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Author Archives: Chris

Designing With Actinic Online – Part 1

Where To Begin?

There is nothing like having a real customer to help focus the mind on learning a new bit of software.

No, let me rephrase that.

There’s nothing like there being money involved to help focus the mind on learning a new bit of software. :)

When a customer approached me wanting to use Actinic Online for their online store, I had only really spent about 5 minutes clicking round the demo store vaguely seeing how it all fitted together. Now I had to properly learn it and implement a site using it.


The first challenge was coming up with a proposal and a price for the project. As I really didn’t know yet what I was going to be able to achieve design-wise, my first job was to figure out the layout options there were in Actinic … READ MORE

Using Twitter for Business

Originally posted here –

Twitter can be an incredibly powerful business tool.

You can use it to encourage loyalty with your current customers, and also connect to brand new people who you would never have reached before Twitter.

Which sounds marvellous in theory, but there’s no denying that it’s also a tricky medium to get your head around.

If you read my last article, you’ll already have set yourself up with a Twitter account and started following a few people. The next step is to engage with Twitter meaningfully and effectively in a way that’ll gain customers and drive sales.

The ultimate goal on Twitter is to get as many relevant people subscribing to (or ‘following’) your messages as you can. With more followers you have a larger ready-made audience for your news and promotions, and you also … READ MORE

Why Should You Bother With Twitter?

Originally Published on the Postcode Anywhere Blog

When I talk with my clients about using Twitter, half of them tell me they don’t understand it, and the other half don’t see why they should bother with it.

To be honest, I can see what they mean – it’s not like the average small business owner in the UK needs to know much about Justin Bieber’s latest haircut, or what Lauren might do next week in ‘The Only Way Is Essex’.

However, there are some massively useful things that a business owner can get out of Twitter, without even having to get that involved in it.

Here’s where to start.

Step 1 – Dip Your Toes In With A Search

Just go to and use the search bar to search for anything you like. If you sell angling equipment try … READ MORE

Golden Rules for Happy Forums

A few of my customers (e.g. have recently added a forum to their site. Although forums provide a massive opportunity for businesses to develop and nurture a fanatically loyal band of enthusiasts, they can also lead to hours spent dealing with administrative and moderation issues.

My experience moderating the Actinic Community for four years has meant that I’ve had a chance to see what works with forums, and what really causes problems. Here are a few tips I offer people when they are thinking of adding a forum to their sites:

1)      Purpose – It’s worth being really clear what the forum is there for in advance, and ensuring all new joiners know that. Is it just for people to ask advice from you or from other users? Is it also for people to generally network and become … READ MORE

Two New WordPress Sites

Random River has just finished putting the finishing touches to and – two sites built using the WordPress content management system.

Both allow the clients to update all the content and images in the site themselves using a browser, rather than having to pick up the phone to us (as much as we love to speak to our clients!) Casa Bellavista also features slideshows that can be managed by the client.… READ MORE

Email Problems During May

If you sent Random River an email during the last two weeks of May, then due to a technical problem the email will have been lost.

Please do re-send any emails you would like a response to. Email address is

Chris Dicken… READ MORE

Random River’s First Magento-Based Store Goes Live

Internet Golf Store – – is Random River’s first online store built using Magento – We went with Magento as the products that were being sold needed to be categorised in all sorts of different ways – by type, by brand, by user etc. Magento has advanced categorisation and navigation functionality that allows you to view a huge list of products, and then choose a number of criteria to filter that list by.

The site also makes use of some other useful Magento features such as wish lists, product comparison (very useful when looking at two apparently identical golf clubs!) and a very speedy one-page checkout.

Magento isn’t great for everything however. The managing products is very slow and cumbersome, and importing any products takes ages. It’s also difficult to use for non-technical people processing orders or … READ MORE

Thinking of Upgrading to Actinic v10?

Actinic have announced the release of the long-awaited and eagerly-anticipated version 10 of their ecommerce software. You can read more about the features here –

The feature I’m most excited about is the ‘Streamlined Checkout’ – which significantly improves the currently somewhat cumbersome checkout process in Actinic. This area has long been a problem area in Actinic sites, and a place where a lot of customers can get confused and abandon their orders. The new checkout improves things by making everything much more logical – all address information is dealt with on one page, then tax and shipping, and then finally the customer can do a final review before paying. It’s a great improvement, and one I really recommend for all Actinic customers.

Other features include a real-time stock control (really useful for fast-moving items, or items available in … READ MORE

Bayju Accessories goes live

In the market for some beautiful jewellery and accessories? Or just keen to check out a very pretty site? Then look no further than

This site features some great photography – enchanced by an integration with MagicZoom for closely examining the photos.… READ MORE

Magnifico Magnifying Glasses

Head on over to to see some rather wonderful magnifying glasses and related items.… READ MORE