View Full Version : Website Designer/do it yourself ?

21-02-2010, 03:53 PM

we used to have a site but was very dissapointed with its results so we got rid of it. i would like to have another one now, but i am unsure whether to pay to have one designed or make one myself (struggling for time with all the stock i am making for our show season).

I would like to ask if i make one myself does anyone have any advice on which software to use to build a good ecommerce site.



fiona davies
21-02-2010, 06:23 PM
I have just finished my site (not the one in my signiture but another one) in Wordpress. It is so simple, you can be as creative as you like...I really would recommend it. By the way it's also free:dance:

21-02-2010, 07:42 PM
Bear in mind though that Wordpress is primarily blogging software.

For eCommerce solutions (if that is what you are after) I would look at something that is Web Standards compliant, such as CubeCart (CubeCart - Free & Commercial Online Shopping Cart Solutions (http://www.cubecart.com/)). This will help you with your SEO if your Website code is standards compliant and sematically correct.

I would say though the success of a web site is not just to do with the design and build quality. Promotion and driving people to your site are the bulk of the work to make it a success, so I would seriously recommend you consider reading up on SEO and include is as a large part of building and maintaining your site.

21-02-2010, 08:42 PM
I use Actinic. It is fairly easy to use- the hardest bit being importing your own logos etc and it has a fully integradted shopping cart and payment gateways that are dead easy to set up. Images of stock etc are easy and quick to upload as they dont use ftp so it is just a couple of clicks to do. The written instructions you get with the software is pretty basic and doesnt answer that many questions but you get a couple of weeks telephone help and there is a user forum to answer most things. Costs about 400 but well worth it as you can upgrade seamlessly to more advanced versions if you open a chain of shops and want to do all their stock control etc. It is used by a lot of businesses of all sizes.
Nick R

22-02-2010, 08:53 AM
I use zen cart for my website. It has pros and cons. Firstly, it's free (always useful!) and there is a friendly and helpful support forum and set of FAQs. There is also a well priced ebook that you can buy that takes you through how to make the basic template your own, and you can download free templates that people have written too. This includes lots of screen prints, which I find essential.
On the other hand, you have to make the changes yourself and although the front of shop looks great, the admin side of the site is definitely not the prettiest I've seen, not easy to find your way around at first. You also need an ftp to be able to upload additional photos for your products.
Having said all that, I would still recommend it.

PMC Studio France
22-02-2010, 09:16 AM
Hi, I used Homestead.com. It costs $14.99 a month to run but that includes getting you a web address that you choose. Building the web site is really easy - just drag and drop words/pictures etc. from a library of templates - like using word. They were quick to help when I got stuck. Once you're up and running, they support with marketing, collecting payments etc. All round, a good experience and certainly cheaper than getting someone else to build a site for me.


22-02-2010, 10:50 AM
I've done quite a bit of work customising Zen Cart, and I meant to say in my original post to avoid it! It can look good and it does work, but it doesn't conform to any standards, the HTML is not sematically correct and it's huge, the code is messy and IMO more heavyweight than it needs to be. The admin side is pretty unfriendly as well.

22-02-2010, 10:55 AM
I use OSCommerce - free software with good forums
I've found it very easy to maintain, the back end is quite friendly, it integrates with paypal (amongst others)
only drawback is the basic "out of the box" format is a bit bland you can customise it.
Here's my shop site if you want to look as OSCommerce front end
MuranoSilver.com (http://www.muranosilver.com/shop)
Nic x

22-02-2010, 02:53 PM
Thank you everyone for your advice. I am going to try a few of these different programs out and see which one i get along with best. I have tried zencart previously and was not a massive fan but im a novice and it takes so long to learn how to use these programs too their full potential.

thanks again.


08-03-2010, 11:32 AM
Zencart is over complicated and bulky, so if you wnat to try it on your own try opencart, its free like zencart & oscommerce but its lightweight with only the essentials built in, for extra stuff you can add modules and plugins

08-03-2010, 11:03 PM
If you want something that's ideal for a total novice try coffeecup.com

Their shopping cart creator for about 30.00 is really easy to use

Has a free trial period, so download play with it, and if its not for you,,dump it.

They have lots of bolt ons, to improve and stylise it at a later date as you learn

09-03-2010, 08:04 AM
No-one has mentioned MrSite, which a few of us use. The Pro version has a PayPal Express Checkout and is only 50 (through Amazon, not the MrSite website!) for the package which includes a web address and hosting for the first year. 7.99 a month after that. I know this is based on templates and is mainly for those who have no programming knowledge. I have found it relatively easy to use as a non programmer (my brother is a web programmer and would not touch it!). MrSite have a User Forum for help, tips, questions etc. and the tech support are also involved in it. Due to the amount of users and the forum, they are continously making improvements based on user suggestions.

Di Sandland
09-03-2010, 09:27 AM
There's a lot of debate about Mr Site, isn't there! I love the look of the sites although a number of people have said they don't like the 'sameness' of them. As far as I can see, the sameness is just in the way it treats images - and I quite like it ;)

09-03-2010, 11:16 AM
I agree, Mr Site is full of blips - not happy at all! I had bought one of their professional packages and ended up taking the e-commerce side to BigCartel because it's neat yet customisable and they have different package options, and it's very very easy to use.

And when my Mr Site agreement runs out, I'm moving everything to Wix.com - I just discovered it yesterday and set up a small site in a couple of hours so it's supereasy. They have several fresh and modern designs and they are all customisable to your requirements. You do have to pay (I think around $9 a month) to remove adverts and references to Wix.com, but you can then use your full domain name. There is an option for ecommerce too which I've not tried, but I'm happy with BigCartel, so I think I will just link to that and continue to use Big Cartel.

Hope this helps!

13-03-2010, 01:22 PM
If you just want a webiste - then I would go fro using wordpress - yes it's predominantly for bloggers, but I've used it to build a lot of websites for clients who want an easy to use content management system. In fact the past 5 or 6 sites I've done have all been done using wordpress. It's extremely easy to use - so updaing your site is a sinch. I code from scratch though, so always go for the self hosted option, which means you need to know how to set up a databse on your hosting package - but this is relatively easy to do. If you're not into coding then there are millions of free themes out there to download and use.

As for e-commerce, this is something I have never got into as a web designer but looked into it recently for milomade - there are a few plugins for wordpress, but I only tried one and found it impossible - I wouldn't mind trying out some of the ones suggested here. Zen Cart is awful though so I'll avoid that like the plague if you don't mind. I recent;y set up a shop at zibbet.com - it's a pretty new site and although I'm getting lots of views, I've not had any sales as yet, but I'm going ot be patient with it. I'm concerned though that people aren't buying because you have to register in order to purchase. but then that's the same with all market places online and any shopping online, so maybe I'm wrong - maybe my stuff is just crap and no-one likes it and that's why I'm not selling anything.

back to web design and ecommerce - coffecup software is great - I've used some of their stuff in the past and didn't realise they did ecommerce stuff, so going to check that out now. Mr Site can also be good if you know what you're doing, but most of the sites I've seen built with mr site are just full of awful invalid code and they make me cringe. Plus the annual cost would put me off - too much for what you get to be honest.

i've rambled enough - but if you have any specific web deisgn questions, don't hesitate to ask as that's what I do for a living.

fiona davies
15-03-2010, 05:40 PM
I love word press too. You can get ecommerce plugins so it works like a proper 'website'.

Lynne Glazzard
05-04-2010, 11:25 AM
For a site builder I would recommend Wix.com it has some really clean templates, is fairly easy to follow (I am not very web-savy and have managed to resist learning how to do this for a few years until now) and I already had my domain names and managed to load them so can't be too difficult

Metal clay magic - Jewellery courses by Lynne Glazzard (http://www.lynne-glazzard.co.uk)
Lynne Glazzard (http://www.lynne-glazzard.com)

05-04-2010, 12:21 PM
For a site builder I would recommend Wix.com it has some really clean templates, is fairly easy to follow (I am not very web-savy and have managed to resist learning how to do this for a few years until now) and I already had my domain names and managed to load them so can't be too difficult

The Wix websites appear to be flash orientated, which would make it very difficult to nigh on impossible, without loads of backlinks, to achieve high natural listings in Google