Self-hosted eCommerce website development is complex. A number of software applications all need to work together to provide a smooth and successful shopping experience. Let’s Talk Graphics has the technical experience necessary to get your business online and selling!
eCommerce website development is a true investment. Website infrastructure isn’t always cheap, product data entry can be tedious, and maintaining one can be very time-consuming. If you aren’t sure that your online business can cover the monthly costs associated with an e-commerce website, you may want to reconsider!
On the other hand, if you have a solid plan in place and are ready to proceed…
Hosted or Self-hosted
The very first thing to decide is whether to go hosted, or self-hosted:
Companies such as Volusion and BigCommerce are examples of HOSTED e-commerce solutions. A hosted environment includes all of the critical e-commerce components ‘under one roof’. Most features are included in the cost of a monthly membership fee. As long as you pay the bill, you have a website. (Some things, like the payment processor, are additional monthly costs regardless if you go hosted or self-hosted.)
SELF-HOSTED e-commerce websites are exactly that, a website hosted by the website owner. It is the owner’s responsibility to select and implement each and every component of the website, as well as pay any associated licensing & service fees.
Which route is better?
Hosted platforms are convenient, but I do not recommend them for the long-term. That said, Let’s Talk Graphics can work with nearly any hosted platform provider. Their plans range from $15 to $150 per month. As long as you can pay their monthly ‘rental’ fee, you will have an e-commerce website.
For those hoping for a little more equity in their home page, I recommend self-hosted. The major components are:
- A hosting plan
- A WordPress theme that supports WooCommerce
- A payment processor such as Stripe, Authorize.net, PayPal, or Square
- SSL certificate (usually purchased as part of hosting plan)
- Any necessary WordPress plugin and WooCommerce extension
The price of going the self-hosted route is similar to paying for one year of hosted service. Most of the investment is up front.
One of the most attractive differences between hosted and self-hosted (in my mind) is, once your self-hosted website is built, it is yours to keep. You don’t pay a ‘rental’ fee.
Website development platform
Assuming your choice was self-hosted, the next choice is the website development platform. WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, custom HTML, PHP — all are different web development platforms. Which platform is best for your e-commerce website?
The answer isn’t straightforward, and there are a ton of articles comparing the “3 Big” CMS platforms. Most will say that Joomla and Drupal have more internal features compared to WordPress (which implies a more powerful website), but when it comes down to user-friendliness, plugin support, and ease-of-use, WordPress is the clear winner.
We recommend WordPress, but if you have something else in mind, we’re comfortable working with most CMS software applications.