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•A readable font size •Clear contrast between font color and background •Links to main pages that are easy to find from any page •Links throughout site that take visitors to next steps — more details about your products or services, order pages, contact information Put together an e-commerce system
If you sell products or services at your website, you need:
•An online shopping cart program so that people can place orders •A merchant account to handle Internet payment transactions •A payment gateway to connect your shopping cart and financial institutions involved in sale •An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate to establish a secure connection when receiving credit card information
For low-volume sales, PayPal may be more economical than a merchant account, and it doesn’t require a payment gateway or an SSL certificate.
Shopping carts range from basic to those with more advanced options. Some merchant account providers include a payment gateway with their merchant accounts, which simplifies setting up an online store.
3. The online presence Choose a web host
Choosing a good web host is essential to your online presence. If your site is constantly down, or if you can’t get customer support when you need it, your website won’t be able to work as well for you.
Don’t look at price alone when choosing a web host. Consider also these factors:
•Are support people fast and helpful? •Can you reach support easily at any time? •Does company have a good record of server uptime? •Do hosting packages provide room for your site to grow?
In addition, look for specific features that your website may require, such as website templates or support for specific e-commerce solutions. Website Source’s Hosting (http://www.websitesource.com) includes these features and more:
•Hundreds of templates to choose from using Site Studio — no HTML knowledge required •A shopping cart and shared SSL certificate included with accounts •Free website content that clients can publish at their sites •A marketing control panel with tools to help market and monitor websites
Once you have a web hosting account, you’re ready to go online. Set up your website
You have your domain name, your website template, your content, your e-commerce system, and your web host. Now what?
Put it all together.
•Your domain name When you set up your web hosting account, your web host gave you names of two nameservers. These names need to be in domain name record for your domain name to point to your website.
To add nameservers to your domain name record, log in to your domain name account at your domain name registrar and look for two fields marked “nameservers,” “DNS” (domain name servers), or just “Primary” and “Secondary.” Enter nameserver names that your web host gave you, and click on Update. (The exact steps may vary depending on your domain name registrar.)
While it used to take 24 hours or more for domain names to point to a website, this process often happens within an hour or so now. •Your website content Your web designer can format content in HTML for you and add it to each web page. If you’re using a pre-made template with a website builder, you can add content yourself.
•Your website You can upload your web pages via an FTP (file transfer protocol) program or via website control panel if your control panel has a file upload feature. If your site has an e-commerce system, you can set it up after you upload your page files.
When you think your website is ready for public, check it, check it, and check it:
•Do all links work? •Can visitors find information easily with minimal number of clicks? •If you have a shopping cart, does it work smoothly? •Did you provide all details that visitors need, including contact information? Market your website
If you build it, they will come — but only if they know about it.
Help people find your site online:
•Submit your site to search engines (http://www.marketingcontrolpanel.com) . •Find relevant online directories and submit your site to them. •Ask webmasters of sites with related content if they want to link to your site. •Put your site name and a link to it in your signature line for all outgoing email. •Participate in forums and newsgroups and include your site name and a link to it in your signature line for posts.
Share your site domain name offline too:
•Print it on your business cards and stationery. •Display it in your store or office. •Add it in lettering on your company vehicle. •Put it on any company giveaway items. •Include it with any advertisements.
Keep your website content current, continue adding new content, and give your domain name as much exposure as possible. And watch your business grow.
About the author: Chris K. is a Technical Executive Writer for Website Source, Inc.. His established writing skills coupled with experience in the web hosting industry have provided internet professionals with marketing, product and service ideas for many years. Chris continues to do extensive research in the e-commerce industry.