You have a product, you have a place to create it, you know that you can make money over your costs, and you have even sold your wares to people who love them. What more could you want? How about the world? Moving your craft-business online is one way to make your special products accessible to the anyone who has an internet connection. But where do you start? What is involved in getting your products online?
Here are five simple things to know before you make this life-changing move:
1. Work with a Web Developer who Does Quality Work.
Not all web developers are alike. When looking online for a web developer, look to find what others have said of their services. Customer testimonials are very important. If the developer’s site does not contain testimonials, ask for them.
2. Take Note of the Prices and What Options are being Offered.
Don’t fail to read any fine-print. Determine up-front what IS and ISN’T part of the contract. Some developers offer one price for their services. Others offer tiered pricing based upon various plan option. Here, you must choose the best option for your needs. Don’t pay for features you won’t use, but don’t get into a plan that cannot grow with you as your business grows and the need for more storage space, e-mail addresses, etc. grows.
3. Ask for a Mock-Up.
A mock-up is an image of a web-page. The more automated development firms may not offer this, but some firms will provide a mock-up or template idea of what your site will look like when finished. It may not include your products, but it will show you where things will be located, the color, text style, and other important visual elements that will greatly help you in learning if the proposed site is something of interest to you. It is good to remember at this point that a great deal of time is spent by developers in creating the overall look of a site and that his work is very time-consuming. particularly when it relates to images. Since some firms don’t charge for mock-ups, asking for mock-up after mock-up for the littlest of things is not the way to establish a good relationship.
4. Determine the Length of Time Needed for the Site to be Finished.
In my work as a web developer I have found that the number one reason why a site does not finish according to an original time schedule is due not to the fault of the developer but the site owner. You must have for the developer your business information, contact details, product images, product descriptions, and other important information that is essential to the completion of the site. Some developers will seed the site with a few products, providing you with instructions so that you can add the remaining ones. If you do not have the content, they cannot finish the site. I remember well the site I built where the owner was giving me content… on a daily basis. I was building the site only to have new information about what the owner wanted to change on what I had just thought completed. I now require my clients to provide me with all of the content they want on the site before I begin adding the first item. I build the site, they supply the content.
5. Take a Good Final-Review.
This is one of the most important steps you can perform. My clients have one opportunity to look at every page, every product, every element of the website and provide me with a detailed punch-list of changes to be made. Now is NOT the time to change the structure of the site. That should have been covered in the mock-up stage. This is the time to change the placement of the content. Maybe the text in an area is too large. An image is difficult to see? That can be changed. Is there a link that doesn’t work? The change request should be noted. On the punch-list, be specific as to what page and the location of the change to be made. For instance, a change like “On the fifth page there is a typo” is not sufficient. However, this is a much better correction request: “On the product2 page, there is a typo in the 2nd sentence of the first paragraph in the middle of the page. It should read, “It is not always” rather than “It is know always.”
Moving your home-based business online is a matter of taking steps. Those steps will get you online in no time! Go ahead.. make the move… take your business to the world!