Finding Web Hosts for Ecommerce

Ecommerce is big and growing. It makes sense really, because shoppers look at ecommerce sites to get product information and best price without the bricks and mortar overhead. After the shopper gets this information they may go to a bricks and mortar store in their neighborhood or they may check out a second ecommerce site for info and price or they may just buy right there.

Shoppers are buying right there more and more often as ecommerce becomes more popular. And ecommerce websites can take a real share of the market – as long as they have a good web host keeping
them dependable and fast 24/7. The host is a major factor in ecommerce because there are some considerations that some hosts cannot handle well.

So, what should you look for in an ecommerce host? We often think of ecommerce in terms of an online shop for books, CDs, and computer accessories. But there are ever more products available and ecommerce hosts are responding. Ecommerce hosting plans must include a very powerful website design that allows you to create a responsive and effective sales engine. Here are some very key features:

Shopping Cart- A virtual shopping cart should be provided by an ecommerce website allowing a buyer to select one or several products before going to checkout point for purchase. This program should have cookies so your ecommerce site remembers every customer and every item in the shopping cart. Your ecommerce hosting plan must offer one or more shopping cart programs.

Payment Gateway- Ecommerce hosting necessitates provision of a payment gateway so customers will purchase goods from your site with Visa, MC, MoneyBookers.com, PayPal.com , check, or even by
telephone. Before you choose a particular host make sure all your features are compatible and well supported by that host.

SSL- (Secure Sockets Layer) To accept payment online you must have a SSL. SSL will provide security by encryption of all data – like credit card numbers and addresses so that it remains invisible to various computers the transaction must pass through. Without SSL your personal and financial information would be visible to anyone with access to the computers. If your ecommerce host plan includes shared SSL, than you can use the host’s shared SSL certificate. You can get a private SSL certificate if you pay a fee and you have a dedicated IP address. These details must be verified with your host.

Planning- Ecommerce websites need more planning than regular business web sites. You must have a detailed plan for growth so that your choice of hosting services can grow with your site. And you should try to anticipate the addition of new features as you need them. Your host must provide reliable technical support. You will need to use a database to store all of your products and various customer information. This can be complicated, but good hosting services that support ecommerce websites can show you a
demo model or some operational ecommerce sites that you can study. If you won’t have an in-house web developer it might be a good idea to select a host plan with ready-made websites that you can easily add your product pictures and texts. Look at the demo too if possible.

Your hosting provider should guarantee near 100% uptime. The worst case scenario sees your customers unable to bring up your website. Ask about downtime reimbursements for hosting fees and check with
webmasters who have used the host in question. There are plenty of ways to check out the reputation and abilities of any ecommerce host. The best way is to get a list of their ecommerce customers and send the webmasters an email requesting info on the company’s track record.

How to Find Customers For Your Web Development Company

There are a lot of companies around the world who have the expertise to create very impressive pieces of online software. Whether you write your code in ASP, PHP, Perl or some other language then you will have something that website owners will value. The challenge is how to find customers when your average site owner doesn’t know PHP from a BLT.

In 1999 I set up a web development firm and it has gone from strength to strength. In this article I will share the most valuable piece of advice that I can offer and explain how we attract customers and have continued to grow over the past 8 years.
A premise of my advice is that advertising to get customers is expensive and time consuming and often dealing with those looking to create their first website is time consuming and frustrating if their ideas are wildly different from what you know will be successful. The story below avoids any of these problems.

I started off by writing a small series of PHP scripts and advertised these within the ‘geek’ community. These included a relatively simple whois script that allows users to type in a Domain Name and check its availability. This shortly expanded to include a shopping cart and ordering system. I advertised this on Hot Scripts, the PHP Resource Index and a few other basic websites where technical people and design firms look.

Over the first year I offered this whois script for free. Several hundred companies downloaded the program and I made sure I responded to any support enquiries very quickly and politely. As the program improved I started charging around £50 ($100) per download and the script went from strength to strength. To date I have sold several thousand copies – a good return from an initial investment of perhaps a weeks work and free listings on Hot Scripts and a few other sites.

What this model achieves is that companies who are looking for a whois script but don’t have the technical skill to write one themselves find your offering, they then contact you with support requests and are impressed with your level of support. A large proportion of the companies that contacted me were design firms. In the future if this design company received an enquiry from a potential customer who required something that needed bespoke programming then they immediately thought of my company. They then sent the customer’s brief to me for a quotation, I replied with a friendly email and a reasonable price and the job was secured and quickly delivered.

Every day I sold a copy of the who is script and every week I was creating new relationships with design firms around the world. These design companies spend their time dealing with customers, advertising for new work and dealing with the stress of finding new leads and I sat back and replied to emails with quotations and did programming work.

This business model may not work for everybody but I would certainly recommend giving it a try – develop something that design firms may download and then provide them with a good service, the better you can do this the more chance they have of remembering you and rewarding you with more profitable work in the future.

SEO and Web Development Go Hand in Hand For Overall Success

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has forayed into the world of web development with astounding success. It has carved its own niche with a growing number of SEO experts who make websites search engine friendly through innovative online promotional techniques. As various factors on the site itself determine the success of your optimization campaign, you must pay careful consideration to the process of web development. After all, search engine optimization and website development are dependent on each other.

While developing your website, you must write authentic code. Irrespective of what language you use for coding (HTML, XHTML, or any other language), make sure that it fully complies with the existing standards. Therefore, it is highly recommended to test your website on the W3C Validator. This website is very simple to use. Just enter your website’s Uniform Resource Identifier (URI) in the box and find a list of errors on the site.

Never forget to incorporate the unique title tag on each and every web page. The title must always be in the active voice instead of the passive one. So, make use of the subject on front and center only.

Your homepage must have a Meta Description tag incorporated in the following manner: meta name=”description” content=”a short site description”. There are also many other Meta tags such as keywords, author, rating, etc. But, they are not so useful due to their over-copiousness. The Meta Description is what really matters from search engine viewpoints since it comes out as your site description in their search results.

Make optimum utilization of various HTML tags for their actual intent. For instance, never generate headings simply by enlarging the fonts of a paragraph. There are h1 and h2 headings tags for this purpose. Making use of the original tags can help the search engine robots to interpret the site’s content in the desired manner.

The use of frames in web development is not highly favored by search engine robots. Hence, steer clear of them altogether. Similarly, never use images and graphics for headings. However, you can still use images for other purposes only after specifying an ALT tag for each one of them. As some browsers don’t support all the image formats, the presence of ALT tags with the alternate text can help visitors to identify the images in case of their invisibility, i.e. some text is displayed in place of the invisible image. Images having ALT tags are also indexed by search engines quicker than those with no tags.

Your website URLs must be search engine friendly too. Always use words instead of digits to describe the path to inner pages. For instance, websiteexample.com/?topic=234&id=5 is not as good as websiteexample.com/services/seo-services. Dashes must take the place of underscores all the time. You have to edit your site’s.htaccess file to change the structure of URL.

An outdated content and design of your website can drive away potential visitors as well as search engine spiders. Therefore, keep the site up-to-date at all times. Though this task seems to be the toughest one, it is the most vital aspect as well to ensure repeated customers and spiders