- Over the past 10 years, e-commerce has been one of the fastest growing segments of the retail industry.
This may seem obvious to anyone who has ever shopped online, but the size and speed of the boom has been truly astounding.
There are already hundreds of thousands of online stores worldwide (for example, in Russia: the yarn store Azhur),
and according to some estimates, retailers are opening 20,000 new e-commerce storefronts every week.
- The popularity of the online marketplace shows no signs of slowing down, so now may be the perfect time to start selling online.
There are more options for building an e-commerce site than ever before.
You can work with an e-commerce platform provider to create an online store,
or you can let web experts handle the design and development of your site from start to finish.
- Working with such services offers some convenience, but if you need extra flexibility and control,
it’s best to create your own site yourself.
With a little know-how and some easy-to-use tools,
you can create an e-commerce site that looks and functions exactly the way you want it to more effectively meet the needs
of your customers and your business.
- In this guide, you’ll learn what goes into creating your own custom e-commerce (DIY) website,
from choosing the right tools and services you’ll need to build your web pages,
choosing the best hosting provider and payment solution that’s right for your business, to determining the best security for your site.
- Choosing web design tools
Once you’ve developed your business plan and are ready to focus on your new online business,
it’s time to start building your e-commerce website. The first step is to choose the tools you want to use to design and code your site.
- You can start from scratch and code everything by hand, but that requires a good knowledge of HTML, PHP, MySQL and other programming languages.
To shorten the learning curve, you can invest in web design software such as Adobe Dreamweaver or Microsoft Expression Web.
Depending on which version you buy, these programs can run anywhere from $50 to $300.
If you don’t have the budget to spend on software, there are also several free open-source options to choose from,
including KompoZer and BlueGriffon (formerly Nvu). While they may not offer all the sophisticated features that paid software does,
these open-source programs are still powerful and easy to use.
- Everyone likes different web tools for different reasons, so it’s hard to say which one will be the best program for you.
However, there are some key elements that you should look for in any software.
- If your site is small and simple, HTML/CSS is fine. On the other hand, if the content or structure of your e-commerce site will change frequently,
you might consider an open-source content management system (CMS) such as Joomla and Drupal.
A CMS is software that allows users to add new Web pages or modify content on existing pages — quickly and easily.
With a CMS, you don’t have to worry about coding new content into HTML because the system will do it for you.
- An easy-to-use interface is important, especially if you are less familiar with HTML and prefer to work with a WYSIWYG application
(what you see is what you get). WYSIWYG HTML editors allow you to create your site by clicking and dragging elements and inserting text and links,
just like in a word processing program. As you design your site, the WYSIWYG editor will generate the HTML code for you.
Many of these editors will allow you to switch between the visual layout and the site code,
giving you the flexibility to customize the HTML to see how it affects the page layout, and vice versa.