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How to Organize an Ecommerce Site Where the Store is Distinctly Separate from the Blog

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This member wants to discuss possible site organization scenarios that make the Ecommerce site separate and distinct from the blog. We discuss using pages for products if the product catalog is small. If the product catalog is large we discuss two options. The first is using custom post types for products and the second is setting up a separate site on a subdomain.

Video Transcript

Rick: So you said, “I would like to talk about website organization.” So what do you mean by that?

Patricia: Yes, what I mean is that I am only starting from scratch and I prefer to do some thinking now than to have some headache later. And I have my domain. For now, it’s just a blog. I have 4 posts so I can still change stuff. I would like to have… like you explained in your videos, to have on my domain which is I would like to have a part which is a blog and a part which is a store. And I’m going to use the WP eStore that you recommend. And I’d like to have… although I would like the blog to go to store and the store to go back to the blog because I am sending my jewelry. So on the blog, I’m going to talk about how I do it blah blahblah and on the store, I’m going to sell it. Although each other… will talk and can be in… have some relationship, I would like the two to be not completely mixed up and to have a site that is a mess.

Rick: Sure.

Patricia: So I read on your lesson that you can do bunch of stuff to have set up with sidebars, set up with header and that is quite… that’s what I’d like to do. But do I have to organize things in directories, in… I don’t know how to take it.

Rick: Sure. So how many products do you have now and how many products do you expect to have in the next year?

Patricia: I don’t know, maybe between 50 and 100. I have nothing done yet but I will have earrings, necklace, blah blahblah and this is going to be mostly one of a kind so once it’s sold, it will go away. There won’t be another one. They won’t have that many.

Rick: Okay.

Patricia: Somewhere between 50 and 100.

Rick: So the… so you have 2 choices. You know, the way the tutorial… the way the Build Your Own Commerce Website teaches, it assumes that the blog is not you know, a particularly large feature of the site. And so it uses blog posts as your products. However, you have a couple of other options. If the blog is going to be a significant part of your site, you could choose to use pages for products or you could, if you’re adventuresome, use custom post types for products. And when you use a page for products, pages, unlike posts, have a hierarchy. And so for example, you know, you don’t have a… you don’t have directories in WordPress. You have things that look like they might be directories within directories but you don’t actually have directories that yourself personally interact with and that display on the webpage. Obviously, there are directories in your website but they’re not things that you create for the purpose of displaying something on a site or organizing on your site. They are created by the software. And so, however, because pages are hierarchical, you can… you know, if you look at this right now or look at this URL, it looks like here’s my root directory – Video Tutorials is my first level directory and then inside Video Tutorials, I have a directory called Customize Thesis Like a Pro. That’s what it looks like. In fact, the way this is is that I have a page named Video Tutorials and a page named Customize Thesis Like a Pro and this page… and Video Tutorials is the parent of this page. And it looks like it has this directory hierarchy but in fact, it’s just the layout of hierarchical pages. So, you could choose to do it that way and if we look at my site here just for a second and look at my page structure, now I have 104 pages so it’s not necessarily as… it’s not going to be necessarily as obvious as you might like it to be on the surface. Oh yeah, and of course Chrome doesn’t display this thing properly either so it’s hard to see. Actually, we’re not going to do it in Chrome. We’re just going to look at Internet Explorer instead. So then we go to my Dashboard in Internet Explorer and look at pages and start at Video Tutorials. So this is what it looks like. The root… I mean you know, this is the first level of a parent directory structure in this list. So you’ve got Video Tutorials and then Video Tutorials is the parent of a page that I don’t actually use yet called Where Should I Begin? And then a page of Basic Tutorials and then a parent of Thesis Custom Recipes which also, I’m not really using quite yet and then Intermediate Tutorials and then the big one – Build an eCommerce Website. And so, this is a parent… Video Tutorials is a parent of Build an eCommerce Website and then each lesson is a child of the Build an eCommerce. So Build an eCommerce Website is the parent of Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, Lesson 4. And if we go look at that, you can see that directory structure, a parent directory structure up in the URL. So let’s see, let’s look for a second here… open a new tab… you can see that there’s the you know, root directory – then the 1st level of Video Tutorials then How to Make an eCommerce Website then Lesson 1 Using WordPress and Thesis. And you have that you know, a parent hierarchy or you have that hierarchy. But you can do that with your products, right? You can have a page called Products and then under that page called Products, you could have a page called Earrings and a page called Bracelets and a page called you know, Necklaces. And then under the page that’s called Bracelets, you could have you know, a product that would be one set of earrings and a product that would be another set of earrings and so on and so forth. So you could easily do that if you didn’t want to mingle your products with your posts. And that’s probably conceptually the easiest way to do it except that you can’t add categories or tags to them. So you know, your automatic display of… well, you just don’t end up using the WordPress category and tag system for displaying products.

Patricia: Is it going to be a handicap for the search engine?

Rick: No, no. It’s not a handicap for the search engines. No. The 3rd way which is… I’m looking for an opportunity to teach this 3rd way because I think that for sites like Jackie’s for example, it would have been better had we started out this 3rd way because she has a very large site with hundreds of products. And when she started that of course, custom post types weren’t available in WordPress and so this option didn’t exist. But now the option exists to have a custom post type called post. I mean, I’m sorry. Custom post type called products and then you can have product categories that you would define as a custom taxonomy. And then you could use that in built organization for those… for displaying and finding and returning different categories of products. And I have not yet had an opportunity to teach this and so… but I’m looking for the chance. You know, in a couple of weeks we’re looking for or we’re going to have the opportunity to teach… we’re going to do this 2nd version, the one I just described for you. The 1st version was the one i… that’s already on the site that teaches you how to use blog posts for products. 2nd version is the simpler version which uses pages for products and that’s actually what we’re going to be teaching in the Create a Membership Website live question and answer sessions on Monday mornings. And then the 3rd version is use the custom post types and I just haven’t had a chance to teach that.

Patricia: Okay, the 3rd one, is it the best one? Because we talk about Jackie’s website, I have looked at it because I see she is also an artist and she has blog installed on the same domain. So I looked at her site and I don’t… and I don’t say that in a bad way but I feel confused when I went on her site. Her store and the blog, everything kind of mixed up and to me, it’s confusing. So for my own site, I would like to have ideally… and I don’t know if that’s a good idea. I would like to have a page like your landing page which said just welcome blah blahblah… here is who I am, here is what I do. Just a couple of sentences and send… on one side, send to the blog and one side, send to the store. Somebody was doing that, his name is (11.27). Maybe he’s… and on his… you know, the homepage is a landing page and then you send to the blog and to the store. So for me, if I have to send to blog and store, I need to have a certain organization like (11.48) and main entry point for the blog and a main entry point for the store.

Rick: Yeah well and it might make sense in that case to have 2 sites, right? You have the main site which is the blog site and then as a subdomain, you would have store.mainsite. And then… so you have 2 WordPress installations. One of them is exclusively set up as a store. No blog component whatsoever.

Patricia: Yeah, okay. Now I get it. I create like a… not a subdomain. That’s not going to be store. I already did that in the past. It’s not going be That’s going to be and in the store, in the directory store, I will install WordPress, right?

Rick: Yeah, absolutely. You can certainly do that.

Patricia: I have my WordPress in /store and that would be just my store and then I have my blog. And my blog is (13.08) and I can’t tell WordPress when somebody went to my site, they have… there is a page, I can say a static page and the static page would introduce myself and my stuff and can send to the blog then just go to the site and then can send to the store.

Rick: Yes and in that case then you would use… on your store site, you would use blog post as products.

Patricia: Yes and is that good way?

Rick: Absolutely. Yeah and especially what you’re looking for is a way of having a strong differentiation between the store and the rest of your site. Absolutely, it’s a great idea.

Patricia: But they can still communicate with each other, correct?

Rick: Oh sure. You know, you can have links between the two. You will want to be very careful to make sure that your blog site does not have a page called store.

Patricia: Okay, yeah.

Rick: Because you don’t want a page with the same name as your subdomain because then it’s going to be confused.

Patricia: Yeah, that makes sense.

Rick: But once you did that, it should be fine.

Patricia: Yeah and I can use WP eStore in this context.

Rick: Yeah.

Patricia: Okay yeah, that’s what I’m going to do. That makes sense to me.

Rick: When you want that strong differentiation, I think it makes a lot of sense and you can easily you know, share the custom CSS files and the custom PHP files you know, so you don’t have to… you don’t… well, it’s relatively easy to keep the same style between the 2 sites.

Patricia: And somehow, yes… and somehow it’s easier for me as a programmer because I would have to bend like a pretzel to have different header, different sidebar because they are somehow 2 different WordPress installations. So I don’t have to do anything special.

Rick: Right. You’re absolutely right.

Patricia: Because you have a whole bunch of customization in the php and who can whatever so I would have to juggle with all of that.

Rick: Right.

Patricia: Which will make it easier for me and easy, I like.

Rick: Yeah, easy is good. I think it’s a great idea. Okay well, make sure you report back to us on that as you progress.

Patricia: Okay yeah, absolutely. Thank you.

Rick: Thank you, Patricia.

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