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an idea, and then website

Discussion in 'HGP Archive' started by blade007, 26 Nov 2005.

  1. blade007

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 16 Jun 2003

    Posts: 1,862

    I've seen so many stories of people who've had a good idea and then turned it into a decent web company that it makes me wonder if I had an idea how would I do all this stuff?
    Firstly I freely admit that I know nothing about HTML, pHp, .ASP, Jscript or SQL. I am a scientist, and I'm 100%sure that most of the non-programming population know nothing either.
    So, say I wanted a website, with shopping cart and login, and forums ... how would I do it?
    The obvious thing is to buy it. Could be £X000 pounds I suppose. Is there a more clever thing to do than to just throw money at it?
     
  2. Beansprout

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 31 Jan 2004

    Posts: 16,312

    Location: Plymouth

    You can try and get people working for free, but if you want quality stuff then you'll have to pony up the cash I'm afraid :)

    Although there is plenty of free shopping cart and forum software out there.

    Try looking at Zencart, OScommerce, SMF Forums, vBulletin (costs ~£70 but for a large site you won't regret it) - all high-quality, free software.

    Also, depending on how large your site would be, a more advanced online shop (such as Actinic, from ~£300, which runs OcUK's shop) would be more suitable.
     
  3. DoesntExist

    Associate

    Joined: 22 Nov 2005

    Posts: 15

    Location: Lancaster, UK

    Another option is to get a friend to do the website for you and use a non-custom shopping cart (if you are only selling a few items) - they are very easy to make in php! - and pay through Paypal (there are others but Paypal is a reasonably trusted name - important to customers).

    Then use a free forum, phpBB or alike, which, while not a sniff on vBulletin, is fine and easy to set up/manage.

    If you are a scientist you likely have a pretty logical mind - learn HTML in a few days - CSS in a few more, and enough PHP to do the job in a week and any JS required is easy to find. (this process took me only a few weeks although a couple of years later i'm still learning).

    Unfortunately your average system integrator/developer will bill you £350-£500 per day for his/her time - I know I do.....
     
  4. Beansprout

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 31 Jan 2004

    Posts: 16,312

    Location: Plymouth

    That's because writing an ecommerce system is a skilled job.

    I doubt one could pick up all the necessary skills and knowledge in a week. Unless you just wanted a simple Paypal "buy it now" button on the site next to an image of what you're buying, of course. That takes all but a few minutes, but is useless for anything more than a few orders as you'd have to manage all the customers, records, blah blah yourself :)
     
  5. blade007

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 16 Jun 2003

    Posts: 1,862

    Simple things I could do on dreamweaver, like a home/hobby site.

    But I read somewhere that a nice neat tidy raw HTML is better as it loads faster and is efficient. If I was selling some stuff or a service then I'd want people to see that it was a serious site.

    Then there's logging in and paying and automation and generating reports and automated email confirmations and storing all that, and making sure it's secure. Man, that's a lot of work! Even if I say had 30 customers a week, not a great deal, but it would build up over time ... it has to be good to begin with.

    So these sites that just spring-up looking darn good have paid the 10,000 pounds or whatever for a pro to do it?

    Or if I want to try it myself then I need to know HTML, CSS, jscript, MySQL, php?
     
  6. Nirvana

    Associate

    Joined: 1 Nov 2005

    Posts: 30

    Location: All over the UK

    Neat tidy raw html is indeed the way to go, so make sure, if you choose an open source ecommerce package that it provides that, and also that the designer of your front end works with xhtml and css.

    It not only loads faster, but more importantly it improves your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) greatly.

    Infact without it I would imagine you would struggle to get it off the ground and maintain it. Unless of course you feel you could gain enough customers to support it via word-of-mouth.
     
  7. Beansprout

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 31 Jan 2004

    Posts: 16,312

    Location: Plymouth

    I don't know many shopping cart systems which validate, use CSS-based layouts, etc etc. Most of them as far as I've seen use tables. X-cart (which I've also seen recommended) has a full CSS module. Never used it though.

    At the end of the day it doesn't really matter...if the sole reason for paying a lot for a bespoke system over using something like oscommerce is for web standards, then you have too much money :)

    You need to take a look at the existing free/££ systems and see if they match your needs because it could be that you do indeed need a bespoke system.

     
  8. punky_munky

    Mobster

    Joined: 17 Oct 2002

    Posts: 2,959

    I've been doing web 'stuff' seriously for a couple of years and I've only just plucked up the courage to build an ecommerce site. I guess you could make a funtional ecommerce site pretty quickly from no knowledge but it wouldn't be anywhere near good and certainly wouldn't look pretty.

    You're best off investing the time or the money.
     
  9. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    Are there any sites that specialise in taking users through the process of setting all this up? :confused:
     
  10. Beansprout

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 31 Jan 2004

    Posts: 16,312

    Location: Plymouth

    The opensource ecommerce program sites often have a community with substantial documentation and help (forums, etc), or of course you can find a design company to help you out.

    Each piece of software normally has companies they recommend working with, for example company X may have substantial experience / a partnership/sponsership, etc.
     
  11. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    aaahhh, where to start though? speaking also from the view of a complete noob in this area, do programs like Dreamweaver or other html/web design software programs play a part in creating an ecommerce site?
     
  12. Augmented

    Soldato

    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 5,464

    Location: London Town

    Not as a rule, no. They can be used if that's the developer's preference, but they're not essential tools. Aside from the graphical side of things, all that's required for development is a program that can edit text.

    However, specialist programs can help in the planning and documentation process - database relationship diagrams, interaction diagrams, flowcharts and so on.
     
  13. Nirvana

    Associate

    Joined: 1 Nov 2005

    Posts: 30

    Location: All over the UK

    No it's proven, at least for google, and who uses anything else. A properly written page which makes use of the correct html tags in the right places are picked up a lot faster than sites that are full of images and dodgy coding.

    While of course not being the most important thing, and there are of course many more things that you can do with the code to make it even more search engine friendly the use of valid html helps.
     
  14. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    OK, so OCUK use Actinic? What are some of the other big etailers likely to be using? if anyone knows?
     
  15. Beansprout

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 31 Jan 2004

    Posts: 16,312

    Location: Plymouth

    I'm 60% sure one beginning in an orange e uses a modified oscommerce.

    But when you get into truly large ecommerce sites you start moving away from PHP and towards Java, Coldfusion, and so on. Big bucks.
     
  16. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    Those odds arent too bad.... that would be another site that looks remarkably similar to the e is also a modification of oscommerce then :D
    i must admit i like those sorts of layout... OCuk layout is good though when you go into large numbers of SKU's thats when i like the layout of others. might get confusing when searching product lines then perhaps?
     
  17. Beansprout

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 31 Jan 2004

    Posts: 16,312

    Location: Plymouth

    I hate to sound stupid, Nox, but did you read my first post in this thread? Check out the software and see which suits you best :)
     
  18. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    sry, it was a comment rather than a question, i was being/attempting to be hyperthetical but should of phrased it differently. :p but tnx anyway, my bad :D
     
  19. blade007

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 16 Jun 2003

    Posts: 1,862

    ok. thanks for all the input on this.

    I need to get this straight in my head.

    For an ecommerce shop what has happened is the following:- a) buy the template b) modify it with your own design a bit c) the template contains the shopping cart so need to fiddle with that d) get webhost with mysql and ssl e) get merchant bank and gateway.

    then you're away!

    is that about right?


    I've started learning a bit of HTML. It looks quite straightfoward, just need to focus a bit on it. That site on w3schools is very good. I got loads a time coz my work contract finished 2 weeks ago (science career is hell btw).
     
  20. Nox

    Gangster

    Joined: 2 Nov 2005

    Posts: 136

    I know less than you seem to know but thats how i read it too :D
    I can't comment on the science career tho, i'll have to take your word on that :p