maya_in_charge — 2012-02-27T17:05:32-05:00 — #1
My name is Maya, and I am looking to help my company overhaul their website, www.southgatecoins.com. Our store is located in Reno, Nevada.
Right now, we are based on a Joomla-Virtuemart platform, and we are looking to completely rebuild our site on a new platform that is more SEO-friendly.
Our website needs to strongly focus on the 3 main aspects of our business, without any one overshadowing the other two. The 3 main aspects are: a) the ecommerce portion, b) the educational portion, and c) the blog portion, which focuses on our company’s culture.
We feel that we have loads of relevant content on our website, and awesome inventory compared to other companies in our industry, but our web sales and visitor traffic do not reflect this. Our brick-and-mortar store is known nationwide for our professional staff and one-of-a-kind inventory selection: we want our website to reflect the prestige we’ve achieved face-to-face. There is no point to having a great site if no one sees it.
Although our business focuses on coins, we would like to model our new site (nearly page-by-page) off www.kingarthurflour.com. We feel that they have a wonderful balance of clean images and text, rich content, and user-friendliness. We are aware that kingarthurflour.com is on the Drupal platform with Salesforce integrated.
I am looking to find out which CMS would best produce the results I want, given the site requirements below. From there, I would like to find a website developer who specializes in that CMS. Here is a list of what we are definitely looking to include in our site build:
- We want to have a clean, simple layout with the ability to customize every component on each page.
- We want a community forum, where collectors can gather to share information about their coins and other coin-related topics.
- We would like to implement a tag cloud in our blog and education sections.
- We need to have a powerful zoom feature for our inventory, as our customers are very interested in seeing potential purchases up-close.
- We want to have a Want List feature that is editable by registered users. (In other words, a customer can submit a want list, but if they purchase a coin from the list elsewhere, they can log in, edit their list, and resubmit it.)
- We want a streamlined checkout procedure that will be compatible to our Authorize.Net payment gateway.
- We want the ability to duplicate pages to use as templates for other pages. (In other words, if we have your design team create an awesome Appraisals page for us, we want to be able to copy the CSS/structure of the page to use on the Bullion and Sell Your Coins pages—instead of having to pay for 3 separate page designs.)
- We want our homepage to feature a non-flash, rotating slideshow that includes a title, brief explanation, and link that correspond to the image being displayed. We want the slideshow automatically play, but to also have the ability to select which slide to display.
- The shopping cart needs to display products with images on the left, and product descriptions and prices on the right, in a one-per-row format.
- Our homepage needs to feature a site-wide search so any product, blog, or educational post will display (in a tabbed format) in the search results.
- We need the shipping costs to be figured based on the product’s price, not its weight, dimensions, or shipping service.
- We are generally not interested in “hosted solutions”. We are currently hosted with Hostgator. We would need to make sure the site continually remains PCI-DSS compliant.
- We want the metadata for all content pages to be editable. We also want to make sure to implement SEF URLs.
- We want to maintain our #1 Google rating for certain key words, and advance other key words. We are not interested in any PPC advertising campaign.
- We would like whoever we go with to migrate all of our content and products to the new site. (We would correct images to ensure they are on the right backgrounds, but other than that we want to have everything transferred over automatically.)
I would appreciate you reviewing our site (southgatecoins.com), as well as the site we want to model ours after (kingarthurflour.com), in the context of this post to determine to let me know what CMS would suit my company best.
I will look forward to forward to any feedback you can provide.
cheesedude — 2012-02-28T10:57:45-05:00 — #2
It would be impossible for anyone to guarantee that you can maintain your current ranking. Any time you make a change to a site, even a small change, there is a risk of dropping in the search results. Anyone who promises you can maintain your current ranking or promises that you will rank high for any other search terms is lying because they have no control over how Google ranks sites.
Since you like the King Arthur Flour site and you know that it is developed in Drupal, you should probably head over to Drupal if you haven't already and see if you can find a developer or a recommendation for one over there should you decide to go ahead with a Drupal application. An expert in the CMS will be better able to determine whether or not Drupal or any other CMS best meets your needs and which plugins are available.
For anyone interested, here are a couple articles about the new King Arthur Flour site. It was designed in-house, I don't know if the PHP development was done in-house or not. You could always contact the King Arthur web marketing manager mentioned in the articles below and ask her if she used an outside developer and who that was.
awasson — 2012-02-28T13:21:55-05:00 — #3
Well, everything in your scope list looks like a good fit for Drupal.
From a development POV, everything looks quite doable but here are some areas that stand out to me:
1) You'll want to review Drupal's Forum and Advanced Forum and weigh the pro's and cons of using it as compared with tacking on something like phpBB or vBulletin. I like the idea of using something that is part of Drupal so I would be tempted to go down the Advanced Forum route where the design is inherited rather than spend a lot of time making vBulletin or phpBB look like your site.
2) Your Zoom feature will take a little R&D to achieve depending on what you want so keep that in mind. There are lots of non-flash based jQuery zoom examples that can be applied to this so it's certainly not unattainable.
3) If you go down the Drupal Path you'll either use Drupal Commerce or Ubercart for your store. There is a wish list module for Commerce but I'm not sure about Ubercart (there should be). That is what I imagine you'll be using for your "want list". Both have helper modules and articles that discuss how to integrate Authorize.net services.
4) Drupal runs fine on Hostgator.
5) There are a few modules that will automate importing the data but it's hard to say how much will be automated and what the cleanup will be.
6) How the move will affect search engine rankings is hard to say. You can mitigate any damage by creating aliases that will direct your old Joomla paths to the new Drupal content and use a page not found redirect to direct 404 Errors to an informational page but search is far too dynamic to guarantee one way or another. My expectation is that with clean urls made from the page title (using the path auto module) should improve your search rankings but it also depends on the content so it's hard to say.
bm_ron — 2012-03-01T08:40:57-05:00 — #4
I'd take a good look at Drupal as others have recommended. You should find a competent developer that is well received to assist you all as well.
Drupal will be fine on a shared hosting plan - but have you upgrade path ready so when the time comes you don't take any down time while trying to figure out what your next step after the shared hosting plan is.
maya_in_charge — 2012-03-07T20:20:31-05:00 — #5
Thank you for all your input. I've been researching Drupal developers to see if that's the route I want to take.
I was recently told by a Drupal specialist that Drupal is more meant for content rather than ecommerce, and that he would rather me go with a combination site, using WordPress for my blog and educational sections, and using Magento for the ecommerce side. When I asked if he'd ever built a site that integrated those to platforms, he admitted that he hadn't but still stuck to it as his best recommendation.
Another Drupal specialist I spoke with said that my goals for a site are completely attainable, given that I'm willing to spend $50,000 to $75,000. I'm sorry, but that just seems like an exhorbitant amount for a small business website. I can spend that much on a BMW... but the difference is, I know that the BMW I drive off the lot will be perfect, even under warranty... And they can't show me a site like the one I'm looking for to prove that the BMW I'm asking for is the one they will deliver, even at that price range.
I am at a stand-still with Drupal specialists either recommending other platforms, quoting crazy prices, or just not responding to my contact in general. Not really sure how to get good value for my money, and get what I'm looking for in a new site. I thought that having a design already picked out would help entice a web firm to take me on as a client, but it doesn't seem to help at all. They all compliment that they're happy I know what I want, but that's as far as it goes.
Maybe I'm asking too much?
awasson — 2012-03-07T21:30:00-05:00 — #6
Did the developers provide you with a written proposal mapping out the technology and approach for accomplishing the project? Maybe they where they just testing the water to see if you had the budget.
* When I quote on any project I spend a fair bit of time putting together the proposal and plan mapping out in broad strokes of what is needed and include examples of similar projects we've completed that have a similar scope. It usually takes a week or two to come back with a proposal like this so I like to know that the company I'm quoting for is serious.
I can't imagine a Drupal specialist recommending Wordpress over Drupal for a complex website or saying that Drupal was designed for content. Not to knock Wordpress but I would choose Wordpress for a site that needs less complexity and Drupal for sites that need more. Drupal was designed as a platform for managing websites and people with a modular API that allows you to expand it as you like. What you do with that as a developer is up to you. I would steer away from that particular "Developer". Besides Ubercart and Drupal Commerce are two native eCommerce solutions designed specifically for Drupal.
I quoted on something similar to your site a few months ago (Drupal / Commerce / Zoom feature / Wish List / Etc...) and the estimated cost was approximately $25,000 - $30,000 but then again every site is different. Perhaps they were adding some additional functionality I am not aware of. Did they indicate where the bulk of the work was? It could be that a great deal of effort was going to be involved in importing the content. I did a content import last night (into Drupal 7 from a static website) using an Excel spreadsheet and although the bulk of it was quick, there was quite a bit of fine tuning involved in getting the content and navigation structure just right.
Well, projects of the scope you're describing do require a great deal of planning and consideration. I would recommend getting quotes from prospective firms and then reviewing them for about a week. Send out an RFP to the top contenders and see what they come back with. I would ignore the two that you've already mentioned as it doesn't sound like they are contenders.
Good luck with your project!
cheesedude — 2012-03-08T11:09:05-05:00 — #7
Keep in mind that developers tend to stick to what they know. There are so many different content management systems, and each one requires many hours of learning to develop. It is impossible for everyone to specialize in everything. They may nudge you in the direction of what they are most familiar with.
You say that a "Drupal specialist" recommended not using Drupal. If that person is highly knowledgeable about Drupal, you may want to give that opinion some weight.
Here's an example of a site created in Wordpress that has some of the same features you are looking for:
That is quite a bit of money. But in all fairness, you are asking for a lot. An awful lot. You want a forum, tag cloud, photo zoom feature, user database with "want list" features (this alone will cost a few thousand to develop), and of course not the least of your requirements is e-commerce. Then you want a whole bunch of other things. All of this takes hours to develop and costs money.
Sure, you could buy a BMW for that amount of money. But is your BMW going to earn you profits? No. Your BMW is going to lose value as soon as you drive it off the lot. And the more features you add, the more it costs just like your website. BMW prices range from $30,000 to over $100,000. Same thing goes for building a house. Want a marble counter top? That will cost you.
You should have a contract with any developer that clearly lays out your requirements and what will be delivered. As you want a lot of features that other sites don't have, I wouldn't expect someone to have done something exactly the same as your site. Each BMW that rolls off the production line is a copy. That isn't the same for a website, not one with as many features as you want.
Given that we are still in a rough economy, I have to wonder why developers aren't more eager to ink a contract with you. Maybe as mentioned they are testing the waters to see if you are serious or not.
Instead of laying out your requirements and then seeing how much it would cost, why don't you state your budget then see what you can get for your money? Could you do without the tag cloud? There's cost savings right there.
As with any investment, you should forecast how much value it will add then determine if it is worth it. If you could make $150,000 a year in additional profits from your website, $75,000 would be a very reasonable up-front investment.
awasson — 2012-03-08T14:20:37-05:00 — #8
cheesedude makes some good points here. When I quote on projects I find it much easier to put together a proposal when I see the requirements laid out and a proposed budget in the RFP. It opens the doors for honest dialogue about expectations and realistic outcomes.
I would suggest that you come up with a short list of the best development studios you can find (4 or 5 really good studios) and send them an RFP with a well described project synopsis, goals, deliverables, expected outcomes, etc... Make sure to also look for post-launch support and training. Give them a 30 day deadline to respond (5PM, April, such-and-such day, 2012) and ask them to contact you prior to discuss in person/skype/phone the project. As cheesedude suggested, include the proposed budget but indicate that you may be flexible depending on the proposal.
cms_dude — 2012-03-09T18:25:46-05:00 — #9
The reason for a lot of the high dollar quotes you're getting is largely due to the e-commerce coupled with the salesforce integration.
And it's not so much the e-commerce platform itself -- that stuff it pretty easy to integrate, actually, and there are a ton of options. It's the online payment acceptance thing. You have to understand from a developer's point of view ... I can't just slap something together and say "here you go." I mean ... when you're talking about accepting people's money online, any funky code I might write ... in any normal situation would only carry the consequence of an ugly page being rendered. But in the case of e-com, my funky code might wind up costing you 10's of thousands of dollars, or huge damage to your reputation as a business if I wind up screwing something up ... sending people stuff they didn't order or opening you up to all sorts of crazy stuff.
It's a big risk, so with this type of project would come a lot of testing and refining. And that means a lot of hours, and a lot of attention to detail, pefectionism and care. And even then, I might still screw something up. After all of this, you're also talking about the salesforce integration ... not to mention the integration with whatever order-fulfillment system you might have ... added to whatever bill/payment processing system you might have. You're talking about quite a few points of potential failure here. One false step and BOOM! Let's say Salesforce.com changes their API ... BOOM! Now let's say Paypal decides to change something ... BOOM! And that's not even counting all the usual pitfalls we deal with ... you know: New Internet Explorer version ... BOOM! New Android or Apple device not rendering your site ... BOOM! Someone brew the coffee extra strong, because it's going to be a long night trouble-shooting what went wrong.
I don't know if I would need to quote more than $30-40K for the job, so the $70K+ price tag sounds like a bit much. I will give you that. There are probably a few CMS's I might lean towards (I'm a huge Silverstripe fanboy), but ultimately, I would try and leave that up to the clients' preference. Any one of the popular open-source CMS's or Frameworks can handle the job given your requirements. It's about what's easy for the client to use, and what makes the most sense to them and their workflow. Any of the major CMS's out there could handle your requirements. For ease of use, I tend to lean towards: Wordpress, Silverstripe or Concrete5. But any of the other ones will also work as well. There's nothing unusual or taxing about any of it.
I hope that at least gives you a useful second opinion, and some things to think about. Don't be discouraged. And good luck in your search!
awasson — 2012-03-09T19:41:09-05:00 — #10
I completely overlooked the Salesforce part of the equation. As CMS Dude points out, this is likely a big part of the puzzle and just as important is the point about Salesforce's API and changes that can throw a wrench in things.
samanime — 2012-03-11T08:21:37-04:00 — #11
I think a mid-to-upper 5-figure price tag is actually quite reasonable for everything you are asking.
Personally, I agree with the guy that recommend Wordpress + Magneto. I've never worked with Magneto extensively (because I generally don't deal with eCommerce sites), but from the research I've done in the past it seems to be the most reliable of the lot.
And as CMS Dude said, the taking money on your site instantly adds thousands to your price tag because of all the liability issues.
Andrew gave some pretty solid advice. Put together some details and send it off to a handful of shops and give them time to put together a proposal.
As for SEO, any time you do a massive overall like this, unless all of the HTML winds up exactly the same (which it won't), you're likely to take a temporary hit in SEO.