Choosing the Right CMS and E-commerce Platform for Your Online Creative Business

It all begins when a business owner decides they need an important online presence to tell their story, build a community or following, and feature their products and/or services. They know it’s time to accomplish this online but they are unsure how to begin this process.

If this is you, the BIG question you may ask is “How do I present myself and what type of website do I need?”

website under construction graphicHow do you decide which CMS to use?

I have built websites using WordPress, Concrete5, Joomla, Drupal and more… Some sites are even a combination of a few CMS’s. For example, I recently worked on a combination of Drupal and WordPress so we could add a blog to the site that had been build previously, while in another project we used, WordPress, aMember and aWeber to build a community membership site.

Basically what you need to know is that the plan and functionality drive a site and each CMS can manipulate the site’s functionality, therefore one may be better than another depending upon your needs. Your designer should recommend which CMS to use for your particular site, however, you should get to know a few of the difference platforms and their functionality, to determine which might be best for you.

Each business has a different set of goals and so their site is structured and designed in a different way.  Some businesses want to show off their amazing artwork, some want to sell products, some have a mission and are looking for a following. In each case, the site must be designed and structured to meet those goals.

Different E-commerce Systems

When it comes to e-commerce there are a few different routes.

The simplest is to have a business paypal account. Once created and linked to your business bank account, you can create simple transactions or create buttons, and the buttons can be added to your website to sell a product or service. You can even create your own button graphics to match your website “branding.”

The next step up would be to have a paypal shopping cart within your own site. Someone clicks on the same type of “add to cart” but instead of going straight to paypal it loads the purchase into your cart where they fill out their personal contact details and once they hit submit, it goes to paypal where they make the transaction. Many use this solution as it’s quite economical to set up as well as the ease of the transactions.

When you feel you are ready to accept credit cards on your own site, be prepared for longer development, costs, and having to secure a merchant account with your bank and you will need to pay monthly fees… An example might be Magento, which works well with WordPress.

Always Remember to Keep Your Website Fresh

You website is the Hub you want everyone flocking to. When you blog, it’s to draw traffic. When you write on twitter or facebook it’s to send them to your latest product or blog post. When you send out a press release it has a link back to your latest product or service.

Your website has to be built in a way that it can continue to expand.  It’s also important to NAME your website a name that will be recognizable and easy for the search engines to find.  As a creative, you’ll probably name your website your own name as your art is your own, but you can certainly come up with a clever tagline which you can add to your branding and pr.