What do I want my site to do?
Okay. so now we know what to call your site. The next step is deciding what you want from your site. Examples of different types of functionality are Online shops, Discussion Forums or the ability to showcase properties.
We do this before starting the design process as the functionality of the site will have a bearing on how we layout the homepage.
We should also decide what functionality we want before buying Hosting as different hosting packages can or cannot host the various bits of software used. Also if you are going to have a lot of traffic on your site it might be worth buying a hosting package with more bandwidth so as the site doesn't slow down - and therefore annoy your potential customers.
A quick introduction to the various options avaliable. We will cover these and more in more detail later.
Brochure HTML site:
As explained above An online brochure showcases a company’s products and services in a clear, logical way with easy to find contact details. This is the most basic site build and as such it is the cheapest option.
- Build Site Template in HTML and CSS.
- Input Photos and Content.
Content Management System (CMS) Site Build:
With this option the client will be able to make changes to pre-defined parts of the website: Text and images. This is ideal if you need to change prices or information on a regular basis.
- Build Site template in HTML and CSS.
- Input Photos and Content.
- Define fields that will be editable by client. Add CMS code.
- Test CMS code.
See more in the CMS section later.
There are a few different options for setting up an e-commerce solution, depending on your needs from the system:
Paypal Shopping cart:
This is the quickest and easiest system to set-up. However it lacks some functionality when compared to the more complete solutions:
Shop is not content managed - therefore the Client will not be able to change the price of products or add new products.
Stock Control - There is no stock control on the site, so you will need someone with Web experience to take an out of stock item offline.
Actinic and or Oscommerce:
For a more complete eCommerce solution I can use one of two off the shelf eCommerce solutions, either Actinic or Oscommerce
Actinic is hosted locally on your machine whereas the Oscommerce system can be accessed and edited through any browser, both systems have similar features but Oscommerce has multi-language capabilities.
Once we have the various shipping and tax rates set-up the software works out VAT and Shipping as a customer checks out. When there’s an order on the site you get an email. You have a program on your desktop which you open and download the orders, the software then allows you to print a packing list, invoices and so on. Once an order is packed, shipped and an invoice is printed the order is marked as closed.
To use Actinic or Oscommerce I’d recommend you register with either WorldPay or Realex Payments. They vet the online credit card payments for you, and after a period transfer the funds into your bank account. You can see the various terms and conditions and rates on their sites:
As well as the licence for the product [Actinic: £300-700 depending on package needed, OsCommerce is free] the quote for an Online shop will depend on the number of products you will have online for the site launch.
Optional extras for any site:
Online Enquiry Form:
An online enquiry for allows customers to place an enquiry through your website. In order to stop Spam I now build into the form as standard a visual confirmation panel. Also in order to stop customers from making an enquiry without giving you important information we can set certain fields on the form as mandatory. e.g.. So a user cannot submit the form without giving you their contact details. [yes, people will do that if you let them!]
A Blog is basically an online diary. Having a blog on your site allows you to keep customers and interested parties up to date on company news, e.g.. A new menu, special offers and so on. While not necessary, incorporating a blog on your site has certain benefits.
- They’re a great way to get your personality and passion for your business across to potential customers.
- Google likes fresh content, so it helps your Google rating and over time this will improve your traffic.
However I’d only really recommend a Blog if someone in the business will have the time to commit to regular updates. There’s nothing worse then a blog site with no recent updates, it reflects badly on the company, so this should be a key consideration in deciding whether or not to incorporate a blog into the website.
- Create a Database on the clients server.
- Install and set-up blog software -> connect Blog to Database.
- Edit blog template to fit website branding.
- Set blog settings: account users, categories, comments etc.
Flash Gallery Tool:
A Flash Gallery is a great way to showcase products. I use slide show pro for this: http://slideshowpro.net/
- Decide on Photographs. Crop Photographs to the right size.
- Add Photographs to Gallery
- Integrate gallery to website.