Articles

Our experience, wisdom and moaning from our experience in websites over the years

How to build an ecommerce website

May 24, 2022

Building an ecommerce website can seem like a daunting task, but with the right platform and some careful planning, it can be surprisingly easy. One of the most popular ecommerce platforms is WordPress, which offers a wide variety of themes and plugins to choose from.

Once you’ve selected a theme, you’ll need to install WooCommerce, a plugin that allows you to turn your WordPress site into a fully functioning ecommerce store. Another popular ecommerce platform is Shopify, which provides most of what you need to create a decent online store however you do have the problem of being tied to them. If you fall out with them well, you have to start all over again. Not the case with a wordpress or magento solution.

Whichever platform you choose, be sure to take the time to plan out your ecommerce strategy before launch. List what you’ll sell, how you’ll market your brand image, and how much you are willing to spend on search engine optimisation. We are not going to tell you this is a little bit of effort, you can build an ecommerce website that’s both professional and user-friendly but you will need to study, research and learn how to implement several things.

First of which is you branding, who you are, who your audience is and then you should reflect on those things at every step of your site creation process. This may sound trivial but listing the technicalities of a new-born baby bundle will soon become obvious as less than ideal when you write out that your target customer are parents wanting re-assurance and need to feel confident when reading your bundle description.

This is where a good copywriter comes in, I use Adam White when he’s got availability and he likes the sound of the project. Copywriting is an art form on it’s own and if you’ve got the capital, it is a wise investment for the success of your store.

If you want the entire thing taken care of for you, we can give you a no obligation free quote.

Shopify is a hosted platform, meaning your store will be hosted on Shopify’s servers. This can be more expensive than self-hosted platforms like WordPress, but it also means that Shopify will handle all the technical aspects of running your website in theory.

The drawback of shopify is if they fall short of your expectations or something bad happens (it’s not the first time we’ve had a client come to us because shopify is doing their head in) you will need to start from scratch.

WordPress is a self-hosted platform, which means you’ll need to find your own hosting provider (or we can host it for you) and install the Woocommerce plugin. This can be a more complex setup than Shopify, but it also gives you more control over your website. You’ll be able to choose your own theme and plugins, and you won’t be limited by Shopify’s fees.

  1. Branding
  2. Platform
  3. Hosting
  4. Products
  5. Domain name
  6. Search engine optimisation

Branding

This is a foundation for your business and one that is often overlooked. Though not specific to web development, this video by “The Futur” on branding. We are a big fan of his and he explains it better than we can so give it a watch and set aside some time to brainstorm according to the video, we go through a similar process with our clients if they haven’t already got a branding strategy in place.

Platform

WordPress + woocommerce

Magento

Shopify

We’ve discussed this so we won’t flog it to death.

Choose one and go for it, we recommend wordpress + woocommerce 90% of the time. Sometimes we will use magento but if you choose wordpress + woocommerce then you can’t really go wrong. At worst you might have a little extra work for a particular function you want to install and that’s what freelance developers are for.

Hosting

Of all the things to not scrimp on the pennies for, hosting is definitely up there.

“Pay peanuts and you’ll get monkeys”

A considerable number of malware attacks can happen due to poor hosting and you WILL need to talk to your host at some point for one issue or another.

A proper hosting plan will provide good speed, security and support for your site. All things that can be detrimental to your hairline and sleep pattern.

We endeavour to ensure our clients are never aware there was even a problem. We have processes in place to test and ensure the issues are prevented.

Some hosting providers will update certain aspects such as language version or migrate servers without testing the sites. We have a client who we do SEO work for but who has their own hosting arranged. We went on to their site the other day only to find it wasn’t there.

The hosting provider had migrated their servers with no mention to our client and presumably didn’t carry out any testing to catch the fault. We got their site back up and running but who knows how many customers went elsewhere because the site wasn’t there. This is bad for your reputation and search engine rankings as it causes your “bounce rate” to be higher.

We provide hosted care plans that mean you don’t have to think of anything else but managing your business.

Products

Make a list of your products or services and list them into categories if you can.

If you’re selling products through your own site, you’ll need to list those products in a way that’s easy for potential customers to find and purchase. One popular option for product listing is WooCommerce as it has a lot of options out-of-the-box and isn’t the most complicated thing for a non-web developer to wrap their head around.

However more advanced combinations and options may need a professional nerd.

Domain name

This is a topic all by itself that we won’t go into in length here.

We talk about it here if you want a bit more info, or bookmark the link for later.

Suffice to say it’s the website address, like ebony-media.com

You can go to the likes of namecheap and search if your site is available. Note that searching for a website doesn’t take you directly there. You are instead taken to a directory of sorts which then finds the IP address associated with that domain name then directs you to it.

It makes more sense in the article we written for this topic specifically but just know this is a step you should do yourself and own the domain name. More than once a business has fallen out with their web developer but the web agency in question bought the website address on their behalf but technically they own it which makes it a lot harder to leave them. Imagine needing to start from scratch because your web developer isn’t pulling their weight.

SEO

The dark art of search engine optimisation (or optimization for our American cousins)

It is what it says on the tin: making your site rank higher in google and other search engines.

Search engines don’t like anyone to know how they rank sites so a lot of it is up for debate.

If you take nothing else from this about SEO, just remember that you should NOT try to deceive the search engines. Any efforts to do this will result in your ranking being penalised.

Write naturally and post something at least once a month. Get other sites to link to yours (that site must be relevant to your topic) and get google reviews.

This is arguably the most difficult and elusive part of running an online business. Making a brilliant website is great only if your site gets noticed. We include in all of our packages – even the most basic – some professionally written articles scheduled for posting at pre-determined dates and a few SEO efforts to get our clients started.

Do you want help with all of this? Get in touch for a quote

Share This