How do I efficiently set up a mom-and-pop storefront website using HTML/CSS?
August 26, 2008 8:43 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to set up a virtual storefront website for a mom-and-pop outfit in the business of selling hand-painted porcelain dolls and ceramics?

I have been offered the chance to set up a website for a woman whose artwork and statuary I love. I had made an agreement with myself not to take on any more web projects, as I have numerous irons in the fire already and proper follow-through has been my watchword this past year. However, the almost-70 y/o woman who makes this art has a very dear place in my heart, and she and her son have been very convincing as to why they would like me to do this for/with them.

I have worked in IT in various flavors for 15 years and have been doing flat-HTML by hand since 1996 and know HTML/CSS fairly well. I'm not proficient at coding in any of the newer, fancier, DHTML technologies, but am totally comfortable with using and modifying preexisting "widgets" in pages I build.

The online catalog will initially consist of 150 or so items in 12 or so categories. They currently exist in the form of an Ebay store, but Ruth and her son wish to transition to an in-house website for a variety of reasons.

I am looking for guidance on the best, and most time-economical, way to build this thing in a way that will make it easy for the son to add items and modify descriptions. He has some basic HTML knowledge. I am thinking of modifying an existing HTML/CSS template to fit their needs, but am curious if there are any technologies out there that will simplify things for me now, and for him later, in the realm of pre-packaged catalog-type widgets, but that use standards-compliant code.

Any other suggestions on ways to do this cleanly, professionally, and without relying on any whiz-bang new technology that the son won't be able to get past down the line would be most appreciated.

posted by Roach to Computers & Internet (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Would you believe... I've done this? MeFi-mail me, and I'll see if I can help.
posted by Leon at 8:46 AM on August 26, 2008

Best answer: I almost used this site for something a couple years ago, but then I got distracted. Looks like it's still going.
posted by low affect at 8:56 AM on August 26, 2008

Use some kind of a CMS like tool. Joomla together with a picture gallery seems like a good option.
posted by WizKid at 9:55 AM on August 26, 2008
posted by zentrification at 9:56 AM on August 26, 2008

Two easy ways the first mentioned earlier is Shopify and Yahoo Stores

Out of the box hosted, ecommerce sites and you just need to customize for what you want. Much easier than trying to implement even a prebuilt PHP solution.
posted by bitdamaged at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2008

Zen Cart.
posted by Dr.Pill at 12:44 PM on August 26, 2008 is ridiculously simple and requires only that Ruth set up an account to start selling her pieces. She can upload photos, set descriptions as she likes and prices as she wants. You could also go ahead and set up something with shopify to have two websites but it might be excessive.
posted by kirstk at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2008 is made for exactly this. It's a community of shops where buy and people sell handmade wares, everything from art to jewelry to clothing. It is super easy and you basically already have an audience built into the community.
posted by Brittanie at 3:48 PM on August 26, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you so much for all of the answers so far. Etsy looks promising, but browsing the sites help files for a bit, I can't see where you'd be able to use a custom domain, such as Ruth already has a domain registered and desires to use it in printed promotional materials. Am I missing something?

Shopify does look ridiculously easy, and as customizable as we would need it to be....
posted by Roach at 4:57 PM on August 26, 2008

Well, you could redirect from her domain to her etsy store, but it doesn't look like they let you host your shop on your own domain name, no.
posted by jacalata at 8:42 PM on August 26, 2008

No one has mentioned Fat Free Cart yet. Looks very minimal, easy to integrate

I'm a Textpattern user myself, so I'd be interested to see how Using Textpattern to manage an ecommerce site would work out. Seems that method depends on PayPal.
posted by nemoorange at 12:13 PM on August 28, 2008

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