Read these 25 Content Management Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Shopping Cart tips and hundreds of other topics.
WYSIWYG is an acronym for "What You See is What You Get". In terms of wysiwyg html editors, they allow you to see what you are building in a split-screen rather than just showing you code. This allows you to handle content management without having to launch a web browser with each line of html code.
Content management advice: The web is filled with CMS resources, most of them selling their own content management system. The best article we've found on web content management and choosing a content management system would be the case study provided by about.com at http://webdesign.about.com/library/weekly/aa021102a.htm. This article explores the use of a CMS in detail with a fictional company and allows the internet business owner to reflect on whether they need content management or not.
More content management advice: Content is definitely king online, but content management can be a royal pain. Content management tool software can help alleviate the strain of everyday management. Content management tools allow a central content management portal where you can add, edit and delete content to and from your website. There are a host of content management tools out there, so be sure to do your research and make sure it runs on your server (i.e.: a linux content management tool does not run on microsoft machines, etc)
Enterprise is just another way of saying that the software package you are looking at is good for a large-scale company and can do more than just content management. Generally, an enterprise content management system software can handle tracking of content views, reporting as well as traditional web content management functions involved in publishing.
While most content mangement folks prefer to use an html editor such as DreamWeaver, Coffee Cup or FrontPage, some die-hard html coders still prefer to use notepad. The general rule is, use the content management software you feel most comfortable with, but understand what the html editor is creating when it spits out the code to you.
Sometimes, its not having content that is a problem, but the content management. With some sites having thousands of pages and articles published monthly, web content management is essential for running a smooth operation.
There are several vendors for web content management systems. The best resource to research various content management software side-by-side is at cmswatch.com. Their in-depth coverage of web content management systems is excellent and can guide you in the right direction.
Picking an ebusiness solution that meets your needs requires that you spend a little bit of time defining your business goals. If you are just supplementing your income and hope to make a small amount of money online, you might choose ebusiness software that doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles but meets your immediate needs and doesn't cost very much. If your plan is to grow an enterprise, you'll want to plan ahead a bit and make sure you pick an ebusiness solution provider than can grow with your business, with few limits on the number of items you can sell, lets you offer online coupons, and send automatic email to your customers. You might still outgrow your ebusiness solution provider, but there's no sense in starting with one that you outgrow in a few months.
There are several types of content management tool suites available, and the main decision comes down to what type of online business you run. For example, some content management systems will handle tracking page views and click-through rates to afford you more data on your customer patterns. Others focus on web content management of pages and provide only content and publishing functionality. Yet others, called Enterprise CMS, are set up for large coproations that have thousands upon thousands of pages on their website. A good website to start is http://www.cmswatch.com/ where they offer daily news on CMS as well as content management system reviews.
You don't have to be an expert in HTML to handle your content management needs. Aside from using an HTML editor or WYSIWYG html editors, you can choose to use a web content management system. Employing use of a web content management system will allow you to launch content and products on your website quickly using a template-based system and plugging content in directly from the content management tool interface. Knowing HTML is good, but as an online business entrepreneur, the less time you spend in the code or building your ecommerce web site, the more time you have to devote to running your business and marketing your website.
If you're thinking of going with a web-based ecommerce shopping cart, you can look first at all the big names in Internet retailing: eBay, Amazon.com, Paypal and Yahoo all offer complete ecommerce shopping cart solutions that are easy to set up using web-based tools. All of these ecommerce shopping cart providers can get you up and running with a complete ecommerce shopping cart solution the same day, with just a few hours of web-based work. Take time to read the reviews and reports from other consumers before deciding on a shopping cart solution.
You actually can build an ecommerce solution without ever dealing with a shopping cart on your site. There are many ecommerce shopping cart software providers who run everything on their servers. These providers include Google and Paypal, among others. To access these ecommerce shopping cart software providers from your site, all you have to do is drop "buy now" buttons on your site. A potential buyer who clicks on the button gets taken to the provider's site and can then link back to your site for more shopping. It's a very easy way to enable your site for ecommerce.
Technology is changing so fast on the Web these days, especially with ecommerce and electronic shopping carts. So if you're looking for an ecommerce shopping cart provider, especially one that uses new Web 2.0 technologies like Ajax, choose carefully. You want to find a provider that understands the new technologies, but one who also understands the risks of using these technologies, especially with your business. Consider using a big-name provider to start. You know they are going to have worked out kinks before putting out a product. If you want to go the independent route, ask your developer to show you working models of ecommerce sites that he has built already before you hire him to build yours.
When you're dealing with hosted, browser-based ecommerce shopping carts, you usually get a simple, easy to maintain interface and built-in merchant functionality for a one-stop, easy-to-implement solution. What you will sacrifice, however, is the ability to integrate the ecommerce shopping cart into a site design. Virtually all ecommerce shopping cart providers who offer browser-based tools force you to choose from their design templates. You can usually choose font and color and a basic layout. You can upload a logo, too. But that's it. You can't make it fit into your site, unless you work with a more customizable tool. But those customizable tools aren't going to be nearly so seamless to use. The choice is yours.
For the first time, EBay has licensed its ecommerce technology to an outside ecommerce provider. This means that anyone who uses Affinity Internet -- or any other ecommerce provider who follows them in licensing EBay technology -- the same browser-based technology that powers EBay ProStores. What does this mean for the average webstore owner? It means that browser-based ecommerce shopping cart solutions are getting more powerful and easier to use at the same time. If you run an ecommerce site and don't love your browser-based software, it's a good time to check out new ecommerce shopping cart solutions that take advantage of new technologies. It will be good for your customers and worthwhile for your business.
Here's a question: Since web-based Internet shopping carts live on someone else's server, can you create your own design or do you have to use pre-made designs chosen by the host? The answer is yes and yes. Most ASP ecommerce hosts offer simple point-and-click interfaces with a choice of simple pre-made designs. But most of these same providers also allow you to import your own web design into their software. This is particularly important if you're only hosting the Internet shopping cart remotely and not the rest of the site.
There are hundreds of companies offering an ecommerce solution. Google "ecommerce solution" and see for yourself. So who offers the best? It depends on what you want in terms of Internet shopping cart software. Giant ecommerce shopping cart providers like Yahoo, EBay and Amazon have point-and-click storefronts for sale, as do hundreds of remotely hosted ecommerce specialists.
Most hosting poviders provide an integrated ecommerce shopping cart solution for their shared hosting customers. Most also don't want to install random scripts on their servers, so you may get stuck using their choice of software or going with an ASP model. If you use a dedicated server on the other hand, the provider will usually allow you to install any ebusiness software you want -- or will install it for you. You can also seek out an ecommerce hosting provider, who specializes in offering various ecommerce shopping cart solutions.
Paypal, which still is the main method of payment masses who use eBay every day, has grown into a legitimate ecommerce shopping cart solution as well. Paypal now offers a full integrated solution that can accept a choice of credit cards and merchant accounts, as well as the traditional web-based solution that made the company the main choice for extremely low cost ecommerce transactions. This allows a new merchant to start with a simple, low-priced solution and then graduate to more robust packages while staying with the same provider.
Ecommerce shopping cart providers like to make the entry cost low, so you can expect to purchase and set-up a web-based ecommerce plan, complete with electronic shopping cart, for as low as under $20 per month. Most ASP providers offer graduated ecommerce shopping cart plans, with expanded bandwidth offerings and toolsets for more money. High-end ecommerce shopping cart plans can go from $300 or so monthly up to thousands of dollars, depending on the plan. You should research many ecommerce providers to compare hosting plans and services before making a final decision.
If you're looking for a software-based, locally hosted ecommerce shopping cart solution, investigate the results of well-known software-based ecommerce shopping cart providers. These solutions almost always include turnkey offerings or can integrate with the business owner's choice of shopping cart merchant account and/or hosting providers. There are also free, open-source electronic shopping carts available in popular web programming languages like ASP and PHP. Finally, if you use a commercial hosting provider, the provider may already have an integrated ecommerce software solution installed on its commercial servers. Call your host provider to find out.
Looking for an ecommerce provider? You're going to face some important decisions in terms of picking the right ebusiness software and ecommerce shopping cart solution for your business and your pocketbook. Here's one big one you'll have to decide early on: How much time can you afford to put into the set-up and management of the software? If you have technical savvy, or an IT team to do it for you, you can think about using a software or a custom solution. If not, especially if you're a small or one-person shop, you're better off with a solution that involves ecommerce automation, like an ASP-based ecommerce provider. Thinking about these details now might be critical to your ultimate e-business success.
How do you find the right one ecommerce provider for your ebusiness? Here are some suggestions:
* If you have a web developer or IT team working for you, listen to their recommendations for ecommerce shoppng cart solutions.
* Look at sites where you think the ecommerce software is particularly good. See if you can figure out who the ecommerce provider is and then do some research on them.
* Look at websites that compare different ecommerce shopping cart solutions and search out reviews of different products that look good to you.
* Make sure you figure out exactly what you want and what you can afford before making a final decision.
With a web-based ecommerce shopping cart provider, also known as an ASP (Application Service Provider), you sign up on the web, pay via credit card, and can immediately begin uploading and selling over the web through a pre-built ecommerce shopping cart.
Web-based ecommerce providers will also take on virtually all IT and software management duties. However, it can be an inelegant solution, especially for existing businesses with custom business rules, or large, busy sites that want to fully integrate the ecommerce shopping cart into an existing site or otherwise do custom tracking of patterns and purchases.
Make sure you know the answers to the following questions before you put down your money with an ecommerce shopping cart provider:
If your business already takes credit cards, you likely have a merchant account that can be web-enabled. However, if you're just starting out, it might be easier to go with a provider that bundles everything in one package.
This depends on how handy you are with IT work and how interested you are in doing it. If you want a turnkey solution, a web-based or ASP model might work best. If you work with a web developer, IT staff, or are reasonably technical yourself, you might opt for a locally hosted ecommerce shopping cart solution, which allows more control and easier integration with your existing business rules.
Ecommerce shopping cart solutions range from free to thousands of dollars. You should know your general budget before starting out.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|