eCommerce is a growing industry, and there are numerous ways to build an online store in the modern world. However, WordPress remains one of the most popular, and most effective online store builders – but only if you know what you’re doing.
Luckily, there are a lot of great resources out there to help you build your own eCommerce store. I’ve drawn on a few of the best to put together this ultimate guide to building an online store with WordPress. Although it’s short, it includes all the basics that you need to know.
Start By Choosing A Reliable Hosting Provider
The first thing you want to do when you’re building an online store with WordPress is find a hosting provider which is both reliable and which can cope with the needs of an online store. Don’t be tempted to go with a base-level shared hosting plan. Instead, look for something a little more expensive. In the case of hosting, you definitely get what you pay for.
Then, Choose A Design
Unfortunately, your store design will depend on your budget to a large extent. If your budget is limited, then you will probably have to use a free or cheap premade theme. However, if you can afford it, I’d definitely recommend paying a developer to put together a custom theme for you.
WordPress must be one of the most talked about websites in the world. It would have to be up there with sites like Google and Wikipedia. It is the most popular website building platform in the world, and lets people customise, create, and edit their own websites simply and free of charge.
There are plenty of reasons why you should use WordPress. According to some internet experts, over 25% of the web is now built on the WordPress platform. The sheer amount of number here speaks for itself – WordPress must be doing something right.
Some of the reasons why you should use WordPress include:
You don’t need any coding experience:
One of the best things about WordPress – from an inexperienced web developer’s point of view at least – is that it required zero coding knowledge. Sure, there is room for you to put your knowledge to the test if you want to, but it is absolutely not necessary.
All the code for your website is automatically installed and maintained when you use WordPress. Creating posts is as simple as dragging, dropping, and/or typing new content. If you want to code your website then go for it – but there are probably better options than WordPress out there that have better coding support.
So you may have thought about starting a new WordPress website, but have been put off by the perceived cost. A lot of people are confused about how much it actually costs to start and maintain your own WordPress website, and a quick internet search does nothing more than add to the confusion. So, what does it actually cost to start and run your own website?
To answer this question, we have broken the main costs down into their components below:
Cost 1: Domain Names
Cost – Free to thousands of dollars.
Once you have decided on a website name, you will have to rent or buy a domain name which is close to or the same as your website name. Most WordPress beginners decide to rent a domain name yearly. For basic names, prices start from just a few dollars per year. However, more sought-after domains can sell for tens of thousands. Some domain name providers do special offers, including free domain name rental for the first year.
Cost 2: Website Hosting
Cost – Anything from a couple of dollars per month to thousands.
If you want to build a website, you need to have somewhere to store it. Although many people don’t really understand where websites “come from”, they actually do have a physical location. While it is possible to host your own website, most people choose to use a specialist hosting provider. When you do this, you pay a hosting company to store your website and data securely on a server. For small websites and blogs, this will only cost a couple of dollars per month. However, prices for larger sites can easily run into the thousands.
Web designers, here’s some more HTML5 links that you’ve just got to see. If you’re still plugging along on an XHTML (or mercy forbid, HTML4) site, this will be your last call to leave the Stone Age.
html-five.net – The HTML5 Showcase – This is the first we’ve seen of design showcases similar to the ones that popped up after CSS3 and AJAX hit the mainstream. Only this time it isn’t just about being pretty, but having powerful functions, such as sites with drag-and-drop code builders and interactive art galleries.
html5blog.org – HTML5 blog – So far, the closest thing to a guru we have. A rich resource of book reviews, tutorials, and industry news about HTML5.
html5video.org/blog/ – HTML video blog – One of the chief capabilities of HTML5 is to easily manipulate video content without relying on painful third-party plugins. Kaltura, the world’s first open source online video platform, is leading the charge to publicize this aspect.
html5games.net/ – HTML5 Games – If all of the above doesn’t whet your appetite (or you feel a little overwhelmed), head here for a refreshing break and a demo of yet more HTML5 capability. Again, HTML5 is poised to replace Java and Flash as the web gaming platform of choice.
Gone are the days of the dial up connections and old desktop PCs. The online world is now faster and it is mobile. People prefer to access the internet through their smartphones more than any other way. With the world going mobile, businesses also have to make sure that they are not left behind. Excellent web design is important to ensure relevance in today’s world. More importantly, to keep up with the mobile world, it is imperative that your web designing is done considering the need for your website to be accessed on the go.
Importance of Having Mobile Friendly Website
There are several advantages of having a mobile friendly web design for your company’s website. For starters, it means that your website will be operating much faster. The accessibility to your company’s website will drastically increase with mobile accessibility. It is also important to note that when a website is made to be mobile friendly, it is also easier to navigate. This increases the chance of engagement. Here’s a look at a few simple ways you can ensure that your web design is mobile friendly.
No, this does not mean that eliminate everything. It means that you should have only the amount of content that’s necessary. Having too much content on your website is bad for two reasons: Firstly, it becomes too complicated for visitors to navigate. Ease of navigation is crucial. Secondly, the complexities of a website chock full of content will mean it is going to be slower to load.
We thought we’d share a few silly little tricks or ideas that solve a lot of problems in a small amount of time, or just look knock-out cool for very little effort…
#1. Using a “position:relative;” div tag on the outside of a “position:absolute;” See, normally, the ‘absolute’ attribute in CSS makes the element stay stuck to a spot on the web page as if it were nailed there. And that happens no matter how many nested floating divs you stick it in. Until you make the div just outside of that one say “position:relative;”, then your absolute element finally says “Ooooh, so THAT’S what they want me to do!”
#2. Git cures cancer. We’re talking about the distributed version control system software. It isn’t just for kernel developers; it’s great for any code project anywhere by anyone. It isn’t even just for teams; learning and using Git will help just one developer stay organized and focused. That’s because it has the ‘branch’ and ‘checkout’ features, so it acts like a nice code maid and handles the mundane tasks of patching your source code for you.
#3. CSS animations, shadows, and gradients. Used sparingly, they’re a little dash of panache in the otherwise dull sea of whitespace and text. Don’t let the fact that too many design majors overuse it stop you from appreciating when it’s tastefully used.
It’s good to keep your thumb on the pulse of some web design aspects, even if you don’t use it directly yet. The World Wide Web is far away from an SVG standard… but maybe some day it will come true. When it does, we’re thinking of the possibilities…First off, here’s an SVG editor at googlecode.com. Right out of the blue, if you couldn’t edit SVG before, you can now, for free. Speaking of free, for desktop SVG editors you can’t beat Inkscape, one of the best SVG editors out there, for any price.Here’s a jigsaw puzzle done with SVG and JQuery. Check the code, it’s remarkably simple to implement. Ajaxian finds many more SVG demos in the SVG category.
An amazing charts demo, done without canvas! It’s live (try editing the code in options), has dozens of different features and modes, and we find it to be snappy-responsive, even on a battered old laptop.
A bit old, but if you haven’t seen it yet, SVG Tetris.
If you work for a web design firm, you might have to sign no-compete agreements (depending on the laws in your area) saying you won’t work for clients in your off-time. However, web design is a big field, and touches a lot of side enterprises. Here are some ways you can put your extra tech-savvy skill points to work doing a little moonlighting:
Blogging – So obvious we almost don’t have to say. Most every web designer has a blog or social media account of some kind. Toss in some ads, and you’ve got a little side money.
iPhone apps – No doubt you’re heard of some of the top-selling applications for the iPhone. Apple lets you set up a store and sell these at the iPhone apps store.
Twitter backgrounds – Twitter has given rise to a new cottage industry in making backgrounds for Twitter home pages. Many sites give away backgrounds, a few sell them or make them to order for a fee.
Of course, we all want to make money on the web. Our web design clients especially.
And most users – even the ones who never click anything – understand that. In the polls we’ve seen of the average website visitor, most say they don’t mind ads as long as they don’t interfere with the browsing experience. Oh, but those others! Here’s five advertising designs not to use:
Talking ads – Like the ‘smiley’ one you see that whistles and yells for attention. Users hate these, and they might also get fired for browsing the web at work when their web browser suddenly starts chattering and they forget they have the sound up.
Expanding banners – The corner kind are OK, since they are easy to recognize and don’t intrude onto the main parts of the page. But when you have the flat kind that drop down over the web page like a curtain, it’s irritating.
Misleading linked text. – This could be not-so-annoying, if only the link went somewhere that had something to do with the article. An adlink going to a swimsuit site in the middle of an article about hamsters, however, is pushing it.
One of the favorite sports of web designers, apparently, is to point out websites with poor designs and ridicule them.
One blogger recently posted a mockery of the corporate website for McDonald’s.
Ho ho ho! What a lame site!
Hold on, here. Why should a fast-food restaurant chain even care about its web image?
I mean, are you going to order a Big Mac online? Truly, many of the most famous brand names in the food industry have sub-par websites. In the case of McDonald’s, they’d sell just as many Happy Meals if the Internet never existed. They already have TV, radio, and print media saturated.
Here’s some other examples we found:
Burger King – No apparent marketing to customers at all. You get a very plain world map and when you navigate to a country, you get “franchise opportunities”, “careers”, and “management team”.
Dairy Queen – A pretty showy site, with Flash animations and lots of stuff to see and do. Still you almost have to wonder “why am I here?”
Domino’s Pizza – Now we’re talking! At least with a restaurant that delivers to your home, their web strategy makes sense. You should try ordering a pizza online some time; you feel just like you’re living in the 21st century.
Dunkin’ Donuts – Not as bad as McDonald’s, but still pretty blah. You could have phoned this in with DreamWeaver and an out-sourced Flash team.
Starbuck’s – Only a sliver better than McDonald’s site; off-putting color scheme, fixed-width, and badly organized links with bits of text here and there. Even though they’re another fast-ffod type enterprise, you’d think they would try to be more appealing, since their demographic ties in so well with the laptop and smartphone crowd.