If you missed the first three parts of A Look at e-Commerce Options for Individuals and Small Businesses, they focused on an introduction to e-Commerce options, Etsy and Ebay as selling tools for small-to-medium-sized businesses and individual entrepreneurs. The next installment focuses on e-Commerce website options, with conclusions in a post to follow.
The option that offers, without a doubt, the highest level of customization for all aspects of presenting and selling products and services online is to create an e-commerce website. This might be done through buying the professional services of designers who can provide a completely customized website, or buying page builder services which can be used by the average person with a basic-to-intermediate knowledge of computers.
There is an excellent level of customization available when an outside professional, working freelance or for a company, is hired to help with creating a web presence. The client can explain his/her vision and goals while having input into various stages of the design process, and the designer uses his/her valuable expertise to make the client’s wishes a reality. If the client feels that things are going poorly, there is often no obligation to continue a relationship with the designer or design firm; there are plenty of individuals and firms, large and small, which are competing for business and would be available to re-work the project or start it again from scratch, if necessary.
As with anything, the more bells and whistles that are added to something is the more that it will cost. If the client has very specific instructions or is looking for something special and unique, the designer will charge accordingly and the price will ultimately go up. A dynamic website that uses Flash, Java, and AJAX will cost more to build than a website that is mostly static, using just HTML and CSS. Creating a custom shopping cart script will cost more than buying a widely available shopping cart script that can be customized as needed. A company must budget their money wisely- and have realistic expectations for what their budgeted money is going to get them.
A cheaper alternative for a company on a budget would be to purchase a package that comes with page builders to use to easily and quickly create a website. Page builders have pre-installed templates, graphics, and scripts that can be easily arranged and customized, often with no advanced coding necessary. As a bonus, companies have increased the quality of the templates and graphics provided with page builder services; they look professional, as if they were custom designed, but without the price tag. Page builders might be packaged with additional services, such as Google or Facebook Advertising credits, and offered at a variety of price points. Packages like these are often quick, easy, and cost effective ways to set up a website, especially for individuals and small businesses on a budget. An example of a company offering page builder services, and many other kinds of services, is Go Daddy, Inc. (www.godaddy.com) .
Clearly, since they are being offered to all, templates and graphics found in page builders are not one-of-a-kind. Customization of pre-made layouts included with page builders can also be limited so it is easy for a wide variety of people to use; one might only be able to choose from certain colors for each template, certain common typefaces, and certain areas were text and graphics can be customized and re-arranged. When selecting a package, some of the bundled services might not be necessary or even used by the company, but are still included in the package and drive up the price tag. Depending on who the page builder service is purchased from (Godaddy.com, a popular and widely-known service, vs. “Average Joe Graphic Designer’s Graphic Resource Center”) and how much the package costs, the quality of the templates and graphics included might be questionable, causing the end result to look cheesy and unprofessional.