Rapid Web Blog

Musings from a Web Development Studio

Understanding how users browse your site

March 27th, 2014

It is important that you understand and review how people browse your site. Even the best website designs can fail as users don’t always browse and navigate through a site in the ways that we might expect. Focus groups with customers and members of your target market are an ideal way to gain great insights and feedback on how people navigate the site, how easily they locate the information that they’re seeking and any barriers to conversion. Although the data collected from focus groups is very indepth, it is often not feasible to gain feedback from a large sample, if at all, due to the time and costs associated with running a research project of this kind.

Google Analytics is a free tool that records data from all visits to your website – so your sample size for data collection is limited only by the amount of traffic coming to the site. The tool provides a good base of  data and information regarding the search terms and keywords people are using to arrive at your website, where they have linked through from and some demographic information. The Visitor’s Flow function in Google Analytics can also give you some understanding about the path that users take through your site in terms of where they click. This data can, however, be quite difficult to analyse and it’s very difficult to visualise how users are interacting with the page.

heatmapA great solution to provide you with richer data, without the high level of time and expense of focus groups is to use additional tracking code within your site that provides the data to generate heat maps, scroll maps, click overlays and confetti maps. These reports use a snapshot image of the page that is being analysed, and data is overlaid to visually map where website visitors have clicked, the areas of the page to which they have scrolled, and a separation of data on a variety of factors (such as source, new vs returning visitors, device type, search terms and more) to compare how these varying users interact with the page. For example, in data analysis of this kind, you may identify that visitors that have arrived to the page from Facebook or another social media channel interact with the page and click in different areas than those users that have arrived via a search engine. This data can be highly valuable in informing your social media marketing campaigns. Likewise, identifying the areas of the page that are most commonly viewed and clicked can aid you in planning of layout and design changes for the page, for example the placement of important information, advertisements or buttons.

If you’re looking to collect more data regarding how users browse and interact with key pages of your website, speak to the Rapid Web team today on 01785 250 222.

PayPal – choosing the right integration for your website

March 20th, 2014


PayPal is one of the world’s leading and most recognisable payment gateway options in the world. With an estimated 110 million people in the world who shop with PayPal, it can be a great choice for many e-commerce websites.

As standard PayPal accept all major debit and credit cards and it is an easy way to accept payment in up to 24 currencies from a total of 190 countries.
Another advantage of using an established and well known provider such as PayPal is the ability to take advantage of PayPal’s built in data security and fraud protection.

Having chosen PayPal as your payment acceptance method, next is the choice of which form of integration is right for your website. The two integrations we are looking at here are two of the most popular, PayPal Standard and PayPal Pro.

PayPal Standard

PayPal Standard is the base integration offered by PayPal and is a popular option with many ecommerce websites due to the fact that there is no monthly fee and no contract.

As previously mentioned all PayPal integrations accept all major debit and credit cards and are capable of accepting multiple currencies.

With the standard integration, a customer would shop on your website as per normal but when they reach the checkout stage and are ready to pay; they are then redirected off to PayPal where they are able to pay via debit/credit card or via their own PayPal account. Upon completion of the transaction, they can then be redirected back to your website.

All card data/payment data is collected and stored on PayPal’s servers and this simplifies PCI compliance as no sensitive payment data is collected on your website.

PayPal Pro

PayPal Pro is the next step up from PayPal Standard and this integration incurs a monthly fee however like PayPal standard, there is no contract to be tied to.
PayPal Pro includes all the same features as PayPal Standard such as multi-currency and acceptance of all major credit and debit cards.

The main difference that your users will be able to see is that with PayPal Pro, users will not be redirected off site to process their payment. The added advantage with this is that you are able to produce a clean and seamless checkout process with a consistent design.

The other additional feature which PayPal Pro allows is the added ability to process and accept card payments via phone, fax and mail via PayPal’s Virtual Terminal.

Both of these integrations are available in major ecommerce platforms such as Drupal, Magento and Bigcommerce so whatever your ecommerce solution, PayPal is an option available to you.

If you’re considering integrating PayPal in to your ecommerce site, or you need advice on which integration type to use, feel free to contact Rapid Web to discuss this further. We can be contacted by phone on 01785 250 222 or by email on contact@rapidweb.biz

Sage Pay Payment Gateway

March 5th, 2014


When creating your ecommerce website, one of the main things you need to consider is what type of payment gateway(s) you wish to offer. There are a number of payment gateways which can be integrated in to ecommerce websites from big names such as PayPal and HSBC to lesser known gateways that use crypto currencies such as Bit Pay which utilises Bitcoin.

Sage Pay is a popular option for many online businesses as it is a proven and trusted gateway system with a multitude of features including but not limited to:

  • Integration with PayPal
  • Recurring payments
  • Multi-currency support

Integration types

Sage Pay also has integrations with a number of existing ecommerce platforms such as Drupal and Magento and additional integrations with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems like Salesforce and SageCRM.

Like many other payment gateways there are differing levels of integration possible. Sage Pay offers the following:

  • Form integration
  • Server integration
  • Server inframe integration
  • Direct integration

Form integration

Form Integration is the simplest integration method that Sage Pay offers to start accepting payments online. When customers reach the checkout stage, they will be redirected to Sage Pay’s payment pages, no card data is collected, stored or transferred on your site and Sage Pay takes care of hosting your payment pages and handling card data.

Server integration

Server Integration is similar to form integration in the fact that like Form Integration, customers will be redirected to Sage Pay’s payment pages and all card handling is done by Sage Pay. The major difference here is that transactional data can be captured and stored by your shopping cart system.

Server inframe integration

The server inframe integration allows for yet more customisation, and this means that the fully customised Sage Pay payment pages can be embedded onto your own checkout pages. The added advantage with this integration is that users will stay on the site as opposed to being redirected off of the site. This also enables you to complete the entire checkout and payment stages on one page, should you wish to, whereas with the form and server integrations there are 3 checkout pages hosted by Sage Pay.

Direct integration

Direct integration is the most customisable payment integration that Sage Pay offers and in this integration, card details are captured by your website on your server and then they are securely passed across to Sage Pay for authorisation and potentially storage.

These transactions can then be fully integrated with any backend system which you may require. The only caveat with this is that external PCI DSS certification and secure certification for the website is required as secure data is being handled.

If you’re considering integrating Sage Pay in to your ecommerce site, or you need advice on which payment gateway to use, don’t hesitate to contact Rapid Web to discuss this further. We can be contacted by phone on 01785 250 222 or by email on contact@rapidweb.biz

Accepting Bitcoins via BitPay integration

February 27th, 2014

BitPay logoI previously discussed the reasons why you should accept Bitcoin payments on your e-commerce website.

Now, it is important to mention how to actually go about accepting bitcoins on your website.

One of the concerns merchants can raise regarding bitcoins is their volatility. Due to how new the bitcoin economy is, their value can fluctuate significantly during the course of a day. Although investing in bitcoins by holding them can be quite profitable, unless your suppliers and/or trade partners also accept the cryptocurrency directly, this can cause unnecessary difficulties.

So, what if you were able to entirely mitigate this risk?

This is where a bitcoin payment processor comes in. BitPay offers merchants the ability to immediately convert their bitcoins to the flat currency of their choice (such as GBP, EUR or USD) at the time of payment. This essentially means you will use Bitcoin merely as a payment mechanism, while not holding any bitcoins, and therefore not be exposed to any of the volatility risk. All this while still reaping all the benefits of accepting Bitcoins.

BitPay provides the tools necessary to integrate BitPay into almost every e-commerce solutions available, including bespoke developments. They also provides services to allow you to accept Bitcoin payments in your retail store as well as online.

If you’re interested in accepting Bitcoin payments with no risk, please feel free to contact us and we can help you get set-up with a custom BitPay integration to suit your needs.

We’ve previous integrated BitPay into several websites, including the following two bespoke e-commerce developments:

  • Something Geeky – an e-commerce store dedicated to selling geek clothing and gifts
  • Atomic Threads – a website that sells retro t-shirts and other garments

Product feeds: enhancing your online e-commerce presence

February 19th, 2014

As an online retailer you rely on traffic to your website to drive your sales and provide you with important statistics on how users found your website and where they came from, all of which is valuable information which enables you to plan your marketing strategies.

Product feeds are structured data files which contains information relating to your products. This information can then be submitted to external organisations/websites, which can be an important part of increasing your exposure levels.

Product feeds can be supplied to a variety of external marketing channels which include:

  • Price comparison websites
  • Paid search affiliates
  • Affiliate networks
  • Marketplaces (such as Amazon, Play.com and eBay)

product-feedsGoogle Product Feeds

Google have had systems in place to handle product feeds for a number of years and their current tool is known as the Google Merchant Center. Within the Google Merchant Center you are able to upload your listings for use in Google Shopping, Google Product Ads and Google Commerce Search.

Each of these areas provide their own benefit and your product feed can be tailored depending on your target country. Once the feed has been verified by Google (dependant on each country’s specifications) your products will be available to search on Google Shopping.

These product feeds can also be tied into your active Google AdWords campaigns (if you have linked the two accounts) so that you can serve your products directly to potential customers using Product Listing Ads.
When coupled with a targeted PPC (Pay Per Click) campaign, you can potentially glean important information about your customer base and how their searches relate to your website.

Price Comparison Websites

Price comparison websites such as shopping.com and Kelkoo product feeds from multiple merchants and aggregate the data for customers. These sites have become increasingly popular in recent years especially in regards to financial services (look to websites such as comparethemarket.com, moneysupermarket.com, confused.com etc.) and while this trend may not have been mirrored to the same extent in standard consumer ecommerce, a good proportion of users do utilize these types of sites for their online shopping.


Selling on a marketplace can be good way to kick-start your business and gain wide exposure for your product catalogue. Utilising marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Rakuten’s Play.com enable you to provide exposure for your product catalogue to an audience you previously may not have had access to. However, this does come at a cost as these marketplaces will either charge a monthly subscription fee and/or a percentage fee per sale.

With eBay, Amazon and Play.com, product feeds can be used to create a product catalogue the marketplace. The level and type of integration depends entirely on the size and update frequency required. Solutions include:

  • Flat file upload
    a flat file solution is suited to those customers that have a catalogue of around 1000 products. This system involves uploading a prepopulated data file to the marketplace, with all valid changes actioned in due course.
  • Direct Integration
    a direct integration involves setting up your ecommerce system to interact directly with the marketplace so that any changes you wish to make to your product catalogue are then queued up and sent to your chosen marketplace. This is done in the background and requires no additional user interaction.

There are many advantages and challenges involved in integrating your ecommerce website with a product feed, especially if the product feed is going to an external marketplace. The benefits, however, are numerous and include:

  • Increased exposure
  • Additional sales channels
  • Targeted marketing

A properly integrated product feed system can be a great asset to your business and can potentially help your business expand and are definitely worth considering. If you need any further information or advice on product feed systems, don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Rapid Web team.

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