eCommerce web and mobile apps have become a big part of the way we buy and sell things, and even more so over the last two years of the pandemic.

However, it’s not easy to create an eCommerce website that is effective, successful and profitable.

It takes a lot of hard work and plenty of planning.

At Rubber Duck Digital, we know our clients don’t often have time to trawl through the pros and cons of 10 or 15 online shopping carts and a dozen different eCommerce platforms looking for the best solution. So, with that in mind, we like to work closely with our clients to get a deep understanding of what they want to achieve, what products or services they offer and who and where their markets are, before making any suggestions for software and/or platforms and budgets.

Here are just a few of the things to consider before breaking out the spanners and starting to build eCommerce apps.

  • Do your homework, both on your potential (or existing) customers AND the competition.
    • What does a typical customer look like? Who are they, where do they live, what do they like, where do they hang out in the digital world. Or are they more “old skool”? If so, how do we get them to our virtual front door.
    • What are your competitors doing? What platforms or software are they using? What do they do well? What do they do poorly?
  • Before committing to software or platforms, how do they perform on a technical level? What are the reviews like from other businesses using those platforms? No one likes a slow site or one that’s difficult to navigate and find what you’re looking for.
  • Make sure your apps have a cohesive brand, not just a collection of disparate images, links, sliders etc. Spend time on developing your online brand and presence and tailor it to your market.
  • Shipping and handling or fullfilment: pick a respected and reliable service. Make sure whoever you chose can fit in to your workflows. Can they offer tracking and customer updates? Keeping customers informed all along the chain from the moment they buy, to the moment their products are delivered, and beyond helps build brand loyalty.
  • Set out a customer service charter, and live by it. Make it your bible. Poor customer service can be terminal, so set the standard “early doors”, as the football pundits like to say.
  • Payment Service Providers. Take a look at the entire landscape and pick the ones that will be best suited to your markets. Can you get away with just one provider for ease of management, or will you need more than one to better serve customers in different territories. Talk to your bank. Can they offer you a better deal than some of the better known providers but with the same level of service. Don’t just jump into bed with PayPal just because it’s …. well … PayPal. Explore other options that will work best for your customers and you.
  • Encourage customers to leave reviews. There’s nothing more useful to an online business than a cart-load of positive reviews. If you get average or poor ones, deal with them; respond to the review and put things right.
  • It should go without saying that your budgets for advertising, promotion and marketing should be highly targeted and scheduled to get the best possible ROI. Work with your agency to put together a detailed and realistic plan before you launch, as that may well influence the design and build of your application, site or landing pages.
  • Test, test test. Don’t leave it to chance, test everything in your app or talk to your agency about what testing needs to be done, how they will do it and how they will report.

    And then test again. Seriously though, put in place automated testing to check your cart flow on a regular basis. Automate performance and availability testing and set up alerts so you know if or when something fails.

This is just a few of the things that need to be considered when building an online or eCommerce business.

So, if I haven’t put you off by now :-) and you’d like a chat about how we can work with you to deliver your vision, whether you’re just kicking a few ideas around and need a sounding board, or on the verge of kicking off the entire design, develop, test, launch, tweak, market process, feel free to get in touch.

Hello!

It’s been a while since I’ve written an update as we’ve all be super busy helping clients with business continuation through the pandemic and lock down, so here’s a quick insight on just a couple of projects we’ve been involved in.

Impact Mental Health is a social enterprise who provide amazing courses and programmes to help people suffering from mental health issues. They also provide support and courses for other organisations and companies who are keen to provide their staff with the tools to better manage their mental wellbeing.

We’ve worked with Impact for several years and have built up an intimate knowledge of their organisation and the courses they offer including attending their courses. Like my father always used to say, “know your product!”.

Up until the start of the pandemic, the majority of their courses were run in groups, face to face in the community and Rubber Duck Digital built their web application and course booking systems using WordPress as the core CMS. We also built their very own social media platform called BaseCamp to allow staff and members to keep in touch and provide peer support online. This has become even more important through lockdown and the pandemic.

Then everything changed. Lockdown came along and Impact were faced with a major problem. How to change everything so that courses could be run online, remotely so as to safeguard their staff, volunteers and of course, their learners.

Sessions Held Live

After discussing the requirements in depth with the Impact team, we built a fully interactive Learning Management System and Booking System, incorporated live video using Zoom and Google Meets and built a small “studio” with broadcast quality cameras, lighting and video kit, including the amazing Blackmagic ATEM Mini (an awesome bit of kit for the money). All socially distanced and fully hygienic, of course.

The ATEM Mini - Part Of Impact's Live Studio Set Up
The ATEM Mini – Part Of Impact’s Live Studio Set Up

In addition, we assisted their team in optimising local, in home networks so that video and audio would be uninterrupted and the best possible quality.

We turned everything around in few weeks so there was no down time in providing services. Something I’m exceptionally proud of.

Without the hard work and knowledge that Phil brought to this enormous challenge, we would have struggled to keep our courses going throughout lockdown.

Déanne Clark – CEO Impact Mental Health
BaySixty6 Skate Park

They are another client who entrusted us with their digital presence several years ago. We built their current website and e-commerce application in 2017 and we’ve worked with them since to scale the app and server infrastructure over the last few years, including migration from shared a shared server to Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Cloudflare with Google Workspaces in the mix as well.

When lockdown came in to force we used the time wisely and worked with the B66 team to to spec and build a new registration and booking system which would prove to be vital in complying with Track and Trace guidelines and capacity limits once lockdown restrictions were eased.

The next batch of features and requirements for the application are now being worked on for release later in the year. Some cosmetic and some functional, so watch this space.

Within just a few weeks of launching the new features, and with lockdown being eased, the system had registered several thousand local user accounts with hundred of transactions a day.

Fast and efficient, Phil Evans and his team at Rubber Duck Digital have done an excellent job for BAYSIXTY6 Skate Park and we are very proud of our new website! Our traffic is steadily increasing and so too are our online sales. We thoroughly recommend Rubber Duck Digital.

David Morton

As with all our projects, I’m immensely proud of the work we do with all of our clients, but even more so with Impact and BaySixty6 and I’m pleased we were able to help them continue to provide the local communities they serve with outstanding services,

As a business owner, website optimisation is likely not something you give much thought to.

You’re far more concerned with making sure your products are selling and that the company is generating revenue.

I get it. I really do. But you have to be doing everything you can to make sure that people are finding your site and your company or organisation, so that they too can buy from you, even if it doesn’t seem like much of a priority for you right now.

Optimising your website can be difficult. There are many ways to do it and no two websites or apps are the same. It’s a vital part of any business that relies on its online presence to grow.

A well optimised site will always out-rank a poor one.

Phil from RDD

What works for one site may not work for another, but here are 6 things you should definitely be doing if you want to improve your website’s performance.

  1. Check your site for broken links – search engines don’t like broken links. Use a checker like ahrefs free broken link checker or any one of the reliable ones out there.
    If you find broken links in the report, get your web developer to either fix them or disavow them or think about using redirects. Google will thank you for it.
  2. Identify the slowest webpages and prioritise the redesign of these slower pages
    There are several reasons why web pages may be big. Run a quick analysis using Pingdom’s Speed Test tool. This will give you some insights as to why the page is slow and then discuss the options with your developer.
  3. Make sure all code is optimised to reduce load times
    Making sure the code that sits behind your website is optimised. Discuss the options with your developer. Are they minifying CSS, Javascript and any other scripts or code that runs your site.
  4. Review Google Analytics on a regular basis focusing on customer behavior rather than page views
    For example, which pages have the highest bounce rates? Is that a problem? If so how do you fix it?
  5. Does your site use a CDN for delivering static content like images and some code elements?
    Using a CDN can give a poorly performing site a real boost. For the most part, here at Rubber Duck Towers we rely heavily on Cloudflare to optimise and accelerate our customers’ sites and apps. We also tend to use their service for our Domain Name Servers for a bit of additional oomph.
  6. Consider hiring an agency for search engine optimisation; many have services that include consulting and content writing — this will help you to gain traffic from quality sources like Google, Bing, Yahoo!

This article has given you just a few the basics on how to get started with optimising your site or app. It’s a vast and weighty subject, and we love it.

To learn more about how we can help your business drop us a line at [email protected].


Here at Rubber Duck Towers, we’re constantly staggered by the number of websites and e-commerce sites that we come across on a daily basis that just don’t work on mobile devices and offer poor use experience.

The days of mobile browsing being an afterthought are long gone. In the UK alone,  67% of all internet traffic now comes from mobile devices. This figure will continue to rise in the next few years and that’s bad news for businesses and organisations who don’t have their websites optimised for smaller screens.

Your business or organisation needs to have a responsive website if you want to attract new customers and service existing ones well and not be left behind in the mobile gold rush.

And it’s not just about the user experience. Responsive or mobile first websites and apps will rank better with search engines and will give a better ROI on your marketing Buck, Quid or Euro.

Google and other search engines will test your site for responsive quality and will rank accordingly, so it’s super important to get it right.

“How do I know if my site is responsive?” I hear you ask.

Well, there are plenty of tools that can show you how your site looks and responds on mobile. One of the simpler ones is Responsinator, and that’s a good starting point.

Check out Google’s own PageSpeed tools and check your score for mobile performance.

Or better still pick up your smart phone or tablet and try out your site. And be brutally honest with yourself. Put yourself in your customer’s or user’s shoes, and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do your pages load quickly?
  2. Is it easy to navigate?
  3. Can you get to the information, product or service that you’re looking for easily and quickly?

If any of the answers are “no”, then you need help.

As we can see, there are many reasons why you should care about your site’s responsiveness. It is not only a matter of usability and good design but also search engine optimisation. If you want to get in touch with us about this or any other web related topic feel free to contact us at [email protected] or fill out the form below for a free, no obligation digital health check.