Express Gates contacted me to design and build them a new eCommerce web site to generate sales of their hand built metal drive, side and garden gates. The brief as set to allow customers to design their own gate from a set of options, selecting the size of the gate, decorative features, finials and finishes.

This now bespoke gate, selected from over 4.5 million possible combinations, need to be purchased via the customers chosen payment platform, WorldPay.


Site Design

The 1st step was to develop a striking online presence for the brand, designed to stand out from the plethora of surprisingly similar looking sites that could be found within the field. This would ensure that the site was memorable and encourage visitors who had tried the ‘Gate Builder’ service to return.


Click to image Enlarge

Once the design was chosen the development began and was broken into 3 clear sections; Site Coding, Gate Builder Programming, eCommerce Integration.

Site Coding & Design

Translating the bold design to the screen and generating the main bulk of the site was stage 1. An eCommerce site requires all the typical pages found on a static site as well as putting thought into page SEO. Overall the site provides larger than average text and titles with clear places to click and browse.

Visitors are encouraged to view the sales terms, delivery options and guarantees to keep the unusual process of online gate purchasing open and clear.

Gate Builder Programming

Created in PHP with a mySQL database, the Online Gate Builder allows visitors to select and fine tune their specifications, from width and height to the type of finials topping their gate. Once all the options are selected, visitors are shown a summary of the gate they’ve created with a sample image of what it will look like.

All of the PHP was hand coded from scratch as a unique job for the project, values and styles are passed back and forth for the user to tweak and change the settings, perhaps trying another inner decoration or swapping spear finials for ball tops.

Once the user is happy, they can add their bespoke gate to the basket and checkout via WorldPay.

eCommerce Integration

The eCommerce side of the project was an interesting and challenging one. A typical online store supplies a list of products to the customer to browse, search and select from. Site owners simply upload their product list and with a few buttons and tweaks, voila an online store (there is more to it than that, but in a nutshell, that’s it).

With Express Gates there are a possible 4.5m+ gates combinations for each drive gate and by my napkin calculation, over 9 million for side gates and another 9 million for garden gates (as all combinations can hang left or right!).

Clearly uploading almost 20 million product items wasn’t an option so each unique gate needed to automagically generate it’s own product entry on the fly with the chosen specifications. With a little more PHP and some nifty database calls, this is what happens.

As a user selects they are happy with the gate, the system creates a new, unique store item ready to add to the basket and be purchased.

After bringing the 3 sections together, the site is complete and online, so if your after some bespoke, hand made metal gates, manufactured on Tyneside in the north east of the UK, then Buy Metal Gates Online at http://www.express-gates.co.uk


Click to image Enlarge Click to image Enlarge Click to image Enlarge

There are a few features planned for the near future such as email a design, save for later and a gate randmoiser, so please to head over, have a look and let me know what you think in the comments below.