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Having now decided that your products are good and that you can sell them, if you haven't already got a website, now's the time to get one, but how are you going to build it?

 

There are many companies willing to do the work for you and build you a site, but if you're in a position where money is tight then, realistically, there are lots of areas where you should be spending money on your business other than on a website. This is a fantastic situation where a little bit of knowledge can get you a long way and save you a shedful of money in the process.

A few years ago, it would have been a good idea to learn the basic smatterings of HTML programming language and, to a certain degree if you're technically minded, that is still the case, however, these days there are many ecommerce website building packages available (some of them free of charge) that can have you up and running in a very short time.

For many people, the thought of building a website can be very nerve wracking and this fear can be the stumbling block that prevents a new business from developing. They fear that they won't be clever enough to learn how to do it and will fail. However, failure can be your best tool in succeeding - we all fail at something every day, but think of failure as a learning experience that helps you to develop and grow and the stumbling block is removed.

In reality, building a website can be remarkably easy to do. Simple web building software exists that can help you create the rudiments of a site with a question and answer, point and click approach in a matter of minutes. Although these basic types of sitebuilders (commonly known as 'sites in a box') can create a good starter site with plenty of functionality, they can sometimes be problematical with their usability and lacking in features and design that higher level sites can give and you may find yourself outgrowing them fairly quickly. They can however be a good learning curve before moving on to the next level.

 

Don't you need to be a graphic designer to build a really good site?

 

No - I come across sites every day that I can tell have been designed to be attractive and when a surfer arrives at a site there are only two things they can do, either take action and stay on the site or leave. Your website has less than eight seconds to attract the visitor and hook them. Fancy graphics without clever sales copy and a call to action won't cut it.

Allowing customers to see exactly what they are potentially getting with good quality product shots is essential, especially with jewellery, but it is also important to realise that the main reason that somebody will buy your product is the provision of quality product information that also builds rapport and emphasizes the benefits and value of the product -  graphics are the icing on the cake but also a key ingredient of the mix.

Various types of images can help to increase sales:

  • Product shots - this goes without saying really. Try to take several at different angles.
  • Include images of yourself and your team (if you have one). This helps to build a rapport with your customers and shows the human side of your business. People like to know who they're dealing with and they feel connected to you which also instils the confidence to buy your products (assuming you don't look like a used car salesman or a politician!)
  • Images of bright smiley happy customers included next to their glowing testimonials add believability to their comments.

 

 Doesn't building a website require a lot of technical knowledge?

 

If you can use text editing software eg. Microsoft Word, you can build a website. The actual setting up of the domain requires a little bit of specialist knowledge but the right hosting provider usually sorts that out for you and can answer all your queries regarding that side of it.

As mentioned previously, a little knowledge of HTML programming is useful but not essential and a quick search on google will usually allow you to learn how to do everything you will need to do to complete a task.

Wordpress, Prestashop, OSCommerce and Zen Cart are a few examples of free to use software packages that you can use to build a professional looking site, although if you want to tailor it slightly differently, there may be small costs involved in buying additional templates or 'skins' to change the appearance of the site.

Some people, mainly web designers, scoff at the idea at using template based design websites, saying that you are buying or using a look that is repeated by many other people and doesn't have the individuality. In reality, as only 1% of websites are doing any substantial business on the internet, you would be hard pressed to come across another website that looks like yours in your market area - so I say "don't worry about it!". Clean, simple designs with easy to follow navigation are probably the most popular websites - a well designed logo with some good product shots are all you need to start off with.

 

What type of website - Content Management System or Ecommerce?

 

Good question that man at the back and the answer is simple - a combination of both.

(A Content Management System (CMS) is an application that has capabilities for multiple users with completely different permission levels to manage content, data or info of a websitesite project, or web / intranet application.

Managing content refers to making, editing, archiving, publishing, collaborating on, reporting, distributing web site content, knowledge and data.)

You may have heard the expression regarding websites that "Content is King". Content is the information that allows search engines to decide how important your website is and contains the necessary keywords that help to determine it's position in the natural search engine rankings.

 

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