What started out as a hobby farm raising alpacas in my spare time turned into an online suite of different sites. First, of course was the farm site, Fancy Fiber Farm where we started advertising alpacas for sale. The original site, which isn’t around any longer, was built with a combination of HTML files and OSCommerce which was added on to open an online store for our fiber products. This site was hard to manage, and didn’t do very well as far as SEO was concerned. It didn’t have a blog, it was a pain keeping files in sync. OSCommerce wasn’t able to provide some of the functionality we wanted in the site as we learned more about e-commerce.
The initial site was scrapped and the Magento and WordPress integrated site that is live now was born. There are multiple stores being run off the same Magento back-end store. It made it easy to have a very nice looking and easy to maintain website for both our alpacas and products, and give much expanded functionality for SEO capabilities. Adding WordPress along side the Magento site gave even more options for building an audience.
We started talking with people and realized that we could save people some money on their web hosting by providing this service ourselves and spreading the cost. This led to the Fancy Fiber Hosting business site and associated billing site. Our farm site moved over there first and then a few other sites joined in. The hosting site is built on a customized WordPress instance. One of the main features we integrated here was customized pages to fit in our Facebook page. Facebook has changed the look since then, so these pages are no longer visible though. The billing site is built using WHMCS to manage the hosting and domain registration billing and features. This required learning yet another template system and implementing it to make it fit in with the rest of the site formats acceptably and still be functional.
Finally, there is the Fancy Fiber Studios site, which is a Magento store front for plug-ins that we develop for sale.
While all of these sites do serve specific real world functions, they also are where we do a lot of our learning before we start working on client sites. It is great to test something on a test server and make sure it doesn’t break things, but there still is just something to be said for real world experience as well. We here at the Fancy Fiber Family of businesses live the technology we work with on a daily basis.