Online Store Case Study: Resin Workshops

Online Store Case Study: Resin Workshops

Creating a (very) profitable online store.

Di came to me a couple of years ago when she had an idea for a business – wine art parties. Obviously she came to me because she wanted a website to promote this idea.

Fast forward a couple of years and her original idea has changed slightly. She no longer does wine art parties, she teaches people to make epoxy resin creations (see photos for an idea of what this means).

The workshops she runs have been a runaway success, so much so that she’s been able to walk away from her job and work for herself from home. It’s a dream many of us have – to work for yourself, doing something you love. Unfortunately, very few of us achieve it.

Di came back to me recently because her business was encountering growing pains. In addition to running her very popular and successful workshops, Di sell epoxy resin and colours so that people who have been to her workshops can purchase them and make their own resin creations at home.

Problem is that Di was getting frustrated with the time it took to manually take and process orders. She was feeling a bit snowed under. She wanted to put the products she was selling online and use an online shop to streamline her operations.

Since we had built her site in WordPress, this was relatively easy to do. The obvious choice for ecommerce platform was woocommerce. It’s what I always use when creating an online store.

The main reason I use it is because it is so well supported and has hundreds of additional plugins (some free and some paid) to extend its’ utility.

Di had a Paypal account, so we chose to use the paypal payment gateway. This worked really well for Di. Before she knew it, people were ordering her products and the money was in her paypal account.

I added an Australia post plugin that automatically calculated the shipping associated with the order. All Di had to do now was print out the shipping labels and take the products to the post office for shipping.

Next thing to be done was streamline the booking of Di’s workshops. She called me frustrated one day saying this had to happen as soon as possible, because she had spent 3 hours the day before manually managing booking.

The way Di runs her business presented some challenges, since the workshops have a variable price, depending on which creation the customer wanted to create at the workshops. However, despite the challenges, we managed to create a workable solution and once again Di’s business reaped the benefits of her being able to have customers automatically book and pay for workshops online. No more three hours taking bookings manually.

In Di’s own words “How good is this hey, I just sit here and everyone else does the work, I just add it into my diary and my job is done”. So if you want to be like Di and take hours of admin work out of your day, it’s time to implement a system like Di’s

Retail in Australia is struggling, and one of the reasons it is struggling is the rise of the online store. Di’s business has reaped the benefit of automating her processes and opening her online shop. I think all businesses with an eye to the future should do likewise.

Blank Editor In WordPress  Fix

Blank Editor In WordPress Fix


I recently encountered a problem where when I went to edit posts on a wordpress site and found myself in a situation where I had a blank editor. No editing buttons and no text. It looked something like the image at the top of this post.

Naturally the first thing a seasoned professional does in such circumstances is go to the university of Google. I have long since stopped storing things in my head when anyone who is computer savvy can generally find the answer to any problem they are encountering. Of course it is necessary that for this to work you need to have a very solid base in computing, but since I do, I can utilize the university of Google strategy very effectively.

So, a quick look and trying a few solutions, and nothing’s working. I’ve done the standard disable all plugins, changed a few settings in the wpconfig.php file, even replaced the directory in which the tinymce editor is stored, all to no avail.

So what next? When you’re at a dead end, you look for for something in logs that helps you. This is an eternal truth that you know by heart after years troubleshooting computer systems.

In this case we can inspect elements in Firefox. This is easy to do on any web page. You simply right click on the web page and choose inspect element to open up the inspector. You have the same functionality in Chrome by the way; it’s part of any currrent browser.

Inspect element popup menu

Under inspect element there are various options that allow you to look at every aspect of of a web page. Web pages these days are quite complex, with many elements combining to create the active pages that we are used to.

When it comes to WordPress, both on the front end and the back, there is a lot of javascript used. Javascript is a scripting language that is extensively used on web pages.

On the default page – the inspector – we see all of the HTML on the page. Move across one tab  – the console tab – we see any issues associated with the loading of any javascript files.

A bit of background. This site operates via Cloudflare CDN and I’d decided to use Cloudflare to route all my traffic via HTTPS.

This, it turns out is where the problem lies. Once you attempt to use HTTPS, it has a real problem with mixed content, mixed content being any content that is not HTTPS. In this case I see this message, “blocked loading mixed active content”, To the right of the entry, I can tell which javascript file has a problem. No surprises in this case; it’s wp-tinymce.js.

Troubleshooting with Firefox element inspector

Finally I have the information I need to solve this problem. Simply turning off HTTPS until I have addressed the issue of mixed content and I have it fixed. But how do you turn off HTTPS in such a case I hear you ask. Simple. You can edit wp-config.php and add the lines:

define( ‘WP_HOME’, ‘’ );
define( ‘WP_SITEURL’, ‘’ );

making sure that the protocol you are using is HTTP.

Altermatively you can go to Settings-> general and change the URL information in the following fields:

URL locations in wordpress

So if you’ve tried everything else to fix the WordPress  blank editor and it hasn’t worked, give this a try. As soon as you see blocked content, you have got to the root cause of the issue.

The solution to this problem also illustrates the troubleshooting process. Logging and inspection is always your friend. It was instantly apparent once I inspected the page where the problem lay. In this case Google had given me nothing, so I had to take these steps. This is an important skill for anyone who seeks to resolve problems they encounter.

As for turning HTTPS on, that happens after a mixed content search and is a story for another day.

Why WordPress Is Taking Over The Web Design World


WordPress is great and its critics are nitpicking Geeks. There, I’ve said it.

OK, so that’s a fairly inflammatory statement isn’t it? Well allow me to explain.

The critics of WordPress are indeed in the eyes of the world “geeks”. These are the same type of people who can’t understand why Windows is used by so many more people that Linux. They tell everyone how technically Linux is so much better.  I’m not opposed to Linux by the way, and I can quite happily use it. I think that other, less technical people could use it but the unfamiliarity of it makes it daunting. And since a PC or laptop you buy comes bundled with Windows, unless you’re a geek why would you bother?

When it comes to WordPress, the main criticism is usually, “It’s a blogging platform, that’s all”. They complain that it’s not designed as a content management system (something that makes it easy for the average user to just log on and add content to the site, without having to call their web designer). They point to other products that do a better job of being a content management system.

Their arguments are always coming from a technical purist attitude. Back in the real world people don’t care about technical matters like they do. That’s why it is now 20% of the world’s top web sites are now using WordPress.

But what is it that makes WordPress so good?

Firstly it’s free. I love a freebie.

However, not only that, but there are things called plugins. These extend the basic functionality of WordPress. For example, I recently have had a client require the ability for visitors to search for the location of their nearest dealer. This is not a simple search, since you can’t search a database for town, suburb or postcode, because if the dealer is not in your town, it doesn’t get a match. Fortunately, rather than having to write the program myself, I was able to find a plugin that had already done what I needed.

There are thousands of plugins for all sorts of requirements. Many of the are free, but there are also premium plugins that may have a cost associated with them.

Next there are themes. These are the things that give your website its unique look and feel. Once again, there are a mix of free and premium themes. You can see plugins and themes on the WordPress site

Then there is the ability to customise the product in any way you want. Obviously this is why you hire a web designer, because they are the ones familiar with making the customisations.

Finally, support. Some people criticise WordPress for a lack of support. Nothing could be further from the truth. The support on the WordPress website is extensive, there are tens of thousands of sites that answer many support questions and there are also companies that offer paid support. In addition to this there are many thousands of web designers who are very skilled in the product.

All in all there are compelling reasons to use WordPress and its growth is no accident. And grow it does. It was on 14.7% of all websites in 2011. Now it’s on 24.8%.  WordPress is downloaded 89 times every second.  It’s not all things to all people, but it’s pretty close.

WordPress for Ecommerce

WordPress for Ecommerce

Time and time again people say to me, “Isn’t WordPress just for blogging”. Time and time again I say to the people who say this, “No”.  It is in fact a powerful platform for web sites of of all kinds. One thing I want to focus on in this post is the use od WordPress for ecommerce.

WordPress has it’s origins as a blog platform, that is true. But now one in 6 websites worldwide use WordPress as their web platform, for all type of different websites, not just blogs. WordPress has evolved beyond being a blogging platform to something much more.

The naysayers (there are always naysayers) will say some reason why this shouldn’t be. The argument is usually along the lines of, “But it’s not meant for that”. These people are I guess what you would call purists. Nothing can evolve, everything is a snapshot in time. “This (product x) is a content management system, whereas WordPress is just a blogging platform. You can’t use WordPress as a content management system”.

What arguments like these ignore is that WordPress is indeed being used as a content management system. In fact more than any other platform. Why is that so? Is it because of the massive amounts of marketing put into the selling of WordPress? No. Actually WordPress is free.

So what other reason could there be? Why is WordPress a market leader? Well since there is no profit in the selling of it, there can only be one other reason. It is good at what it does.

So onto eCommerce. What about WordPress for eCommerce? Not a good idea? Well actually once again not true. There are several offerings for eCommerce available for WordPress, but in my opinion there is only one that is worth considering and that’s Woocommerce.

The basic package of Woocommerce is free. I love that. How did it happen that we manage to get so much for nothing these days? An entire website can be built with zero software cost as part of the budget.

Woocommerce does sell premium addons, but these are not really expensive. Also, you can create a fully functional shop without these addons. In addition to this, many other developers have written addons that have similar functionality to the premuim addons sold by Woocommerce that are free.

Of course the big question is, how well does it work? No one wants a site that’s full of bugs – a nightmare to run. Well the answer to that is very well. In the Woocommerce sites I have created, I have had no signficant problems.

A possible issue could be scaling. That is, how big a site can you make with Woocommerce? I must confess I am not sure of the top end, but a bit of research for this post found that there are sites out there using Woocommerce with 20,000 products in their product database. I think that is more than adequate for just about anybody who is reading this article. For really big eCommerce sites, you may want something more robust, but what we are talking about here is companies that have huge IT budgets.

To find out more about Woocommerce, you can check out their website –

Of course, if you need an eCommerce site created, I would be more than happy to hear from you.


Isn’t WordPress Just for Blogging?

I could just be terse and answer “No”, but that wouldn’t be fair would it? It wouldn’t really explain why WordPress is much more than a blogging platform. So I had better start doing some explaining.

Let’s start with examples of some of the biggest sites that use WordPress.

This should give you an idea how flexible WordPress is. You start to realise, well if people of that size have settled on WordPress as a platform.

So here is a quick list of a few pretty big sites that use WordPress.

Sony Music

Beyonce’s Personal Site

The Rolling Stones Website

BBC America

Mercedes Benz

Now that is just a short list. The list could go on and on and on, but you get the picture. Those are some major sites right there.

To add to that picture I can tell you that one in 6 websites are now powered by WordPress.

That is roughly 60 million websites. I would suggest also that number is growing all the time as more and more websites either convert, or as new sites are built more and more people choose WordPress as the default platform.

Why is it so popular?

The main thing about WordPress is that it is endlessly customisable. It is a great content management system (CMS).

But what is a CMS? For people who are not completely immersed in technology all the time the acronyms used by tech geeks can cause their eyes to glass over. But the term CMS is not hard to understand. It’s simply a system put in place at the back end of a web site that allows a user who doesn’t know how to put a website together to add content, such as updating photos or text without having to call their web designer.

I think most people would agree that is a good idea.

However, every time I say something like, “WordPress is a great CMS”, some tech geek with an axe to grind comes out and says, “It’s not a CMS” and then they go on and say, “Joomla is better” or Drupal or whatever it is that’s their favourite.

OK, it may be that these other offerings are specifically designed as a CMS and WordPress is considered first and foremost a blogging platform.

That may be so in a technical sense, but back in the real world where people don’t really care about “application purity” (to coin a phrase). The results are in.

Sixty percent of sites that use a CMS use WordPress. The next closest is Joomla with 7 per cent of the market.

So yes, WordPress may have started as a blogging platform, but now it is so much more.


WordPress as a web platform

These days I tend to develop exclusively in WordPress. I’m going to take the time today to explain why.

I want to do this because I have seen people on several facebook groups proclaim loudly about the shortcomings of WordPress as a platform. I am reminded of the old adage “A bad tradesman blames his tools” when I see this.

Usually the people who are critical are pushing a barrow of some other product, such as Drupal or Joomla or something like that. That’s fine. Each person is entitled to their opinion. However, what I find distasteful is that so many people feel the need to validate their opinion by tearing things down that don’t align with their world view.

The reasons why I chose WordPress are many. First and foremost was that when it comes to content management systems, WordPress is the most used in the world. That is not open to dispute. The figures are out there.

Next is user convenience. I can set it up so that the user can change any of the content they want without having to contact me every time. This is one of the biggest gripes I hear for people when it comes to web designers.

Next is the flexibility. This is a platform that you can do literally anything with (if you are good enough). Customization is only limited by your ability.

There are countless themes for WordPress. Many of them are free. There are frameworks (things that make developing sites quicker and easier). There are countless plugins that allow you to extend its’ functionality in whatever direction you want. There are many sites on the web that you wouldn’t even know are run on WordPress. For example, the New Yorker and Variety Magazine to name just two.

When taken as a whole I am glad I have invested the time and effort to learn WordPress to a high level.  It has its’ detractors, yes. But let’s face it. Envy is a powerful emotion.