Managing a website takes commitment and gallons of coffee. Unexpected bumps in the road may occur at any given moment. An auction site is typically a busy site, but before putting it out into the world, a well prepared webmaster needs to undergo a few essential steps.
1. Joomla! and Auction Factory configuration
There are several options to be considered when it comes to configuring Auction Factory. Some website implementation may require that any of the users can create auctions, bid, and manage their auctions, while other type of websites may need that only the webmaster posts auctions to the websites and all other users can bid on them. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- the Access Control List (ACL) settings allow the administrator to separate the sellers from the bidders -just create separate user groups and then mark them as bidders or auctioneer;
- you can enhance the user's profile with additional fields - from description to location info and more, just enable the User plugin so that the Joomla! registration form can be enhanced by several extra fields;
- Webmasters can enhance the item listings with unlimited custom fields (that can be even assigned just to specific categories) - for example, for an auction category like "cars" you can add a mileage field and make year so that bidder can search for some specific details. In the same matter, it is recommended to have corresponding subcategories as well, if the auction is referring to things such as books. It is easier for the users to decide what they want to bid for if they have specific categories for horror novels, fantasy, romance, etc.
- site administrators can either allow public or private auctions, or even both. Auction Factory also has the option to have the simple Buy-It-Now Only auction where users sell their products at a fixated price (quite similar to eBay);
- bidders can pay directly through Paypal when they win the auctions, however if the sellers wishes , a different payment method can be agreed upon with the winner;
- webmasters can set the list of accepted currencies which will be used for both auctions and for payment items. Once this step is completed, all they have to do is to choose an appropriate payment gateway (PayPal, Skrill, PayU, etc.).
- In order to monetize their online auction site, webmasters can use various options - such as Pay per Listing and Featured Auctions, Pay per Bid, Pay per Contact and Commissions (a percent from sales on the site);
2. Shaping the site's visual identity
We generally understand through visual identity a way to represent a brand using elements such as names, colors, layouts, logos, etc. Everything needs to be in harmony, no clashing colors or contrasts that make the visitors cringe. If the plan is to have an auction website with elaborate user profiles, multiple auction categories and a generous database, the overall presentation needs to avoid being a cluttered mess.
The first thing you need to be working on is getting a reponsive (preferably Bootstrap powered) template that will be compatible with the other Joomla! extensions installed. As mentioned within a previous article (link), the possibilities are endless, regarding both costs and visual impact. Another useful detail is to add a sitemap to the main page, for better navigation and less confusion. There are many extensions that create a sitemap automatically, most of them can be found in Joomla Extensions Directory.
3. Preliminary testing
Before releasing the new website into the world, its "founding father" needs to make sure everything is running smoothly and visitors won't end up staring at a blank page, instead of the homepage. A few things to consider in this direction should be:
- never perform tests on the actual site! Whether we are talking about creating a copy in a subfolder of the main site (http://yourwebsite.com/yourwebsite), using a subdomain from the cPanel (http://test.yourwebsite.com), getting an entirely separate domain (http://yourtestwebsite.com) or simply using a local installation (WAMP or XAMPP), either option is far better than testing on the actual website. Usually going for a local installation or for a different domain altogether is a bit easier, because the FTP logins are separate and there is no chance you could overwrite the actual site (sometimes it's a bit confusing to pay attention that you have to copy files in a subfolder). It's strictly a matter of preference, all of the above mentioned alternatives are just as good.
- cross-browser checks; this step is very important in determining the proper configuration of the chosen template and for final CSS tweaks. The website needs to be responsive and have a generally clean presentation on any browser or device, which is why most developers put older versions of Internet Explorer in use in this phase. Other popular browsers that you need testing for are Chrome, Safari, Opera, Firefox.
- proofreading; any type of content available for the public eye needs to be triple-checked for spelling and grammar mistakes. Even action buttons, banners, user error messages.
- SEO and SEF! Content needs to be enriched with keywords for indexing, URLs need to be as friendly as possible for the Google crawlers. For efficient recognition, it is also recommended to use favicons, so whenever visitors open your website, they will see the familiar logo on their browser tab also.
- Pagespeed check - use Google pagespeed insights to optimize your webserver and user experience
4. Site launch and maintenance
Now that everything is available for the online audience, there is one more aspect any webmaster has to deal with: how to let the audience know you have a virtual presence?
Make sure you launch your site with a bang! Social media campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ usually spark interest and attract organic traffic. On the long run, banners and paid commercials on other websites are considered to be intelligent investments for your site's ranking.
Google Webmasters is also an important ally in SEO, providing realistic stats about page speed, overall site quality and relevance, impressions, conversion rate, etc.
In terms of maintenance, by far the most important action is to backup your website constantly. Even though many hosting providers offer backup solutions within the cost of the monthly subscription, it is welcomed to have an additional third party backup component and JED has many options to choose from.
|Check out the other parts of this article||What makes an auction site tick? - Part One|
|What makes an auction site tick? - Part Two|
|What makes an auction site tick? - Part Three|