Ecommerce Tips for Choosing a Web Design Vendor

Posted on: December 21st, 2011 - Written by: Matt Ramsey

When you’re in search of an ecommerce web design vendor, there are a few quick business questions to think through as your first step in making your choice. After working these tips, the right vendor choice for your project should be much clearer.

  1. What is the site to accomplish: Brand awareness? Online sales?
  2. Does the site need to be a simply designed corporate brochure or is some additional functionality needed?
    1. Design is typically accomplished by a graphic designer (right brain). This is the logo, brand, etc…
    2. Functionality most often has to be written or implemented by a programmer (left brain). The functionality is what makes the site actually do something with databases, code, shopping carts, etc…
  3. Do you need a branding company or a web development company in order to accomplish your goals? This depends completely on the answer to #2.
  4. Do you already have a logo? Will your vendor include the logo in your pricing?

After answering those very straight forward business questions, there are a few evaluation questions that should be answered as your second step in this process.

  1. Look at the candidates’ past work – Can they provide URLs to past and current design clients?
  2. Check references – Speak with past or current clients. Did they stay within estimate? Has the site been effective?
  3. Understanding the site goal – Do your candidates understand the mid to long-term goals with the site’s ecommerce? Do they have the technical as well as design skills to pull off the goals?
  4. Search Engine Marketing – Do your candidates offer search engine optimization and online marketing services? In today’s Internet jungle, a site without a strategy for attracting visitors is a waste of money.
  5. Ecommerce – Online sales can be accomplished many different ways. Make sure your candidates have proven experience and can show you sites they have done. (Don’t accept something that has used the GoDaddy hosting system with ecommerce. Examples should be ecommerce systems they have developed themselves. This is an area where many design firms get in way over their heads.

To provide a relative sense of what a real ecommerce system may cost, www.aspdotnetstorefront.com is an enterprise level ecommerce platform that was developed for use as the framework for a customized ecommerce system.  It is incredibly scalable and has most features that a company needs right out of the box. The product is around $1,600. This is did i get oral herpes an enterprise level platform that would be overkill for basic to mid-level ecommerce but serve a hefty, complex shopping cart well.

In any case, be sure to find a company that can prove they have worked with a specific ecommerce system and review the features of the platform so they meet your overall requirements.

A comprehensive set of guidelines is available here: Quick Guide To Ecommerce Websites.

Once an ecommerce system is selected, web designers and developers take the product and apply a design and branding. This is the subjective part. Sites can be technically “put up” in as little for as little as $900 or as much as $15k. It all depends on how many pages of content and areas of functionality are needed. But this price doesn’t come with any guarantees on the quality of the “design” or the fit of the “branding” to your needs.

Online marketing for a site can vary. It all depends on how competitive the targeted market is.

Good questions to ask when pricing is discussed/reviewed:

Does the price include the HTML skin for the ecommerce system?
Does the price include any image work?
Will stock images be used or will they expect images to be provided?
Who will write the content and how much of it will there be?

Content is very important to search engine optimization. Pages must have enough verbiage and must be unique and specific to the products on those pages.

Purchase and own the domain for the website and make sure that your development vendor doesn’t own this. Also make sure that FTP access to the website is not limited to the development vendor. This would allow the completed website to basically be taken hostage by a designer or firm.

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