as well as having their free ones.
I tried combining key terms on Dot-o-Mator website and I found their tips page interesting. Two thins I took note of:
Be sure you can say the name without having to spell it out for people.
If you meet customers in person, speak to them over the phone, go to trade shows, or otherwise ever have to tell someone your domain name, consider how easy (or difficult) it is to say the name you want to use. Do you have to spell it out for people because the name isn’t spelled like it sounds? In particular, names using “ph” (instead of f) or “y” (instead of i) in the name might be problem areas. Similarly, a name like Flickr or Zoomr or any other name where “er” has been replaced with “r” will always have to be spelled out, at least until it’s become so popular that everyone knows how it’s spelled.
Also, while you can use dashes in your domain name, you probably shouldn’t, unless you’re prepared to register both the dashed and un-dashed versions. (I registered both dot-o-mator.com and dotomator.com for this site.)
Search for your prospective name on Google.
If you want to make it easy for people to find your site, then choose a name that has few existing matches in Google… the fewer the better. That way when people search for your site, yours will come up first in the search results. If there are already millions of matches for the name you want to use, or if the name is a popular and generic term that’s already cluttered with search results, it’s going to be very difficult for people to find you via search.
It was very interesting to go to Google and see how many names were ones that you thought of. I went onto Wiki for Latin Phrases for a name with a bit of gravitas and terms that I was looking for to associate with what I was doing , like Carpe Diem (Seize the Day) , but rather Carpe Data , data valorem (value), data priori (from the former), ex scientia (from Knowledge), data et lux (data and light),Magna Carta (Great Charter) to MagnaData, sapient (wise). All had very high hit rates on Google, so obviously a first place to go for domain name references. Those Romans have a lot to answer for.
So I finally came up with something that was easy to say and when all joined together very few search results on google. This was dataiknow.info . The reference is to Data Information Knowledge Wisdom DIKW pyramid that I thought was pertinent.
Then I tried to Draw a pyramid. That was hard.
The ShopIsle theme has sliders at the front. I decided that I would have 4 sliders Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom. Each with a separate story. So for the first Slider, I wanted to display the DIKW pyramid. So I used GIMP.
GIMP is a free and open-source raster graphics editor used for image retouching and editing, free-form drawing, converting between different image formats. A bit like photoshop, but free. I have played with it before but I’m definitely at beginner level. Anyway, I wanted a gradient in a triangle, with text over the top. I initially drew the triangle in Revit, but that has no gradient Regions, so I decided to use GIMP to do this. I’d seen a quick tutorial so I decided to see if I could get it running. I think it took me about 3 hours to get it doe. I had real problems with the gradient disappearing, very, very frustrating.
What it is great for is setting up the image sizes that work with the theme. The front slider images are 4272 x 2848 px so you can set the background up to that size, then bring in images and scale/move around as you need.
One of my first errors was to have a lot of light background images. This did not work with the white text of the theme. So, a bit more thought needs to go into that. I have a couple of options, go into the theme styles.css and play around with font colour, or re-think the images I’m putting in. At this juncture I think I’ll play around with the images. Two reasons for this, 1/ I like the look of the theme, so I’ll stick with that & 2/ I’ll learn to use GIMP a bit more. So some more frustrations but I think its a useful skill to learn.
I found this video good for a basic overview on Gimp
I have seen Neil Patel popping up on SEO (search Engine Optimisation) posts quite a lot. I like some of the things he says, in the video below he talks about telling stories
That sort of makes sense to me. So in my Front slider DIKWsliders I want to point to 4 pages to tell 4 stories. This is a bit of a challenge for me as I do not have a very good writing style and tend to the verbose rather than short and pithy. So I need to do more work on those and to get them and my About page setup well.
So what I stated out thinking was a short piece of work is becoming a bit more elaborate. In some ways, that is OK. I have set up web sites and they tend to stay as is. I do not re-build the website over and over, so its worth doing well to begin with.
Interim thoughts at end of Part 1
1. Local by Flywheel
Good. Being on my PC its a hell of a lot faster loading images and refreshing.
Bad. I had gone to Freenom and chose a free domain, but as I did not immediately put it up on a website they deleted it. I need to go through the exercise of setting up the Website on Windows server on the VPS straight away. In this case, I just had to delete the email I’d set up for that account. This is because I’m not uploading the site toi the VPS but tinkering with it on my PC. A lesson learned.
Still to try in part 2:
A. Changing the domain name for the site
B. Uploading the local version onto the VPS.
2. Domain Name & Email.
Definitely took more time than I anticipated. Still, another learning process on choosing a domain name.
3. WordPress and Woo
The brief work I have done so far of setting up a couple of products (more throwing ideas together) so creating product pages has only been text based so far.
I want to add images, videos and a few links.
Using the Gutenberg editor has been quite nice, I think they have made some refinements since I first used it as it seems to be going quite well.
The Theme seems to be driving certain decisions, but that is fine as the ideas I want to put across work in with it.
4.GIMP and images
Early days, but another powerful programme like UNITY that requires a lot of learning to use it with confidence. So far, I’m happy with what I am exporting, its just taking a lot of time.
5. So far?
So far I’ve setup the basic site, loaded a theme and a couple of plugins that I use using local by flywheel on my local PC.
I’ve now got a domain name and email address and there is a blank instance of the site running on my VPS (to test address and email).
I’ve got a few front end images on my slider, although only one I’m happy with so far. 1 down 3 to go for sliders, then all the product images etc.
An overall scope of what I think I want from the site. I have the DIKW pyramid skeleton to hang things on.
Realisation that this is a big task, so once I’ve fleshed out the bones of the site I need to get a limited version up and running. Then I can take my time to refine the other services
6. What next?
I need a working site so will have to get on with the whole Woo commerce setup of payment and shopping cart etc
Then I can have a few ” To come shortly to this Venue” signs on the website and carry on building the site in Local while there is a production site running.
Further down the track. A marketing campaign using something like mailchimp so lots of research on potential customers.
Write it up in a post of course. So others can learn from my many mistakes and avoid them!