About Australia launches

About Australia travel web site

About Australia is built on a combination of WordPress and custom-developed code

We’re proud to launch, a comprehensive travel website for South Pacific adventures. This was our first really huge WordPress project–we’ve done plenty of them before, but this one manages hundreds of pages and leverages custom code and integration to drive quite a bit of the content from a legacy database system. It’s also loaded with cool JQuery features like content sliders and dynamic galleries. It’s quite possibly the most comprehensive resource on South Pacific travel available on the web.

The wonderful folks at About Australia came to eBlox with an aging web site based on proprietary code. The site performed well in organic search (primarily from age and depth of content) but wasn’t very user-friendly. eBlox developed a completely new visual brand for the company, including logo and overall look and feel.

Then came the fun part: Dealing with hundreds of custom itineraries, each created from thousands of individual components. As a travel wholesaler, About Australia leverages regional expertise to build trips suited perfectly to nearly every need, from scuba diving to escorted tours. Translating all that into a hierarchical information architecture proved to be the biggest challenge. The browsing experience on the site is designed to take the visitor quickly to the list of trips most appropriate for their interests, and its combined with cross-referenced destinations and interests so visitors can quickly move from place to place.

Of course, as with any information-rich site, search is also a key component, and the search feature of About Australia was fine-tuned to deliver accurate trip results. To improve conversion, eBlox added live chat and more aggressive CTAs to the site, and content like photography was beefed up greatly.

We’re really happy with the result—it’s user-friendly, performs well and provides a great information resource for anyone looking to travel to the South Pacific. Check it out and let us know what you think!


Categories: Launches

Your World, My World: Google’s New “Search plus Your World”


personal search results from Google's "Search plus Your World"

Google now offers results sourced through personal connections

Danny Sullivan has a great piece over on Search Engine Land explaining his sense of disappointment in Google’s new “Search plus Your World” feature. I think Google’s move is unpleasant but not a surprise. It’s unsettling to those of us who’ve watched Google’s rise from the very beginning and saw the company as a precisely-engineered “fairness engine” – we’ve watched and listened to the public persona of that fairness, Matt Cutts, discuss exactly what measures Google was taking to ensure that the results given by Google search were objectively the most relevant and useful.

Google has always sold us ads alongside the results, but that’s always been a simple, tit-for-tat type of transaction—we give you the best-engineered search results in the world, you agree to some clearly-delineated advertisements in the margins of those results. We got it. Google started blurring that line not too long ago, with such features as pushing their flight search results ahead of other organic results for travel sites.

Still, the travel info doesn’t push you toward a particular vendor and, as Sullivan points out, up until this point, Google has been pretty happy to send you off to wherever you’d like to go, even if you’re not getting the end result, product or service from them.

Search plus Your World (a terrible name, really) changes all that by pushing Google’s own social network, Google+, and its results at you. Google is apparently showing more info from its own network in the results because the other two monster social platforms, Facebook and Twitter, don’t provide deep enough hooks to allow Google to index them the same way.

That’s true, but it’s almost beside the point: Search plus your World is a ham-handed effort to push more users and page views into Google +. Google has never been shy about encouraging the use of complementary products and cross-selling services, but I think the uproar about this particular feature is due to its incorporation directly into the search results. That box in the middle of the page with the organic results has always been considered by most to be inviolate, a safe zone enforced by objective technologies and people dedicated to making sure that the results are driven by quality and nothing else.

By rolling in Google+ results (and omitting Facebook and Twitter, both of which, admittedly, Google has legitimate reason to omit), these results no longer possess that oracular objectivity. Google’s previous social experiments with search were more or less open to all. This change appears to push Google’s social network to the detriment of others, and that’s what the ruckus is all about. Google knows that the future of search is going to include social components—that’s why they launched Google+ to begin with—but they appear to be getting there in fits and starts.

As always, caveats apply—the feature is optional, and it isn’t purely restricted to Google+; there are other results out there (Matt Cutts has a good defense of the variety of results here). And like everything Google releases, this will likely change or could even go away. But it can’t help but feel a bit like a naked grab for more Google + usage, and while there is absolutely nothing commercially wrong with promoting another Google product, it makes those previously hallowed organic results seem just a little less sacred than they used to be.

– Brent Buford

Brent on Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Tumblr | Flickr

Categories: Articles

Art Upload in storeBlox CS

storeBlox CS Art Upload screenshot

Customers can now upload art with an order on storeBlox CS

Need to collect art files from customers during the ordering process? storeBlox CS now offers the option to enable art file uploads when a customer adds a product to their cart. If you’re accepting custom, drop-ship orders in your store and need to collect art files, you can now enable this feature in your store by visiting webBlox and doing the following:

1. Click on Site Administration in the left navigation
2. Click on Store directly underneath
3. Click the Features tab at the top of the window
4. Check the “Allow customers to upload artwork for orders” box

That’s it! This will add the Art Upload button to your shopping cart configuration pages, and you can easily retrieve the art either through the order listing in webBlox or via a link in every order email.

Categories: Launches