Aspiring Walls

Aspiring Walls


Size: e-commerce site with over 5,600 products

My professional status: independent web designer/developer

Website client: Aspiring Walls

Dates: March 2016 onwards

Categories: Client liaison, Project manager, Content-loader, Webmaster, Responsive web design/dev, CSS-based layout, CSS3, HTML5, WordPress, E-commerce, Large sites

Brief: Wellington-based company Aspiring Walls has been supplying wallpaper products to the New Zealand market for over 40 years. They have one of New Zealand’s largest ranges of wallpapers and murals designed for both domestic and commercial settings, sourced from producers worldwide and supplying an extensive network of retail stockists nationally.

They were just about to launch a new responsive WordPress website, based on one built for a sister company in Australia by an Australian dev company. They were looking for a New Zealand-based webmaster to take care of the website and update/improve it as necessary, and who would also be able to organise and manage hosting for the site.

They asked me if I'd be interested in becoming their webmaster, as they could see from the case studies on my website that I have extensive WordPress and e-commerce experience.

Awesome thanks Ali – it’s all looking great.

Robyn Cook, Executive Assistant/New Product Coordinator, Aspiring Walls


  • Sorting out hosting at fairly short notice and migrating the website from the dev servers to the new host without a hitch
  • Figuring out how the CMS works and how the website is set up (it's pretty bespoke!) in order to provide the best possible service in terms of updating ranges and linking products together
  • Initiating a review of the tagging process currently used, and looking to improve this in order to make the website more usable for customers as well as improving the website search speed.

My responsibilities included:

  • Client liaison and project management
  • Migrating website from dev server to my hosting account at WPEngine
  • Setting up dev and prod access to live site and staging version for the devs to finish off the site pre-launch
  • Updating the DNS details and A record to enable the new site to be launched
  • Arranging for my programmer, Tom St George, to back up the old website and provide a copy of this to the client
  • Setting up an SSL Certificate for the website with WPEngine and updating the site to use the new https URL with the SSL Cert
  • Updating and improving existing product images eg Pastes and Tools that had been roughly clearcut and/or uploaded to the site too large or the wrong shape for the thumbnail generator to handle
  • Research and phone calls with Westpac to investigate the viability of having a Merchant account for the site
  • Uploading 2-3 new wallpaper ranges to the website each month, having resized and optimised swatch and roomset images and updated the Excel database file each time
  • Updating and improving on the basic instruction documentation provided by the developer for this task
  • Removing old ranges from the website as required
  • Improving blog functionality and updating blog title and menu items
  • Figuring out how various elements work eg featured and related products and updating these as required
  • Improving the slow search functionality by firstly identifying the cause (huge list of tags in the database) and then fixing it (overhaul of tags list, removing multiple tags from individual products and setting up a new, much smaller set of tags), and developing rules and guidelines for future tagging
  • Ongoing exploration of the existing responsive WordPress theme, making a copy of the site in my WP hosting environment in order to figure out how the theme worked and to identify inbuilt theme functionality that the site wasn't currently using
  • Extensive browser and device testing of my updates on the live site, to ensure that everything looked good and was behaving properly from a responsive perspective
  • Ongoing support and help with the site, as and when required, based upon regular progress meetings with the client.

Aspiring Walls responsive screens

This is a large responsive e-commerce WordPress website built using a theme by WooCommerce. It has an extensive database of products that is constantly being updated. The Australian developer has provided some very helpful information, but there's still quite a lot of figuring out for me to do in terms of how the website works and how I could help to improve it - which I really enjoy.

I feel as though we're really getting somewhere now, particularly with the ongoing work on tagging and search functionality. It will be good to get it sorted with some rules in place going forward - I love setting rules and guidelines for this kind of thing based on a combination of user testing, best practice and common sense. The Aspiring Walls team are lovely and I'm happy that they've entrusted their shiny new website to me.

The site currently uses WooCommerce product management to organise and order the large number of wallpaper ranges and patterns into a usable website display, but these products are not currently sold online via the website. We may revisit this at some point, as the site is already set up to support the full e-commerce experience if required.