Web site design/mtce help - special circumstances
June 15, 2009 8:28 PM   Subscribe

Oh so many questions about building a web site: do I need software to help me or a person? what to pay? how to maintain? special circumstances make the decision complicated.

I'm an old programmer, emphasis on the old, who used to use what they called 3rd generation languages, eg., APL, to write the kind of mainframe systems geared to naive users; those systems died when pcs became cheap enough for everyone to have and I went on to being the liaison between network/mainframe techies and customers as I could speak techie and customer. Should be no prob, eh? Well, I had a severe prescription drug reaction that caused all kind of probs like not being able to read or write. Think small stroke only it wasn't. Took me a couple of years to be able to comprehend what I was reading. Simple math is all I can do now and then I have to check myself. I can design web pages, but the ability to figure out how pages link together is beyond me. You don't know what frustration is until you can do something this simple any more. I took early retirement after a couple of years(arrgh) and am stuck at home. If I don't do something with a bit of challenge, I may go dance naked under the moon and that wouldn't be pretty.

I want to sell copies of the antique needlework and doll patterns I collect. Yes, this sounds silly, but there's a whole other life out there where grown men and women collect dolls and do needlework. I tried a few years ago to hire someone. I gave them mockups of the pages I'd designed, addrs of two sites that I liked the looks of as further examples, and as complete a set of specs as possible. I got back a couple of sample web site pages that IBM would have been proud of, all corporate blue and silver and hard edges with no sense of what the product/service was I wanted to offer.

Question (finally): I can design the pages. I can't do links. I need to update when something new comes along or something just isn't paying it's keep. I need to collect money. Then there's the automated money tracking/bill paying. I need recommendations for package that will build the darned thing the way I want (have a distinct dislike of software that won't do as it's told) and that I can maintain if there's one that I can use given the circumstances. I need a real person to validate it, test it, buy the name for it, recommend a host. This won't be big volume, but it needs to work well and I need to look after it. I'd ask DH, but he's strictly mainframe automation and doesn't have a clue about this type of stuff. Any ideas? I have a horror of ending with with someone who thinks I'm a sweet old doll and will give me whatever, not what I need.
posted by x46 to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I think you want an online shopping cart with integrated payment. Is this correct?

If so, Shopify is what I've used to get my mom started selling t-shirts. It's very simple. You can start out with a functional site in under an hour, but you can eventually do customized templates when you feel more comfortable.
posted by odinsdream at 8:39 PM on June 15, 2009

There's a lot of answers to your question(s) but one thing that comes to my mind is this ... if you get an account with dreamhost.com they have a lot content managment systems which would allow you to make your own web site without actually having to tie the links together yourself. I think this might be a good first step.

We have a client who uses Joomla via dreamhost.com but there are other 'one click installs' provided by dreamhost some of which might be more suited to your needs (some of the blogging packages, for instance WordPress, are distinctly simpler and might be quite suitable).

Once you've got that under control you can then look at how you want to take money. For simple low volume sites I hear people recommend paypal surprisingly often (surprisingly because I've heard some horror stories also) so this would be worth checking out .
posted by southof40 at 8:56 PM on June 15, 2009

DreamHost has a few other one-click install programs that might do what you need; apart from Joomla, there's also Drupal, but they might be a bit more complicated than what you're looking for. there's also ZenCart, which is also a one-click thing, that's specifically for creating online stores and does billing and all that.

if you're designing your site using software, you might see if someone's already created an add-on for whatever package you're using to do shopping carts. on Macs, I usually tell people to try RapidWeaver, as it's pretty user friendly while still allowing you to put in some more advanced features. there's an addon (or maybe several, I didn't look very hard) that lets you add a shopping cart to your site easily. I'm not sure what would be the equivalent on Windows or Linux, though.

additionally, it can be really rather easy to integrate with PayPal - you pretty much set up your account, create payment buttons, and cut and paste the stuff they give you on your site. if you're already doing your own design, this is pretty much just a cut-and-paste kinda deal. you can get more complex with that if you like, too.

you might also want to try again with hiring someone, if you have budget - you might have just not gotten a good match the previous time. there's a lot of web designer/coder type folks here, so posting a listing on Jobs might not be a bad idea unless you really need someone local. something customized to your needs might be the best route - I've had to develop content management systems for folks who didn't want the complexity of Joomla or Drupal but needed more than WordPress offered. that route can be expensive, but you can get quotes from several places to see how much it'd cost, and in the end you'd have something that fits your specific needs.
posted by mrg at 9:50 PM on June 15, 2009

Seconding Shopify. I'm very happy with the set up - it was easy and my shop runs very smoothly. Updating and uploading product is easy. It could be just what you want. I tailored one of the available themes (or you can make your own with their provided sandbox) and when I did need some coding help, I contacted one of the very knowledgeable and helpful commentors on the forums and she fixed and sweetened my site for a reasonable price. Memail me if you want her name.
posted by Kerasia at 11:07 PM on June 15, 2009

Thanks very much for the recommendations and testimonials. I really needed this! Now to check everything out and see what I can do!
posted by x46 at 8:09 AM on June 16, 2009

Bit late of the mark but Prestashop is also very good.
posted by errspy at 11:32 AM on June 16, 2009

« Older 80s meow   |   Help us survive a boring summer! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.