It all changes so quickly, the different demands of being online - and with so many companies offering the "perfect way", "cheapest way, "easiest way to get online, it can be really confusing as to know what to do.
The best and most cost effective tactics and strategies to getting a website online change continually, so many of these links are to forums and neutral review sites.
Partly dependent on what you are selling. Some payment processors won't accept certain products, so it's important to confirm what you plan to sell is going to be acceptable for that processor.
The first step for some businesses will be their bank, and getting a standard merchant account, but for many smaller businesses, simplicity is key, so here are some well known popular options:
There are basically three ways to go these days:
A CMS - Content Management System. The most popular and well known of these is Wordpress. Basically, you have the front-end (what the visitor sees and interacts with), and the back-end (where the website owner builds the web pages using a well developed interface. Templates (the website design) are available free, with many companies also offering paid for templates with added features.
Pre-built Shops - The are now several companies offering a one-stop platform for building an online shop. They have everything built in from website templates to payment processing. Rather than attempt to reinvent the wheel, there is a good review of the options here: https://thedigitalmerchant.com/ecommerce/best-shopify-alternatives-to-try/
Custom Designed Websites - The last option is having a custom built website. The costs can vary greatly depending on how many pages you want and what you're doing with the site. Remember, website designers do not always understand how to make a website friendly to the search engines, so choose a company that you actually talk to, preferably visit.
If you're going for a CMS or pre-built shop based site, you'll have templates to choose from and customise. So what do you need to look for (apart from the aesthetics) ...
This article has been rewritten several times since first published on one of our other websites back in 1999 (this version written November 2019). It was much longer, with more sections on promoting, getting links, trick scripts and more ... The advice above should stay valid for a good few years (only the names will change), so rather than offer outdated advice, join some forums to keep up to date with the answers to the other questions you have:
There are more, but for most people starting out, that's enough to get confused by.
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