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Old 03-28-2005, 02:57 PM   #1
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Default Web Site Planning

Up to now our Web site has been nothing more than a place holder for our domain name while we've contemplated the best use for it. The first thing we would like to be able to do - besides a bit of self-promotion for the business - is sell a few books. Printed books (not e-books), motorsports-related. We have one title already 'out there' and have a few more in the works, but we're not planning to sell a large number of items. No aspirations to compete with Amazon.com in other words. ;-) Web publishing and e-commerce are uncharted territories for us; I'm not even sure where to start. Do you all have any recommended sources for good info on designing, building and maintaining a small publishing outlet online?

   
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:18 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franca
Up to now our Web site has been nothing more than a place holder for our domain name while we've contemplated the best use for it. The first thing we would like to be able to do - besides a bit of self-promotion for the business - is sell a few books. Printed books (not e-books), motorsports-related. We have one title already 'out there' and have a few more in the works, but we're not planning to sell a large number of items. No aspirations to compete with Amazon.com in other words. ;-) Web publishing and e-commerce are uncharted territories for us; I'm not even sure where to start. Do you all have any recommended sources for good info on designing, building and maintaining a small publishing outlet online?
Have a look at your control panel on your hosting company, and see which e-commerce package they offer. That's a good place to start. Then you can ask around and look around the web to see what sorts of experiences others have had with it. if you discover it's a dog, you will find out in the process which packages people find easy to use and effective.

Are you planning to dive into web design yourself, grappling with CSS etc.? If so, we can give you some help here, and there's always the INETPUB forum on CompuServe.

As usual, you'll need to sit down and think about exactly what you want the web site to do, and draft it out on a piece of paper before plunging into the screen design.

It may be of interest to you to know that I recently mastered fly-out menus for a site.

It was not easy, I can tell you, even with help from the ALAP site, so I'll be happy to help you with that if you decide to try it.

   
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by annc
It may be of interest to you to know that I recently mastered fly-out menus for a site.
I hope you didn't invest a lot of time in mastering them. I know I did, learning DHTML and Javascript. Then I discovered Macromedia Fireworks, which can do the whole thing in a wizard, with incredible easy and flexibility, no javascript knowledge required.

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Old 03-28-2005, 05:34 PM   #4
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How are you going to get people to pay for the books? Unless you already have a credit card account, you can wind up paying some steep costs to get signed on with one.

There are a lot of shopping cart systems out there. I haven't looked into it, because I do programming, so I always want to build my own, but I think some of them are good and inexpensive.

You might want to look into Dreamweaver MX from Macromedia. It has integrated ColdFusion programming into the interface, which I understand makes it fairly easy to build a data base driven website these days. You may want to download the trial.

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Old 03-28-2005, 05:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by donmcc
I hope you didn't invest a lot of time in mastering them. I know I did, learning DHTML and Javascript. Then I discovered Macromedia Fireworks, which can do the whole thing in a wizard, with incredible easy and flexibility, no javascript knowledge required.

Don McCahill
I did them in CSS, following the tutorial in an article on the ALISTPART site. There are no tables, and just a little JavaScript that's necessary to make IE 6 to play nicely.

   
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Old 03-28-2005, 05:59 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Franca
The first thing we would like to be able to do - besides a bit of self-promotion for the business - is sell a few books. Printed books (not e-books), motorsports-related.
Sell directly? Or have an arrangement for a percentage via Amazon or Barnes & Noble?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franca
Web publishing and e-commerce are uncharted territories for us; I'm not even sure where to start.
Me, neither. You may want to look into deals with others (Kagi, Digital River) who can take care of accepting credit cards and so on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franca
Do you all have any recommended sources for good info on designing, building and maintaining a small publishing outlet online?
You expose several different issues:

1. Designing your site (what will you present, on how many pages, how will they be linked and indexed, and so on — pencil and paper stuff, as if you were designing a magazine, say).

2. How will you produce the pages? On this, I would suggest that you rush over to Amazon.com and get Elizabeth Castro’s HTML with XHTML and CSS and Eric Meyer’s Cascading Style sheets: The definitive guide. (I know others recommend Dreamweaver or GoLive, etc., but first you need to understand the basics, and the Castro book is a great “cookbook” for that.'

3. The selling angle. I have no experience with selling stuff directly on the web. Some of the smaller developers I deal with use Digital River — which takes care of credit cards and so on. Others probably know a lot more, though.

   
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Old 03-28-2005, 06:37 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by donmcc
How are you going to get people to pay for the books? Unless you already have a credit card account, you can wind up paying some steep costs to get signed on with one.
We were thinking of Paypal and personal checks (which we would wait for the bank to clear before shipping.)

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There are a lot of shopping cart systems out there. I haven't looked into it, because I do programming, so I always want to build my own, but I think some of them are good and inexpensive.
That's something we'll have to research because I'm definitely not a programmer. ;-)

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You might want to look into Dreamweaver MX from Macromedia. It has integrated ColdFusion programming into the interface, which I understand makes it fairly easy to build a data base driven website these days. You may want to download the trial.
I don't think we're going to have enough items to worry much about a database-driven site ... but who knows? I clearly have a lot of learnin' to do!

   
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Old 03-28-2005, 06:45 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ktinkel
Sell directly? Or have an arrangement for a percentage via Amazon or Barnes & Noble?
Direct sale. On the current book, the publisher is letting us purchase as many books as we would like at cost to sell wherever and however we choose.

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Me, neither. You may want to look into deals with others (Kagi, Digital River) who can take care of accepting credit cards and so on.
We're talking small here. We were thinking of offering two options for starters: PayPal and checks. Any reason not to do this? We could expand into something a lot fancier if things should magically "take off".

Quote:
You expose several different issues:

1. Designing your site (what will you present, on how many pages, how will they be linked and indexed, and so on — pencil and paper stuff, as if you were designing a magazine, say).

2. How will you produce the pages? On this, I would suggest that you rush over to Amazon.com and get Elizabeth Castro’s HTML with XHTML and CSS and Eric Meyer’s Cascading Style sheets: The definitive guide. (I know others recommend Dreamweaver or GoLive, etc., but first you need to understand the basics, and the Castro book is a great “cookbook” for that.'

3. The selling angle. I have no experience with selling stuff directly on the web. Some of the smaller developers I deal with use Digital River — which takes care of credit cards and so on. Others probably know a lot more, though.
Yes, those pesky multiple issues. ;-) Thanks for the lead on the HTML/CSS books! Much to mull over here....

   
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Old 03-28-2005, 07:06 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Franca
Direct sale. On the current book, the publisher is letting us purchase as many books as we would like at cost to sell wherever and however we choose.

We're talking small here. We were thinking of offering two options for starters: PayPal and checks. Any reason not to do this?
Logically, of course not. Emotionally? How do you feel when you decide to buy a book and then have to go write a check and mail it somewhere?

PayPal is probably all right, although their insistance on using my bank account (that is, I can choose to use a credit card, but about a third of the time, it somehow reverts to direct withdrawal from my bank, which I hate.) So I only use PayPal if no other option seems reasonable.

The advantage of Kagi or Digital River is that they accept any mode of payment. FWIW. (But I have no knowledge of what fees they charge to the seller.)

—Kathleen

   
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Old 03-28-2005, 10:25 PM   #10
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Logically, of course not. Emotionally? How do you feel when you decide to buy a book and then have to go write a check and mail it somewhere?
Personally, I hate it. But there are some people who won't use Paypal so there needs to be at least one other option. I dunno ... a lot of folks are satisfied with these two options on eBay, for example. But I'll look into Digital River, etc. and find out what's involved.

Quote:
PayPal is probably all right, although their insistance on using my bank account (that is, I can choose to use a credit card, but about a third of the time, it somehow reverts to direct withdrawal from my bank, which I hate.)
I also dislike that immensely.

   
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