Design & Development of an Affiliate Website

Design and development process of an affiliate website

There is no specific standard or processes or technology that can be associated with affiliate website development. Developers can design a single page affiliate website, multiple pages using blogs, free CMS like Drupal, Joomla or Wordpress. Professional or I should say full time affiliates require quality CMS that offers everything they require to manage the users, data and website contents easily.  I will explain in simple steps that could be taken to setup an affiliate website such as a cashback, discount voucher, group deal, price comparison or other affiliate related websites.

Have you decided your affiliate website type/segment?

The most important step you need to take is to decide your website segment or type, such as if you are planning to setup a cashback, price comparison, discount voucher website or even a website listing single product types such as Chocolates. Also make sure you know for which country the site should be targeted, and you have the basic knowledge of the user base and their requirements. Please read previous blog on selecting a website segment for full details. It would help you to analyse and decide a profitable and interesting affiliate segment.

Ask yourself some questions

Once you have decided a niche for your affiliate project. Let’s list down some questions as we need to find the answers before we go any further.

1 – Do you need a static or dynamic database driven website?

2 – Do you need a customised solution or a freeware CMS could do the job?

3 – Have you seen similar projects? If yes what sort of technologies are they using? If you are not familiar with programming languages then consult your friends or email some companies for a quote. They will explain it in detail for you. Try

4 – If the project is a dynamic database driven website then have you found the data sources that needs integrating? Could the data be integrated from any external source directly from the affiliate networks or the retailers? Do you have the list of the data sources?

5 – Do you have time and money to spend on the project? It may take weeks or even months to design, develop, test and deploy a decent affiliate project.

6 – Are you going to design and develop yourself or planning to hire developers from Freelancing websites or a professional affiliate CMS Development Company like

7 – Do you have access to affiliate networks for data integration?

8 – Do you think you can make profit from the project? Make a yearly project plan and analyse it.

9 – Are you just experimenting with affiliate marketing or seriously thinking to pursue as a career? If you are serious then let’s read some affiliate blogs, forums to get some insights, talk to network affiliate manager to find out what is hot, which affiliate websites are making money and how they can help you?

10 – Affiliate networks are the most integral part of your affiliate project. Make sure you have affiliate accounts with them, understand their technology and offers, talk to them on phone, check their training videos and manuals. The company you may hire for design and development will not help you understand the affiliate marketing. You are probably required to have strong relationships with the affiliate networks.

Some basic requirements for an affiliate CMS and website development

Once you are confident in finding the answers of the above questions, let’s get our hands dirty in real affiliate CMS design and development phases. Some basic requirements are as follows.

Let’s assume we are going to design and develop a UK cashback project that would be integrated with the UK leading affiliate networks and is able to provide dynamic contents, cashback calculations, data integration, user and website management. You would also require the following attributes and factors to explore and retain.

1 – Money and Time (lots of it!)

2 – Define design and development strategy for the project – even in your mind with some ideas.

3 – A designer and a developer (could be multiple) with affiliate cms development experience from Freelancing websites if you are managing yourself or working with a professional affiliate CMS agency such as

4 – Basic understanding of affiliate networks.

5 – Understand what is a commission, cashback and payment method in affiliate marketing?

6 – What is the difference in CPA, CPL, CPC and Hybrid models? These are the types of affiliate programs you will be working with during data entry to setup cashback offers.

7 – Sign a contract with the design/development agency or individuals so you own the source code and technologies that are being customised for you?

8 – Setup a bank account and also paypal account if you wish to make cashout payments online for your website customers. For setting up BACS, you will also need a payment gateway like Sagepay or merchant account.

9 – Would you be working directly with the merchants then you may require setting up direct tracking pixels with the merchants. If not then you can easily work via the affiliate networks.

10 – Have you arranged your hosting, domain name and and SSL certificate.

Technologies you need to understand or have some knowledge..

There are several tools, languages, frameworks that you need to understand even if you are not getting your hands dirty in design and development. It is your chance to learn while you hire designers, developers or an agency to help you on design and development.

Database – You will require a database technology to store all the information such as user login details, cashback statistics etc. All the data that is dynamically driven and presented to the user is saved in a database. At iLead Digital we mainly use MySql database for dynamic driven websites such as a cashback project like or

Scripting Languages & Frameworks – These are mainly used to setup dynamic web pages such as PHP. The logic for each page to obtain the dynamic data from the attached databases is written within the scripting language files and algorithms. At iLead Digital we use Codeignitor PHP framework to setup cashback projects that gives us a quick and professional start to setup the core engine and structure in short time and with smaller foot prints of the code. Frameworks are useful to work in a standard process that is professional and keep the code clean and tidy.

Responsive Frameworks – If you wish your project to be accessible on mobile, tablets and all computers then you will also ask for a responsive framework to be integrated. A responsive framework such as Foundation or Bootstrap allows html pages to be setup and viewable for smart phones and tablets. See in mobile and tablets to analyse the difference.

Photoshop – Once you have decided the design requirements for your project that could include black & white wireframes, your design team will begin using their creative brushes and colours to design a nice colourful template for you. These are normally designed in Photoshop or Illustrator at iLead Digital. Once the customer is happy with how the page should look with their preferred colours, placements and fonts, it is then sent to the front end design team who will then convert each page in to HTML version with a little help from CSS.

CSS & HTML – HTML is a markup language what each web page contains. The design templates are converted into html pages and the fonts, style, colours and layout is controlled by CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) on these html pages. CSS files help to define the look of the website and it is kept in a different file knows as css file so that those elements could be used on any page of the project. If responsive website is required then html and css should be configured under the framework module requirements.

XML, JSON, REST, APIs – These are language specific technologies that are normally used to store or obtain the data from third parties such as an API for commissions data could be available from an affiliate network in JSON or REST algorithms. It will then be used to process, connect and obtain the data for further processing on the website.

Design Process of an affiliate website at iLead Digital

The design process we have at iLead Digital for each cashback is more simpler than you could think. We ask our clients if they could reply our three questions in detail.

First is that they could provide us the similar or their inspirational websites that they like. It helps us to analyse what they could be projecting in the mind for their own cashback project. We also give them list of top cashbacks in the world to view in detail.

Second question we ask if they could help us choose the right colour scheme they might be thinking for their website. We offer them help with nice colour pallets and ask them for 2-3 different variations.

Final question we ask if they could just draw the rough sketch on a pen and a paper for the home page. It helps us to analyse where the client may require menu, special area, header, footer etc elements on the entire page.

These three questions and detailed answers help our design team first to draw a rough black and white wireframe as client requested that defines placements on it and then it is useful for the UI designer to design a nice template. We present 2-3 different colour variations to our clients to chose one that can be processed further on to the front end developers for HTML slicing.

 Development Process of an affiliate website at iLead Digital

There are several stages and core sections that several developers have to work together in order to setup a technical map and structure for a cashback project. Each client we have comes with his own set of requirements that are discussed and understood in detail before even signing the agreement with the client. There are five core sections during the development phase.

First phase consists of the front end developers to slice the templates into HTML. Each page is then integrated in the core cashback engine. The database structure is configured for each page as and when required however, the core database architecture is set before setting up the engine.

Second phase consists of setting up the admin panel from where the client can view all the data, edit/delete/manage it easily without having to go in the code or database directly. The developer works closely with the client on that stage to provide the required out/input on the admin panel.

Third section is to work with the affiliate networks and integrate with their data APIs. The aim is to make the system and engine dynamic so that all network data such as product feeds or sales and conversion data can be fetched dynamically and processed accordingly without the admin having to manually interfere and process is manually. Affiliate Network integration require clients to make their affiliate accounts on each network and request API keys.

Forth section is to integrate any external source of data that might be required such as payment gateways or cashout payment to Charities or other organisations. It may also include integration with social networks, social graph, analytics and reporting packages.

Final stage is testing each setup of data, code, process, logic in detail with the development team. The client is provided with training on how to manage each section of the website and also asked to invite his friends and family for testing.

A typical cashback project at iLead Digital is designed and developed in five weeks and one week is required for detailed testing and bug fixing. View more details on iLead Digital – Affiliate CMS development media pack.

Finally the design and development process of an affiliate website is not very different from any project however the complexity begins if you don’t have experience in working with the affiliate networks. There i recommend working with leading cashback CMS provider for your professional cashback project.

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