Advice please - need a good website

  imonline 19:31 22 Nov 2006

Hi, Can anyone advise? I'd like to get a simple, functional website that would allow people to make bookings and data is all recorded in a database.
I've been quoted extraordinary sums by a professional designer. Is this the only option open to me. I doubt if I've got the time or patience to build one.

all suggestions welcome.



  Forum Editor 22:16 22 Nov 2006

it's going to help if we can know a bit more about this site.

1. Is it going to be transactional - are people going to pay via credit cards?

2. Roughly how many transaction options will there be - can people book one thing, or a variety of things?

3. Do you have any web-design experience at all?

4. Do you already have your own domain name and /or a webhost?

  harristweed 09:27 23 Nov 2006

What is an 'extraordinary sum'?

My guess for a small site with database functionality, depending on the specification would be £750-£1,000.

  imonline 15:02 25 Nov 2006

Thanks for the very constructive responses. Let me expand a bit.
Yes, initially, I want to run the website to enable people to book in on training courses and record their details so that it minimises administration. The information would feed a client database which I would keep for marketing / invoicing and the like. It would be good if they could pay online - but at this stage it might be as easy to stick with a paper system.
The sum quoted to me was almost £3k - which took me by surprise.
I don't have a web site, web domain or anything - but I see them advertised in the magazine and was thinking about hiring the necessary space.
I've a small about of web experience - but don't trust my amateur approach. Sadly I want only the Ford Mondeo equivalent of a site - not the BMW. Functional, cost effective and a bit of a work horse.
Any pointers?


  Forum Editor 16:52 25 Nov 2006

is not out of the ordinary, but of course there are always ways to reduce costs.

Most professional web designers/developers (including me) are a little wary when asked about 'off the top of the head' costs for developing e-commerce sites because there are so many unknowns.

My advice is to design your site's navigation structure and general format yourself, on paper. You can specify colour-scheme preferences, page layout ideas, and how the site should work, and send your ideas, with a written brief, to several designers. That way you'll be sure that everyone's singing from the same hymnsheet when preparing a quotation. Tell these people that you want a Mondeo site, and not a BMW one.

  PurplePenny 23:02 29 Nov 2006

"Wordpress is one that springs to mind"

- for blogs, yes; but for a entire web site it doesn't look good.

"OS commerce is great for ecommerce"

- if you want a site that looks just like ten thousand others (even with a different template and custom colours!).

Mention should be made about accessible sites and consider your customer types. Ask your designer/provider about their approach to this.

Like to have looked at mattos' site but seems to have lost its css file! Anyway consider putting the navigation at the bottom os the html page.

  matto 13:05 30 Nov 2006

cantthinkofanickname - thanks for the spot : are you using IE? It seems to be an issue with the browser and the new server we are using serving up css the wrong way.

Take a look with Firefox if you can.

Matto (cooking humble pie just in case)

  matto 13:18 30 Nov 2006


  tomleady 13:28 30 Nov 2006

Hi there. Haven't been on here for ages!

Anyway, OsCommerce would be a good start if you want a shop. You can customise the look and feel and navigation if you want. But it gives you the backbone to a shop and that is what you need the most.

If you want people to buy on your site then you'll need a merchant account with a bank so they can take the transactions. Although I'm not 100% on that, but obviously that will cost some money. But I also think you can set something up through PayPal that may be easier.

I'm assuming that OsCommerce sorts the site security up for you. For now, let's say that they don't. You will have to site security such as VeriSign or Thawte for example. And they cost a few hundred quid a year.

Bottomline IMO - a ecommerce site will cost you a couple of grand at least.

  matto 13:41 30 Nov 2006

Good points about the 'extras' for the commerce side of things.

If you are taking money online, you will need to link your store to a payment processor or a processor and merchant account. This allows a credit card to be validated and debited automatically (as opposed to manually after you receive an email with card details). All providers will provide instructions on how to link your cart to their processing tool - it requires some tech knowledge.

PayPal is the main choice for small businesses as it's easy to set up an account with them and you will almost certainly qualify. They charge a higher percentage of your revenue to process the credit cards on your behalf. They are an integrated merchant account and payment processor.

Llyods TSB (for example) have Cardnet - they will also process payments and credit your trading account. There is a set-up fee, a monthly trading minimum and a charge of £15 per month plus a percentage on each transaction. But hey, they are a bank.

You will also need an SSL certificate - some hosting companies (1&1 for example) provide a shared SSL certificate on some of their hosting packages. Otherwise you can buy a dedicated one from Verisign, Thawte and Equifax for under £100 per year.

The SSL certificate ensures that transactions are processed with a secure socket layer encryption. You also get that little padlock on the bottom on your browser window - it makes the buyers feel nice and secure. It's a good idea to use a secure area of the site for anything to do with exchanging confidential information.

Matto (no signature today)

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