Building a Website
for Your Home Based E-Commerce Business
1. Purchase a Domain that is easy to remember. Purchasing
a Top Level Domain (TLD) such as a .com, .net or .org is your
first priority. This gives you a chance to lure customers in
with a catchy and memorable name. You can choose to use your
newly purchased Domain Name as your website name or you can use
it solely for hooking potential visitors from Search Engines. If
you already have an established business, it is in your best
interest to purchase YourBusinessName.com first. Even if you do
not plan on using it, there are currently no internet laws set
in place to keep your competition from purchasing
YourBusinessName.com’s Domain Name and using it to direct users
to their website. The only way around this is by getting a legal
trademark for your business name which will prevent such issues.
2. Locate a solid hosting company. If you plan on using a
website designer or development company, they will be able to
either help you with this or sell you a plan from their hosting
solutions. Every website needs 3 things to operate at its bare
minimum: 1) Domain Name, 2) Hosting 3) The actual design that
people will see and use to navigate the site. Expect to pay
anywhere from $25.00 to $45.00 per month for e-commerce website
hosting. E-Commerce website hosting is typically more expensive
because it requires additional features that static HTML
websites do not such as Database access, PHP support and 24/7
tech support should a problem arise.
3. Apply for a merchant account. One should be careful in
finding a reputable merchant account service. These services
typically try to lure you in with low rates and a Free credit
card machine which you will end up paying for in the long haul.
Be sure to read every single word of the fine print and don’t
sign anything until you are completely comfortable or your
lawyer has reviewed the contract. Having a merchant account will
allow you to process credit card orders that originate from your
e-commerce website. Having a merchant account will allow your
customers more payment options and will probably increase
business significantly as opposed to only accepting check or
4. Use a website developer or development company. Try
searching online for a website designer or development company
to create your website. The days of creating a website on your
own, watching the orders roll in and actually looking like a
reliable business are gone. Google.com is a good place to start
as well as SuperPages.com and other service oriented directories
such as MarketingTool.com. Using a website developer located in
your area is a good idea, but not always necessary. Most website
developers are capable of telecommuting meaning they can work
remotely from their offices in another city or state while still
keeping in contact and creating the site to your satisfaction.
Make sure to request a free quote or estimate on your project.
Read the website developer’s agreement contract and be sure you
will not end up paying for nothing. Expect to put down a 25%
deposit as reassurance to the web developer that you are serious
about moving forward with the project.
5. Make sure your website maintains its purpose and appeal.
This is your website that you have hired someone to build.
Keep in mind that while it is in the best interest of the
website development to create you a professional, meaningful and
successful website – this is still your website. It may be easy
for the website developer to lose sight of your purpose. To
maintain your websites appeal and professional look, you will
want to establish credibility and trustworthiness. To do this, I
recommend text content that is not revolving around selling your
product or services. Keep in mind that visitors rather see
benefits versus features. Repeating yourself over and over will
only bore and possibly insult the intelligence of your visitors.
Try using factual information used in your field such as
statistics, detailed descriptions or “nerd talk.” This will show
to your visitors that you know what you your business and are a
Since you will be collecting information from your website, it
visitors how you will use and protect their information as well
as a Terms of Service agreement which outlines how your company
will provide services and products to its customers. There are
and copy to your website. Visit Google and search for Privacy
Policy Generator. You will probably be asked to fill out today’s
date, your company name and website URL. The generator will plug
the information you provide in to preset fields on a premade
apply to your website. Do not just copy and paste.
7. Test, test and retest before going live. E-Commerce
websites have a lot of functionality behind them other than just
Shopping Carts and Checkouts such as Newsletters, Featured
Products, Specials, Newly Added Items and other custom features
depending on your online store. Be sure to test and retest these
features before going live. Your website developer should be
able to offer a testing environment before your site launches.
This testing environment is used as a way for you the client to
be able to view your functioning website and iron out all of the
small details before your visitors and customers see them.
8. Pay your website development company. Your website
development company no doubt put a lot of time and effort into
your project. Paying them promptly is a good idea for a number
of reasons. Depending on your situation, some developers may
allow you to pay in 2-3 monthly payments. This means that you
will not have full control over your website until the full
balance has been paid. If your balance goes unpaid your website
will likely get shut off. This could mean big headaches for you
and lost visitors and sales. Not to mention the reconnection
and/or late fees that will be associated with unpaid bills. Not
paying your bill can severally damage your relationship with
your website programmer/developer. Make sure to maintain a long
lasting relationship with your programmer/developer even if they
are expensive. Remember, it will always be more expensive and
time consuming to go out and find another designer or developer
just because you ruined a promising relationship.
Copyright 2007 MJM Design. All rights reserved. This article was authored
Matt McWilliam is the owner of MJM
Design located in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Read more about