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osCommerce

The e-commerce.

Outback Bookstore


iwik

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Hi there,

 

This has been a long time coming, and I think I managed to iron out a lot of the wrinkles - but as we all know they do manage to creep back in where we least expect it. I've been looking at files in editpad for so long I've started dreaming in code.

 

So far, the store is sitting on a development server and not yet in its proper place on the interweb - it's being designed to take over from our current online bookstore which is more like a large catalogue at the moment with no interactivity.

 

Bear in mind that because it is still in the development stage it has no SSL, but you can do the pretend-orders with the test credit cards and create accounts and whatnot. The full book catalogue isn't up there yet either, the ones there for now are test titles just so my boss can easily see what I am trying to achieve. Because of that some of their listings start more in the centre of the page because it has nothing to boost it up a bit in terms of cell/table content as yet (even when you say valign="top".. sometimes it just won't go there). The server it's on for nowhas it's fast moments and it's slow moments, which is a little annoying at times.

 

So, I introduce to you the pseudo-final draft of CQU Press & Old Silvertail's Outback Books

 

I've gone through and changed every instance of manufacturer to author - even down to the database and url's, and have installed a few contributions as well as coming up with my own thing or two. In regards to the conditions and privacy stuff, I've seen almost the same thing written on a few sites so I sort of copied the gist of it - but it still has to be seen by the people who count so it's likely to change a bit as they want things changed or taken out. If there's anything there that someone would rather I removed now, just let me know and I'll do it gladly.

 

I know it still looks fairly stock-like, our main audience are generally not too net-savvy so I figured keeping a basic layout should be OK - they won't get too confused with a weird page setup. Oh, and I'm in the process of changing those little icons in the top-right of the main pages.

 

If there's any suggestions, tips, comments or questions you have in regards to the layout or content of the site.. please go ahead, I'm looking for feedback.

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Apologies if you were looking at the site in the last hour and it looked a little iffy, I was fiddling with the code. On my way home from work today I decided I wasn't happy with the author box I had above the categories, the truncated names just looked.. well.. crappy I think - a lot of our authors have long names and reducing them to around 7 characters with trailing dots didn't do them any favours.

 

Instead, I've now added a search box of sorts along the top of the footer, allowing people to either look for an author, or use keywords to search. This will be on every page.

 

Oh, and while I've entered almost all our authors into the site, I haven't added information for them all yet.

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1) Put back "powered by osCommerce" or something similar. Not required, but recommended.

2) I like your infoboxes.

3) You'd get more real estate for your main text area if you eliminated the column_right entirely and moved the information infobox to the left column.

4) There are no current specials. Also, you have the default man_with_suitcase icon on the current specials page. That little guy doesn't match the rest of your site.

5) not sure what $x and $y are on the shipping page.

6) your domain name is sort of hard to remember. Consider purchasing a domain name like cqupress.com.au or something like that. Don't make your customers work to remember how to get to your site. Make it as easy as possible.

7) installing meta tag / header tag / category description contributions will make your site more search engine friendly

 

-jared

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Thanks for your feedback Jared! It's much appreciated.

 

1) Put back "powered by osCommerce" or something similar. Not required, but recommended.

 

It's still sitting there in the footer, underneath the copyright statement and above the general store information.

 

2) I like your infoboxes.

 

Thanks!

 

3) You'd get more real estate for your main text area if you eliminated the

column_right entirely and moved the information infobox to the left column.

 

I was thinking of doing that originally, but there are so many categories - that left colum becomes really long if you click on.. say.. Queensland (which has 7 subcategories), plus the information infobox expands down to display the review items, tell a friend and more author info stuff when you view a product_info page - so I wasn't sure if having a tremendously long left hand side would be good or not if the main content doesn't go all the way down.

 

4) There are no current specials. Also, you have the default man_with_suitcase icon on the current specials page. That little guy doesn't match the rest of your site.

 

All the titles aren't up there yet, I think I only have 35 there at the moment. I have to wait and see what the boss wants to do in regards to titles on special. I know I can put at least two up there (we offer a special deal when purchasing 2 volumes of a series, and another for the whole trilogy). Also, I'm in the process of changing those little icons.

 

5) not sure what $x and $y are on the shipping page.

 

I'm just waiting for confirmation of new shipping charges from our Customer Service dept. so those are placeholders.

 

6) your domain name is sort of hard to remember. Consider purchasing a domain name like cqupress.com.au or something like that. Don't make your customers work to remember how to get to your site. Make it as easy as possible.

 

This site is still in development, sitting on another piece of webspace until it's fully complete and ready to go, then it's being moved to take over our current site - www.outbackbooks.com.

Because we do have a working website at the moment, I didn't want to have it being disrupted for a month or so while I try to get this one finished - we have a lot of both private and business customers that use it.

 

7) installing meta tag / header tag / category description contributions will make your site more search engine friendly

 

I have the dynamic meta tag contribution installed on all product pages, but I'm not sure if I'd need them on any other ones. A vast majority of people who find our site using search engines (our current site that is) are looking for the title of the book or some sort of subject matter within it. I also just realised that I haven't got the ISBN's showing on the all_products.php page, so I will be rectifying that today sometime.

I'll have a look at the category description contrib too, I'd not thought of adding that in. Will it then be able to make the subcategories display, rather than in a list, more like:

 

"Crime & Punishment

The crimes, mysteries, disasters and stern processes of the law back in the colonial & pioneering days of Queensland." ?

 

Thanks again,

Jane.

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Hi there the site looks good. However id do a couple of things to make it look even better:

 

Remove the line break underneath the footer from every outwards facing page - so that the content and centred background goes right to the bottom.

 

Also i would change the colour of links on hover - currently they are stock osc blue which doesnt fit at all with the themes or colours of your site.

 

Other than that thumbs up :thumbsup:

Green Template - My little addition to the community... :)
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Nice use of the real estate in the header area. I like sites that try to cram as much as possible in the header :)

 

But you have way too much information in the footer area. I'd think about removing everything under "Store powered by osCommerce" and placing it elsewhere. Eg, the payment info on the shopping_cart page (or one of your info pages). The address in the contact_us page. And so on.

 

Your box for "featured titles" - is that meant to look the same as the infoboxes? With the red outline all round it? If so, it's bust. As it is now, it looks unfinished...

 

I don't see the point of only having the infobox in the right column. I'd be inclined to move that to the left and then expand your main content area instead. Or move the categorys to the right.

 

On your category pages, eg: http://store.ixplodingiwik.com/index.php?cPath=21_30 there is about a 2 inch gap between the "Displaying 1 to 1" and the top of the content area...

 

You have a gap at the bottom of every page - it would look more clean if it was removed. In addition you have a 1pixel white border at the top of each page, again I think this would look better if it was not there...

 

hth

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Nice use of the real estate in the header area.

Thanks, I didn't really want to put the login stuff anywhere else, and well.. I figure if the top of the page says "hi Joe!" it seems a little more welcoming that it being in a box along the side (I just yanked the coding from an advanced login box and put it in the top corner there).

 

But you have way too much information in the footer area.

Yeah, I agree with you there, I've taken it all out and created a new "Purchasing Info" page which outlines all methods of payment and ordering/purchasing options.

 

Your box for "featured titles" - is that meant to look the same as the infoboxes?

Uhh.. no. It was just supposed to be there with the little underlined title above. Now that I've taken out the right hand colum, does it look any better or still out of place/unfinished? Do you still think it needs the box outline - I kind of think it might be alright now like that but I'm interested in your opinion. I just have a nagging suspicion that a bigger box like the other two may look a bit.. weird?

 

I don't see the point of only having the infobox in the right column.

Fixed! I also made the spacing between the categories a bit smaller so it didn't end up quite so 'tall' as it did before.

 

On your category pages.. there is about a 2 inch gap between the "Displaying 1 to 1" and the top of the content area...

Fixed that too.. it took a while to work out exactly which <td> had to have the valign="top" code in it, but I found it eventually.

 

You have a gap at the bottom of every page..

The small gap between the end of the box and the beginning of the purple stripe? I've just noticed that the little search bit I had there had disappeared - probably me accidentally saving over the original file, so I've put it back. Ok now?

 

In addition you have a 1pixel white border at the top of each page..

Gone. I now just have the thin white border down each side.

 

Thanks so much Gary! I was actually looking at buying one of your books yesterday - a bit late I know - but it'd be a handy thing to have if I ever need to do this again.

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It looks a much better already.

 

I think it could be worth seeing how the "new products" box looks with a full outline...if it's not right you can always change it back?

 

You still have that gap at the bottom of each page (black area below "powered by osc"), it's due to the stray <br> in the very bottom section of code in each of the main .php pages (product_info.php, index.php, reviews.php and all the rest of them).

 

hth

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Good looking site!

I wonder though if having half the page black isn't overdoing the contrast just a little. I was looking for a way to turn down the contrast! This is quite the opposite from what I find on most sites.

 

The bottons are cool and very much in keeping with the theme.

 

the large white area at the bottom of the screen looks odd when searching by keywords

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Ok, so I've taken everyone's suggestions on and done something about them.

 

The blank spaces at the bottom of the pages = gone.

 

I've experimented with a box around the 'featured products' area and it didn't quite sit right with me, so I got rid of it and have decided to leave it plain for now.

 

I'm looking at that black background and am just trying to sort out what I could replace it with - I don't want it to look garish though.

 

I've also made a smaller correction: On showing this to my boss, he was extremely confused by the continue buttons on the bottom of the 'tell a friend' and 'contact us' pages - these have now been made into "email" buttons so that others like him will be able to understand the concept easier. ("What?" he said "The email goes from this box?")

 

Thankyou everybody who commented on the site.

All your feedback is much appreciated, and has helped it to become a better store.

 

Cheers,

Jane.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hi, me again.

 

I've been constantly working on the site, adding extra little bits and pieces here and there. I've just thought of something to add, but I just wanted to get your opinion on it before I did anything - seeing as you are the people that know what works.

 

At the moment I currently have a 'request a catalogue' form which people simply fill out with their name and address and we post a proper paper version of our current catalogue out to them once we recieve that email.

 

Now that's fine I guess for just the casual wanderer who would want to have something physical to look through but if people sign up for an account, either to shop or to subscribe to the newsletter, do you think I should also have the option there for them to receive a printed catalogue, rather than have them fill in the other form? Then, once they hit submit then if the 'recieve a printed catalogue' checkbox is ticked, a copy of their details will be emailed to customer service for them to mail the catalogue to.

All orders automatically get a catalogue sent with their titles btw.

 

What's your opinion? Should I add an extra checkbox to the create_account page, or just leave it as-is?

 

Anything would be good to hear,

Jane.

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