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Choosing an ecommerce website designer
by Peter Day

Which ecommerce website design company will build your successful online business

Before you can begin choosing an web site design company, you need to have already decided on the ecommerce website solution that will best suit your needs to successfully sell your products online. By the way, these are ecommerce solutions not web design companies. There are only a hand full of ecommerce web site solutions around, with some of them being free, some you pay for by the month, some you own and some you dont. It is crucial to understand the differences between these ecommerce website solutions and pick the one thats most appropriate for your business. Once you have done this, you will find it easier to choose the right website design company.

If you would like to learn about the different ecommerce website solutions that are available to you, have a look at What type of ecommerce website best suits your business.

Following are 6 easy steps to guide you when choosing an web site design company.


Step 1. Decide on a budget.

Your website will be your modern day shop front to the world. Just like any shop, you would expect to pay rent and outgoings for space in a strip, shopping centre, or building, so be prepared to pay for expenses like web hosting, domain names and SSL certificates. You will also need to budget for ongoing updates and modifications to your ecommerce website which will be necessary from time to time as your ecommerce business grows. Often it can be difficult to know what your budget should be, however once you start researching What type of ecommerce website best suits your business, you will no doubt get an idea of their costs and what you can afford.

Step 2. Get some quotes.

Now its time to get some quotes from ecommerce website designers. Prices will vary greatly between these ecommerce website design firms and its sometimes not easy to fully understand why. Ecommerce web site design companies are no different to any other businesses - they have overheads too. Of course any firm paying high rent in a flash building and a big payroll bill to pay will always be forced to charge more for their services, however some website design companies have to incur additional overheads and expenses that their competitors dont. These can be expensive software licensing royalties that they pay to companies like Microsoft, to use their proprietary web technologies when designing and running your ecommerce website. This is not true of web design companies that design using open source and free ecommerce web technologies, they dont have these royalties and fees to pay and pass on to you. Sometimes, you will get quote from a web site designer, or graphic design firm that appears very low. Although these low quotes can be very tempting, the low price can be due to their lack of knowledge of the special requirements of providing an ecommerce website solution, or perhaps fail to understand your businesses particular needs in an website to successfully sell your products online. Also these ecommerce design firms with very low prices may be cutting corners, or not including features you expect you are getting. To overcome these issues, you really do need to be aware of the all the implications of operating an ecommerce web site, such as how expensive are modifications, how good is their after sales service, is your ecommerce website designed with search engines in mind, will your ecommerce website be easy for you and your customers to use and will your ecommerce web site be fast reliable.

Step 3. Visit their demonstration ecommerce web site.

A professional ecommerce website design company, that is serious about offering you their ecommerce web site solution, will have a demonstration shop for you to visit. On this demo ecommerce website, you will need to be able to create accounts, view products, add them to a shopping cart, enter shipping instructions, pay online and complete a dummy purchase. Dont let them redirect you to one of their clients live ecommerce website for this purpose. Its not fair to live shops owner to have visitors poke around their ecommerce web site for this purpose and you wont be able to thoroughly investigate how effective the online shop really is.

Step 4. Look at their past ecommerce website design projects.

When looking at an ecommerce web design company, an important influence on your decision should be the quality of the designs of their past ecommerce web site solution projects. A competent ecommerce website designer will have a number their ecommerce web site projects showcased on their website, which you can then visit to see if you like what has been created. Just like a traditional shop, your ecommerce website needs to project professionalism and inspire confidence in your visitors to want to buy from you. You wouldnt buy food from a shop that looks dirty, or a new car from a run down dodgy looking car dealer, its the same with visitors to your ecommerce web site, they wont buy from you if it looks amateurish. Bare this in mind when looking at their past projects, consider would you want to buy products from this company? Out of consideration for the ecommerce websites owner, dont create accounts, subscribe to newsletters, add products to a shopping cart and go through the purchasing steps just to test out the ecommerce solution. If the ecommerce web site company is professional, they will have a demonstration shop for you to use for this purpose instead.

Step 5. Look for and confirm client testimonials.

Comments from clients is the best method for determining the professionalism of an ecommerce website design company. Look at their website. Do they have any testimonials from their clients? Read carefully what has been said about them, but dont take the ecommerce web site design firms word on it, contact their past clients. There should be details about the client and some way for you to contact them to confirm that what has been stated, is actually true. Most clients are more than happy to discuss their experiences - good and bad and will give you an honest appraisal of their ecommerce website designers work and after sales service.

Step 6. Get an ecommerce web site design solution Contract.

Ask for an ecommerce website design contract. It should be a written agreement about what you are getting, what you will pay and when it will be completed. Make sure everything you expect to get is included and clearly states not just your financial obligations, but includes the ecommerce design firms obligation to deliver what they promise and to deliver it on time. State starting deposit amounts and progress payments along with development time lines and what penalties apply if any are not met. This will protect both you and the ecommerce web site designer. If the design firm is unwilling to do give you a written contract, it would be safer for you to look for one who will. Professional businesses will always be comfortable writing and singing contracts with clients.
Your Online Shop offers clients an ecommerce website solution contract with each project undertaken.
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