One of the most common problems that trips up aspiring e-commerce store owners is the issue of shipping. When I’m helping a client plan their e-commerce project, one of the first questions I like to ask is: “How do you plan on getting your products into the hands of your customers?”

About half the time, I discover that they haven’t given the subject any thought at all. It doesn’t surprise me. There are so many things to consider and so many issues to address with the start-up of a new online store, that I can’t really blame folks for not going into too much detail in planning for something that may initially appear “automatic” to them. […]

Every website communicates information to users through text. Headlines grab our attention while cluing us into what the following paragraph is about. Supporting text tells us a story about a good or service being offered, and why we can’t live without it. Given the weighty job that text performs on a website, it makes sense to take care in sculpting its appearance. The following is a quick walkthrough of the different tweaks that web designers (and do-it-yourself website updaters) can use to add readability and impact to website text. […]

So you’ve got yourself a brand-new website for your business. It looks great, delivers your business message quickly, and visitors are raving about how easy it is to find the information they need. The website even has a content management system (CMS) that lets you make changes to information and images on the site without so much as a phone call to your developer.

Depending on the type of content management tools your site uses and how they’ve been programmed to work, you can add, delete, modify and move around almost any piece of information on your website. Content management can be an extremely powerful tool — you might even say that it’s “dynamite”.

Just make sure you don’t use the dynamite to blow yourself up. […]

Mar 30, 2010

Web Safe Fonts

Not every font that is installed on your computer can be used on your website, because not everyone that views your website has the same fonts installed on their computer as you. In an effort to keep websites looking similar between different browsers and operating systems, web designers can choose from certain fonts that are “web safe” and reliable. […]

If you’re new to the web and you’re undertaking the development of your first website, you’ve probably been hearing the term “browser” a lot lately. And most likely you’re confused.

Browsers are one of the most important parts of a user’s web experience; which browser you are using can have a very large effect on how the websites you visit look and behave.  So clearly, understanding how browsers work will be important for you so you can understand fully how your customers will experience your new website once it is complete.

Below I present an introduction to browsers, with the purpose of helping a business person better understand what their designers and programmers are talking about when they start mentioning things like browsers, browser compatibility and cross-browser testing. […]

Really the title of this blurb should be ‘How can a shopping cart help your business?’ – but since ProductCart is our e-commerce solution of choice here at NetSource, we’ll stick with that title.  For any business with any kind of product base, whether retail, manufacturing or wholesale, a listing of those products on the web should be a must.  After all, as a business you want – strike that, you need – customers to be able to find your products. […]

What is a Content Management System?
A content management system (CMS) is a web application that allows you to easily manage your website. A CMS can be an extremely powerful tool allowing you to create, manage, distribute, and publish information. Or it can be as simple as allowing you to update just one page of your site. […]

Too many business owners get caught in the trap of making a website something that they like as opposed to researching what type of site will best convert visitors into buying customers.  I commonly hear “I want” this or “I want” that without having answers to how a customer might percieve those things.  I’m not saying the site shouldn’t be an online reflection of your business – it should, and it should be appropriately branded – but, site usability, content displayed and specific features added should be geared towards your client’s likes and dislikes.

The site is a sales tool, and like all sales tools and marketing messages it can be refined and tweaked to better convert customers.  The only way to refine your marketing materials is to step back from being emotionally involved and look at your material from a strictly analytical view.

If your site is not a sales tool but provides a service itself, such as an e-commerce site or membership-based site, then you need to be even more aware of your customer’s wants and needs because with websites, you always have stiff competition that will try and woo your client base with features specifically tailored to them.

Regardless of your site, stay in communication with your customers and solicit feedback from them on their impressions of the site.  Ask them want they like, what they don’t like, what they wish the site had and what they would change about it.  Visit your competitor’s websites to stay on top of new features they add.  Keep track of your website traffic stats to monitor changes in traffic as you tweak your online message.

No matter how optimistically it is presented, no matter how often it is mentioned that “everyone’s onboard” and no matter how much you want to believe it will work for the better, design by committee is a process that delays the completion of a website that no one involved will be happy with.

I have seen this situation play out countless times on website development projects throughout the years. When a committee is involved everyone has to compromise to some degree yet no one wants to. Someone has to sign off on design work yet no one is willing to do so until everyone is in agreement. Someone has to direct the design team and provide timely feedback yet no one wants do so independently without a scheduled meeting.

Everyday, sites with a single point of contact move quickly through the system. There is less spreading out of the information that is shared, so consultations have more impact. Impromptu meetings can occur on a moments notice. Feedback is immediate. All involved in the project stay engaged from start to finish.

Don’t let your website development project become a burden and use your committee as an excuse to procrastinate until later – have a single point of contact for your website that is committed to it’s delivery.