How to Setup an ECommerce Webshop

Ok, you’ve made the decision to set up your own Webshop and you’ve got the products that you want to sell but how do you go about it? Where do you start?

There are several different aspects that you need to consider, the main ones are –

  1. Domain Name
  2. Hosting the site
  3. eCommerce Webshop Software
  4. Site Security
  5. Loading Products onto the site
  6. Receiving Customer Payments

Domain Name

To go back to basics a domain name is the name by which your site is known on the web, when you type in the www address of the website that you want to visit you are typing in that site’s domain name.

To have your own Webshop you must first purchase your own domain name, then you need to associate that domain name with a physical ip address on the internet, which leads me nicely onto…

Hosting the Site

The software for your Webshop needs to physically reside on a computer which can be accessed via the internet, once you’ve chosen your software it needs to be running 24 hours a day on a computer somewhere.

Here you have the choice of whether you run your Webshop on a dedicated server or you can share space on a server with other websites. But whatever you choose you also need to be able to associate your domain name with the physical (ip address) of your server i.e. the dns settings, this would normally be managed by whoever registered the domain name for you but you do need to be careful with this as it could badly affect the smooth running of your Webshop, its really important that whenever somebody types in your domain name (url) that your website is ALWAYS available.

You also have the choice of whether to run on a Linux Server or a Windows Server, in general there are more options available for Linux and as another generalisation software for Linux is available at a lower cost than Windows software, but as in all things though there are exceptions and there is some very good windows software available at competitive prices.

You also need to make sure that things like database backups are taken care of and that you can load site certificates etc. (more about that later)

eCommerce Software

Now that you have your domain name and you have your server (or hosting service) and the two work correctly together you need to consider which eCommerce webshop software to run, as mentioned previously there are two main directions to go in i.e. you could either decide on Windows or Linux

Once you’ve made the decision of the operating system then you have a huge choice of the different Webshop software and these can range from free software (with limited support) through to software which costs thousands of pounds per year.

There are some very good free applications available such as Magento and OsCommerce but generally with these you’ll be on your own when it comes to installing and running the software.

You’ll then need to install and configure your software to get it looking exactly the way that you want it to. As well as the layout you will probably also need to do things like setup your payment methods, delivery options, countries that you want to deal with and tax codes.

Site Security

There are two aspects to this –

  1. You need to prevent your site from being hacked and your customer’s details from being stolen. In the UK generally you need to be registered under the data protection act which sets certain standards on how the data is protected.
  2. You also need to make sure that whenever your customers type in sensitive data such as passwords or credit card numbers that there is a layer of encryption between your customer’s PC and your web server, so that nobody can be watching the data which is being routed to your server to capture the credit card numbers etc. To make this happens you need to make sure that your server can support an SSL connection and you need to purchase and install a certificate onto the server which will re-assure your customers that this secure connection is happening.

Loading Products Onto the Site

So now you’ve got your server and it works with your domain name and you’ve loaded your software what’s next?

You’ve probably got a few hundred (or thousand) products to load up onto the site. Firstly you’ll need a digital camera, because you’ll need to take pictures of all of your products that is unless you’re very lucky and the product’s manufacturer can supply you with these.

First you should try to work out a category hierarchy, usually the Webshop software will allow an unlimited number of categories for you to group your products under. Don’t forget that your customers will use these categories to navigate your website so it’s a good idea to spend some time on planning this properly, then for each product you’ll need to come up with a description that you need to type in using the software you’ve purchased and you need to upload the picture that you’ve taken.

Once that’s done your newly added products will be on your website

Receiving Customer Payments

Obviously you’ll need some way of getting the customers payments into your bank account.

Paypal is very good for this as they accept most of the major credit cards and bank cards and it’s usually quite straightforward to set up in most Webshop software applications. For the customers its not quite so simple and I find that a lot of customers don’t have a Paypal account and really cant be bothered with the validation that they need to go through to set one up i.e. they are just looking for the box where they enter their credit card number.

There are many other very good Credit Card payment providers around who offer payment methods and generally it just a case of finding a payment provider who can process payments to your bank account AND work with your software, as the communications between the Webshop software and the payment provider can be quite complex.

So that’s it, you’re ready to go, simple really

SEO – Web Marketing Search Engine Optimization For Your Business

As a traditional business you focus on many forms of marketing. If you are a small business, you may rely largely on word of mouth marketing, getting your customers to give you referrals. You probably have business cards, brochures, and flyers. And your website is probably geared toward these same marketing concepts of providing company information and cool pictures.

Unfortunately, in today’s society a business website cannot be another traditional marketing tool found accidentally online or only by your existing customers. The internet is completely changing the way people shop for goods and services, and if potential customers cannot find you on the internet, they will take their business elsewhere. To build a good web presence you have to change your focus to web marketing search engine optimization.

Web marketing is much like traditional marketing, but taken to the web. Word of mouth marketing becomes social networking, business cards become directory and search engine listings, brochures become video or article marketing, and flyers become online classified ads. However, you must use web marketing search engine optimization in order for these marketing strategies to be successful.

This requires careful keyword research of y our niche, or your area of expertise, and use of those keywords in all of your internet marketing. Your keyword or phrase should appear in your domain name or URL, the title of your site, and throughout your site at around one to three percent density. This means that for every four hundred words you should have your keyword four times.

Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Web Designer for Your Business Web Site

How to Choose a Web Design Firm

Simple. You do your homework on them. Then, you start asking questions and taking notes. There are plenty of web designers available. You want to go with the best because, in fact, your web designer is in essence your partner. You want to choose a designer that takes YOUR business seriously.

What questions do you ask?

There are several important questions to ask when choosing a web designer for your business web site.

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design firm for your business web site is a very important decision. And if your company is like most small businesses, you probably do not have web design experience. Building your web site will take time and work. And working with a web designer is no easy task. So choose the right web design company from the start and avoid do-over’s, which can be costly and time consuming.

1. What kind of web experience do you have?

For starters, find out what kind of design experience your potential design firm has. Do they have experience with content management systems such as Joomla or Drupal, do they have experience working with “raw” HTML? Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience with ecommerce hosting?

2. Do you have a portfolio that I can review?

An experienced web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you?

3. Do you have any references?

In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn’t they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

4. What are your prices?

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front.

Ask them a bit about how they manage payments. If they respond in a very business-like and professional manner, this is a good sign. If they throw out answers like – “Don’t worry, we’ll manage” or “Whatever you are comfortable with”, don’t be fooled. This is trouble waiting to happen. Get the price in writing before you begin the project.

5. Do you have experience with search engine optimization?

Most small business owners do not have it in their budget to hire a separate marketing firm to work on search engine optimization (SEO), so it imperative that your web designer have experience in SEO. A good designer will know that design and SEO go hand-in-hand. Designing a web site for search engines with “clean” code that utilizes cascading style sheets is essential to getting your content indexed in the leading search engines, such as Google and Bing.

6. Do you have experience with social media marketing?

Many marketing firms do know the first thing about social media marketing. These firms are stuck in the past and are not as effective as they pretend to be. Be sure that you work with a designer that knows how to setup a Facebook fan page for your business and design a customized Twitter profile. This is important because you will want your social media properties to mesh with the design of your web site. The web site and social media pages should complement one-another.

7. What is your process for designing or building a web site?

Make sure you ask your potential web design company about the process that they use? Do they design a web site or do they build a web site? An experienced Internet professional should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don’t, they’re probably not as experienced as they claim to be. Building a web site is a highly technical process, while designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. At the same time, many firms design web sites, yet out-source the creative portion of the project. Find out from the beginning what the process if for the firm that you are considering.

8. How long will it take?

Perfectionism can be a huge stumbling block in the fast paced world of the Internet. Some designers are unable to compromise between quality and time to market needs. Test: See how long it takes until you receive a proposal.

9. What type of support is offered after web site launch?

If your design firm does not offer web site maintenance, you might want to continue looking. Most reputable design firms will offer “post-launch” maintenance for companies that do not have an in-house webmaster.

10. Which web hosting providers do you work with?

If your design firm does not know the first-names of the contact at their favorite web design firm, then this should raise a red flag. Most reputable web designers know not to choose a web host simply because they are the most popular or because they offer the cheapest web hosting. A reputable web design firm should know who to call and how to get results! Does your web designer work with a green hosting company? Environmentally-friendly web hosting is becoming more and more popular for business web sites looking to implement an eco-policy.

Getting a little recognition on the W3 is hard, even in a niche market (especially in a niche market). You have less than 10 seconds to convince a site visitor to stick around long enough to learn about the quality of your services, your products or your message. Web surfers are jagged out on information overload. If they don’t see what they want to see on your home page or a landing page, they bounce. So, making a statement about your corporate culture and your business’ core values has to happen in the blink of an eye. Visitors will never even see the “About Us” page if you don’t create a good impression – in 10 seconds. So, go green! An emblem or banner proclaiming that you employ green hosting makes an immediate statement about your on-line business. It says you care about the environment.

Do your homework when choosing a web design firm.

Good designers are creative people that need to think out of the box. Finding a good web designer is getting harder and harder. The good designers are being snatched by agencies and large projects. They are overloaded with work and often, you won’t know about them because they don’t have time (or need) to market themselves. Doing your homework and asking the right questions is important to decide if they are right for the job.

Webshops – Changing Online Shopping Experiences

Web Marketing and SEO

Web Marketing and SEO Promotion are one of the important aspects of any marketing plans. Nowadays, 90% visitors of the website come from search engines like Google, Yahoo & MSN. Web Marketing and SEO are helpful in increasing the visibility on these search engines. SEO is also helpful in bringing targeted traffic to the website and therefore result in improved business opportunities.

Two of the common ways of Web Marketing are as follows:

1) Organic (SEO) optimization
2) Inorganic (SEO) optimization

Organic (SEO) optimization is slow method of web marketing and promotion; it will take 3 to 6 month to get you the right results. It depends on many factors of website e.g.- title, website content, website back link and so on.

Title tag: Title is important section of all website pages. It gives the overall idea about the page of the website. So one should try and keep product or service related keyword in the title tag.

Content: Content is most important section of the entire website. Good content helps in retaining visitors. So write fresh content for the website or keep updating it on a regular basis.

Back Links: A website’s page rank depends on number and quality of back links, Better page rank will in turn help one achieve better ranking in search engines.

Inorganic (SEO) services or paid listing is expensive but fast method of web marketing. In this you will get the result from the starting day. Paid listing is used to increase brand awareness. The website receives greater traffic too. Common examples include PPC campaigns, paid advertisements on Google, Yahoo, MSN and banner advertisements.

Web Marketing is the best option for any online business or company seeking online presence. It is one of the best and economical ways of promoting your company or business globally. Online marketing many a times also proves to the most effective and cost effective way of promoting one’s product and company. However, before you seriously embark upon web marketing be sure that you have identified and have answers to some of the basic questions such as what is your target audience, what is your goal.

In true sense, SEO is one of the most important aspects of web marketing. Services of a good SEO Company can help one in increasing brand awareness through maximum exposure and visibility. So choose the best SEO/Web marketing company according to your requirement and budget.

Tips to Buck Up the Web Designers Out of Their Irksome Web Design Process

When you are running a web design business, it is very important for you to understand that your clients are the part and parcel of your business. The type of clients you agree upon to work with speaks a lot about you and your web design firm. Similarly, the grounds on which they delegated the responsibility on you to produce a design speaks a lot about them. Maintaining a good relationship with the client is though a hard nut to crack, but a lot of it spins around the web designers’ knack to edify their customers and set expectations so that both sides end up with gratification.

Many of the designers go off the beaten track in a way to gratify their clients. They make continual edits, re-designing, Last minute changes, moreover the add-in features that had never been discussed. Web designers just give in to each and every caprice of their clients but then at the end they end up getting underpaid and feeling frustrated, rebuffed and jaded.

Most web designers might relate this to worst example in a web design process. There are a few absurd expectations for a project to go quickly and smoothly. The minute these expectation ruins out of delays in the completion of the project or the bad designs or due to the coding bugs, etc., both the client and the web designer as well gets irked. Nevertheless, there is a trick out of which you can make your irksome design process a pleasant experience for you and your client as well. Edifying your clients is not a great part of your business project but you can make certain that it will aid you greatly in recuperating the working relationship with your client.

Wondering what tags along a general list of some significant lessons that must outline the scaffold for the education process? Well, a few key points are brought into a limelight below:

Tip 1: You are a Professional Designer, Not a Laborer

People never tell their Doctor’s and electricians how they need to do their jobs. They understand that the doctors and electricians obviously more on familiar terms with their respective field of work than them. This attitude on the other hand ought to persist with the webmasters too. Many clients have a set mind that just browsing through the websites qualifies the webmasters to make design decisions. They treat web designer as the annex of their brains. And because of this kind of false premonition the designers are often wrongly taken as the laborers who are born to get their task done, and not the professionals who are creative and talented with the skills and experience that others professionals to might have in their area of work. Moreover, the clients forget that the Web Designers too are the part of the design process equally.

This pathetic situation occurs generally in the case of freelancers where the clients presume that if the designers don’t have their office then they can work in any odd hour of the day too as if they don’t have their family or other things around to be taken care of!

Thus it is imperative for the web designers to make certain that their clients understand that they are experts and that their opinions are grounded in the research before the web design process initiates.

Tip 2: Communication is Vital

Lack of communication can often badly ruin the whole of the project. Generally, the clients tend to keep themselves involved and vocal in the initial stage of the project. This as a result ends up with the designers’ belief that the things are going well until when the clients hand over them the laundry list of edits.

So, bringing this clause under the contract that you might need your client’s feedback throughout the project from an issue as large as payments and billings to the minuscule subjects like the color combinations etc. so that you can generate a better product in less time period.

Tip 3: The Web and the Print Medium are like chalk and cheese

There are some of the clients who are going through the web design process for the first time and web is a strange and foreign place for them whilst there are a few who are incapable of figuring out the difference between the print medium and the web.

There are also a few clients who want their website to represent itself just like a brochure of their product or services.

Therefore, being an expert of this design arena, it’s the designer’s responsibility to enlighten their clients about the things like their website can be very well fabricated like a brochure as per their desire but doing this might fail to plug the real power of the internet eventually setting them up as the failure on the web. The web designer’s having their lives almost certainly been spent surfing the web should never take these little things for granted. Edifying the clients over the nuance and the subtlety of the web can help aid the wrong illusions that the clients might have.

Thus, to wrap-up, the art of learning the management of clients is a major challenge for any service-oriented business. If one wants to maintain good working relationships then, edifying clients are one of the wisest ways. Web designing is an essential fragment of the service-industry and thus follows the same rules. The toughest job to do ever is to stand up your client or boss but as a matter of fact doing this regularly can make your irksome website process a pleasant experience for yourself and for your clients as well.