STEP 4: Operational Requirements of Setting Up a Website
1. Do you have a logo?
The logo creates a feel, an image, and a brand for your site. The Web is a visual medium, and an eye-catching logo is the first impression that you will send out to your visitors. A well-designed logo showcases professionalism and conveys what your site is all about.
You can create your logo using the following approaches:
- Design your own logo from scratch using graphics software such as Adobe Illustrator;
- Buy a do-it-yourself software with built-in templates such as The Logo Creator; or
- Hire a graphics designer to professionally create your logo.
2. For e-retailers, do you have the critical components needed to run an e-commerce site?
To be able to sell online, accept orders, and process credit card payments, you will need a number of elements in addition to a website:
Bank authorized account that allows you to accept major credit cards, electronic checks, etc. You can get a merchant account from banks or merchant account providers such as Card Service International. Your business must qualify for merchant account based on the requirements set by the provider.
When applying for a merchant account, watch out for high set-up fees, hidden charges and other unscrupulous fees. Banks often provide the best rates for merchant accounts, but getting an account will depend on the evaluation of risk made on your business. Banks also consider business plans and personal credit history.
Payment Transaction Software.
Software that actually processes customer order information, address, credit card number, etc. in real time. The data is sent to a credit card authorization network that verifies that the credit card is valid and verifies that the shipping address matches the billing address. Examples of payment gateways include AuthorizeNet, Verisign PayFlow, among others. The common fees that you will pay include setup fee, monthly fee, and per transaction fees.
However, if you decide to process your orders offline or manually, you will not need payment transaction software. Instead, you can enter the credit card information into your merchant-account provided card terminals.
Secure Server Connection (https://).
Link to a special computer that encrypts confidential ordering data for customer protection. You know you are on a secure server when the URL in your browser says “https://”. The “s” stands for “secure.” If ordering information is not sent via a secure server it can be intercepted by computer hackers. You can get SSL certifications from Verisign (basic is $349/year), Thawte (starts at $149/year), GeoTrust (starts at $149), among others.
Shopping cart is a software that allows you to accept product orders for multiple products from your website. This software automatically calculates and totals orders for your customers. Some setup must be done in the html code of your website, and the shopping cart software must be installed on the server which hosts your site or on the secure server which accepts sensitive ordering information. Some of the shopping cart software in the market today includes OSCommerce (free), ZenCart (free), ClickCartPro ($179), among others.
Fraud detection systems.
With any merchant account you are responsible for costly fraudulent activities and charge backs from your customers. If a customer complains and request for a chargeback, you will be charged a chargeback fee per transaction, which will leave a black mark on your merchant account record. Many merchant account providers close business accounts with higher than normal chargeback rates.
To avoid penalties associated by chargebacks, you need to implement a number of fraud protection measures. For additional fees, your merchant account or payment gateway will provide fraud detection systems and filters for your sales transactions (e.g. matching phone area code with billing location, matching IP address with billing location, etc.). Some of the most important fraud detection systems today include the Address Verification System (AVS – works for US transactions only), Card Verification Value (the three-digit number printed in the signature space on the back of most credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards and four-digit number on the front of American Express cards), Verified by Visa® and MasterCard® SecureCode programs.
If you are not able to get your own merchant account, you can apply to get an account at one-stop credit card processing center such as Paypal, Clickbank, 2CheckOut and others. Note that fees from these services are traditionally higher than merchant accounts.
3. How are you going to host your site?
To publish your site on the Internet, your website needs to be loaded to a web server. This process is called website hosting. There are two approaches to hosting your website:
Procure your own server.
If you have the equipment, space and professional grade connection – and willing to pay the price – you can opt to host your website through your own in-house server. This is the best option if you are willing and have the technical capability to act as your own system administrator, have more control in the management of your website, or have content that are not deemed acceptable by hosting services. Note that this option is time consuming, expensive (a T1 line costs about $600/month not to mention your hardware and software) and the responsibility of ensuring that the site is working rests squarely on your shoulder.
Pay a web hosting service.
A Web host is in the business of providing server space, Web services and file maintenance for those who do not have their own Web servers. This arrangement allows you to concentrate on your core business and leave the problems associated with web servers – e.g. downtimes, security issues, etc. to the professionals.
Continue Reading: Create and Launch Your Website
- Set Your Website Goals
- Develop Your Web Site Strategy
- How to Set Up Your Website
- Operational Requirements of Setting Up a Website
- How to Get Your Website Ready for Launch
- Promote Your Web Site and Measure Its Results
- Maintain Your Website and Grow Your Web Business
Recommended Books on Successful Website Development:
- Best Website: Simple Steps to Successful Websites
- Web Project Management: Delivering Successful Commercial Web Sites
- The Complete E-Commerce Book: Design, Build & Maintain a Successful Web-based Business
- Convert!: Designing Web Sites to Increase Traffic and Conversion
- Web Style Guide: Basic Design Principles for Creating Web Sites
- Starting an Online Yard Sale?
- How to Accept Payment Online for an Ecommerce Site
- What You Need to Know About Merchant Accounts
- How Merchants Can Prevent Chargebacks
- How a Merchant Cash Advance Can Help Your Small Business