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Explainer: how to build your website

23-Jan-2017

Launching or re-launching your website can be scary - especially when it also involves an element of ecommerce. Managing potentially complex payments and security as well as designing a beautiful site that does justice to your brand can be a daunting task. We spoke to Melissa Love from Design Space Co. about what to look out for. Here are her top tips:

First make sure you decide how you are going to manage the site: If you are the person who manages details like transactions and refunds, you want to ensure you are in complete control of the website. Ensure you have researched the system that is right for you and your team to run your business.

Consider easy options: Wordpress with an ecommerce plugin can be the right solution for you if you want a quick and easy solution. Michelle calls them "minimum viable shopping environments". You need to consider how much detail you want to get involved in and there is a give and take. WooCommerce is great if you feel confident about setting processes up yourself - and it's free. If you prefer a more hands-off approach there is Shopify - but it does incur a commission.

Dont be shy: ask potential software providers for a test or a demonstration before you make your decision. Also, get feedback from competitors who are already using the platform.

Designer or developer? A lot of people get confused about who to hire - a web designer or a web developer. You can't have both, so make sure you know what you're getting befor hiring someone. Melissa recommends going for a creative person first to create brand elements. Then look at someone who can turn it into a website. But beware of costs!

There are a lot of beautiful but cost-effective Wordpress themes - you can buy a great theme for around £70 and then customise it (if you feel confident enough) or hire a web designer to customise it. Watch out though: it shouldn't cost more than £1,000. There are some providers out there who charge you thousands of pounds just for customising an off-the-shelf theme. Ask the right questions, so you know what you're paying for.

Shop around for a good hosting company - most people buy hosting from the company they bought the domain from. This isn't always the best option. Read the reviews and make sure your hosting company provides good support and an easy interface. Wordpress has a list of recommended hosting companies, which is worth checking out before you buy.

For the full interview, please click on the YouTube link above.

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