client spotlight: Two WordPress Sites for Author Gracie Vandiver

A case study in ecommerce and fundraising website development

screenshot of the header image on - a hand-drawn illustration of a white picket fence with green grass in the foreground and a blue background with the words "Basil's Quest A Tale of Dogged Determination By Gracie H. Vandiver" floating in the blue sky

When we heard that songwriter, animal welfare advocate, and author Gracie Vandiver had written a children’s book, we squealed with delight. We’ve been helping Gracie and her husband Jerry with their websites for a while now (most recently, we built a site for Camper Cait and Jerry Berry to showcase their album and upcoming tour dates), so getting to help Gracie rebuild her personal site as well as launch a new one specifically for her book, Basil’s Quest, was a ton of fun.

Revamping an author’s brand and building a site for her first children’s book

It had been a minute since Gracie last updated her personal website; her previous site had been built using Apple’s iWeb, which stopped being supported a decade ago!

Click on the thumbnails to see images of before our redesign

We turned to WordPress (WP) as a solution for two reasons:

  1. Gracie’s background as a social media consultant means that she is already very familiar with the WP interface… and she’s savvy enough with online tools to know exactly what she wants out of her website functionality.
  2. Gracie wanted some higher-level functionality – like a .pdf “flip book” preview of the first few chapters – as well as more granular control of layouts and site styling.

Thankfully, Gracie’s background in tech allowed the BIPi team to really shine with what we do best: Gracie sent us all the assets we needed to do a quick basic build. We spun up two WordPress installs on Bluehost and, using the excellent direction Gracie provided plus the fantastic time-saving perk of Divi, we had the sites up and launched in a little over a month.

Click on the thumbnails to see images of and after our revamp and new build

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WordPress website development to manage blogging and book sales

The biggest challenge of this project wasn’t even really about the site design itself. Because Gracie is incredibly experienced with using PayPal buttons to manage sales, we set up sales of signed hardback copies using PayPal buttons, and sales of the eBook using a combination of PayPal and BookFunnel.

In addition to direct sales, Gracie wanted to use her book as a vehicle for supporting a cause near and dear to her heart – animal rescues. WordPress allowed us to easily duplicate out her sales page to customize them for individual rescues, giving them their own URL for fundraising purposes and their own sales buttons to make it as easy as possible for Gracie to manage funds on her end.

Manual configuration (and the ongoing work of keeping track of all those buttons within BookFunnel and PayPal) was the biggest headache of this site; WordPress, Divi, and a super-savvy client made the rest of it a breeze.

(That said, we won’t be developing or supporting sites on BlueHost going forward. It’s been an ongoing headache, and without automated backups and one-click-restore functionality on the plan that Gracie prefers, supporting the site feels slightly dangerous with every round of software updates.)

WordPress websites make author edits and sales management easy

Bluehost aside, WordPress has made ongoing edits (on our part and on the client’s part) super easy. Gracie’s been blogging on her personal site, and we’ve been adding new pages for rescue fundraising as needed and keeping the sites safe and tidy under our Small Business WordPress support plan.

We’re excited to see what’s next from Gracie. For now, we encourage you to snag yourself or someone you love a copy of her book Basil’s Quest, a chapter book for children ages 8-12 and animal lovers of all ages, over at her site.

Gracie Vandiver’s sites were built using WordPress. If you’re curious about how Berry Interesting Productions can help you build an outstanding website, we’re always happy to help! Drop us a line or book a consultation directly with our fearless leader, D’nelle. You can also sign up to get emails from Berry Interesting, and we’ll keep you in the loop.