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Running an E-commerce Website in 2014

Running an E-commerce Website in 2014

It is becoming increasingly convenient to shop online. The simple fact that people are now using their mobile phones to shop online is proof enough. While commuting home from work, they use the Wi-Fi networks in the subway, for instance, so that they can order the things they need. They pay for them using their PayPal account (or some other online payment account), and when they get home, the things they need are waiting for them.

Retail is evolving and traditional shopping is expected to be a thing of the past in a not-that-distant future. Even clothes, the things you need to try on before purchasing, can be ordered online, since most companies that do this have a well-established system by which you can check whether or not what you are purchasing will fit your body.

Bearing this in mind, one has to agree that if you want to sell something, be it a product or a service, you have to have a website. Period! Without it, you will soon be lost in the sea of competition and you will find yourself facing bankruptcy issues. Here are the major points to consider to set up and run a successful e-commerce website in 2014.

Getting started: Design

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    The starting point of every website is its design. It can be extremely challenging to establish that. 2013 website design trends indicate a minimalistic approach. If you go for a flashy design that is filled with images, links, loads of pages, videos and so on, chances are that your visitors will get confused and they will simply close your site’s tab and move on to something else.

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    Your homepage is what matters most. It should feature your logo, one great big high-definition image (or a slider with HD imaging) that represents what you do, your basic info written in a cool and easily readable font, some contact info in the footer and that’s it. The header of your site should have links that lead to your other pages. You see, if your homepage looks simple and concrete, when your viewers see it, they will want to learn more and they will stay on your site. You can check out some pretty cool designs here.

    Your products page is another very important page and this one has to be well organized as well. You should have categories and the products should be listed in those categories. Each product has to have an image (sometimes several images), a description and a price. When it comes to pricing, you should make sure that you use a secure online payment method. To read more about this topic, follow this link.

    When it comes to shipping, make sure that you provide your readers with valuable shipping information. They have to be informed about that. Also, use a stable and valid shipping company. Try to find someone who has been in the business for a long time and who knows his or her job well. A lot of packages get damaged while shipping and that is something you will want to avoid.

    Make sure that you don’t forget to add a contact page so that your customers can ask for more information, and even more importantly, do not forget to answer their questions as soon as you can. The first rule of retail is that the customer is always right.

    Moving on: Functionality

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      The next item on the agenda is functionality. Let us presume that you have a cool-looking website and that you are happy with it. That site will be worth nothing if it is not functional, fast loading and well programmed. It will also be unusable if it is not responsive. As mentioned above, more and more people are switching from their PCs and laptops to mobile phones and tablets for online activity. Your website has to be accessible via these devices as well. Also, with the launch of the new iPhone’s retina display, you have to ensure that your site is, as they say, retina-ready. So, your web designers and developers have to be well informed, they have to follow the newest trends and they have to be ready for everything.

      A website’s functionality is a pretty grand topic and there is a lot of talk about it on the net. To get you started, here are some useful articles that might help ease the process.

      Your Domain

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        Registering a domain can be quite a pickle, as they say. You see, the net is full of websites – millions upon millions of them. The chance that someone registered the exact domain name you were looking for is high. This can be quite a problem since, frankly speaking, your domain name is very important. It should be relevant, original and related to your business. If you already have a name in mind, you should check and see whether or not it is already taken. Some experts suggest that if it is, you should consider going as far as changing the name of your firm, so that it corresponds with an available domain name.

        You should check out this link, where you will find the top sites for registering a domain in 2013. Dwell on this for some time and make the right decision.

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        Hosting

        When all the things above are done right, it is time to find appropriate hosting. For start, here’s a low-cost hosting guide for those who are looking for a cheap and reliable hosting service for their e-commerce website.

        Generally speaking, there are two types of hosting – shared and dedicated hosting. Here is the difference between the two:

        1. Shared hosting features one great big server computer that functions as a host for several websites.
        2. Dedicated hosting features one great big server computer that functions as a host for just one website.

        Logically, the second option is the thing to go for. It will be more expensive, of course, but if you go for shared hosting, chances are that a lot of things will go wrong. These machines tend to get overloaded and this can have a very bad result. You can even end up losing a lot of clients. As the owner of an e-commerce website, you will probably have a lot of resources there (images, videos, loads of text, etc.), which will make it difficult for a shared hosting server to function. So, if you have just one server that is dedicated for your site and your site only, you can be sure that things will run smoothly and you won’t have to worry at all.

        Promotion

        Now, that you have your site up and running, it is time to let people know that your site is out there. After all, what good is website if no one visits it? This is where search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM) and social media marketing (SMM) come into play. The goal of these practices is to make your site recognized by Google and other search engines, so that people can find it and visit it.

        You have to be aware that this is a process that takes time. For instance, amongst other things, you will have to write various articles related to your business and you have to post them on various relevant blogs, which will bring traffic to your site. Furthermore, you will have to register your company on various social media platforms (Facebook, Google+, Twitter, etc.) and you will have to provide your readers or followers with relevant, up-to-date content at all times. So, apart from taking a long time initially, this process never stops – the more you grow, the more things you will need to do.

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        Promotion social media image

          Also, you should not only promote your site online, but offline as well. Make sure that you have a link to your site printed on any and all promotional material you have at your disposal.

          This is yet another very popular topic on the net – meaning that a lot of people posted a lot of relevant articles recently.

          Let’s wrap it up

          As you can see, running an e-commerce website is no walk in the park, but if you do everything as outlined above, your efforts will be worth it. The retail industry is changing and people are realizing that they have the world in their pocket: they just take their phone out and presto – everything is there. Who knows what e-commerce will represent in 20 years or so, given the fact that it was a “fairytale” 20 or 30 years ago? It is up to you to follow the trends! Good luck!

          More by this author

          Ivan Dimitrijevic

          Ivan is the CEO and founder of a digital marketing company. He has years of experiences in team management, entrepreneurship and productivity.

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          Last Updated on July 4, 2019

          25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

          25 Killer Sites For Free Online Education

          Whether you’re five or ninety five, the internet has a lot to offer. Particularly when the topic is education, the resources on the internet are endless.

          Best of all, many high quality sites are completely free. From history to coding, excellent free online education awaits on the following 25 sites.

          1. Coursera

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            Coursera is a website that partners with universities and organizations around the world. This brings a wide variety of topics and perspectives to one searchable database.

            Coursera is a powerful tool for free online education, and includes courses from many top universities, museums and trusts. This gives the site an extremely wide range of in-depth courses.

            Coursera is extremely useful if you’re looking to study many different topics, or want courses from different schools and groups.

            2. Khan Academy

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              Partnering with many post secondary schools, Khan Academy offers a useable, well organized interface. Also curating many courses from around the web, Khan Academy offers impressive depth on many different subjects.

              Among the more well known educational sites, Khan Academy is also incredibly useable, which may make it easier to keep learning goals.

              3. Open Culture Online Courses

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                If you are struggling to find exactly the material you are looking for, try Open Culture’s listing of free online education courses. The page highlights 1000 lectures, videos and podcasts from universities around the world. The site features a lot of material found only on universities private sites, all in easy to browse categories. This means you can find hundreds of university courses, without having to visit and search each university’s own site.

                Open Culture’s list features courses from England, Australia, Wales and many state universities around the United States. A very helpful resource for finding many courses in one area of study.

                4. Udemy 

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                  Udemy’s free courses are similar in concept to Coursera’s but additionally allows users to build custom courses from lessons.

                  Working with many top professors and schools, the site mixes the customizable platform of other sites with a heavy emphasis on top quality content. This is another site however, that mixes free and paid content.

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                  5. Academic Earth

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                    Another site with courses from many different schools is Academic Earth. Much like the three sites above, Academic Earth brings together top notch courses from many different sources, and focuses on offering a wide variety of subjects.

                    Academic Earth lists courses by subject and school, so it might be easier to find what you’re looking for.

                    6. edX

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                      Another great option for free online education is edX. Also bringing together courses from many different schools, the site has impressive, quality information for everyone. edX covers a great range of topics.

                      7. Alison

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                        Unlike the previous sites on this lists, Alison is a free education site offering certification in some areas. Alison offers courses mainly in business, technology, and health, but also includes language learning courses.

                        It’s a great option if users need certification for their learning as Alison also offers school curriculum courses.

                        8. iTunesU Free Courses

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                          A very convenient place for free online education is iTunesU, because it integrates seamlessly with your iPod, or any app-ready Apple mobile device. On iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, users download the iTunesU app.

                          Desktop users can access  iTunesU on the upper right hand corner of the iTunes Store. iTunesU is also convenient because the store is categorized much like iTunes.

                          Users can search learning materials in many different ways, including genre and topic. However, courses are often a mix of free podcasts or videos, and paid content.

                          ITunesU does include courses on a pretty wide scope of topics, but does not integrate with Android, Google or Windows mobile devices.

                          9. Stanford Online

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                            Your hub for all the online offerings from Stanford University, Stanford Online offers self-paced and session based courses. While Coursera features some courses from Stanford, many classes are only available via other hosts. Some courses require iTunes, but most are completed in your web browser.

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                            Stanford Online is a great site for high quality courses, though the topics are somewhat limited compared to sites partnered with more than one school.

                            10. Harvard Extension

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                              Like Stanford Online, Harvard Extension features free online education courses from Harvard only. This is another excellent source for top notch course material, though the course variety is less rich than multi-school sites.

                              Additionally, Harvard Extension allows you to search for courses by professional certificate. This makes it much easier if your online education goal includes certification.

                              11. Open Yale Courses

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                                Open Yale Courses echoes Harvard Extension and Stanford Online, in that it offers only courses from Yale. While the site is similarly limited to topics taught at the school, Open Yale Courses offers a lot of videos of actual campus lectures. The availability of videos makes the site a great option if you’re looking for quality courses, but learn better by watching than by reading.

                                12. UC Berkeley Class Central

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                                  Much like the other schools on this list, UC Berkeley has a variety of free online education options. The school has slightly fewer courses than the schools above, but includes some supplementary lectures, webcasts and RSS Feeds, making it easy to keep up with the topics you choose.

                                  13. MIT OpenCourseWare

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                                    Similarly, MIT offers a variety of free courses. The school has a comparable number of courses to the schools above, plus includes very in-depth course materials on the subjects available. MIT also offers free RSS feeds, a convenient way to continue learning.

                                    14. Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative

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                                      Carnegie Mellon’s free online education site is comparable with the other school’s on this list, however, Open Learning Initiative also covers a smaller range of topics. But for the topics that are covered impressive, in-depth material is available.

                                      15. Codecademy

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                                        Codecademy is a website dedicated specifically to teaching coding. Where other coding sites follow an example/practice session workflow, Codecademy includes a live practice window. This means you can practice coding while still viewing the lesson material.

                                        The courses at Codecademy are well written and easy to follow and the website is organized very nicely. Codecademy features a centralized dashboard where you can monitor your progress, plus organizes lessons into complete modules. This lets you learn an entire language without needing to pick the next course manually.

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                                        16. Code

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                                          Code is another website focused on coding and app writing. A site with high quality courses, Code also features learning options for kids.

                                          In addition to kid friendly courses, Code offers free online education classes on a wide variety of technology topics. These classes include app writing, robotics and Javascript.

                                          Most of the courses are also geared in a such a way that they can be useful in a classroom setting. This makes Code a great resource for harder to find coding topics, as well as various learning settings.

                                          17. University of London Podcasts

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                                            The podcast page on the University of London website is another great source for free education. While the courses are limited to podcasts, the site features podcasts from it’s own campus, as well as eleven universities in and around London. This gives learners a wide base of topics and lectures, but still ensures in-depth material.

                                            18. University of Oxford Podcasts

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                                              Similar to the University of London, the University of Oxford features many different podcasts. Most are public lecture series or lectures from visiting professors, with several different recordings available.

                                              The advantage to this particular site is that podcasts are organized into series, making it easy to subscribe to multiple lectures on one topic. Another good site for thoroughly in-depth lectures.

                                              19. BBC Podcasts

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                                                For the more casual learner, the BBC offers a wide variety of podcasts on many different topics. Most podcasts are updated weekly, and focus on everything from finance, to sports, to current events.

                                                Through the World Service line of podcasts, there are also many in different languages. The focus of these podcasts are less in-depth and theory based, which may be more accessible to the average person.

                                                20. TED-Ed

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                                                  Another great destination for more general learning is TED-Ed. From the same people that brought you the all encompassing, motivational web series, comes a site chocked full of educational videos. Most include impressive animation, and all are ten minutes long or less.

                                                  Not only is TED-Ed an excellent site for the curious, it also includes supplemental materials and quizzes on the videos. This makes the site extremely useful in formal education settings, as well as in entertaining ways to brush up on new discoveries and topics.

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                                                  21. LessonPaths

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                                                    LessonPaths is another great tool for those looking for a more usable and convenient way to access learning material. On this site, users create link playlists of their favorite learning materials from other sites. Users then rank these collections, making it easy to find many different high quality, accessible sources on a given topic.

                                                    22. Memrise

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                                                      Another impressive free online education site offering ease of use and convenience is Memrise. Available both on desktop and as an app, Memrise is a particularly powerful tool if you are studying a language. The site encompasses many other topics as well, though some of the course material is user generated content.

                                                      Part of what makes Memrise special is their integration of games into the learning materials, mixing learning with entertainment.

                                                      23. National Geographic Kids

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                                                        The kids site for National Geographic is another site that makes free online education applicable for younger users. For those looking for kid friendly education, a large variety of games, puzzles, videos and photos keeps kids interested on this site.

                                                        National Geographic Kids doesn’t organize learning into courses, making materials available by topic and medium instead. This makes National Geographic Kids a good option for those looking for a more casual learning environment.

                                                        24. Fun Brain

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                                                          Fun Brain is another good option for kids who want to learn online, but focuses on games and fun puzzles. Particularly focused on math and reading, Fun Brain’s game based approach can be valuable if the child in question struggles to pay attention.

                                                          Fun Brain offers rewards and challenges as well, and is another site aimed at a casual learning experience for kids K-8.

                                                          25. Whyville

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                                                            Similar to the sites for kids free online education is Whyville a destination for preteen online learning. The site includes a variety of social features, with a focus on learning materials geared for young teens.

                                                            Whyville also mixes in educational games, to make the site a well rounded option for kids too old for simple games, but too young for heavy reading based material.

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                                                            Featured photo credit: Dai KE via unsplash.com

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