Ecommerce web design for Charles Dowding

Award-winning gardener Charles Dowding wanted us to overhaul his ecommerce shop, blog and community.

authenticstyle-Charles Dowding: No Dig


Ecommerce shop, blog and community overhaul

Charles Dowding, an award-winning gardener who is regularly featured in publications such as Gardeners World, The Guardian and Which?, contacted us with a view to revamping his old Woocommerce website.

Primary pain-points were the cluttered look and feel and also a need to make his book-keeping less time consuming with a Xero integration.

This was a really interesting project for us to work on as Charles’ site consisted of a thriving forum community, a blog with 10 years worth of content and regular commentators, and of course his shop selling his books, gardening products and acclaimed courses.


After an initial kick-off meeting in which we shared with Charles’ and his partner Steph some early ideas, we set about producing wireframes depicting how the main pages of his new site could be laid out.

Below you can see wireframes for the checkout, homepage, article template and also how we planned the layout would adjust when viewed on mobile devices.

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Another really important consideration was how we could make Charles’ often 1500 word articles as easy to consume for his visitors as possible. You can see in the bottom left wireframe above we proposed a sticky ‘contents’ block that would feature the key points from the article and allow the user to click on each point to jump to that section of the article.

We find this early wireframing stage to our projects essential, as we can ensure that the user experience of the new website is going to be top-notch.


Once the wireframes were agreed with Charles we fleshed them out into polished design concepts. The aim was to create a clean, clear and structured site that would allow Charles to showcase content, products and social media updates too. Below you can see the design for the top half of the homepage.

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Once we started designing the site we made some alterations to the header, deviating slightly from our wireframes as we felt a centrally aligned logo made more sense.

Below you can see the designs we produced for the forum, a product, the shop archive, and the shopping cart. Establishing designs for all these key templates allowed Charles to see how his new site would shape up and allowed him to feel confident that the new look and feel would work across the entirety of his website.

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As always, mobile was a key consideration, so we mocked up the really important pages to show how those would adjust when viewed on mobile devices. We now see well over 50% of users shopping from their mobile phones, so making sure the shop aspect of the new site would translate to mobile was critically important.

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Woocommerce & WordPress Development

All the sites we build at authenticstyle are content managed, however, with Charles’ site there were some deeper considerations to make to ensure ease of use. Below you can see the flexibility we provided when it comes to adding new content blocks to pages. Whoever is administering the website is able to build out the content based on options like; single column text, call to action, product, two column image etc.

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Also because Charles’ posts include a massive amount of imagery we utilised the inbuilt gallery in WordPress to display images with captions and allow these to be clicked on to be viewed full size.

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Xero integration

One of Charles’ key requirements was to make accounting easier for his book-keeper. Previously orders were being exported from Woocommerce and then processed manually from a spreadsheet. We were able to integrate the new e-commerce site with Xero so that all orders seamlessly flow into Charles’ Xero account, making reconciliation so much quicker.

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Forum integration

We also moved Charles’ bbPress forum over to the new look and feel we had created so that the whole experience of the site was seamless.

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Want to improve your ecommerce site?

If you’re interested in talking to us about how we can take your e-commerce website or blog to the next level and make your life simpler, then we would love to hear from you.

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