eCommerce website advice..... (1 Viewer)

bc

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Can someone with web design and/or ecommerce experience give me some advice for an online store. I'm more confused now than ever before. These are the options that I am dealing with:

1. have someone host, build and create shopping cart
2. get my host company to create a zencart site for me and use paypal
3. use my already created site with windows hosting, but I don't know how to add merchandise or change the site effectively (perhaps a big waste of $$)

can anybody help?
 

FWtex

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I'm an amateur at this but check www.oscommerce.com.

A hosting service referred me to them but I was needing more than a shopping cart site. It did look like they had an easy to use admin back end though.

From my experience, I would use one of these templates services to get started and then have a custom designed site yourself if everything is going good and you need something better. The problems I am running into is with webdesigners themselves. Its hard to find good ones who will be around and if they are not its hard to find another person who will work with their coding.

Once they get in they kinda get you by the *..*. I had programmers say it would be cheaper for them to build a whole new site than to study the current code. I always reply back to them, "so you can disapear and I'll have the same problem next time ... no thanks."
 
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bc

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thanks tex, the problem is i paid a programmer to build a site for me as long as it met my specs--one of which being that it would be easy to edit the site and upload merchandise. when he uploaded the site to the server, lo and behold I find that I can only edit html...not to mention it took him 3 1/2 mos. to get to where we are now.

with the zencart and oscommerce it seems that i need a fair amount of php know how and the installation guides still leave me needing additional help.

to be honest i think i may go back to paying for everything to be done just so i can have the ease of describing, tracking and uploading my merchandise, even if it is too expensive ($80+ per mo.)
 

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Here is the deal with programmers and I am one so I should know.

The good ones are expensive and usually do not want to do outside work. I know I do not want anymore work than I have now. I have a full time job and I update and edit my dads website for free. http://www.providentials.com It is a gospel quartet website. I created a backend app so they can update and make changes to their upcoming events section and tour page but hte rest I do myself because they do not have a lot of knowledge of php. We sale CDs adn DVDs through the site as well but I simply use paypal to check people out. They take everything now and users do not have to have a paypal account to purchase a CD so that is the way we went with it.

Anyway I get calls all the time about this stuff but I just do not have the time. Plus the only way I would do it is if I could charge what I think I am worth on stuff like that and you would never pay it.

The programmers are correct though about looking at someone elses code. Depending on how much code there is it would take them longer to review their code and figure out what is going on than it would for them to simply rewrite it. digging through someone elses code takes time and it sucks.

T
 

taygolf

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I am thinking of writing a site that is pretty universal for ecommerce though. I am sure there are already some out there. I would write a site that is completely database driven. Basically a lot of frames. THe header would be a frame the left margin for the buttons would be a frame. right margin for adds would be a frame and then the body would as well. All seperate pages. Then I would do a database call for button names and links for those button for the button frame. That way everything is created on the fly and the user can edit the info in the database through a backend app. I would do the same for the header and body and probably just put google ads in the right frame. Then for a product page I could have a database with pictures, prices, descriptions, etc... of the products and just print them all out.

It would take some work and it would take a nice user manual for the users but it might sale. my mom is interested in doing her own online site for some stuff so I my test it on her. I just have to find the time to do it.

Since you guys are in the business for this stuff do you think it would sale? if so how much? I would want it to be completely hands off for me that way I did not have to do any updating at all or at least very little when the user could not figure it out and I would charge for the updates that I would have to do. My main problem is pricing and figuring out what is a fair price for both sides

T
 

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bc,

Where is your site hosted?

Based on a recommendation from someone here (I think d3cyph3r), I've been using HostGator to host sites.. Each of their hosting packages comes with Fantastico or Fantastico DeLuxe.. The Fantastico script will install e-commerce stores for you, and HostGator offers AgoraCart, osCommerce, ZenCart and CubeCart..

I've never used any of them (created my own custom cart with basic PayPal support) beyond clicking the install icon, but it seems really simple to set up and you probably wouldn't have to know much PHP, etc.. There are even people who do templates and layouts for each of the carts mentioned.. I don't know if moving hosts is an option for you, but you may want to consider that.. :shrug:

As far as whether a new programmer could pick up someone else's code and modify it quickly, the answer to that lies in how much code there is, whether the code was well-written to begin with and the overall skills of said new programmer..
 
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hey beast,

I checked hostgator and it looks like they offer a better package than my current provider, now i just need to see if its worth transferring everything over (for them and me)

when you say you created your own custom cart w/paypal, is that just for ebay transactions or is it independently operated? what do you sell if you don't mind my asking?

thanks,
bc
 

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hey beast,

I checked hostgator and it looks like they offer a better package than my current provider, now i just need to see if its worth transferring everything over (for them and me)

when you say you created your own custom cart w/paypal, is that just for ebay transactions or is it independently operated? what do you sell if you don't mind my asking?

thanks,
bc
It's independently operated.. A friend of ours wanted to be able to sell her jewelry online.. I have been doing web development for awhile, but hadn't done an online store.. So I weighed the options and decided that for this particular site, it would be much easier and safer for my friend if we just let PayPal handle all of the transactions.. Sure, she has to pay the % fees per transaction, but that beats storing someone's credit card information in a database on your (probably) shared server and having the site possibly hacked through some exploit in a third party's cart software.. I know the developers of the carts do their best to keep it secure, but you never know when some script kiddie is gonna find some silly exploit online and decide to test it out on your site..

I did some searching around on the net and found some PHP classes that I incorporated into the site's core code to act as a shopping cart.. The user can add and remove items from the cart and when they're ready to check out, the cart is encrypted with a private SSL key, the encrypted information is shipped over to PayPal for decryption, and they check out there.. It's clean and removes liability from my friend..
 

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I am thinking of writing a site that is pretty universal for ecommerce though. I am sure there are already some out there. I would write a site that is completely database driven. Basically a lot of frames. THe header would be a frame the left margin for the buttons would be a frame. right margin for adds would be a frame and then the body would as well. All seperate pages. Then I would do a database call for button names and links for those button for the button frame. That way everything is created on the fly and the user can edit the info in the database through a backend app. I would do the same for the header and body and probably just put google ads in the right frame. Then for a product page I could have a database with pictures, prices, descriptions, etc... of the products and just print them all out.

It would take some work and it would take a nice user manual for the users but it might sale. my mom is interested in doing her own online site for some stuff so I my test it on her. I just have to find the time to do it.

Since you guys are in the business for this stuff do you think it would sale? if so how much? I would want it to be completely hands off for me that way I did not have to do any updating at all or at least very little when the user could not figure it out and I would charge for the updates that I would have to do. My main problem is pricing and figuring out what is a fair price for both sides

T
If you're trying to develop a frame based site, you don't know nearly as much about web development as you think you do. Take advantage of the technology out there instead of trying to come up with a site that pretty much sums up "worst practices." There's almost no good reason to ever use a frame in a website, which is why they'll be deprecated as of the HTML 5 specification.

Pick up a book on Javascript and then learn how to make XML and/or JSON calls to and from the server. You can rewrite elements of your web pages on the fly. If you want to develop software to compete with what's out there, you need to keep up with the times.
 
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sorry, I was away for a few days...

anyway, I'm trying to get the original site designer to finish his work with an admin page so I can test uploading merchandise and such. (4+ mos) At the same time, I will be transferring my other plan to host gator to set up a zen cart site under a .net name. This basically means I will have 2 separate sites simultaneously, but it will allow me to see how steep the learning curve is w/zencart. If its manageable for me then I'll disable the created site and focus on the zencart site.

Thats basically the plan for now and I'm just going to be as adaptable as possible until I find out which will work best for me. BTW should I worry about the hacking of shared servers with the zencart application? If thats a valid concern, then I should just fork over whatever is necessary to have a professionally managed and safe site...too much risk otherwise.

I appreciate the input
 

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sorry, I was away for a few days...

anyway, I'm trying to get the original site designer to finish his work with an admin page so I can test uploading merchandise and such. (4+ mos) At the same time, I will be transferring my other plan to host gator to set up a zen cart site under a .net name. This basically means I will have 2 separate sites simultaneously, but it will allow me to see how steep the learning curve is w/zencart. If its manageable for me then I'll disable the created site and focus on the zencart site.

Thats basically the plan for now and I'm just going to be as adaptable as possible until I find out which will work best for me. BTW should I worry about the hacking of shared servers with the zencart application? If thats a valid concern, then I should just fork over whatever is necessary to have a professionally managed and safe site...too much risk otherwise.

I appreciate the input
Sounds like a pretty good plan if the original developer follows through on his end..

I've begun working on another e-commerce site for a friend of ours.. After reviewing the different cart packages offered by HostGator, I went with CubeCart.. From what I read, CubeCart is the easiest to modify and has the best backend admin area.. I've installed CubeCart on the site and have been making modifications to it for the last couple of days.. I'm pretty close to having a completed custom site already..

As far as security, I'm not sure how secure ZenCart is, but CubeCart 3.0.17 seems pretty secure.. The admin area will actually give you a warning if you have file permissions for certain files wrong.. The only area that concerns me is the image upload directory.. To upload images, the permissions on the directory have to be opened.. I'm thinking I'll just open them up when I (or the client) want to upload new images and lock them down otherwise.. I searched and searched for security issues with CubeCart and only found a few which were in previous versions.. I couldn't find anything specific to the 3.0.17 version I plan on using..

CubeCart doesn't store credit card information in its database (and I doubt ZenCart does either).. It simply passes the form information to the payment gateway (PayPal, etc.).. I'm not sure if you have a merchant account or want to accept credit cards through your site, and if not, then you also have the option of just using the standard PayPal checkout..

There are some inherent security flaws with shared servers, but HostGator doesn't allow shell (command line) access (that I know of at least), so that helps.. Also, the PHP modules (at least that I've seen) run in CGI mode with PHPSuExec, which is a big plus security-wise.. I also enabled the PHP5 (HostGator servers default to PHP4 with lax security settings) module for the site, and it has more secure default settings..
 
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I'm going to check out the cube cart as well. I have some questions I still need to ask the tech help at hostgator.

Host gator only offfers linux though and for some reason the designer specified windows hosting....any reason for this?
 

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I'm going to check out the cube cart as well. I have some questions I still need to ask the tech help at hostgator.

Host gator only offfers linux though and for some reason the designer specified windows hosting....any reason for this?
Well, what language is the site written in? If it's ASP, then you require a special package (Apache::ASP or ChiliSoft! ASP or some other package) to run ASP code on Linux.. But it is do-able..

Also, it depends on what the database on the backend is.. If it's MS Access, you'd have to convert the database to another format that runs on Linux (MySQL, etc.).. Again, do-able, but requires some modifications..
 

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Your designer is probably an ASP developer as opposed to PHP, Python, Perl, or Ruby. If you HAVE to have your host on a Linux machine, it's probably better to look elsewhere for a designer. Unless your designer has Linux knowledge, he's going to be utterly lost when it comes to setting everything up.

Beast, couldn't you just set the group and owner of the images directory to be the owner of php? That way, you could set the mode to 0700 and upload to your heart's content.
 

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Your designer is probably an ASP developer as opposed to PHP, Python, Perl, or Ruby. If you HAVE to have your host on a Linux machine, it's probably better to look elsewhere for a designer. Unless your designer has Linux knowledge, he's going to be utterly lost when it comes to setting everything up.

Beast, couldn't you just set the group and owner of the images directory to be the owner of php? That way, you could set the mode to 0700 and upload to your heart's content.
I can change the permissions on it through the cPanel, but I can't change ownership because I don't have shell access.. I just went and checked the permissions on the 'uploads' directory, and they're 755 by default, so apparently that's set by the software when I installed it.. I was under the impression previously that the 'uploads' directory would be 777 but it's not.. I might have read that on a forum by someone that was running CubeCart with PHP as an Apache module.. :shrug:

The files should be owned by my username on the server.. PHP is running with PHPSuExec, so all of my created files or uploaded files will have my username as well.. Directory permissions can't be more open than 755 under PHPSuExec, which I just found out tonight.. PHPSuExec is way more secure than PHP as an Apache module..

http://www.hostmagik.info/phpsuexec.php
 
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