How many developers and partners does it take to build a Zen Cart/WordPress hybrid website?

2 men working on a tablet and smart phone

I read these mind numbing posts on LinkedIn groups.

“18 steps to better digital marketing” “the five things you must do to launch a website”

Really? When Rick Fisher of BookwormComputers and I had our fateful discussion Christmas week 2015 little did I know that it would take eight months to deploy the new website. The problem was I had moved the site six times and continued to apply digital duct tape with each move.

WindyCityParrot.com was residing on 3-D cart a “hosted” e-commerce platform. The underlying operating system with 3-D cart degraded miserably in November and was causing our conversion to diminish by close to 50%.

Some may say I exaggerate they have stated in their forums that they repaired 800 bugsover that same period of time we were building the new site – this is public record to give you some idea of the headwinds we were facing

Rick rightfully convinced me that the site needed to be rebuilt word by word image by image. When you take that literally and have to move your thousand page blog from your hosted site you have to pay thousands of dollars to move 1 million words into an open source database as an example.

Several thousand images needed to be resized to precisely 600 x 600 to enhance the user experience.

Moving from a Windows-based server to Linnux server meant Linnux servers differentiate between lowercase and uppercase letters – Windows servers do not. We had to rename 45,000 images with all lowercase letters.

Zen cart is not the most popular e-commerce solution but knowing that 3-D cart had approximately 18,000 customers and 5% of the market – we can extrapolate that knowing that Zen cart has about 45,000 installations because we calculated that they have approximately 15% of the market.

Magento which everybody talks about can get scary if you look at it and know about managing its databases. I also couldn’t find anybody who can build a Magento store for less than $40,000.

We built our Zen Cart store for about half that with an amazing amount of functionality some of which we actually had to invent to make everything happen.

I’ll be blogging about the entire experience working from a 377 item to do list – never having worked in open source before.

We went live August 8, 2016 and 90 days later we are still making tweaks daily. What’s also unnerving is we wanted to make the 1000 page blog a centerpiece so we put it on word press and I-framed it into Zen cart.

90 days into the live project it looks as though to Google is not as happy as I thought it would be with this arrangement so we are going for a full integration of WordPress into Zen cart which is been done before just never buy me and my team.

Either way it still took a while to wrap my head around running two distinct websites (Zen-cart/Wordpress)trying to make them appear as one. Two sets of Google analytics. Two completely different dashboards. I picture myself as an owl whose eyes are always on the front of their head as opposed to many birds whose eyes on the side of their head.

Owls use this visual scenario like a pair of binoculars to hone in on a single target. It’s nowhere near as easy as I thought it would be

While reviewing my notes I came upon this list which is really what I wanted to share. Building an e-commerce website that gets real traffic and has real conversions sending money to your bank 24/7 is no easy task.

You can not do it in a vacuum, but I had no idea that we would be interacting with this many people and organizations so I wanted to just take a moment here to say thank you to the 30 or so folks and groups who touched Http://WindyCityParrot.com

Catherine Tobsing WindyCityParrot.com Queen ‘O fulfilment Chicago IL USA

Chris Smith USPS USPS Zen Cart Plugin install help Chicago IL USA

Chu Hai Developer and php coder Able to modify the actual zen-cart engine Bien Ho Vietnam

Engineers from gmail and integrations Google.com Adwords, Shopping & Gmail Mountain View CA USA

Gianco Callo Migrations and listings work Tuguegarao Philippines

James King Wheatonwebsiteservices.com/ WordPress database work Wheaton IL USA

Jeff Koch Wolfpaw.com Hosting Tenafly NJ USA

Jeff Lew Numinix.com Chimpchamp marketing automation for mailchimp Vancouver British Columbia Canada

Kristi Thompson Cartstack.com Cart abadonment solution New York New York USA

Leonard B Zenexpert.com POS for Zencart Karlovac Croatia

“Magic” Kerry Gibbons Migrations and listings work Joliet Illinois USA

Nora Caterino Migrations and listings work Restructuriing GTIN’s Cape Canveral Florida USA

Payflo Pro integration engineers Paypal.com Credit card processing Omaha Nebraska USA

Rick Fisher Bookwormcomputers.com Project manager Waco Texas USA

Support staff Emagicone.com Zen Cart store manager Ternopil Ukraine

Support staff Yoast.com SEO for WordPress 6602 GX Wijchen The Netherlands

Support staff Zen-cart.com/ Our new eCommerce engine Klamath Falls Oregon USA

Support staff Webgility.com Zen cart inventory sync platform San Fransisco CA USA

Support staff Godatafeed.com CSE shopping Feeds Plantation FL USA

Support staff Bing.com Search & Shopping San Diego CA USA

Support staff SEMrush.com SEO software Trevose PA USA

Support staff Nortonshoppingguarantee.com Website conversion Mountain View CA USA

Support staff Templatemonster.com Current WindycityParrot.com template New York NY USA

Support Staff WordPress.com blog.windycityparrot.com USA

Support Staff Clicky.com not google analytics Portland Oregon USA

Support Staff HelpScout.com Help Desk software Boston MA USA

Support Staff 53.com Banking Chicago IL USA

Support Staff MailChimp.com Email Service Provider Atlanta GA USA

Support Staff Embedplus.com YouTube analytics for WordPress

Support Staff Hunchmanifest.com/ Semantic mark up both sites Guelph ON Canada

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