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Designing your own Ecommerce Web Site

Before you make your decision to design your own ecommerce website, remember that doing it yourself is a very large task that will take many hours even for an extremely technically savvy entrepreneur. It will save you money in the long run, but it may take several designs to finally get the results that you are looking for. Expect to spend many hours researching web design, internet marketing, web programming, and many other e-business topics. Here is a list of online an offline resources to help you get started.

Basic Elements of an Ecommerce Website

  1. Home Page and Informational Pages
  2. Product Pages
  3. Shopping Cart System
  4. Checkout Page and Checkout System
  5. Secure Connection
  6. Payment Gateway

The homepage and information pages are what your customer will see when they get to your site. From the homepage the visitor should be able to navigate easily to the product pages as well as the contact pages and any informational pages on the website. The product pages should have a good description, a good descriptive image, and a button that allows the visitor to add the product to an online shopping cart. The shopping cart will add the visitors items and total the amount and shipping. A shopping cart system is written in a programming language (PERL, PHP, Javascript) and not in html. The shopping cart should eventually end up going to a checkout form where the user enters their credit card information, and personal information. This form must be secure, and this can be verified by seeing the padlock symbolpadlock image in the browser. The information is sent to a payment gateway where the card is processed through your business's merchant account. Once the card is declined or accepted, the payment gateway sends a response back to the website where the checkout system will display an approved or declined message. Security is an important issue for a website. You will be collecting sensitive information and passing it over the internet. It is absolutely essential that this transaction is as secure as possible. If you cannot make the connection secure, then you should not do it yourself. Hire someone that can make your site secure.

You will need to learn to write web pages using html, and also will run into the need for php programming language, and javascript. There are numerous web sites devoted to helping people learn how to use these languages to create websites.

Designing your own ecommerce web site is by far the most rewarding way to get into ecommerce, but requires a large investment of time and patience. The easiest way to get into ecommerce with your own design is to use a system such as oscommerce for your website. This is a free, highly customizable ecommerce system with very good support. It includes a shopping cart system, checkout ability, and integrates with most payment systems. Oscommerce can integrate with just about any payment gateway so it makes it easy to add credit card acceptance or even paypal to your website. There are literally thousands of merchants who have created their own websites using oscommerce or similar systems. Make sure your hosting company is compatible with a certain system before you have them host your site.

Resources for Do-It-Yourself People

Online resources:

Webproworld E-Business Forum **

SEO Forum

HTML Tutorial

PHP Tutorial


Print resources for design and marketing:

Content Critical: Gaining Competitive Advantage through High-Quality Web Content

HTML for the World Wide Web

Sams Teach Yourself PHP, MySQL...

Marketing Through Search Optimization: How to be found on the web

Shaping Web Usability: Interaction Design in Context