The Master Checklist For Creating an eCommerce Website

eCommerce Website Design Steps

Ecommerce Website Development Process, Steps, and Outline with WordPress and WooCommerce – STEP by STEP

This page is intended to demonstrate just how involved an eCommerce website design is. The information below will also give you a clear road map as to the overview, process, steps and outline for a proper eCommerce website. Every eCommerce website is different and this is just one example of an eCommerce website design process. There are hundreds of CMS (content management system) options, including WordPress and Magento for Ecommerce. Along with the wide variety of CMS options, you have the choice of many different merchants, gateways, dedicated servers, VPS servers and SSL (Secure Socket Layer) certificate providers.

In this example of our Ecommerce Website Design Process, Steps and Outline, we are using WordPress (CMS), WooCommerce (eCommerce Plugin), GoDaddy (VPS Server) and GoDaddy again as our SSL Certificate Provider. Along with these software applications, we are using Wells Fargo as our Merchant Service and Authorize.Net as our Gateway Application. This is not a complete tutorial on setting up an eCommerce website; however, the general steps involved in creating one.

30 Steps to Create a Successful Ecommerce Store

  1. Set up New Dedicated Server (VPS – Virtual Private Server) on GoDaddy.com
  2. Request New IP Address (If using multiple domain names)
  3. Assign SSL Certificate to IP Address
  4. Launch Website on WordPress (Coming Soon)
  5. Install SSL Certificate on VPS (Assign SSL to Domain Name)
  6. Sign Up for Merchant Account (Example: Wells Fargo)
  7. Sign Up for Gateway Account (Example: Authorize.net) NOTE: Wells Fargo will do this for you
  8. Launch Woo Commerce and Install Plugins
  9. Install Gateway (Authorize.net AIM Plugin)
  10. Initial Design and outline of Homepage (Coming Soon or Live Design)
  11. Install SEO Yoast (SEO Plugin)
  12. Launch Initial Website Design and Internal Page Designs
  13. Customize/ Design Category Pages
  14. Customize/ Design Product Pages
  15. Install Ninja Forms (Contact Form Plugins)
  16. Add Mail Chimp or Constant Contact for Email Marketing
  17. Develop Internal Pages for PCI compliance (500+ Words Each: Privacy Policy, Terms of Use/ Shipping Information, Warranty and Refund Policies)
  18. Add All Product Categories and Subcategories
  19. Add All Products and Set Featured Items
  20. Create and Customize a Shopping Cart Page (Connect PCI Compliant Pages to Shopping Cart)
  21. Set Up Payment Methods through Woo Commerce (Ecommerce Options)
  22. Integrate Social Media Share Product Buttons (Social Media Plugin)
  23. Install StoreYa Social Media Like Coupon
  24. Install Share-A-Sale Social Media Plugin
  25. Authenticate and test Payment AGAIN with Authorize.Net, PayPal and Pay with Amazon
  26. Confirm (Check) Sitemap and all URLs
  27. Develop 3-5 Blog Posts and or Resource Pages
  28. Submit Website to Google Webmaster Tools
  29. Submit Website to Bing Webmaster Tools
  30. Post (if needed) all pages to Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Etc. for Social Pings

What you will need for an eCommerce Website

  • Your Registrar Login Information (Godaddy, NetworkSolutions, Register.com, Etc.)
  • Your Logo Files
  • All Product Photography
  • All Images
  • All Graphics
  • Terms of Service Content
  • Privacy Policy Content
  • Shipping/ Refund/ Warranty Requests Content
  • Merchant Login Information
  • Gateway Login Information

What it Means to be PCI Compliant (Running a Real eCommerce Site)

  • Maintain a secure network
  • Protect Cardholder Data
  • Maintain a Vulnerability Management Program
  • Implement Strong Access Control Measures
  • Regularly Monitor and Test Networks
  • Maintain an Information Security Policy

30 Steps (Step by Step) Process in Developing an eCommerce Website

Located in Sacramento, Front Street Media is your trusted resource for eCommerce Website Design. Our eCommerce web designers in Sacramento can not only design your website and tailor an amazing marketing campaign, we can also set up your dedicated server and install your SSL. If you have any questions about getting an eCommerce website designed in Sacramento, give us a call or contact us today.

30 Steps to Creating an eCommerce Site

#1 Set up New Dedicated Server (VPS – Virtual Private Server) on GoDaddy.com

Head over to Godaddy.com and grab yourself a dedicated server ($129.00 for 2GB server) or a VPS  – Virtual Private Server ($39.99 for a 2Gb server). A VPS is essentially the same thing as a dedicated server; however, a virtual private server is server software that runs in a virtualized environment that shares hardware and storage.  Really, you don’t need to know the difference (if you do, read this “difference between dedicated server and VPS“), all you need to know is that they do the same thing and one is more expensive and one is more flexible. They both give you a dedicated IP address in which you can set up your SSL Certificate.

#2 Request New IP Address (If using multiple domain names)

If you want to host multiple domains on your VPS, you want to request an additional IP address that you can assign you SSL to. This is not a mandatory step; however, you want to maximize your server and we recommend hosting at least 2-5 additional websites on your main IP and request a new IP address for your eCommerce site and SSL.

#3 Assign SSL Certificate to IP Address

Once you have requested your new IP Address (they usually give you two additional) you can now assign your SSL to that IP address. All you have to do at this point is call Godaddy and request an SSL Certificate and have them assign that SSL to your any IP address you want. Preferably, one of the additional IP’s you have requested.

#4 Point DNS Over to SSL IP Address and Launch Website on WordPress (Coming Soon)

Once you have set up your server with a unique IP address and assigned the SSL, you want to point your domain name’s DNS (Domain Name System) over to the new IP address. Also remember to set you A records for mail, MX records and TXT records if needed. After your site is pointed over, set up your website’s cPanel in WHM. Access you websites cPanel and install WordPress on the domain; create a username, password and the websites home directory.

#5 Install SSL Certificate on VPS (Assign SSL to Domain Name)

Here is where things get a little complicated and you will want to consult with your server admin, hosting provider, registrar company or whomever you are hosting your website with.

There are many steps in installing an SSL Certificate.

  1. Request SSL Certificiate/ CSR/ Signing Key from Godaddy
  2. Godaddy Provides you with your CSR (Certificate Signing Request) and GD Bundle
  3. Download your CSR and GD Bundle
  4. Open up WHM or cPanel and install your CSR (copy and paste)
  5. Fields should auto populate Key and Gd Bundle
  6. Install SSL Certificiate

#6 Sign Up for Merchant Account (Example: Wells Fargo)

Call Wells Fargo Merchant Services and create an account. You will need to give them you LLC Paperwork, Partnership paperwork or corporation paperwork along with your EIN number or Social Security Number depending on what type of business you have. They will E-Mail you your documents, sign them and FAX back over… yes you have to FAX them. Wait 2-3 days and they will give you your account information along with a login for Authorize.Net.

#7 Sign Up for Gateway Account (Example: Authorize.net) NOTE: Wells Fargo will do this for you

After Wells Fargo sets your account up with an Authorize.Net account, you will need to grab your temporary username and password. Login to Authorize.Net and reset your password. Once you are logged in to your Authorize.Net account, you want to make sure all your settings are correct and authenticate all your business credentials. DO NOT FORGET to authenticate AMEX as they never have this working out of the gates, it sucks but you have to do it. Call them if you have any questions.

#8 Install Woo Commerce Plugin and Adjust basic Settings

Installing WooCommerce is as simple as searching “WooCommerce” in the plugin section of WordPress. After you instal and activate WooCommerce , you want to adjust all eCommerce settings according to your preferences. Every eCommerce store is different so it is important to understand which settings you need for payment, shipping, emails and all others (there are complete WooCommerce tutorials all over the web). There are many tabs and settings you need to adjust in WooCommerce to enable a proper eCommerce store, this step alone can take hours.

#9 Install Gateway (Authorize.net AIM Plugin)

Install your Authorize.Net “AIM” plugin and enter your Login ID, API Keys and MD5 Hash. Once you have authorized your gateway, you can begin to test payments and make sure everything is working properly. Test a couple different payment amount with all credit cards possible, especially American Express. If you have PayPal and Pay with Amazon set up, now is the time to test those payment options as well.

#10 Initial Design and outline of Homepage (Coming Soon or Live)

Depending on the status of your website already being live or not will depend on if you design in a live mode or coming soon mode. If your website design takes over a month to design and it is a brand new website, you may want to consider designing your website live so the search engines continue to crawl your pages and start to index them. If however, you have a website that has been live for the last year, you may want to consider designing in a coming soon mode as to not confuse your potential prospects.

#11 Install SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Yoast (SEO Plugin)

Installing the SEO Yoast plugin is a crucial step in getting your website to rank higher and more efficiently through SEO (Search Engine Optimization) . Not only does Yoast allow you to edit your meta descriptions, keywords and focus keyword, it also performs countless features on the backend you don’t even notice. Some of these features may include adding your sitemap automatically as well as adding rel=”canonical” to all your pages. The rel=”canonical” html tag tells the search engines that you basically own all your content and the page was the original source. This is very important. Not only is the Yoast plugin important for optimizing your internal pages and content, it is absolutely crucial for eCommerce Store SEO.

#12 Launch Initial Website Design and Internal Page Designs

Once you finalize your home page website design with featured categories and featured products, move onto the internal pages. You main internal pages will include anything from about us, privacy policy, terms of use, refund warranties, return shipping pages, blog page layout and resources pages for SEO.

#13 Customize/ Design Category Pages

After the bulk of your internal pages have been designed, you will need to create your category page layouts and design. Either create a header image, 200-300 words of content specific to that category or both. We recommend doing both depending on your product as this will tend to increase search rankings and help you SEO. Category pages are incredibly important for SEO, so keep in mind your content and internal linking structure on these pages.

#14 Customize/ Design Product Pages

Probably the most important part of designing and more importantly, ranking an eCommerce website is your product pages. You want at least 700 words of content on each product page depending on your industry. If you only sell one of each product, you will need to create absolutely stunning category pages instead of bulky product pages.

In your product pages, you want to give your user every reason to buy your product… right? How you do this is by integrating everything they would want to see to convert the Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). These features may include descriptions, reviews, videos, an amazing feature image along with a stunning gallery, Some other features to increase your conversions may include free shipping, free item with purchase, color options, etc. Anything you can do to increase your conversion is crucial in being successful with an eComerce store.

#15 Install Ninja Forms (Contact Form Plugins)

Installing Ninja Forms or any form plugin is essential for any website in general. What is great about the form plugins for WordPress is that you can customize as many forms as you would like. You can embed these forms on the majority of your landing pages to generate questions and answers for clients. Furthermore, you can sync up these contact forms to drop emails into your newsletter lists and database for Email Marketing Campaigns. Email Marketing for eCommerce is crucial for eCommerce success so you do not want to miss out of this step

#16 Add Mail Chimp or Constant Contact for Email Marketing

This will bring us to our next step, sign up for MailChimp or Constant Contact for email marketing. MailChimp is free for under 2000 emails and Constant Contact is either free for 60 days or $20 per month for unlimited emails. You can upgrade Constant Contact to $45 for more tools which include Automation, Facebook Fan Promotion, Events Registration & Management, Collect Donations, Customer Surveys and Trackable Coupons. Regardless of which Email marketing platform you choose, they both get the job done. If you are just starting your email list, go with MailChimp, its Free.

#17 Develop Internal Pages for PCI COMPLIANCE

Being PCI compliant is part of the job and one of these requirements is creating your Privacy Policy, Terms of Use/ Shipping Information, Warranty and Refund Policies. Most recommend 500 words+ for each page; however, if you go for 1300+, you have a better chance for more content and a better internal linking structure. Each of these pages should be located at the footer of your website and be updated once a year which should noted in text at the top of your page (Example: UPDATED: 1.1.2016).

#18 Add All Product Categories and Subcategories

Start adding all your products, create a process in adding all your products. Whether you start will creating all product pages with just the titles or build out entire pages at a time. Each page, when done right should take about 30 minutes to an hour. Given you are creating stunning content, videos, images, image galleries and call to actions, you product pages will turn out absolutely beautiful.

#19 Add All Products and Set Featured Items

This is going to take a while depending on your product count. Start adding all your product titles, product descriptions, product images, product galleries, product reviews, product videos and anything else that you have for your products. It is important to include as much content as possible for Inbound Marketing purposes. Creating a 300 word page just won’t cut it these days, especially if you are just starting out and have not started a link-building campaign or Citation Marketing.

#20 Customize a Shopping Cart Page (Connect PCI Compliant Pages to Shopping Cart)

Go to WooCommerce and make sure all your checkout, cart and My Account pages are connected. You will also want to ensure that your Privacy Policy, Terms of Use/ Shipping Information, Warranty and Refund Policy pages are connected to ensure PCI compliance. You may need all of these pages set up before your merchant/ gateway approves your account for payment authentication.

#21 Set Up Payment Methods through Woo Commerce (Ecommerce Options)

There are many options for payment methods in WooCommerce. Out of the box, you have options for Check, PayPal, Direct Deposit and a couple others that no one will ever use. If in the case, you are running your website with an SSL Certificate, you want to install the Authorize.NET plugin and activate all the settings. If you have not already, enter your Login ID, API Keys and MD5 Hash information from Authorize.NET. Once you have enabled all your payment options, return to your shopping cart and text payment on each option.

#22 Integrate Social Media Share Product Buttons (Social Media Plugin)

Integrate your Social Media Share buttons of choice. There are literally hundreds of options out there for integrating social media into a WordPress website for Social Media Marketing. Some of the plugins allow you to customize the layout, look and feel, while other just let you integrate into “pages” or “posts” or both. The best thing to do is install a couple plugins that you think might be the best for your website and test them all. After you have found the social media marketing plugin that you like most, delete the others. There is not point in running plugins if you don’t have to.

#23 Install StoreYa Social Media Like Coupon

Again, there are a ton of different plugins for Social Media integration but one plugin you need is a Social Media Like Coupon plugin. These plugins server up two purposes; generating social media likes and giving your prospects reasons to buy your products. Both of these are AMAZING when it comes to running an eCommerce website store. The StoreYa social media like coupon plugin is one of many but it is a good free option and very easy to set up. This plugin can also be somewhat customized in the sense that is gives you an Email Marketing boost or social media boost. Either way, they both work towards your eCommerce sales.

#24 Install Share-A-Sale Social Media Plugin

Share-A-Sale plugins are a great way to boost brand awareness and potentially get referral business from your current customers. the way Share-A-Sale plugins work is after a sale is made on your website, the customer has a chance to Share-A-Sale for coupon code towards their next purchase. These Share-A-Sale plugins can generate you more traffic, more sales and yes… more money. We all like money, so search “Share-A-Sale Plugin for eCommerce” and install the plugin.

#25 Authenticate and Test Payments AGAIN with Authorize.Net, PayPal and Pay with Amazon

Once everything is set up and live on your website, you was to test your payment options AGAIN just to be 100% sure everything is working. There is nothing worse than getting an email from a potential customer saying “I tried to order something from your website and got a “404 error” or “network gateway error” or “cannot process your order at this time, please contact your webmaster”. You sit there thinking… “how many other people has this happened to”? Believe us, we have had it happen, it is no fun. TEST, TEST, TEST your payment options.

#26 Confirm (Check) Sitemap and all URLs

If you have set up SEO Yoast properly, visit your Sitemap just to be sure everything is working in the backend for the search engines. Go to yourdomainname.com/sitemap.xml and it should re-direct you to the correct location of your sitemap. If you sitemap is working properly, you should get a list of sitemaps and then a list of pages that are in your website. If you get a 404 error, go to your permalink settings and select the correct URL layout (preferably pretty URLS) and select save or update.

#27 Develop 3-5 Blog Posts and or Resource Pages

Jump over to your blog and start your Inbound Marketing process. Start by creating super keyword specific blog posts about your products and industry. There are hundreds of blog posts on how to write good blog posts, Google it. Try to include epic pictures, stunning content, videos and or anything that is cool, educational or compelling to your readers. Developing these pages will allow you to start your internal linking structure in your website. Go through and try to find ways to link to your internal page categories and products.

#28 Submit Website to Google Webmaster Tools and Search Console

Go over to Google Search Console and submit your website URL, you will need to verify this. There are many ways to verify your website in Google Search Console. You can either use your register by adding a CNAME or TXT record or by inserting a snippet of HTML into your WordPress Website. Either way, this is incredibly important. After you have verified your website you want to choose a multitude of settings including your domain display in the SERPS and many more.

#29 Submit Website to Bing Webmaster Tools

Yes, we all need to give Bing some love also. Submit your site to Bing. Bing is actually connected to Yahoo as well. Once you submit your site to Bing, Yahoo will also take your links from there. There still is a population of people out there that use Bing and Yahoo. You don’t want to just optimize your site for Google, give Bing and Yahoo some love to. Who knows, you just might get a sale or two in the next 10 years through referrals from Bing and Yahoo.

#30 Post (if needed) all pages to Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Etc. for Social Pings

START MARKETING!!!!! If you have good pages of content and good product photography, you should be OK. Start by adding your too products into Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Etc. for Social Pings. You should try to add as many URLS to social media as this will give the search engines a “ping” every time you do. This is a good thing. The more social media pings you have, the better. There are countless options for eCommerce marketing and eCommerce store SEO campaigns. On a last note, sign up for Wanelo for eCommerce – HUGE TRAFFIC. You are sure to get some sales off this eCommerce/ Social Media platform.

That about wraps it up – Good Luck!

Front Street Media – eCommerce Web Design Sacramento

If you are interested in getting an eCommerce Website Design project going and you are located in El Dorado Hills, Folsom, Granite Bay, Roseville or the Sacramento area, give us a call today. We specialize in eCommerce Website Design in Sacramento and can help you achieve just about any goal you are trying to reach. From custom eCommerce sites on WordPress to custom eCommerce websites on Magento, Front Street Media is the web development company of choice in Sacramento for eCommerce stores and eCommerce store SEO campaigns.

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