Author Topic: Starting a website??  (Read 2533 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Gear Dynamics

  • Global Moderator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1103
    • View Profile
    • Gear Dynamics
  • Liked: 271
  • Likes Given: 268
Starting a website??
« on: November 24, 2014, 03:38:38 PM »
Just thought I'd smash out a quick post on eCommerce sites. I started my search armed with little to no information about websites, hosting, domains etc. All I knew was that the company needed a website and that I wanted it to be the primary outlet for customers to purchase my products from...But most importantly, I needed to be able to do everything myself. No programers or code writing or other BS. No time for that. So began the hunt for an easy to use "template" based website builder.

Most people head right to a hosting company (Bluehost, Ipage, Go Daddy etc) and sign right up for a package, thinking this is the key to start a website. I did this. It was a mistake and resulted in wasted money with limited progress. Most of these hosting companies offer access to website building programs as part of your package. These are often licensed versions, that are lacking in features and don't compare to the original program. For example, IPage has Weebly which is a "drag and drop" builder that requires absolutely no knowledge of coding, but they limit you to six pages, and dumb down the features. If you want more, you pay more (on top of what you are paying for your hosting package). If you go directly to Weebly, they will host your site for free, unlimited pages and almost all the features are available with the basic plan. You do have to pay if you want the full business package, but the plan is fairly reasonable. There are a few more companies like Weebly, but I found that it was the most intuitive.

Another option is to go with a "shop in a box" solution (Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Prestashop etc). These companies will provide you with a fully functional eCommerce site. In my trialling, I found that you pay a little more, but you really get a comprehensive eCommerce store, loaded with features, perhaps TOO many for a small scale business to really make use of. The downside (aside from costing more money) is that sometimes there isn't the customization level that you might want. Some allow you access to code, others do not.

The best solution I've found for an easy to manage site is a company called Squarespace. Originally designed for artists, photographers and musicians, they've since expanded into providing an eCommerce option. The layout is similar to a drag and drop builder but a little more refined. They  provide you with a variety of modern looking templates to choose from, but also give you the option to add custom code to modify your template. There's a lot of freedom to structure your site how you see fit and it's quite easy to create intricate layouts with lots of features. The only downside is that the have ZERO phone support. Only email and chat. Someone will generally get back to you within an hour. There are great tutorials under the support section that will answer most of the common questions. Squarespace integrates with a great payment processing company called Stripe. There are no monthly fees for using Stripe, but they do charge you the same transaction fee that PayPal charges (2.9%+0.30 per transaction). When you login to Stripe's website, you'll see that the layout is very clean and simple to understand and like Squarespace, they have great tutorials.

I am by no means an expert and these are just my observations. If anyone does have any questions or points to add, please comment.


JTT

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 31
    • View Profile
    • Jerking the Trigger
  • Liked: 4
  • Likes Given: 1
Re: Starting a website??
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2014, 10:06:54 AM »
I can echo everything here. I have used both self-hosted and shop-in-a-box type solutions. For smaller businesses like mine, I greatly prefer the shop-in-a-box solutions like BigCommerce or Squarespace. They take a lot of guess work out of running an e-commerce solution and provide great resources for the store owner.

Remember to keep your level of technical ability and availability in mind when choosing a solution. If you choose a self-hosted site, you are on call if there is a problem and you better know how to fix it. If you have a shop-in-a-box, you are basically paying for a full IT group backing you. They keep your site up and running so you can concentrate on production. To me, that is worth paying a bit more.

If you do decide on a self-hosted solution, I have had great luck with WooCommerce running on Wordpress. They offer a very flexible and expandable platform for doing business. WooCommerce is free (you pay for expansions if you need them) and surprisingly robust right out of the box. If you go this route, I recommend subscriptions to Succuri (they monitor your site for security threats and will actually remove them if requested) and a back up service like VaultPress.

SunriseTacticalGear

  • Global Moderator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 412
    • View Profile
    • Sunrise Tactical Gear
  • Liked: 117
  • Likes Given: 78
Re: Starting a website??
« Reply #2 on: November 29, 2014, 06:55:02 PM »
I use Go Daddy's Quick shopping cart, it costs me around $400 per year and is pretty basic, but in the end, it's a conduit that allows me to reach the buying public.
For people that are intimidated about creating a website, do some research and get a store in the box, as they are pretty easy to put together, and you can start making money.
Scott

HRO

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 26
    • View Profile
  • Liked: 3
  • Likes Given: 21
Re: Starting a website??
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2014, 04:47:01 AM »
More gold! Cheers guys.

theforgeco

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 5
    • View Profile
    • The Forge Co.
  • Liked: 2
  • Likes Given: 0
Re: Starting a website??
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2015, 02:11:23 AM »
Digging up an old thread from the bottom, but still!

I just want to throw in my 2c for Squarespace, I've used them for ages and their recent updates have been killer. Between Squarespace, Stripe and Google for Business I'm covered for everything, and thanks to the wonders of the cloud and all that, can do work just as easily from your computer as mine. For reference, this is my website:

http://www.theforgeco.com/

There is a tad of background tweaking on my part, and I'm still moving over from an old design so some things are a bit funky but anyway. Squarespace is killer. Only thing I wish is that it could give me monthly/weekly order summaries in a printable format. Ah well, excel/Google Sheet is good for that for now!