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how to learn to build an ecommerce website...

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by philjohns, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. philjohns

    philjohns Senior Member

    Ok, new year, new string to my bow.

    I want to learn how to build an ecommerce website.

    I can design and code website perfectly and am fine at that but I am looking at learning how to design an ecommerce website that could be updated by the client.

    How difficult is it? How long will it take me to laern?


  2. tim

    tim Senior Member

    I've found, after my first and second jobs were e-commerce, that it's not something you can just learn like *click* and it's there, you have to get the experience of f**king up big time and also making good decisions. Maybe I'm wrong though.

    Oh, and charge what you can! I did a 300 page site for just over a grand. Should've charged nearer to £4000 for that, especially being as there's weekly updates.

  3. philjohns

    philjohns Senior Member

    Thanks for the reply Tim.

    How did you learn it in the first place?
    Have you got links to that website I could look at?
    What software did you use? Gateway?


  4. tim

    tim Senior Member

    Well [everyone's gonna find out the extent of my pathetic designs], but it took me ages to learn what was safe, what wasn't, what appealed to users, what didn't, everything seems to be a learning process.

    Paypal helped me a lot from their tutorials, but as a customer and a designer, I mixed them two up and got what was best for the age range. I'd send you the link, but it's just literally been taken down so it can be redesigned! Sorry!

    And software? Dreamweaver and PayPal plus a JavaScript shopping cart. Simple. I'll look into Gateway as it may help me (I HOPE!) as I haven't come across it yet.
  5. tim

    tim Senior Member

    I guess the hardest thing to learn, is that the customer has the final say. I designed a site I loved, and got told that the feedback was more negative than positive, so had to change it before putting it live.

    A small tip, make sure you have SSL or a secure method proof/logo as otherwise people'll just wave buh-bye.
  6. tim

    tim Senior Member

    Oh god, this is worrying me now.

    I bet everyone else is the exact opposite to me.
  7. philjohns

    philjohns Senior Member

    No worries about the link.

    Did you use paypal express shopping cart? or the paypal buttons etc?

    What Javascript shopping cart did you use? got a link?

    Im doing a website right now using Paypal website payment standards but its a simple site with no management for the owner.

    Really interested to know more....

  8. tim

    tim Senior Member

    Well I used the JavaScript cart with paypal express cart integrated. Only problem is you have to pay £20 a month and a lot of clients think that's too much, even for an SSL.
  9. philjohns

    philjohns Senior Member

    Thanks Tim.

    Basically Im looking learn how to integrate a shopping car that can be managed by the client. DOnt mind paying etc - im not an idiot! haha
  10. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Hi Phil,

    For custom coding an e-commerce site or coding from scratch, I can imagine it would be a very long process and very time intensive to learn. You mentioned you want a site that the client can update, have you previously built basic CMS sites for clients? As I would guess this would be a good first place to start.

    I've previously built a site using an e-commerce package that's been developed for the UK market (OpenMind Commerce) unfortunately the site is no longer live, but you can see from this screenshot the extent I was able to 'skin/template' the e-commerce system with HTML/CSS - Design Forum - Graphic Design & Web Design Forum - Greg's Album: Portfolio - Recent Work - Picture

    Going for an existing e-commerce system might be a more viable route for you? As most tend to include a number of payment gateway modules that can be switched on/off, and a basic site CMS, as well as a more in-depth product CMS. The one thing I would advise, if you chose to go down this route is to get a full specification set, with every fine detail confirmed, as I learnt from experience when the client changes their mind about the delivery pricing structure, to a method/ides that the e-commerce system doesn't support, it can be a nightmare!

    You might want to look at other opensource options too, and perhaps even the new arrival on the e-commerce scene, Magento, you'll need to check how ready that is for the UK market though as last time I checked they were having some VAT problems with the system.

    EDIT- Sorry, just seen from another thread that you already know about Magento, will leave that section of my reply just incase its useful for anyone else reading :)

    Hope that helps, and good luck!
  11. tim

    tim Senior Member

    Wow Greg, that's a pretty awesome site you customised! How long do you reckon it took to edit the CSS/HTML? This may be a more likely route for my e-commerce clients too.
  12. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Thanks Tim, just a shame its no longer online otherwise you could have seen it up and running! It was quite a while to customise as I had to get used to the way Openmind Commerce worked and the various files to edit, etc. I honestly can't remember the time for just the HTML/CSS element.

    OMC is a good piece of software, but bear in mind it is Coldfusion based, rather than PHP.
  13. tim

    tim Senior Member

    I have no idea how to do Coldfusion, so that sucks a tiny lil bit.

    Sorry Phil for asking all the questions instead of you, but is it heavy Coldfusion, or stuff I could learn quite quickly?
  14. Jazajay

    Jazajay Active Member

    OK here goes.
    Creating a shopping cart is relatively easy TBH, I tought myself and I'll give you the concept.

    Every time someone clicks the add to cart button they send the file name over to the shopping cart page, you can then either add them to a db, which can take up space on the sever or set it in a session or cookie.

    Create a page that displays a page based on post data, once the file name comes over set it to either a cookie or a session array, then run a for loop through the array and display all results to the user, add the last item via a post array, get more info from the db such as price, picture, additional details, etc... or you could save them in the array and loop them out if that makes sense.

    Bobs your uncle 1 customizable shopping cart, then I think Paypal, being 1 provider, allows you to hook it up to their system, however you will have to worry about testing for negative numbers, and other hacking attempts.

    But I would never trust a third party application that could possibly empty your entire bankaccount with out you knowing, being 1 attack, to anything I hadn't designed myself. TBH.

    Hope it helps.

  15. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    Well I wouldn't advise changing any of the Coldfusion coding, simply as this is the coding that makes the site work, the main areas you would need to change in order to 'skin/template' a site are in the HTML/CSS in any case. As mentioned in my previous reply you just need to be 100% certain that the e-commerce platform/software you're using fulfills the clients exact requirements.
  16. philjohns

    philjohns Senior Member

    NO worries about asking questions Tim! GO FOR TI!

    Greg, thanks a lot.

    I'll look into that opensource one. Only thing is ive had a quick look at the admin panel preview and it seems that you cannot edit any content on static pages? Or am I wrong?

    Do you know of any other opensource ecommerce/cms systems that may be worth looking into for ease of customisable templates?

  17. tim

    tim Senior Member

    that's brilliant!

    you solved me problems in someone else's thread :D
  18. Greg

    Greg Active Member

    TBH I'm not sure, never used Magento, but would love the opportunity to spend some time testing it out. I'm sure it would allow you to edit the static pages in the CMS, would be strange for it not to, try asking on their support forums, I think they already have quite a following with designers & developers established.

    Unfortunately I don't, as I say not all that experienced in this area, hence my previous choice of taking a commercial product/licence route, as I knew OMC was built and designed for the UK market specifically, and with good support levels too.

    I'm sure Jaz and some of the other developers will have other suggestions about this :)

  19. Jazajay

    Jazajay Active Member

    Not sure you could check out ~

    Open Source eCommerce Scripts - OpenSourceCMS
    It has the normal popular ones, oscommerce, zencart, and a few others.

    RomanCart Shopping Cart
    I have never used it, but my brother-in-law used it for ages, think he still does, so it has to be pretty good.

    You do also have ~
    Google Checkout - Home

    And of coarse Paypal
    Welcome - PayPal

    So take your pick but the problem, from my experience is a lot tend to be quite restrictive.
    Sorry I couldn't be much more help buddy.

  20. tim

    tim Senior Member

    You're helping me too here... which is excellent. I already recommended RomanCart to Phil, but I don't know his final decision.

    @ Phil: If you haven't yet decided, I'd pick openmind commerce, as they are genuinely very good and from the looks of it, quite easy to edit store front and easy to navigate through CMS /backend.

    It also comes with statistics, but does cost £300 to buy a license.

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