Building eCommerce Websites
By Nowshade Kabir ©Rusbiz.com
The approach you should take to build your eCommerce site should be same like
when you start a new business, launch a new product or start a new marketing
campaign. Success in all these endeavors to a large extent depends on a
well-written detailed plan. You can increase success rate dramatically for any
project if you have a realistic implementation plan. The major challenges you
will face while creating development plan for your eCommerce website are as
- Selecting the primary goal of the website
- Coming up with needed business objectives to accomplish this goal
- Selecting the right functionalities to achieve those business objectives
- Having right content material the site functionalities should produce and need
Not all eCommerce sites are online stores. Apart from selling products and
services directly from the virtual store there could be many other reasons to
have an eCommerce site. Some of them are listed below:
- Build brands
- Enhance existing marketing programs
- Sell products and services
- Launch new product or service
- Develop a better understanding of the customerís need
- Improve after sales support
Based on your primary goal, you have to take different strategic approach to
planning your site.
Business objectives are list of processes you need to have on your website in
order to attain your goal. If your goal is to sell products through your website
you have to display pictures and specifications of your products to the site
visitors, have a shopping cart so that a buyer can select products, a payment
system to carry the transaction, etc. These are your business objectives.
System functionalities are a list of the types of site capabilities you need to
achieve your business objectives. If one of the siteís business objectives is to
send regular emails to buyers, you need to have an automatic mailing system. To
display product information, i.e. product picture, specification, saleís terms,
etc. you will need an electronic catalog system. For processing a payment you require
a payment gateway.
This is the information material the site functionalities have to generate to
achieve business objectives. To display product information you require product
picture, product specification, saleís terms, shipping terms, payment terms, etc.
To send mails to your buyers you need a list of email addresses. For executing a
transaction required information would be payment options, information for
credit card processing, etc.
Once you clearly identified your single most important business goal for
developing the website, and jotted down the needed business objectives, site
functionalities and information requirement to realize the business objectives,
you are ready to proceed with step by step development of your website.
Writing the development plan
This will require deep understanding of your business goals, site business
objectives, content material and milestone goals for overall development process.
You will be able to acquire enough knowledge by analyzing existing sites of
competitors and researching data related to your specific industry. At this
stage you will also clarify resources necessary to build you site and assign
Register domain for the website
While you are still in the process of writing your development plan you should
register a domain for your website. You probably heard about the amounts
companies have shelled out for domain names like business.com or sex.com. There
is no point wasting money on fancy domain names. Any name is fine as long as it
is more or less consistent to your business line. Keep in mind two things: avoid
special symbols in domain name and donít select a name which is too long.
Create a one page simple site
After registering your domain name, you should start using it immediately.
Design a single page mini site with information, what the upcoming site is going
to have, and publish it online. The idea is to get online as soon as possible,
because the older your site is the better from the point of view of search
Meta Tags for your home page
Write title name of your site, description of your site, keywords, etc. Use them
on your mini site.
Start registering your address in various directories
Now start registering your mini site in various directories and search engines.
Donít use the companies that promise for certain small amount they will register
your site in hundreds of search engines and directories. You only need to be in
the major ones and most of them require manual insertion of site information.
Now start collecting, selecting and writing contents for your website. This is
going to be a time consuming job. A good eCommerce site should have minimum 80
to 100 pages. That means you will need a lot of content for your website.
Loosely define the pages needed for the site and links between them.
Create project scope
Scope is the way that you describe the objectives and functionalities of the web
project. This gives you a clear picture of the site from technical point of view.
It shows the boundaries, i.e. what the project will deliver and what it will not
deliver. For larger projects, it can include departments involved, business
processes and workflows that will be touched, the data types incorporated, etc.
Design home page and one of the main pages
Finally, it is the time to start designing your web pages. Start with creating
layout, sketch and design of the first page and at least one of the other major
pages. You will probably need one or more designers for your site.
Create content surrounding two three key phrases per page
Meanwhile, select keywords and key phrases for these and other pages and start
developing content surrounding these words and phrases. You might need to
involve content developer and search engine optimizer for this.
Select design and layouts for rest of the pages
If you are happy with the look and feel of the home page and the other page that
you have created it is time to build layouts for rest of the pages.
Actually, you should start working on this the moment you finished writing your
project scope. You will need programmers and data base specialist to work on
this part. The quantity of specialists required will depend on the complexity of
Create rest of the pages
Now is the time to develop physical look of rest of the pages. Donít forget to
create Meta Tags for these pages.
Installation on your local server
All your work will be done on a local server and the trial version of your site
will reside there.
Testing and debugging
Now that the site is ready it is time to test all the functionalities of the
site, check pages for broken links, and other errors.
Let others review your site
If possible, at this stage, request your best customers, industry colleagues and
friends to check out the site thoroughly and give you honest feedbacks. Make
changes according to the suggestions that you deem extremely valuable.
Finally, the big day came! Publish your website on the Internet. Make sure to
issue a press release covering the usefulness of your eCommerce site.
Constantly monitor and update
In order to serve your audience better you will need to monitor your site. What
is working well and what needs improvement? Update your website periodically
with specific and quantifiable enhancement.
Having a great site is not good enough! You have to work on promoting your site
so that enough targeted traffic visits your site to make it profitable.
Companies can reap tremendous profits from a robust, well-designed and
well-managed eCommerce site with essential functionalities. This includes among
- Sales increase, some times by many folds
- Better customer satisfaction
- More sales per head
- Less work for sales force
- More profit per sale
While building a website, take a systematic approach so that you can have your
website developed on time, with allocated resources and without unpleasant
surprises. For more information on web development and web promotion read other
articles located at http://ezine.rusbiz.com/archive/.
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Building eCommerce Website