as far as hosting, a small business web site, how many pages of a site do you think is adequate, also how do determine, between ecommerce products to add to your web site eg. shopping cart. merchant accounts etc... what add-ons do you suggest for a product based business, a service based business and a mixture of the two. do you have any recommendations for just a start up business as far as a web hosting company that can set up a ecommerce site. i have not started a business as of yet. but would like the information before heading into this and not know what to ask or look for. the reason i asked about the number of pages that would be appropriate, is because i have frontpage 2003 and like to experiment but i do not want to over do it. thanks. P.S. i have read your other comments and have to say you are very professional at what you do and a genius.
Let me first address your questions comments before i go off on a tangent :)
- 1. how many pages of a site do you think is adequate
- (in my best Dr. Evil Voice) one million pages. Seriously though you can`t judge a site by the number of pages. My recommendation is for you to sit down at some point (when you have your business idea flushed out) and map out your site, which will create a site map. Start with your home page at the top and then figure out what are your major areas. Typical sites will have an about section, a products or services section, a support or help section, a contact section and depending on the type of site you might have a news or article section. From there just keep on expanding out those sections until you`ve think you`ve got everything. Then with another color ink pen circle the things which are most important for your site. These areas become your launch content. This is the stuff you MUST have done before you launch your site (if you circled everything don`t worry it just means you have a lot of work ahead of you).
- Next don`t launch a site half assed (sorry for the expletive). if you`re going to launch a section that talks about all your product then make darn sure you`ve got them all listed and explained for your users. Now this doesn`t mean you can`t put an unfinished site up, or section up, but don`t promote it till you`re done.
- Last but not least have people look at your site, browse it and have them tell you what they like and don`t like about it. Watch them browse it and give them a task to see if they can complete it easily and without your help.
- how do determine, between ecommerce products to add to your web site eg. shopping cart. merchant accounts etc...
- shopping carts and merchant accounts pretty much go hand in hand unless your "shopping cart" is just a fancy online catalog which doesn`t allow people to make purchases. As for picking the right shopping cart or merchant service you need to look at a bunch of things.
- For shopping carts
- You need to make sure it`s easy to use for both you and your clients.
- That is supports the merchant company you are going to go with, or it supports a lot of them for you to choose from
- It`s being actively developed. Worry about a shopping cart which hasn`t had a new version or update or patch in the past 6 months to a year.
- Find out what others in your industry are using and mimic them. They are probably already established so I`m sure they`ve picked a few bad apples in there time.
- For merchant accounts
- check to make sure your budget can sustain the monthly rates.
- familiarize yourself with the per transaction charges and overage fees. these will be become an issue as your business grows
- make sure you choose a merchant account which allows you to upgrade as your business grows and which can support you as your business grows. There is nothing more painful than switching merchant accounts mid stream.
- what add-ons do you suggest for a product based business,
- Always have a store which can do coupons or gift cards
- wish lists are great way to create word of mouth buzz about your products
- a send to a friend script is a must. this way your happy customers can tell others about your store
- metrics! make sure whatever cart you get it has the ability to report some type of business metrics (number of users, number of abandoned carts, hot items, etc.)
- what add-ons do you suggest for a service based business
- See #3 for some ideas
- services are harder to sell online unless you are selling an online service, or a service which relies heavily on online usage. In any case your customers will tell you what options they want (trust me they will tell you over and over again what they want). So with a service based store i say launch light get feedback and respond to this feedback quickly.
- what add-ons do you suggest for a mixture of the two (product & service)
- see #3 and #4 for suggestions
- This is really a do all type shop. With this in mind you really need to make sure you can separate the two out since they will probably be inventoried, billed, and processed a bit differently. The trick is to do this in such a way that the customer knows they are separate but doesn`t feel like they are.
- again i say start small and light with this type of store and build up based on your needs and the customers who are buying from you.
- do you have any recommendations for just a start up business as far as a web hosting company that can set up a ecommerce site.
- gosh there are so many. it really depends on what you needs, how much money you have, how important your time is, and how much money you`ll loose if you don`t get what you want when you need it. I say all this because if you can only afford $10 a month then that limits you right off that bat, if you have to have php access with a database that is going to narrow the field even more. and if you must have excellent top notch support then you really need to do your home work.
- I know from experience that 1and1.com has some good packages but they are a bit slow on the support responses. if you end up buying an ecommerce package check with that company as they often have partners who`ve already installed the software and get you up and running a lot faster.
- the short story is don`t pick the first one you come across. spend some time doing research. google the company and see what others are saying. find some clients and ask them what they think. send an email to support or sales and see which one gets back (sales always responds first but how much time difference is there between the two? hours? days? weeks?)
Ok earlier i said i needed to answer your questions up front before i went off on my tangent. Well pull down your face shields `cause a tangent is coming now!
frontpage 2003, ug where do i begin. Ok don`t get me wrong this is an ok program and it gets the job going and is great for just starting out. BUT any respectable web developer wouldn`t be caught dead with this being installed on their computer. The code it produces is not up to spec and can cause browser issues as you develop really expansive sites. Also it`s no longer going to be supported. Microsoft has decided to do away with it and is actually coming out with 2 different products to make up for FrontPage and from the initial press they won`t even be for a consumer.
Now i know they have made great strives to make FP better over the years, and yes i used to use it a long time ago BUT it`s still not up to the caliber of the other WYSIWYG (What Your See Is What You Get) editors out there, and don`t even get me started on FP components!
Now if FP is all you have and is all you can afford then march on dear brother, but in the back of your head keep thinking that you need to get a better editor. Personally i use Macromedia (now Adobe) Dreamweaver 8, there is also Adobe GoLive but I`m not sold on this at all. Finally if you need free check out 1stPage 2006 from evrsoft (http://www.evrsoft.com/), it`s lightweight and free.
Ok now to get off my tangent. Yes play with frontpage, but do me a favor don`t become dependant on the WYSIWYG aspects of the editor pick up a book on HTML and learn the code. You`ll be such a better person for it in the future.
PS while i appreciate the genius comment i think I`m a few IQ points shy :P