Saturday, 30 August 2014

Ecommerce software - analytical review of different options

If you are an artist and want to market and sell your art online then one of the things you'll end up doing sooner or later is investigate ecommerce software. The aim will be to try and evaluate whether any of them do what you want and which one might work best for you.

For those who have never had to deal with anything more threatening than a new version of Microsoft Office, this can be a major challenge!

The first thing you learn is that, with few exceptions, most of the software is generic and not targeted at artists.

I've just come across a website called G2Crowd which provides a way-in to:
  • understanding what the options exist relating to ecommerce software
  • typically in-depth customer reviews for different products
  • an evaluation and rating of different business software according to market presence and customer satisfaction
Home Page - GCrowd website
The idea behind the site is that there is too much spin out there in relation to products available for sale in the marketplace - and not enough well informed reviews.  
  • The idea is to eliminate "vendor spin and outdated analyst reports".  
  • Products ranks are aggregated from peer reviews and social data. 
  • The reviews are intended to be real, unbiased feedback or ....advice from people who had actually implemented and used the software and related services

This, for example, is its page relating to ecommerce software and below is the widget it uses for demonstrating how one site relates to another.
  • The y axis is documenting presence in the marketplace with those in the top half being the bigger players
  • the x axis looks at the satisfaction scoring attributed to different sites - with the more established sites tending to have more and higher scoring ratings.

This is how GCrowd describes the four quadrants of the four cell table
The best E-Commerce Software products are determined by customer satisfaction (based on user reviews) and scale (based on market share, vendor size, and social impact) and placed into four categories on the Grid:
  • Leaders offer E-Commerce products that are rated highly by G2 Crowd users and have substantial scale, market share, and global support and service resources. Leaders include:Amazon WebstorePaypalPayPal Payments
  • Contenders have significant scale and resources, but their products have received below average user satisfaction ratings or have not yet received a sufficient number of reviews to validate their products. Contenders include: MagentoIBM WebSphere CommerceYahoo Merchant Solutions
  • Niche vendors do not have the scale and market share of the Leaders. They may have been rated positively on customer satisfaction, but have not yet received enough reviews to validate their success. Niche include: ZuoraCloudCraze
It's worth taking a look and checking out what you currently use (I've just had some validation of my choice to use PayPal for payments by clients!) and investigating how well it stacks up relative to competitors.

To the extent that dedicated software for artists actually exists, you can assess whether (1) it's recognised and (2)  its performance in the market in general for that type of product.

The ecommerce categories for software are

Click any of these links above and you can find the software which comes into this category.

Use the column on the left to define attributes and further sub-categories which you want to focus on. You'll end up with a list of options for your particular needs eg for Digital E-Commerce Software

You can also use the platform to assess other business and marketing software - for example, find out which product is rated as the best email marketing tool

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Review: Integrity Broken Link Checker - for websites and blogs

Websites and blogs for Artists: RECOMMENDED - A broken link checker which works.

For those artists with websites, you may or may not be aware that essential maintenance involves making sure that all the links on your website work.  Google's not fond of sites with broken links.

That's not a problem if you only have a few - but if you use a lot like I do then checking them can be just plain tedious unless you use a backlink checker. I've tried some in the past but today was the first time I felt moved to download a tool.

I've just downloaded The Integrity tool for Mac users which is an app produced by Peacock Media. I checked reviews of it online first and it's been around for ages and generally gets good reviews.

This is how it is described

Integrity is a link checker, no more, no less, no frills - and free (donationware). If you'd like:
  • Advanced options such as nofollow, authentication, custom header fields
  • XML sitemap generation and upload
  • Page load speed test, SEO checks, HTML Validation
  • Manage multiple sites and settings
  • Full report exportable as html or pdf
It requires Mac OSX 10.6 or higher, Intel 64-bit - but they also have earlier versions of their tool available for earlier versions of the operaing system - which is a major plus. You don't often see that.

My experience of Integrity is that it's speedy, thorough and has turned up all sorts of links which were broken which I had no knowledge of.

  • Some were really stupid ones - like including the Admin view URL when interlinking between pages of my website. 
  • Others were ones which had just become out of date (my website goes back to 2005).

I recommend:
  • using the Flat View option as that gives you the most detail in relation to locating the broken link  - and why it's broken.  This is what it looks like.  
  • checking the bad link box ( on the top line menu) so you don't get ALL the links on the site listed.
  • reviewing the worst problems using the 'by link' page
Integrity - Broken link checker: Example of a test check and the results for my portfolio website
On my portfolio website, it found and checked 1656 of 1656 links of which 41 were bad.
On this blog it found all sorts of problems which I had no idea about. It's actually a bit scary. Common culprits are blogs in the blogroll who've gone offline.

I have to say that I've not yet tried it out on Making A Mark - I think I might have to run that one overnight!

However I shall certainly be using this as a routine maintenance tool in future.

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