Where Do I Begin When Creating an eCommerce Website?

Creating a website is not a simple task.

There are a plethora of products and services available that can either assist you in getting your website to where you want it to be or simply confuse you. Additionally, it’s critical that you make the correct choices upfront to avoid having to restructure your entire website due to a design layout issue. The amount of time required to master many of these software packages varies significantly. As a result, I believe it is critical to be guided in the “right” direction to avoid wasting time in the wrong areas or learning software that may prove unusable later on (*coughs* Frontpage *coughs*).

Where you should begin is highly dependent on the task at hand and the depth to which you intend to dive. For a moderately professional, clean-looking web site that does not require extensive automation or animated graphics, you can probably get by with some basic knowledge of HTML, proficiency with a good WYSIWYG editor, and an image editing programme. On the other hand, if you’re looking to create something that will truly impress your audience, you may want to invest some significant time and effort in developing some animation skills using a programme like Macromedia Flash. Personally, I always opt for what I believe will generate the most profit with the least effort, and as a result, I usually end up spending the majority of my time diving deeper with ONLY my WYSIWYG HTML editor and image editor.

What is a “WYSIWYG” (what you see is what you get) editor? ##

A WYSIWYG editor (What You See Is What You Get) The HTML editor is what enables you to function with little or no knowledge of HTML. That is, you do not need to know EVERYTHING about HTML in order to create a website that looks decent. When you use a WYSIWYG editor, it interprets your actions (for example, inserting an image) as a series of HTML tags with attributes and handles them for you… As a result, you receive exactly what you see on your screen. Rather than seeing a slew of HTML code in text format, you’ll mostly see what your web site will look like once it’s live, WHILE you’re building it. I strongly advise you to use the most recent version of dreamweaver — it is widely regarded as one of the best HTML editors available. Dreamweaver’s interface is extremely user-friendly, includes an integrated FTP client, and was designed specifically to be flexible enough for both coders and everyday amateur webmasters.

What is image editing? What purpose do I have for that? ##

Allow us to be realistic here: If you’re going to create a professional-looking web site, it’s critical that you’re capable of creating some simple, decent-looking graphics. There are numerous graphics applications that are capable of getting the job done, but for power and flexibility, I recommend Adobe Photoshop. Adobe Photoshop does take some time to get used to, but it is VERY rewarding in the end. I’ve ended up using my Photoshop skills to create graphics for multiple websites, as well as to touch up portraits, create business cards, flyers, and other online advertisements such as banners. Indeed, I’ve used it for all but animation… However, it includes Adobe Imageready, which is excellent for animation. This software is incredible, and if you’re going to learn ANY image editing software, I recommend starting with Photoshop due to its breadth of functionality!

Let’s get some sales for me! ##

Start your new website, which you’ve created using your web mastering and image editing skills, with a few new sales… That sounds like a plan, doesn’t it? Pay-per-click advertising is an excellent way to accomplish this quickly. BUT HOLD ON! Isn’t that costly? To be sure… However, with the tools provided by some of the largest pay-per-click advertisers, we should be able to make an educated guess as to how much profit we’re going to make without making a significant upfront investment.

The big question surrounding pay-per-click advertising is whether it is worthwhile when you can obtain traffic through organic search engine rankings (otherwise known as organic traffic). After all, there are numerous companies that promise to assist you in obtaining all of the traffic you require by optimising your website for organic ranking. The answer is straightforward: profit is profit. Anyone can calculate their profit after the cost of PPC advertising is deducted using conversion tracking tools such as those offered by Yahoo! Search Marketing and Google Adwords. Google Adwords, in my opinion, has the most user-friendly interface of all PPC advertisers. Google Adwords’ interface makes it incredibly simple to determine which keywords generate the most revenue and which ones aren’t even worth your advertising money.

However, let us not forget that in order to achieve those conversions, we will require a shopping cart! There are numerous software packages available, but I’ve been using Mal’s E-Commerce Free shopping cart with great success for several years. Because the cart’s server is hosted on their machines, you not only avoid paying for the software itself, but also avoid paying for an SSL security ticket! Nothing beats a freebie, eh?

Converting those sales leads you’ve been cultivating into purchases! ##

After you’ve made a few sales, it’s probably a good idea to begin utilizing lead management services. I strongly advise against using autoresponders for this purpose. Autoresponders are essentially a newsletter sign-up that enables you to strategically determine what to send each lead after a specified amount of time has passed. Consider the following scenario: someone visits your website and you offer them a complimentary newsletter. If you’re selling an ebook on a particularly complicated subject, you might consider first sending them information on the most fundamental concepts to pique their interest. You can gradually but steadily convert those visitors who may have left your website and never returned into some serious revenue!