|Selling products and services on the web is nothing new. However, just a few years ago, the only option was to build an online store with HTML and a lot of blood and sweat. If you didn't have the knowledge for this task but you did have the budget, you could hire a programmer to do this for you. |
Over the last decade, this has changed. There is no need to reinvent the wheel or write a custom online store and shopping cart program. There are many low cost and free programs available for the small business owner who wants to open an online store. After you have purchased the domain name for your website, you're ready to decide which option is best for you.
One low cost option doesn't require knowledge of web programming but you do need to be familiar with your hosting account and how to upload and install software. Many small businesses decide to use one of the many open source shopping cart programs. Open source software is released under a free license and doesn't require a purchase. You just go to the website that offers the program and download a copy of the software. Then, you upload and install the software on your website.
Many web hosting companies offer several of these open source programs as part of their hosting package. For example, my HostGator account offers CubeCart, OS Commerce and Zen Cart. These programs aren't pre-installed. You will need to use your account's Control Panel to install and setup these programs. Once the program is installed, you will log into the shopping cart's administration area and build your online store via your web browser.
Some business owners prefer a hosting package with a shopping cart installed and ready to go. These hosting packages are usually called "DIY" website builders or "e-commerce solutions". If you do a Google search, you will get a long list to hosting companies from large companies such as Yahoo to small companies such as ShoppePro.com.
What does all of this have to do with web graphics? Most of these DIY shopping cart programs come with a few generic pre-designed themes. However, most companies want their store to reflect their business and their products. That's where the designer steps in to create a layout design and web graphics that will turn the generic storefront into a custom "look and feel" for the online store.
If you like creating web graphics you might want to consider doing this as a freelance designer.
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