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Setting up an online shop, oh yes and I’m a bit of a newbie . . . Advice needed.

Discussion in 'Website Design Forum:' started by nellipope, Jun 9, 2014.

  1. nellipope

    nellipope Member

    I’ve done it again! Got myself in at the deeper end of web design. I am a print designer, who now and then builds websites for people, but generally speaking only small ones that are generally geared up for looking nice but not very . . . . dynamic.

    I found myself in a meeting with a friend who has asked me to build them an online shop. Somebody (and it must have been me as I was the only other person there at the time) answered “of course, absolutely, not a problem”. It really didn’t seem that difficult at the time.

    So now I find myself turning to all you knowledgeable guys to offer some words of wisdom and some constructive advice. Corrosive your BookingBug solution you offered the last time I was in a similar mess was priceless! thanks :)

    Anyway the client is an artist / photographer, they are looking for a fairly simple site that displays their artwork and offers online sales. Sales of either postcards, Posters, Framed prints for each piece (they have already outsourced a suitable printer). There would be four different categories of art (nature, people, B&W etc ) and about 12 designs in each.

    I figure I have three options:

    Option 1 - Build the site using an editor (tried and tested for me) and use an add on / plug in shop. In the past I’ve looked at Ecwid, which is lovely and simple to use, but not very attractive once live.

    Option 2 - I host my client’s sites with Business Catalyst, I could use the web commerce package and build a shop this way. BC is good but maybe a little overkill for this scenario.

    Option 3 - Build a site using Shopify. The problem I have with this option, is although it makes sense, it has transaction fees, I don’t feel entirely happy at coding in which case the client could just build the site themselves. Plus it’s a little pricey.

    So I’m looking for a bit of general advice, and any other options at my disposal.
  2. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    E-commerce is one of those things that seems simple but in fact there's a lot more to it and should only really be tackled with a dedicated e-commerce framework.

    I was going to suggest shopify as your first port of call but you beat me to it! so it may be worth looking at Magento? It's one of those things that can be as easy or as complex as you'd like it to be. You can buy a theme and use it out of the box or you can modify a theme to suit your needs.

    Alternatively if magento seems a bit too hardcore, there's always the various wordpress e-commerce solutions such as woo-commerce. The benefit is that if you know how wordpress works, you're 90% of the way there, but as e-com is quite a big step away from what wordpress was designed to do, the available e-com solutions can be limiting (although with a basic store you may not see that).

    Whatever route you decide to take, do lots of reading (there's loads of support out there) and make sure you include a reasonable budget for plug-ins and add-ons to the site!

    I dont pretend to be the e-commerce oracle (I'm really not!!) but I was where you were with ecommerce, 18 months ago, so I've looked into the various options a few times. Give me a shout if you need any more help.
    Corrosive and nellipope like this.
  3. nellipope

    nellipope Member

    BigDave you’re a star. I spent the afternoon looking at Magento Go, it appears ideal for this client, particularly given the hosting costs and framework. The theme editor looks relatively straightforward (although I did nearly drop off during a couple of vid tuts). I really appreciate the support, I only started even thinking about moving into web design this time last year. I was trying to master Dreamweaver when a friend who runs a web site marketing company told me it was all about the CMS these days and to get into Wordpress.

    I now have to admit that I couldn’t quite get my head around Wordpress, seemed crazy that anyone would pay me to sell them a template, but of course it didn’t take long for me to realise there’s a whole lot more to it than that, and sadly that’s where my interest in Wordpress ended. Being a Creative Cloud member I ended up building my Freelance site in Muse and Business Catalyst (I needed something quick too). I need to invest sometime in mastering Wordpress / similar, if you can recommend any good resources for helping newbies in getting to grips with editing themes, I would be really grateful. As far as coding is concerned, I can’t. But show me a page of it and I know what I’m looking at if that makes sense, I have an understanding of html and CSS but the fear factor takes over when I have to compile it.
  4. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    The only problem I have with this is the solution is a little too unique. I find it's best to provide a solution which should be familiar to a large pool of developers so if I want to access online help, support, docs etc it's all there. Also from the client's point of view, if you move on then at least the client has something they can easily hand over to someone else.
    I don't use Business Catalyst but have heard good things and as it's something you use yourself you are in familiar territory whilst extending your expertise. Overkill has the advantage that any further requirements by the client can be accommodated.
    I think you are right. Essentially it's a risk as you would be using the client as a guinea pig to develop your expertise. Some people are comfortable with this as they are confident with their ability to get to grips with new software and have a high risk tolerance :)icon_biggrin: I think that's the modern way of saying 'fools step in...'). Selling anything online will have fees.
    The bare bones, simplest and cheapest option would be for the client to use paypal buttons to sell the items with practically no development cost at all. Perhaps they could do this first and see if the idea has got legs. Not much in it for you though..
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2014
  5. nellipope

    nellipope Member

    Thanks Edge, as my options, due to my lack of working knowledge, keep getting narrower I'm seriously thinking about the Paypal button option. This client wants a visually striking site to display the artwork with that in mind the simplest option would be a build in Muse and throw in some Paypal buttons. Also I hate to crush anyone's dream and I'm no Alan Sugar but I can't see this site bringing in fat stacks ;-) the human / nice side of me keeps telling me to bear that in mind and keep the costs low. Widgets are cheap but are they reliable?

    Business Catalyst is great, but fairly pricey, plus although I use it I really need to sit down and comprehensively master it. Not sure I have the time for this project.
  6. Edge

    Edge Active Member

    There's a lot to be said for starting with the cheapest option and seeing if it has potential. A client wouldn't thank you for charging a fortune for implementing a system that sells them 1 piece of artwork every year.
  7. andybdesign

    andybdesign Active Member

    Yes, I'd agree. Keep things simple at the start. With The Print Handbook Store I started with simple Paypal buttons and am now using Shopify.

    You could also take a look at Perch. It's a CMS that allows you to add on a Paypal Shop. You'll need to know a bit of PHP but I love Perch.

    You can setup a demo here to see how it would work:

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